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Cptn Corizon

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Everything posted by Cptn Corizon

  1. This was, by Corizon’s reckoning, his third round as commander of the Defiant-class Ardent. She was, from what he could tell about such things, a “good ship.” The crew, as well, seemed competent. That was good, because they would need to be. Corizon sighed at chimes. “Come” “Jolan tru,” Destorie N’Dak said evenly. “I trust you found your quarters acceptable. Unlike most Federation starships, these Defiant-classes don’t have much in the way of luxury.” Destorie nodded. “I had noticed the more utilitarian nature, ie.” “Good.” Corizon said, motioning for the Romulan to join him at the small table in the corner of his state room. “Please, have a seat.” The Romulan Enarrain nodded again before taking a seat. He seemed pensive, Corizon noted. Obviously he knew why Corizon had called him to his stateroom. “So -- now that we’re out of range of Camelot, you’re going to tell me what the hell is really going on here.” “Excuse me?” N’Dak said, lifting a brow in an almost Vulcan response. “I am na sure what au mean. As I told au originally, I have been tasked with collecting the son of an influential senator, and that my superiors wish this to do be done without arousing any attention within the military command structure. Once we arrive at the coordinates I have given you, it should hopefully be rather simple.” The Dameon leaned back in the uncomfortable metal chair, a fanged, almost amused grin creeping across his face. “Ennarain,” he said with a chuckle. “Spare me the ... what is the word you people use... the kville?” “Khvalle,” Destorie corrected him, almost autonomously. “Yeah, that. Spare me that.,” Corizon said, suddenly lurching forward and putting his hands on the table, his claws clacking off the tabletop. “This isn’t my first trip round the block. I would have thought your mother would have conveyed that much to you.” Destorie frowned, his stoic countenance rippling with displeasure. He loathed this sort of routine and he hated even more to be in the inferior position. “Captain,” he said, “I have told you all that I am authorized to tell you about the circumstances surrounding our mission. I have given you the coordinates, as agreed. I am sorry if...” “Listen, Destorie,” Corizon said, leaning forward even further. “I am not here to play multi-d chess with you. Let’s just save both of us a lot of time, effort, and energy and skip this whole routine, eh? “Enough,” Destorie said, an edge to his voice that took Corizon a bit off guard. “Your Admiral gave you orders to assist me. H’Nah, you will do it.” “Or what? You think anyone on this ship is going take orders from you?” The Romulan recoiled. He knew he’d overplayed his hand and let his emotions get the better of him. He swallowed hard. “Forgive my... emotional response. This is a difficult situation for me.” Nodding, Corizon considered the Romulan again. Whatever he was keeping back was more interesting -- and likely more dangerous -- than Corizon had supposed. “Well now that we have the posturing out of the way, why don’t we try cooperation, eh?” Destorie exhaled and Corizon continued. “So?” “Several months ago we received a request from the Vorta to dispatch a science team to assist the....” “The Dominion asked for your help...in secret?” Corizon didn’t bother hiding his surprise though he hoped it didn’t come out as incredulous as it sounded in his head. “The Vorta,” Desstorie said flatly. If he noticed the implication in Corizon’s question he didn’t make it apparent. “...felt that au would frankly be of little help in the matter. Though it is somewhat ironic that au are now going to be part of it anyway.” “The Federation?” “Na,” the Romulan said with the slightest of grins. “Au.” Destorie jabbed a finger lazily towards the Dameon captain, much to his surprise. “Me?” “Ie, au.” Destorie said. “I am not sure I even want to know how I am involved with all of this, but I am sure you’re either going to hold it over me or tell me, which ever you think is going to give you the most leverage.” The Romulan grinned wickedly. “Is that what au would do?” “It’s what Romulans do, Enarrain.” “How badly au misjudge me. I am almost hurt.” “Oh please.” “Anyway, as I was saying the Vorta asked for our assistance. We provided it. A small science team was dispatched. They were supposed to report in on a weekly basis.” “You mean send you intelligence.” “Not me specifically, no. Though, that was part of their assignment.” “So you think they were caught?” Destorie frowned. “Na,” he said, though there was a brief hesitation before he continued. Enough for Corizon to note it for later. “The Vorta have also lost contact with the facility in question.” “I assume they didn’t just tell you that.” “Of course na.” Destorie said with a dismissive wave. “I obviously can’t tell you how we know, but we know. Which leads us to our mission.” “Now just a second.” “Au asked the background...” “Yes, but you haven’t told me everything I want to know.” “I have told you all you need to...” “I get to decide that, now out with it.” “With what?” The Romulan said coyly. “You told us that there was some rich kid lost with the team. Who is it.” “Issaha N’Dak. My brother.” “Son of a...” “Ie. You can see now why I was unwilling to risk Galae resources to locate my brother. It would be...” “ I know your people. This isn’t a Galae operation, is it?” “Strictly speaking,” Destorie said with frown. “No. It is a rather long and complicated story; and while I am sure you would find it most interesting. I give you my word that it does not stand to further complicate the mission. Any complications will be for me, personally.” Corizon leaned back in his chair, assessing the Romulan. After a moment he nodded. “Very well, out of respect for your mother I won’t ask further on that front. But...” “Ie?” “You are going to tell me what the hell they’re working on and how I am involved.” Exhaling, Destorie nodded. “Mmm,” he finally said through closed lips. “This is not information I am technically supposed to even know about, so obviously you never learned of this information, ie?” “Clearly.” “During the Scorpiad War, au ordered the construction of a subspace weapon, ie?” Corizon thought his heart stopped. He felt his face go white, and his ears sagged to either side. Gods. “Yes,” he said after a moment. “It was authorized by each of the signatory governments as a method to interdict the wormhole. But the Dominion never had their hands on that and even if they did get their grubby paws on it why would they need any help from the Romulans.” “Apparently,” Destorie said. “They have little interest in interdicting the wormhole, which the weapon was designed to do. Instead they are interested in using it to create a subspace fissure, a matter which our scientists were eager to also learn -- surreptitiously of course.” “I still don’t understand why they needed your help. Or why they’d be trying to reverse engineer something of ours. Their technology has to be ahead of any of our governments. Even our black projects on subspace weapons are more or less dormant. The Merlin Device was a relatively standard designed, modified for the purpose of interdicting the wormhole.” “I do not know. As I said this isn’t a Galae operation. What information I do have, I did not gather through official channels and so it is somewhat incomplete. And frankly I don't care. I am only interested in recovering my brother alive.”
  2. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Corizon had asked himself that a dozen times. Maybe more if he were willing to be honest with himself. Each time, the answer had been the same. “Of course it’s not a good idea. But you know you have to do it.” That was how he found himself on the bridge of the Ardent, flanked by a Romulan Enarrain waiting for a cloaking device to be calibrated before they left Camelot on a mission that was, almost certainly, going to end with Corizon back in self-imposed exile, or worse. The worse part actually didn’t bother him. It was the thought of going back to a civilian job. Not that he would admit that. So let me get this straight, Misha. Admiral Alana Norris, who had recently been appointed as the Commander of Starfleet Expeditionary Forces, had said when the two requested Corizon’s formal reactivation. You want me to sign-off on letting him run off with a starship and some Romulan officer to look for some Senator’s son? Yes. Misha had said, stone faced as ever. That does pretty much cover it Alie. I know you’re on your way out, but good grief Misha. Corizon actually respected that she was saying this with him, clearly in view. I was willing to allow you some difference in keeping him around as a tactical operations specialist -- given his extensive experience. But this? I am sorry, but I don’t know if I can, in clear conscious do that. With all respect, Captain. She turned cold, brown eyes on Corizon. You should be in a prison facility. The little stunt you pulled... She paused, collecting herself. No I am just not convinced that this is in anyway in the Federation’s best interests. You have an entire fleet of ships and literal thousands of personnel to choose from to assist our allies -- and to be clear, I am not even sure that is a good idea. What this looks like -- what this reeks of -- is an opportunistic, ambitious exile taking advantage of a situation to regain his former position. A position he lost by being a reckless, unthinking, cowboy. And that’s to say nothing of the mess he made of the damned quadrant in the first place. Admiral, Corizon said, stoically. Permission to speak? She wrinkled her nose. Clearly she wasn’t fond of the idea. Very well. You’re right. There are hundreds of officers that we could choose for this mission. I would venture a guess none of them would come with the baggage that I do, either. But, on the other hand, just how many officers do you have with my experience in clandestine operations? I understand your reservations. One of the first things I taught cadets was to remove unstable elements whenever possible. And I am aware that I represent an unstable element. But with due respect, I am the best suited officer for this task. Captain, I frankly don’t care if you’ve spent the last three decades in clandestine operations. That’s not what this is about. It’s about the fact that you are a reckless, impulsive officer with a history of making situations worse. Particularly when given free-reign. I am sorry that you don’t like being put out to pasture. I am sure you resent the hell out of me. I don’t care. Ma’am, Corizon said. I think there’s more here than meets the eye. I think -- How many times to do I have to tell you? I don’t care what you think. This is exactly how lost your commission in the first place! Misha coughed, just loudly enough to get both of their attentions. Alie, I am the first person to tell you that Corizon is impulsive, but he has a point. The Romulan officer who brought this request to him -- I think he did it for a reason. And just what reason is that? There’s something going on here that’s bigger than just a senator’s son. If it were that simple or that important -- he’d find a way to use his own forces to recover him. Or he’d come to me. He doesn’t know Corizon very well -- and I’ve made it clear he doesn’t have any real decision making authority. Then why do you think he picked Corizon. His mother? Whose? She was incredulous, for sure. Enarrain N’Dak. Corizon said, calmly. His mother was the former Ambassador to the station. We worked together on numerous issues during our shared tenure and... well... she was my source for information inside the Romulan government about the smuggling. Lovely. Just lovely. She paused again. So you think there’s more to this than meets the eye and that the Romulan picked you ... personally because his mother and you are besties? Do I have that right? Misha frowned. Alie, how long have you and I known each other? What thirty, forty years? I wondered when you’d pull that card. I am serious. If I thought there were a better solution -- I wouldn’t be here. Corizon has caused me more than enough trouble for one lifetime. Hell, he’s in no small part responsible for my impending retirement, but damnit. He’s right about this. N’Dak almost certainly sought him out for a reason and I don’t know why. I could give this to someone else, but frankly, he’s the best person for the job. So you think this is a good idea? The question rang in Corizon’s head again as the Ardent’s chief engineer, Fruella Jalo, appeared out of the turbolift, a mixture of annoyance and relief plastered on her face. “The cloaking device has been calibrated sir,” she said to Corizon. “Bypassed like an octogenarian Nahal’s heart, but calibrated. I wish we had more time to do some tests. The schematics from the Defiant weren’t that useful. The cloaking device they were provided with was a different model, and the EPS units on the Defiant-class have been reworked since then.” The Dameon nodded, casting a glance to N’Dak. “Thank you Chief. I am confident in your abilities.” Frowning, she took the compliment for what it was worth and excused herself. Corizon turned to N’Dak again. “Well, Enarrain, are you ready to get underway?” “Ie,” he said cooly from the railing. “The sooner we leave -- the better.” Corizon nodded his agreement and turned his seat to face the viewer. “Helm, ahead at full impulse. Once we’ve cleared the outer navigational beacon, take us to warp bearing 103.5 mark two. “ “Yes sir.” “Once we’re out of sensor range, we’ll activate the cloak”
  3. The busy humming of the holographic display filled Corizon’s ears, drowning out the chatter of the two el-tees on the other side of the Round Table. He tapped a clawed finger on the display controls, bringing up the image he had searched the expansive database of tactical data for, and made a note on his PADD. “Captain,” came the voice of a junior officer. “We just got word that our reinforcements have completed transit to the wormhole and will be arriving ear...” Corizon waved him off. He knew how long the trip took. “Thank you.” When the ensign waited longer than was comfortable for a dismal, Corizon looked back to him. “Was there something else?” The ensign -- who Corizon remembered as a “Ellias Satherby” -- cleared his throat. “Commander N’Dak is waiting outside for you.” “Enarrain isn’t exactly Commander,” Corizon said, as mildly has he could muster. “Send him in.” Satherby blushed, but had the good sense to nod and turn heel for the doors. A few minutes later Enarrain Destorie N’Dak entered. Corizon knew his mother, Ambassador N’Kedre rather well, but had yet to fully measure her eldest progeny. What he lacked in stature, he made up for in other ways, Corizon noted. His broad shoulders belied a muscular, intimidating build. And those eyes. Cold, dark and direct. He had certainly not gotten them from his mother. “Jolan tru,” Destorie said in a measured baritone that caught Corizon off. “Good morning,” Corizon said, turning back to the holodisplay. “How can I be of assistance?” Destorie’s baldpate reflected the holographic projection in the darkened room. There was a subtle tension as the two men seemed to be sizing the other up. For his part, Destorie considered the Dameon to be an unpredictable element. His mother had spoken favorably of him, but others within the Camelot command structure had notably hedged on the subject. “Admiral Abronvonvich asked me to inquire if the Senate would be willing to send additional reinforcements.” “And?” Corizon didn’t look up. He had already guessed the response. “At this time, the Senate does not feel it would be a prudent use of our resources. The Senate and the Praetor have determined, in mutual consultation with your government to begin a withdrawal of our remaining civilian personnel from the quadrant. Our military presence will continue for the time being.” Nodding, Corizon continued to flip through his notes. “Thank you. I didn’t anticipate any additional assistance, but we thought it would be worth the try.” “Ie,” Destorie said, the formality of his tone fading. “I wish that my government would be less... self-interested.” So maybe there was something of the mother in him? “To be honest, I was surprised that our command was willing to authorize additional reinforcements. The political reality is that pulling out of the quadrant entirely is far more expedient.” “Ie, which brings me to another matter.” “Another matter?” “Ie,” Destorie said, his tone shifting to outright hesitation. “As I said, the Senate has ordered a withdrawal of all of our non-military personnel from the quadrant. Io of our facilities, a small science expedition, is in a rather -- difficult to reach position. Because of our rather limited resources...” “You need our help in retrieving them?” Destorie nodded. Corizon was a perceptive one, for sure. “Ie. Normally such a small team -- four or five total personnel -- would be of low priority to the Empire, however...” “How high ranking is one of the members families?” Pausing, only for the briefest of moments to note, again, Corizon’s perceptiveness for later, Destorie continued. “Io of the members of the team is the son of a highly placed member of the Senate. My superior officer has personally assured his family that he will be returned, safely to them.” “So what’s the catch?” “Hmm?” “Now now Enarrain,” Corizon said, finally giving Destorie his full attention. “You would have taken this Misha, or simply done it yourself, if there wasn’t something about this mission that was, well complicated.” Destorie shifted his weight, visibly uncomfortable with the line of questioning. “Na thing so...surreptitious Mister Corizon,” he said, deflecting as best he could. “Only that because their mission is technically classified, I am not at liberty to disclose the location of their facility until after the rescue mission is underway.” “Rescue?” “Recovery.”
  4. Note: This log occurs shortly before Excalibur embarked on her current mission. “You have a lot of nerve coming here.” Ah-Windu Corizon looked, unmoved, towards Misha Abronvonvich. The surly, crag-faced admiral sat leaned back in his chair with near snarl on his lips. Behind him, Avalon glowed slightly and a freighter passed between it and the window. “Aren’t you retired yet?” Misha blinked, the snarl nearly disappearing entirely. “Isn’t supposed to my line?” A fanged grin spread across Corizon’s face. “Well,” he said, “it is technically true.” Resuming his prior demeanor, Misha leaned back further. “Don’t think I am going to forgive you so easily, Corizon. After everything we’ve been through together for you to just …” Corizon sighed deeply, his ears falling to either side. He had expected as much. “If you’re going to lecture me about personal loyalty,” he said. “You can just save your breath, and maybe look in a mirror.” “What?” “Oh don’t cop that with me,” Corizon said, making his way to the desk and taking a seat, much to Misha’s very visible annoyance. “First of all, you should have all but expected me to turn over those logs. I won’t apologize for my portrayal of you either, especially since you and I both know it had some merit. “Second, you and I both know that you didn’t exactly do me any favors when you thought you could escape with just me as the fall guy. And finally, if you had just been honest with me about what was going on, maybe just maybe I could have helped you make sure it didn’t all blow up in your face, but hey, we all make mistakes.” “You son of a ---” “No need to call me names,” Corizon said. “Bacco wanted you out and my testimony didn’t make much of a difference anyway.” “Except for your own career, clearly.” “Oh don’t even. They only agreed to this because they didn’t have much of a choice and as soon as the peace talks are completed, I’ll be ‘retired’ again. Who knows, maybe you and I can spend some time together back on Earth. Get to know each other again. Have a few drinks…” “You’re incredible.” Corizon was grinning, his ears cocked to either side. He was enjoying this maybe a little too much, but there wasn’t much risk. “I try.” “I should really just kill you. I bet someone would give me a medal.” “But remember all the paperwork. You’re clearly not retired yet so…” “I really do hate you.” “Now, Misha. From what I’ve heard, you also miss me dearly.” The Russian nearly threw something at Corizon, but instead sighed, resigned to the truth. “Gods wish I didn’t, but…” he looked away. “The last few months would have been a lot easier if you’d still been in command of the Excalibur.” Ruefully, Corizon leaned back in his own chair. “Why did they assign a science geek to that job anyway?” “He’s a capable enough commander,” Misha said, scowling. “Don’t get me wrong, but this isn’t his kind of command. You were always trouble -- but I could count on you to do what needed to be done -- even if you didn’t like it.” “On the other hand,” Corizon said slyly. “Maybe he is exactly the type of person they need in this command.” “Oh dear lord. I better check to see if it’s snowing in hell.” “I am serious. Being away from that whole life for a couple years has given me a lot of time to think about my past … our past.” “And now it’s my turn to tell you to shut up. Listen, I am happy you’ve had some sort of ethical epiphany but…” “Oh don’t worry. I know why I am really here.” “Oh thank god.”
  5. The Excalibur sifted through a stretch of blue-green clouds of interstellar gas. They had dropped to impulse as they waited for the Audacious to arrive, delivering their special guest. Corizon watched the clouds break on the bow and sweep to either side from panorama of his quarters. The view was slightly different from the one he’d once known and he wasn’t entirely sure yet if he liked these quarters better. The bed, he considered, was at least slightly firmer. He sighed and drank his hot toddy. Returning to Excalibur had not been easy. Everywhere he looked there were reminders of what he had been and that reminded him of what he was now. He was actually grateful that there were more new faces than old -- if he was being honest he didn’t know what he would have told many of them. Tandaris had been different though. Corizon took another drink. Then there was Swain. He knew that for whatever awkward, emotional feelings running through his own mind, Asher had to be even worse. After all, he’d been yanked out of his command and dropped into Excalibur, and all of the rather unfortunately benefits that conveyed, against his will and forced to deal with the numerous complications of being a Starfleet Captain in the Gamma Quadrant. Poor son of a bitch, Corizon thought It had been nearly a week since they’d left Camelot and the two had barely interacted outside of a small reception Swain had hosted for Corizon and the senior officers. They had chatted just enough to seem social, but they both knew neither was comfortable with the other. Swain though, had been perhaps a far more gracious host than Corizon would have been, he considered. In addition to the reception, he’d also released his personal yeoman, Augustus Quintus, to work with Corizon for the duration of the mission. A peace offering. Corizon had said, much to Augustus’ amusement. He really is a nice fellow, Augustus had said later. You should be nicer to him. This isn’t easy for him. But, as always, Corizon shook it off. Long-term, he reminded Augustus, after the mission was over, they would likely never see each other again. Corizon’s lease on the four pips affixed to his uniform ended as soon as the Excalibur returned -- that had been made very clear to him. Maybe that was what bothered him? Or was it the view? He shook his head and looked back to the window. It was the view. The angle just wasn’t the same.
  6. Hong Kong rose in the distance as a maglev carried Ah-Windu Corizon along the shores of the South China Sea. An international city for decades, the once major trading center had remained an important fixture on Earth in the days since their Third World War and the founding of the Federation, becoming home to many intergalatic corporations, especially trading and shipping companies. As the speedy train finally deposited Corizon on a platform just outside the Hong Kong Park in the Central District of Hong Kong Island, he considered whether nor he was going to particularly enjoy an hour and half train ride on a regular basis and whether or not he should consider purchasing an atmospheric shuttle to make the commute more tolerable. He stepped off the train and onto the solid ground of the platform. Taking a very deep breath he continued to consider the situation. Wearing civilian clothing shouldn’t have bothered him -- it never had before and he didn’t frankly care for the fit of the current Starfleet uniform anyway, but maybe it had never bothered him before because he could always go back to the uniform when he was done with whatever mission he’d been on. Pushing the thought to the back of his mind, he glanced around the platform before meeting eyes with a young, twenty something human male of Asian decent standing a few feet away from him, dressed in a dark black suit with a crisp tie and holding a small placard with Corizon’s name on it. Taking another very deep breath, Corizon straightened his own charcoal suit jacket before heading over to the young man. “Kusanagi, I presume?” The young man blinked, “Yes,” he said. “Though feel free to call me Hiro, Dr. Corizon.” Corizon hesitated for a moment. Doctor. That was going to take some getting used to. “Just Corizon is fine,” he finally settled. “I never been one to stand on formalities.” “Of course,” Hiro said. “If you’ll follow me, we have a grav shuttle waiting.” Corizon nodded and followed Hiro to a side exit from the platform where a small land-based shuttle waited for them. Sliding behind the controls, Hiro smiled to the Dameon. “We’re very excited to have you aboard, sir. Chief Anaso has spoken very highly of you.” “That’s very kind of him,” Corizon said as Hiro pulled the small craft out of its berth and merged into traffic along the busy street that led away from the Hong Kong Park station and deeper into the central district that had housed many of Hong Kong’s tallest sky scrapers. One of the largest, and by far the oldest still standing was their final destination -- International Finance Center. Pulling into a subterranean garage, Corizon and Hiro were quickly inside the building and on their way to the 76th floor. “I think you’ll like your office,” Hiro said, breaking the silence of the elevator. “It has a gorgeous view of Victoria Peak.” “Does it?” Hiro nodded. “As I said, Chief Anaso has spoken very highly of you. I think he’s very excited to have you with the company.” A small smirk crossed Corizon’s thin lips. “I am... pleased to be going back to work.” “After all that time in the Fleet,” Hiro said, “I am sure you’ve enjoyed the last months though, yes?” “To be honest,” Corizon said flatly. “Not really. I’ve never had that much time to just sit and think, without anything driving me. It was... strange. Not that you care.” Hiro did his best to smile. He wasn’t entirely disinterested, but he also didn’t want to make the situation awkward on his new bosses’ first day. “Ah, here we are.” “You have what, five -- six floors?” “Seven,” Hiro said. They stepped out and into a spacious, modern lobby where a receptionist sat behind a large desk with the soaring view of Hong Kong behind him. “Ah, Dr. Corizon,” he said. “Welcome. Mister Anaso has asked me to inform you that he will be delayed and so he will meet you in your office when he arrives, my apologies, Hiro but I just found out a few minutes ago.” Hiro nodded. “Of course, I’ll show him to his office.” “Very well.” Hiro lead Corizon into a large, expansive office with floor-to-ceiling windows that gave a panorama of Hong Kong. “Here you are, sir.” “Thank you,” Corizon said. “This is a little nicer than my office on the Excalibur.” Smiling, Hiro nodded. “If you need anything, I’ll be right outside. There’s a replicator...” “Behind the bookshelf?” Hiro nodded as Corizon grinned widely before tipping his head respectfully and heading back out to his presumably his desk. After making himself a cup of coffee and a light pastry for breakfast, Corizon found himself watching out a window when Kasumi Anaso finally arrived. Turning as Anaso entered, Corizon was surprised to see how little his old friend had changed since he last saw him. The short-statured human still had the same neatly cropped, jet-black hair he’d had all those years ago, and he still wore the same somber, but somehow disarming smile. The only thing that had changed, as far as Corizon could tell, was how he dressed. “Ah-Windu,” Anaso said, “I am glad you’re here.” “I am sure you are Kasumi. You’ll forgive me if I am not exactly excited about being a civilian.” Anaso nodded considering Corizon. It had been nearly ten years since they’d actually seen each other in person and it was striking to him how different Corizon appeared. He’d always been so confident, despite always seemingly wearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sure, his physical appearance remained mostly unchanged; his silver hair belied any aging, and only the very beginnings of crows feet had started to form around his deep yellow eyes; but the bravado was missing. “Always direct,” Anaso said. “I guess somethings never change.” “I was never good at small talk.” “Your only weakness as an agent.” “Only?” They both smirked. “It’s been a long time, Kasumi.” “It has, but I am glad you’re here now.” “Like I said, I’d rather not be, but as civilian options go...” Anaso waved his hand. He knew Corizon wasn’t happy about his situation, he couldn’t blame him either, but he also knew that his old friend needed something to give him purpose again. “I hope you like the office.” “It’s nicer than I expected,” Corizon said honestly, taking a drink of coffee. “Thank you.” “Of course, you’re my new chief of security. Though you won’t honestly be spending that much time here.” Corizon nodded. He’d known that he was once again signing onto a job that left him little time to become sedative. “So what was so important that you’ve kept me waiting.” Anaso lifted his brows for a moment before shaking his head. “Kept you waiting? I thought I was your boss now.” Corizon grinned. He knew Anaso was going to enjoy the role reversal. “I was supposed to meet you when I got here. Instead, I’ve been sitting around, drinking coffee and eating pastries while you no doubt were shopping for a gift for your wife.” “Oh,” Anaso said, with a wry smile. “Such a terrible inconvenience for you, I am sure. “Besides, I wasn’t shopping for my wife. I already have our anniversary gift -- though kind of you to remember. No, I was meeting with a client.” “I see,” Corizon said, leaning against the window. “Anything interesting.” “Yes, though you’ll find out about that soon enough...” “Spare me.” Anaso smirked and looked towards the lanky former Captain. Always in a hurry. “Why don’t we talk about it over dinner … with the client. I suppose I should introduce you two anyway, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with him.” “Sure.” -- The trip home seemed longer than usual today. Corizon glanced to his chrono. 1900. Of course he was about to cross time zones -- something he’d always found inconvenient. Sighing, he leaned back into the chair as the magtrain whizzed along the South China Sea. Work had been rather tiring. It had been some months since he’d ‘retired’ from Starfleet and three weeks since he’d started working once more at Cerberus Freight and Shipping. The work, thus far, had been rather routine; Cerberus handled a wide range of cargo across the Federation. Primarily they took on cargo missions from smaller companies that found themselves unable to complete a contract, typically because it required a larger organization than they could provide. His job was to make sure that those cargo deliveries happened, safely. By his standards, it was all rather mundane. Beyond petty piracy here or there, it wasn’t as if the Alpha Quadrant was littered with dangers for the average freighter Captain delivering a shipment of stem bolts. Once he arrived at his small, provencal home on the outskirts of Tokyo, he quickly fell into his routine. It was strange -- having a routine. Even when he’d been on the Excalibur he’d not fell into an easy pattern. His training had always discouraged routines. Routines, he’d always known, were the best way to become compromised. As he begun to prepare his rather simple evening meal, he was almost alarmed when a knock came to his kitchen door. Placing his knife down, as his ears perked to attention, he wondered just who was coming at such a late hour. He rarely had visitors, and even then, they knew to use the front door. For the first time in months, he was actually concerned. He’d made any number of enemies over the years, and now that he was well outside the protection of Starfleet, perhaps they’d decided to take their revenge? He was being paranoid. Chiding himself, he wiped his hands on a cream colored hand towel and headed for the door. Opening it, he blinked. “I hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time. I know this is when you usually eat your dinner...” -- “Thank you for dinner,” Tauris Dalton said. “Your hospitality is greatly underestimated.” Corizon smirked despite himself. “The legendary hospitality of the Daemons...” “I thought your people were known as cannibals?” “We were,” he said with a wicked grin. “So, are you going to tell me what you’re doing here Taury?” Dalton placed his napkin on the table and nodded. “Unfortunately, I am here on business.” “Give me some credit,” Corizon said doing the same. “I haven’t been out the game that long. Why else would you be here? The last time I saw you, you were deposing me...” Dalton frowned. He’d hoped not to talk about that, though he supposed it was unavoidable. “I am sorry that had to be so unpleasant.” “I understand,” Corizon said honestly. since he’d ‘retired’ from Starfleet, he had plenty of time to rethink the past several years of his life and had come to the conclusion that sulking over it wouldn’t help the situation. “You did what you had to.” “Mmm,” Dalton said. “Anyway, as I said I am here on business.” Sensing Dalton’s uncomfortableness, Corizon let the subject pass and nodded. “Yes,” he said taking a drink of herbal tea. “What do you need?” “I hear you’re working for a freight company as a their chief of security?” His ears perked, turning to either side. “Yes, but...” “I’ve been asked by counsel general to remind you that despite your retirement, certa..” “You’re joking, right?” Dalton was caught off guard. “Huh?” “You really came here -- to my home -- to remind me that classified means classified even if I am not wearing the uniform anymore?” Pursing his lips, Dalton nodded. “They really told you, the Pitbull of Internal Affairs, to come down here and lecture me? Your joking, right? Nevermind, you never had that good of a sense of humor.” “I am sorry.” “No your not.” “I am.” “Whatever,” Corizon said, a bit angrier than he wanted to admit. “What do they think I am going to sell my secrets to highest bidder? Those sons of...” “To be honest,” Dalton said, “There are still a lot of questions about your … about how you handled somethings back in the Gamma Quadrant.” “Oh,” Corizon said, clenching his teeth, ears pinning back. “Their still questioning my loyalty.” Dalton, never a man known for his sympathies, did his best to soften things. “Listen Ah-Windu, there’s just a lot of... uncertainty. You know how that makes people in our line of work.” Corizon looked away. He’d dedicated his entire life to the Federation, to Starfleet. He had never once wavered in his fealty, even if he hadn’t always played within the rules. He thought those questions were long past him. “Whatever...” “You have to understand,” Dalton said. “As we’ve started doing a more extensive rev...” “A more extensive review,” Corizon challenged. “What do you mean, a more extensive review?” Dalton pursed his lips. There wasn’t going to be an easy way to around it. “In light of everything that has happened out there, the President authorized a complete review of Gamma Quadrant operations dating back to before you arrived.” The Dameon nodded. He hated politics. “I see. And I can imagine that there would be a number of … questions about some of my actions.” “Yes,” Dalton said. “Among other people, you were a central figure in daily operations for nearly four years. “At some point you’ll likely be asked to take part in a series of hearings, but until then, we wanted to make sure that you could be...” “Trusted?” Corizon said tightly. “I see.” “Like I said, you have to understand. There are a lot of questions...” “I know,” Corizon said, “It doesn’t make it any easier to accept. “Damnit, Taury. I spent thirty years serving the Federation -- I sacrificed my career...” “Not everyone sees it that way,” Dalton said honestly. “There are a number of people who think you should be in jail.” “Maybe I should,” he admitted. “But not for being a traitor.” “Treason is subjective, you know that.” Corizon looked away. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He’d always told himself that he was doing what was right, and that was all that had ever mattered. Even if it meant breaking the law -- he was on the high ground, wasn’t he? “I thought justice wasn’t an arbitrary concept.” “It’s never that simple,” Dalton said. In some ways, he pitied Corizon. The man had given himself over completely to his mission; and had lost virtually everything, for essentially doing what he thought was right. “Like I said, I didn’t come here to indict you, just remind you. Whether you like it or not, the jury is still out on just how loyal you were to the Federation. To be honest, you were lucky to get off with forced retirement. Just the incident with the Romulans alone would have been enough to ship you off to a penal colony. “And that’s not even getting into some of the more sordid affairs of the Gamma Quadrant. Damnit, you just can’t go off riding cowboy like that and expect people not to question you over it. You basically ran that quadrant like it was your own personal playground; this isn’t the old days anymore.” “I never said I was a saint.” “No, you most certainly didn’t; but you sure as hell are trying to paint yourself as a martyr.” “What’s that quaint human phrase about shoes fitting?” Dalton stopped himself from saying whatever was about to come out of his mouth and took a very deep, very long breath. “I am going to be utterly blunt with you,” he finally said. “If you think that being self-righteous about all of this is going to one day vindicate you and get you back into the good graces you’re only going to make this harder for yourself.” Almost indignant, Corizon snarled. “Who said I am trying to vindicate myself? That implies that I somehow think I was wrong. I wasn’t. I did what I had to do because no one else would. If the price was my career, so be it, but at least those bastards you and the rest of ‘Fleet were protecting have been exposed and that bloody operation is over. Sorry if I thought that a few treaties -- treaties that the Romulans only seem to care about when it suits them by the way -- were a little less important than saving the damned Quadrant from getting dragged into another war with the Dominion.” Dalton blinked, then started laughing. “It’s also so simple now. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.” “What?” “You think that you’re the righteous one. That all of those people’s lives you risked, that war with the Romulans was justified because the rest of the galaxy didn’t stop and help you with your holy crusade? You’re not James Kirk, Ah-Windu.” “Yeah,” Corizon said bitterly. “All they did to Kirk was demote him.” “You can’t be serious,” Dalton said in stunned astonishment. “You really think you should still be wearing the uniform? After everything you’ve done?” “Oh, so now we’re making this an indictment of my career,” Corizon said harshly. Dalton stopped himself from responding with what came to his mind first. After a moment he opened his mouth. “Will you get over yourself? “This isn’t just about you. Or what you’ve done. This is about ATAG, about SI, about the entire damned clandestine service. I’ll be the first to admit that back during the war, and even before, things were a little grey . But this isn’t then. This is now. Things have changed, and we aren’t running the wild west anymore.” Corizon looked away. “This isn’t about me. It’s about Starfleet. It’s about the politicians. You can’t expect me to stand and watch, while the same people preaching about procedure, policy, and proper channels, protected people willfully endangering the Federation. Like don’t get me wrong -- I most certainly agree with their goals. No one in this quadrant benefits from a strong Dominion, but dammit there are better ways...” “And those people are paying for their crimes too, same as you. And if you’d just been, I don’t know, a little more patient. If you hadn’t been so damned … so damned self-righteous … you’d still be wearing the uniform.” For a long moment, Corizon said nothing. Then finally, looking towards Dalton, he shook his head. “Would I? If I hadn’t done what I had done, would anything have ever been done?” “Of course. No one wants to see the Federation endangered by a bunch of rogue...” “Think about it Taury. This was going on for months, and not a single review had made it to the desk of the director of Starfleet Intelligence. Tell me, just who was going to do something?” “There you go again.” “You know I’ve already had this debate a thousand times with myself, right? I have asked myself this same question hundreds of times since and hundreds of times before. Was I doing the right thing? Was there another way? Was there some way for me to accomplish the goal without having to sacrifice my career, without having to risk everyone under my command?” Dalton looked at Corizon quietly. For the first time, he began to see doubt in his eyes. “And?” “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if I could have done something different, but even if I could, it can’t be changed now and there’s nothing that arguing over it now will solve.” Corizon paused and looked away, before looking back to Dalton. “I stand by my record, if they want to have a hearing.” Dalton winced. “They do.” Indifferent, Corizon shook his head. “I’ll be happy to tell them everything. I have nothing to hide anymore.” “You don’t,” Dalton said, a little surprised. “I’d very careful.” “Would you?” “Yes....”
  7. Night had fallen on San Fransico. Corizon looked out the windows of the lounge he occupied with empty expression. Behind him sat a padd with an open letter on it from the President. It was, he supposed, a rather nice gesture considering. On the otherhand, it was a reminder that his career as a Starfleet officer was over. It had ended much more auspiciously than it had begun, and perhaps before its time. For twenty-seven years he had dedicated himself to the sole purpose of protecting the Federation from any threat -- external or internal. He had fought the Cardassians, the Borg, The Dominion, and the Scorpiad. He’d twice been captured in the line of duty and imprisoned. He had been wounded in the line of duty more times than he cared to remember. During all of it, he had never waivered in his loyalty to the Federation. It was his legacy. He frowned. Listen to him. His legacy. When had he become so sentimental? Sure he didn’t want to step away from it all; he wanted to continue doing what he knew was best for both him and the Federation, but there hadn’t been other options -- or at least not ones he’d explored when they were still open to him. And so now he went to exile. No, it wasn’t exile. Exile implied that he could one day return to his former place. There was, he knew, no return to glory in store for him -- not at least as Starfleet Captain. He sighed again, his ears falling to either side. Recalling a story from his planets legends, he considered his place and the words the President had chosen towards the end of her letter. What exactly she meant wasn’t clear to him. Surely she hadn’t meant becoming a politician. The idea was amusing, but not really comforting. Perhaps that was why this was so hard. His ego would heal eventually. Sooner or later he’d come to terms with the reality that he wasn’t going to be wearing the uniform everyday ever again. Instead, maybe it was the uncertainty of what lie before him. He’d always had a path way, a goal. Now he had nothing. He considered his conversation with Victria as he’d left the lounge. “Are you just going to let them do this to you?” He stopped. He expected someone to follow after him. He hadn’t completely prepared himself for it to be Victria, though that shouldn’t have surprised him. “I am not letting them do anything...” “Are you not?” “If you mean retirement,” he said still not turning to face her. “I wouldn’t call that giving up. It’s a trade off...” “Is that what you are telling yourself?” “It’s the truth.” She stopped, looking at the man who she’d come to respect. Had he always been so... vulnerable? “Your sacrifice, though noble, is unnecessary. You know as well as I do, the crew is willing to stand up for themselves.” “I am sure they are,” he said continuing to walk again. “But I am not willing to let them do that. I am not going to put them through that because of my inability to color inside the lines.” Her icy eyes fixated on him as he resumed walking. She followed closely. “I never thought you the type to run away from your problems. A fine lesson for your crew.” “Don’t lecture me about running away from my problems,” he said harshly. “If there was another way...” “You have not even tried,” she hissed. “As soon as the Republic arrived, you gave up. Like a coward. You disappoint me, Ah-Windu.” “I am touched,” he said sarcastically. It was easier if he pretended he didn’t care. She ignored his tone. “What about the people who depend on you?” He stopped and turned to face her for the first time. “I am sure they’ll find some way to get by without me.” “Have you forgotten Ah-Windu? I am only here because of you. If you think I have enjoyed any of this, when I could be out helping my people...” “I am sorry,” he said, his voice dropping to barely a whisper. “I am sorry. I know that I’ve kept you away from your people -- I suppose that was selfish of me. I just... “ For the second time in less than an hour, she was taken aback. She couldn’t recall him ever showing this much emotion. “No,” she said. “You do not need to explain.” “Thank you,” he said, clearing his throat. “I will arrange for your commission to be ended, and see that you’re given transport back to the Gamma Quadrant. Unfortunately I doubt I’ll be able to aide your people with the resources I used to have available...” “My status is no longer your concern. No matter what you wish, or what connections you might retain, they have no interest in releasing me. I requested to remain with the Excalibur. I only hope they see value in my appointment and keep their word.” “I’ll see what I can get you before my retirement is official, I still know some people who owe me favors.” She nodded, but didn’t press for details. “I thank you for what you have already done. It is more than anyone else has been willing to do.” He smiled despite himself. “And what will you do now?” she asked, moving closer. “I don’t know. I really don’t. I suppose I’ll go back to teaching again. Obviously not at the academy.” “They would not want your services?” “Oh,” he said. “They might, but not right away. Eventually maybe, who knows.” Her icy gaze seemed to penetrate his soul. “You need purpose,” she said softly. He looked away, holding back his welling emotions. Emotions remained elusive for her, yet she knew this was hard for him. “You will find your place, Ah-Windu. You are too resilient not to find your way.” He shook his head, unwilling to listen to allow himself a measure of hope. She touched his face lightly and turned him to face her. “I first saw true defiance in you on Al-Ucard. You stood amidst the lifeless bodies, claws and fangs dripping with the blood of your captors. I thought you my enemy, but even then I respected the strength you displayed.” “I had no choice,” he said, meeting her gaze. “There is always a choice.” “These are different times. The choices I have are few.” “But there are still choices to be made. I understand your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the sake of your crew. That day, when we were alone and you offered yourself to me to appease my thirst, you showed that there can still be compassion in strength. I did not understand it at the time, but now... I think I do. If you follow this path, you do not have to do so in shame. Though it is now but a smoldering ember, the defiance burns within you still. Do not let them extinguish it.” He sighed and tucked the PADD into his brief case. Perhaps this wasn’t the end for him, but merely the beginning of a new adventure.
  8. MISSION BRIEF: The former senior staff of the Excalibur (that's you) have recieved notices to report to Command HQ ASAP, where upon reporting they've been lead to a non-descript lounge over looking the sunset on San Fransico bay.
  9. DATE: September 31, 2385 TO: Captain Ah-Windu Corizon, Commanding Officer, USS Excalibur FROM: Nainetta Charlene Bacco, President of the United Federation of Planets RE: Retirement Captain: It has been brought to my attention that you have tendered your resignation of your commission as as Captain in Starfleet. My first duty is to thank you for nearly thirty years of consecutive service to the Federation of Planets in the line of duty. According to your personnel file, you have served in nearly every major conflict the Federation and Starfleet have been part of during your tenure, and have served with exception and distinction, earning some of the highest honors to bestowed upon officers of Starfleet, including the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor, the Karagite Order of Heroism, and the Cochrane Medal of Excellence. Along with your twice awarded Purple Heart and a Prisoner of War medal, these honors are evidence of a career and lifetime spent working for the good of the Federation. Your tireless devotion to the Federation and Starfleet is an example for other officers to follow. On a more personal note, I would like to thank your for your sacrifices in the line of duty. Though your methods have not always been orthodox, you have continually maintained a devotion to the core values of the Federation. While I wish that circumstances had allowed you to continue your career in Starfleet, I hope that your retirement will not be the end of your service to the Federation. It would be a mistake, I believe, for you to completely disengage from public service and in the future I hope that you will explore the opportunities for civilian involvement in governance. Again I wish to thank you for your service to Starfleet and the Federation and wish you the best as you transition into a new phase of your life.
  10. Rain had started falling in the cool September afternoon. In his cottage in the mountains above Tokyo not far from the shores of Lake Okutama, Ah-Windu Corizon stood at the island in the center of his kitchen dicing onions while odon noodles boiled in chicken stock behind him. "Making dinner I see?" Corizon turned, his ears lifted. It took quite the feat to catch him off guard, especially in his own home. He was perhaps even more startled to see Admiral Keri Staunton leaning against the framed doorway with a slight smile upon her face. "I hope you don't mind the intrusion," she said. "Of course not," he said, putting the knife down and wiping his hands clean on a rag before straightening into attention. "At ease, Captain. No need to stand on formality. I was never officially here." Corizon's posture eased slightly, but his ears stood at attention. "Of course. Dinner will be ready soon, if you want to stay. Can I get you something to drink?" She smirked. She'd never thought of Corizon being a host. You learn something new. "Thank you," she said, "but I don't have a whole lot of time. I have an early morning meeting back at HQ in a few hours, not to mention I am fairly well adjusted to it being midnight right now." "Of course," he said, having almost forgot the time differences. "That smells wonderful, though. I am sure your detail enjoys it. I bet most of them have never had real meals." He smirked. "They seem to be fairly appreciative. I don't have a replicator so I feel rather obligated." "I hear they also appreciated your sake collection." Grinning widely, showing his fangs, Corizon leaned back against the counter top. Coyly he feigned ignorance. "I don't know what you're talking about." "Oh," she said. "I've already read the report. The poor lieutenant was scared witless that he was going to be road out on rails the next morning." Laughing he shook his head. "And?" "Commander Cotyle informed the Lieutenant that when a ranking officer offers you and your detail the opportunity to raid his personal collection of real alcohol that refusing such an offer is grounds for a court martial." "I've always been a bad influence. "I mean," he said a little more soberly. "That's why we're here aren't we?" Exhalling, she nodded again. Though she wouldn't consider him a friend, she'd known of the Captain for some years; her son had even had him as an academy instructor, as had, she noted, numerous other officers now working their way up through the ranks. Nothing about this was pleasant, she supposed, and despite the cordiality, they both knew why she was darkening his doorway. "I suppose so, yes." "Let's be honest," he said pushing off the counter. "If it had just been me. If I had just gone off on my own on a wild little adventure, we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we?" Pausing for a long moment to consider her response, she finally nodded. "Given your position with ATAG, the authority invested in that position, the people you know, your service record, the situation... likely not, no. You might get a dressing down from your superiors... but no." "And that's where I screwed myself, isn't it... not doing this alone." She frowned. She didn't want to admit that. "Yes and no... Ah-Windu." He lifted his ears. "On one hand yes," she said, "you'd have been better off doing this damned mission alone, but you shouldn't embark on such missions in the first place." She held up a hand. "I know, I know. It's the nature of the beast. You and people like you operate in the shadows. You do what you do, so the rest of us don't have to... it doesn't make it right." "I know," he said softly. "I wish... I wish that I didn't have to do it. I wish that Starfleet had cared about the situation enough to deal with it through regular channels." "But they didn't," she said flatly. "And there will be a price for those in command who covered for people involved." "Will there?" She produced a PADD and tossed it to him. "What's this?" "A list of people who will be submitting their resignation over the course of the next several months." He read it over, his eyes dancing as he came across several names he expected, and some he didn't. "How..." "Admiral Fozzolo and Vice-Admiral Abronvonvich provided your reports to my office. The President has also been doing some house cleaning and some investigating of her own. It's not a complete list by any means, and I suspect that the individuals ultimately responsible for this fracas will escape justice--but it's a start." Corizon again put his weight against the counter. "This makes me feel a little better. Thank you. My biggest worry was that well.. well with everything that has happened." "That this would be swept under the rug?" "Yes." She nodded. "I want you to know that the President herself has been involved with this and I can personally tell you that she wasn't going to just let this go." "If I may ask..." "Yes?" "If you intended to do this all above the table," he said. "Why did you let Tauris Dalton run the operation?" "I didn't," she said firmly. "It was a compromise." "Ah." "The individuals involved agreed to resign quietly and cooperate with the investigation if we left Tauris depose you." Skeptically, "And that's all they asked for?" She smirked. "You should know better than that. Whether or not they get it..." "Hmm?" "Listen," she said, "I respect you. I don't agree with your methods, but I respect you. As head of the Board of Inquiry I shouldn't even be here, but I am. You're a decorated officer who's given his entire life to the Federation. You've made mistakes, some of them bigger than others. But then we've all made mistakes. And you deserve to know ahead of time what's going to happen when you go before the Board of Inquiry in two days." He nodded respectfully. "You're guilty. You've admitted your guilt, and we all know it. You know it, we know it, the whole Federation knows it. The Romulans certainly know it." Again, he nodded. "I know." "The Board is going to rule against you. We don't have any choice. We're doing this the right way, but we're also not going to throw you to the wolves so Intelligence can cover its' ass." He nodded, again. "I appreciate that." "The Board is going to recommend a court-martial on charges of dereliction of duty and violation of intergalactic treaty. "You will, of course, be found guilty." "And my crew?" "Frankly," she said. "They should be strung up their ears. But its understandable how this happened. You should never have been in command of these people in the first place. You should never have been in command of a starship. "We both know that. Your ability to lead people combined with your willingness to disobey rules and regulations whenever it suits might have made you a hero a hundred years ago, but this isn't a hundred years ago and you're not Jim Kirk." Corizon smirked, only slightly; it was a comparison he'd not really considered. "And what about my crew?" "You crew," she said sternly. "Should be shaken within an inch of their lives for going along with this, but you and I both know that this isn't their fault." "Yeah," he said. "I've said I should take full responsibility..." Staunton held up a hand to stop him. "Well... that's really what I came here about Ah-Windu..."
  11. OOC Date May 30, 2010 IC Date June 12, 2385 After dropping of the confiscated weapons to a Starfleet Intelligence report, Excalibur responded to a possible Scorpiad distress call. Upon arrival, Excalibur located a heavily damaged Scorpiad freighter. The freighter requested emergency beam out for their crew and living cargo. Captain Corizon agreed to this, beaming 18 Al-Ucard and Eratian prisoners aboard as well as six Scorpiads. TBS: Seconds.
  12. OOC Dates January 23 - April 24, 2011 IC Date August 17 - September 29 Summary to Come
  13. Though he technically called Tokyo his home, that wasn’t entirely accurate either. Instead Corizon’s actual home was a small, traditional Japanese cottage nestled in the high mountains around Lake Okutama overlooking Tokyo proper. It was quiet and isolated and had always allowed him the calm he needed to recenter himself after long days either at Starfleet Academy and Command in San Fransico or at the ATAG headquarters in Berlin, now it seemed almost foreign to him as he slid closed the fusuma that currently separated the i-ma from his wa######su, but at least he was finally home. Five years had past since he’d spent any time on Earth at all, and at least that long since he’d had an opportunity to spend more than a hurried evening in the place he’d called home for almost twenty years before he was assigned to the Gamma Quadrant. He would have to thank San’le again later for securing his release into “home custody,” and though his confinement in New Zealand hadn’t been particularly draconian there was something about being in familiar surroundings. As he headed for the closet to change out of his uniform, he heard the fusuma slide open behind him. “Captain?” “Yes,” he said without turning to face the lieutenant who’d been assigned to head the detail ‘guarding’ him. “What can I help you with?” “Quite the place you have here.” “Thank you. Happy to have you. Well as happy as I can be under the circumstances.” The boyish, blond haired lieutenant smirked. “Yeah,” he said. “We found our bedrooms on the first floor ready to go.” Corizon nodded and disappeared behind a small divider to change clothing. “Good good. What can I do for you then? You need help setting something up?” Smiling the Lieutenant shook his head, not that Corizon could see him, just out of habit. “Oh, nothing like that sir. Just the boys were... well kind of hungry and uh...” “There’s no replicator in the kitchen?” “Uh, no, sir.” “You don’t have to call me sir. And that is correct. I never bothered to have one installed.” “Oh.” “Don’t sound so disappointed,” Corizon said emerging in a more traditional Dameon attire that somewhat resembled a jinbe. “When was the last time you even had real food, hmm?” The lieutenant smirked wider, thinking that this might turn out to be a decent assignment afterall. “Before I went to the Academy.” “Exactly. Listen, let me do a few more things around the house, then we can head down to the village market and do some shopping. I’ll make dinner for the whole lot of you tonight, and we can get something from a street vendor in the mean time.” “That would be more than acceptable, si... Captain.” “Call me Ah-Windu. I don’t think they’re going to be calling me Captain much longer anyway.” The lieutenant nodded soberly. He didn’t know exactly what the Captain had done, but he knew enough about the man from reputation to know that he was a good officer whatever else was going on, and that was enough for him. Still it was a stark reminder that this wasn’t a week of leave either. “Now run on along,” Corizon said with a grin. “I have some things I want to do before we head to the market.” “Of course. Is there anything I can do for you, sir.. Cap... Ah-Windu?” “Not right now. Though if anyone comes to see me, let me know who they are before you let them in, okay?” It seemed a bit odd, but the lieutenant wasn’t going to question it. “Of course, I’ll let Sanderson and Granelle know.” Corizon nodded and the lieutenant headed out, closing the fusama behind him, leaving Corizon alone with his thoughts once more. After a few moments he opened the shoji on the far wall allowing air to flow in from the roka before rolling out a futon. He laid down and closed his eyes taking in deep breaths of the cool fall air flowing down from the mountains. The entire ordeal had been exhausting, mentally and physically. His return to Earth had been particularly frustrating as he was no longer in control and now at the mercy of Starfleet and Federation bureaucrats. After the initial hearing, which he and his representation had walked out of, the deposition phase of the board of inquiry had been surprisingly civil, if not tedious as he restated the situation over and over. He’d been informed his crew had also been deposed and that they’d largely been very helpful and cooperative. He sighed to himself. He hated that they were being made to suffer for his faults. Sure they could have bucked him, but could anyone really expect that to happen? As he quieted his mind, he considered that his ordeal was only really beginning. The depositions were over, for now. Tauris Dalton now had everything he’d need to effectively end Corizon’s career, and possibly those of more than a few under his command. That particular inevitability only bothered him a little, and he’d mostly came to terms with ending his career. He only hoped that in the end, the sacrifice would mean something. The Dominion had allowed the Federation to continue proliferating is presence in the Gamma Quadrant over the last five years. During that time, they’d come to be almost partners and the Federation had expanded to include nearly twenty colonies and what would soon be two starbases in the heart of the Dominion space. However, it was a delicate balance as the embers that had once fueled the Dominion War remained warm and stokable; those same colonies exsisted only with the blessing of the Dominion, and how long would that blessing remain intact if the Federation were actively helping to destabilize the Dominion by smuggling weapons through the wormhole? He sighed and tried to push the thought out of his mind. There was little he could do now. Other than wait. He hated waiting. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to wait long, though. San’le had told him that Dalton intended to file his official report sometime in the next few days; after that it would go to the Board of Inquiry along with the depositions from his crew, along with the mountain of evidence gathered from the Excalibur itself. Then, the board of inquiry would make a recommendation. And just when that would come, however, remained an open question. He hated waiting.
  14. The conference room that served as the hearing room for JAG depositions at the Dunedin Railway Station facility was rather quiet, considering. On one side of the long, Tawa wood table that straddled the center of the room Captain Tauris Dalton and a half-dozen aides of various ranks shuffled through PADDs; on the other side, Captains Ah-Windu Corizon and his JAG representative San'le Yeann sat placidly with neat stacks of PADDs organized beside two carafes of water. Dalton looked towards the antiquated, but rather functional wall clock and cleared his throat as an assistant cleared out the PADDs and presented him with a tablet. On some level he took no joy in having to bring down a decorated officer, like Corizon; but on second, deeper level, he would personally enjoy bringing down a smug, arrogant, ATAG ass like Corizon. “Well,” he said, mirthless in his expression. “Let us begin. This conversation is being recorded, Captain, and anything you say will be presentable as evidence for the Board of Inquiry and admissible in any further investigations, trials or hearings. A copy of the transcript will be placed in your file for future reference, though at this time it will be classified until further notice. If we’re clear on those items let us proceed.” Corizon glanced to his right to Yeann before nodding his understanding to Dalton. “Perfectly.” “Please state for the record you current rank and assignments.” “Captain Ah-Windu Corizon, Commanding Officer, USS Excalibur, Senior Field Operative for Gamma Quadrant Affairs for the Advanced Tactical Assessment Group.” “Thank you Captain.” “Could you, for the benefit of the Board elaborate on exactly what your position with ATAG entails and how it relates to your function as senior command level officer within the Gamma Quadrant Command?” Corizon glanced to Yeann again, before nodding. “As a Senior Field Operative within ATAG it is my duty to assist in the collection, collation and dissemination of tactical information gathered by several dozen officers dispersed throughout the Fleet back to ATAG headquarters on Earth for further analysis and take action on any items that my superiors feel warranted as to protect the safety and security of the Federation and the integrity of the peace in the Alpha Quadrant.” Nodding, Dalton considered how practiced that line was, and noted that Corizon would indeed be a worthy adversary. “I see. And if those orders conflict with those in your duties as Commander of the Excalibur?” “According to regulation 126.35, subsection A, orders from ATAG General Command supersede those of any lower ranking officers or command positions, including my direct fleet superior.” Dalton nodded again, glancing to an assistant before taking a PADD in his hand. “Ah,” he said noncommittally. “Though you’ve already elaborated this in a report which has been submitted the Board of Inquiry, could you please run us back through the series of events which led to your actions regarding acquiring an illegal device and then using that device, while away without leave, to violate the Neutral Zone and engage in a bevy of alleged activities inconsistent with regulations, Captain.” The casualness with which Dalton dismissed his mission caused a twinge of annoyance to travel up his spine, but he felt the firm hand of Yeann on his leg and he settled his ears. She leaned close enough to whisper softly in his ear, “Don’t let him provoke you Captain. Just answer him honestly. You don’t have anything to hide at this point.” Corizon took a long deep breath before proceeding to recount the last several months of intrigue in matter-of-fact fashion. As he came to his meeting with Semil en route to the wormhole, Dalton held up his hand. “Now let me get this correct, Captain.” Pausing, Corizon nodded. “Yes?” “You took a call from a known rebel Vorta and disclosed sensitive, classified information…” “He already knew about it,” Corizon said. “He came to me, remember?” “Isn’t it possible he was simply trying to confirm rumors?” Pursing his lips, Corizon frowned and started to open his mouth when Yeann’s surprisingly forceful voice interrupted him. “He’s not going to answer a speculative question like that.” “He may have too.” “Not today he doesn’t.” Dalton frowned but waived a hand. “Very well,” he said. “So you communicated with the Vorta Semil, yes?” “He’s never denied that.” Rather annoyed that Yeann was playing hardball, Dalton hardened his tone. “I am aware, I am just trying…” “To entrap him? Try harder. Move on.” His bit back a response before taking a deep breath. “Continue please Captain.” “Semil contacted me as a favor,” he said. “Whatever his motives where he wanted to let me know that the Dominion knew about the smuggling and were for whatever reason suppressing them.” “Yet Starfleet has no official record of this smuggling ring.” “I am sure they don’t, were you listening?” “Uhuh.” “Listen,” he said cutting in before Yeann could stop him. “Someone was smuggling weapons and someone was covering for them. I have submitted evidence of that both in my official reports, they’re classified but I know damned well you have access to that information; and if they were deleted I can provide the hard copies from my own files. If you’re going to play a cat and mouse game with me here over whether or not there were ever really weapons being smuggled let’s just stop now because that’s a load. I also have the official communiqués ordering me to turn the weapons over to a Starfleet Intelligence ship –a ship that apparently either doesn’t exist or was fabricated, but they presented the required credentials and the paper work was authenticated.” Yeann grinned despite herself as Dalton fumed. It was clear that this wasn’t going according to his plans. “Very well,” he said through gritted teeth. “Then let’s get straight to it, Captain.” “That would be a welcome change.” Corizon felt a glare from Yeann but he couldn’t help himself. Men like Dalton made him rather ill, and he had little contempt for them. After shooting Yeann a look, Dalton took another deep breath. “Your report details a very lurid tale of a Captain taking matters into his own hands. You violated no less than a half-dozen regulations, possibly more, and broke at least two major intergalactic treaties all because of suspicion that someone within Starfleet was working with someone in the Romulan Empire to destabilize the Dominion and you did so after collaborating with a rebel member of an ally who functions for a government we don’t officially recognize and who you aren’t authorized to negotiate with, compound that with the incident with the Al-Ucard and Eratia…” Before Corizon could protest Yeann’s voice rose forth with the intensity of a powerful wave. “That incident has nothing to do with this Board of Inquiry, Captain. Further in that particular incident, my client was operating with the full support of his direct Commanding Officer. If you continue to bring unrelated matters into this deposition I will have to end it and file an official protest.” Dalton glowered. “I merely stating the facts, Captain, as to why we’re gotten here. Your client is a reckless, unchained rouge officer who does whatever he wants when he wants and then tries to justify it…” Yeann grabbed her PADDs and shoved them forcefully into a bag before standing and motioning to her aide and Corizon to follow. “We’re done here, Captain. When you want to actually have a deposition, instead of acting like you’re the judge, jury and executioner let my aides know; in the mean time I will be filing that protest when I get back to my office.” Rather amused, Corizon grinned and stood heading for the door behind her. Stunned at what had transpired, it took a full minute before Dalton had recovered the ability to do anything but blink. When he did, he snapped at an aide before standing up and following out to catch the trio before they could leave the area. By that time, Corizon had already been taken by his ‘bailiff’ back to his holding cell and Yeann was waiting in the grand foyer for her transport to arrive. “San’le,” he said, doing his best to stay calm. “Don’t act like you’re my friend, Captain.” He frowned and looked away for a moment, trying his hardest to keep from saying something that would make the situation worse. “I … I am sorry about that.” “You’d better be,” she said harshly. “I don’t give a damn about who you think you are, but this is an official JAG operation and we’re not going to treat this like some damned internal affairs investigation. I don’t like Corizon anymore than you do, but I’ll be damned if I am going to let you hang him up to dry because you have a gear to grind.” “I have my priorities too you know.” “I am sure you do,” she said. “I don’t care what they are. I don’t care if Intelligence looks like a laughing stock before the entire fleet. I don’t care how many other people end up needing JAG services. If you want to hold Corizon accountable, then your people have to be too or this is little more than a farce and I won’t be part of an abortion of justice to save someone at Intelligence’s ass because they were careless or too cowardly to act sooner. Say what you want about that ‘reckless’ officer you’ve got up in a holding cell, he has the courage to do what he thinks is right even if it means his career.” “And if it means publicly airing dirty laundry that could cause a war?” “Maybe those people should have thought about that before they acted contrary to law and regulation. Funny, you should say that while trying to convict Corizon of the same thing though.” Dalton looked away again. “Maybe your right.” “There’s no maybe about it.” “Alright,” he finally said. “I will promise to treat this…” “Like the JAG officer you trained to be, Tauris.” He bit back something, before nodding. “Like a real JAG investigator. “ “Good, then we can resume the depositions tomorrow morning. You have my word that Captain Corizon will answer any legitimate questions put before him.” “Thank you. Anything else?” Rather pleased with herself, but seeing the opportunity for what it was she decided to press for something. “You will also arrange for the Captain to be released to home confinement. There’s no reason to keep him here locked up. He’s not a flight risk and he has a home in Tokyo.” Frowning deeper and deeper, Dalton sighed. “I’ll see what I can do.” “And one more thing, Tauris.” “Yes?” “If you ever, and I mean ever, try to pull a stunt like that again I will nail your ja’le-to to my office door.”
  15. Author's Note: Log occurs sometime before Excalibur on 4/10/11 Ishaka Nuguri glanced out the window as San Fransico shrank in the background as the magtrain carried him towards his final destination at Starfleet's JAG headquarters in Malibu. He leaned back into the soft, grey and blue upholstered seats and closedhis eyes preparing himself for the nearly five-hundred kilometer trek from San Fransico to Malibu. His thoughts bounced back and forth as he considered the assignment that Admiral Keri Staunton had given him only a few hours before in her office. "Commander," Staunton said, as they walked from her office and through the gardens of command headquarters. "I am glad you were available on such short notice." "Of course," he said. Glancing away for a moment, he considered how lovely San Francisco was this time of year, and how much it always reminded him of his first fall at the Academy, nearly twenty years ago. "I assume you've read the dossier," she asked. "Yes," he said, returning his attention to her. "What wasn't classified anyway." She nodded with a frown. "Ah, yes," she said, "there is a lot of classified intelligence surrounding this whole mess." "My favorite kind of intelligence," he mused. "I noticed that the principle witness in the case, Captain Corizon was…" "Has already been detained and is in our custody?" "Yes," he said. "Rather curious, isn't it." Staunton frowned. She hadn't particularly liked the little bit of jurisprudence, and it initially had been taken out of her hands by a few overzealous admirals at Starfleet Command who thought Corizon was some sort of flight risk, despite him turning himself in and, so far, being entirely cooperative with the investigation into his actions and those of his crew. "Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss that particular facet of the situation. Your assignment will be limited in scope to the Excalibur's crew." Nuguri frowned. He didn't like anything he'd heard about this situation, and the more he found out or rather the more he found was being kept from him, the more he disliked it. "I see," he said skeptically. "Admiral, off the record, just what the hell is going on here. I've worked with you, what no less than five times in the last decade and I can never remember a board of inquiry that was more cloaked insecrecy. Hell I hear that the actual board testimony and hearings are closed and the transcripts have been preemptively sealed." Keri stopped near a colorful arrangement of plants and glanced away for a moment and out into the rolling blue waves of the Pacific Ocean before turning to face Nuguri. "Seven,"she said morosely. The response caught Nuguri off-guard. "Huh?" "Seven," she repeated."You've worked with me seven times Ishaka, and no I don't think I've ever been part of something this convoluted and I don't like it any more than I suspect you do, perhaps even less." "I see," he said. "So what's up?" She tucked her hands behind her back and frowned. "The board of inquiry," she said, "has been formed by the President's office, directly." He nodded. Though rare, such directives weren't completely irregular, especially given what he did know about that case. "I see." "President Bacco has good reason to believe that there is something larger going on here," she said,"and the Captain Corizon…" "Was part of it?" Staunton shook her heard. "No. Nan… the President believes… that he was trying to uncover a larger conspiracy." Nuguri frowned even deeper. "I see." "Regardless," Staunton said straightening both her uniform and her resolve, "our job remains unaffected by whatever motives the Captain may have had and whether or not there is some sort of godforsaken conspiracy going on. The specific charge before the Board of Inquiry is to investigate the actions of Captain Corizon and his crew and determine if their actions merit a courts martial or not." He sighed as they resumed walking. "And I suppose the phrase extenuating circumstances is foreign?" "Not entirely." "Ah." "Because of the complexity of the issue," she said, "it was the decision of the Board ofInquiry that we split this into two investigative units. Given your experience,I thought you'd be ideal to handle the management of the crew's hearings and depositions." "Thank you," he said. "I assume that I have a fair degree of freedom of action, within regs?" She nodded. "This is your investigation. The board will meet to discuss your findings, but unless we require more testimony,we won't individually depose any of the officers before the full board." "Understood. And if I may ask, who's handling the other side of this – I assume that means Captain Corizon himself?" She nodded. "Yes. The Captain's depositions will be handled separately by Captain Tauris Dalton." He lifted his brows. "Dalton? Oh that's… but he's not JAG?" "Correct," she said. "I was overruled on his appointment." Blinking, Nuguri shook his head. "The head of the Board of Inquiry was overruled? By who?" "Starfleet Command.They felt that due to the 'sensitive nature' of the Captain's testimony, that more than just a JAG investigator was required to properly depose the Captain." "This gets more worrisome…" "By the minute? You can say that again." ­As the magtrain sped off towards Malibu, Ishaka let the conversation steppe in his head. -- Dunedin Railway Station was quiet enough that Ah-Windu Corizon could hear the footsteps coming up the stairs towards his 'holding' area which was actually the former manager's office of the historic rail station that now served as special administrative unit for the JAG, essentially it existed as secure location for JAG to place people of interest for holding when neither a penal colony or the facilities in California where appropriate. He'd rather expected to meet his defense JAG representative, a Captain San'le Yeann, he was instead rather surprised to see Captain Tauris Dalton. "Captain." "Captain." Dalton waived to the security guard to lower the force field. "And what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from the pitbull of Starfleet Intelligence himself?" Dalton expression soured. "I am not here for my health,Ah-Windu." "Oh?" "It is my pleasure to inform you that I will be running the investigation into your actions leading up to and during your recent expedition into Romulan space." Corizon lifted an ear, considering correcting the information, he decided it was more important find out why an internal investigator for Starfleet Intelligence had been assigned a JAG function. "I see," Corizon said. "Well then, if that's all…" "I don't believe you're in a position to dismiss me, Ah-Windu." "Oh," Corizon said with a sly grin. "I believe I am. You're not getting a word out of me until I have met with my JAG representative, and you're most certainly not going to depose me without her present." Tall, broad shouldered and square chinned, Tauris Dalton cast an imposing figure. Still next to the confidence of the Dameon, he seemed somewhat small. "If you're going to play that way…" "Oh," Corizon said. "If you think for a moment I am going to let myself get steamrolled by Intel trying to save their ass, you have another thing coming Taury." Dalton narrowed his eyes. "I came here out of professional courtesy to give you an opportunity to spare yourself from the embarrassment that I am going to give you. I see I was mistaken." Corizon rolled his eyes and leaned back into the couch he'd been occupying. "The only embarrassment," he said, "is going to be when intelligence has to admit that they were letting a covert operation to smuggle weapons into the gamma quadrant go on and that they've been hiding it for months now." "We'll see…" It was at that point that a thin, blue-purple skinned San'leYeann entered the 'holding cell.' "Captain Dalton," the Azellailian female said in a harsh, cutting voice that didn't seem possible from such a lithe creature."I do hope you weren't attempting to question Captain Corizon without me being present. It would be a shame for me to have to file a grievance against you with the Board of Inquiry before I even meet with my client, hmm?" Dalton glowered, but quickly suppressed his displeasure. "Of course not, Captain," he said. "I was merely introducing myself to Mister Corizon here. I was just about leave. My assistant will be in touch with you to arrange our first session this afternoon." "Of course," Yeann said without a hint of emotion. "Now if you'll be on your way, I'd like to meet with my client in private." Momentarily defeated, Dalton slunk off behind the forcefield, leaving Yeann with a rather satisfied Corizon. "Wipe that grin off your face, Captain." He smirked before sobering. "Of course. It was just…" "If you think for one moment I am going to enjoy even a millisecond of defending you, you're out of a canine mind." "Now now… may I call you San'le?" The Azellailian glowered, her chartreuse irises narrowing as two flaps on the back of her neck spread open and contracted. "Very well, Ah-windu,I suppose. Now listen, I am not going to enjoy this not even a little. I don't really give a damn why you went on your little crusade – my job here is to defend you from the likes of that bastard." "And I appreciate it," he said. Settling herself, she unslung a black bag and laid it on the coffee table across from Corizon. "Now, first thing is first. I am not going to lie for you and you're not going to lie to me. If you start lying to me I will be very unhappy." "You know that's not in my best interest, right?" She glowered again. "The truth, Captain, will set you free." "Oh I doubt freedom is really an option at this point." "It was a metaphor." He chucked, before catching her glare again. "Please Captain," she said. "I only ask two things from those I represent: you tell me the truth, and that you take the proceedings seriously. I've read your file, you make Odysseus look like a con-artist; but if you think for a moment that the Board of Inquiry won't throw you in a prison cell for the rest of your life…" "On the contrary," he said sobering. "I think it's very clear from their actions that they not only will, but they intend to do so. Infact I think intelligence would like me to go away as quickly as possible." Sighing, Yeann finally took a seat on the opposite couch. "As much as I'd rather not admit it, I think you're right. That they let that juu'loak Dalton lead the investigation into you speaks volumes." Corizon shook his head. "I expected more out of Stauton and frankly the President. I didn't think they would go along with this…" "They didn't," Yeannsaid. "The President cannot directly intervene, but Admiral Staunton was furious that Command let that happen." "Whatever," Corizon said. "Nothing I am going to tell themis going to matter anyway. They're going to bury this whole matter in a pit deeper than the Tanoin Chasm and me along with it." "Not if I have anything to say about it." "Oh," he said. "I thought you didn't like me." "I don't," she responded quickly. "You're a reckless, cloak-and-dagger clandestine service operative who takes matters into his own hands when he should try to work within the system…" She preempted him with a hand wave. "Still, just because you don't observe regulations does not mean that you don't deserve to be protected by them just the same as any other officer; and I am not just going to stand around and let them toss you in a cell without due process. "Now, let's get to business shall we? Our first hearing will be tomorrow morning."
  16. Keri Staunton sat placidly drinking a cup of warm ja-jun in her office overlooking San Fransisco Bay. She'd just finished an afternoon of meetings with Admiral Chadwick and Rear Admiral Blurox concerning what was now being nearly universally referred to as The Excalibur Incident. How one small ship could cause such big problems defied logic; there were, after all, thousands of starships operating underthe auspicious of Starfleet Command and none of them had managed to bring theFederation on the verge of an intergalactic crisis lately. She sighed and finished her ja-jun, letting the last of the thick, seagreen liquid flow down her throat before opening the monitor on her desk once more. The report from the Republic had been most interesting as the situation had gotten more and more convoluted the deeper one dug into it. Apparently not only had Captain Corizon managed to acquire a cloaking device, reportedly from the 'Hundred' but he also had taken both Federation and Romulan citizens into 'custody' on suspicion they were involved with the smuggling ring he wasintending to break up. Staunton felt asurge at her temples. How on Earth had she let herself be talked into headingup the investigation into this sorted affair? "Keri," Nanietta Bacco said with a warmsmile. "It's nice to see you again, though I wish it were under better circumstances." Staunton nodded back. It was good to seeher old friend. Her and the now President of the Federation had once spent a summer together sharing a flat while they were both interning at the FederationHigh Court of Appeals and had stayed close ever since, though lately not as close as either liked. That she'd called her in on business told her that this wasn't going to be an opportunity for them to bond. "It's been a while," Stauton said with a nostalgicsmile, "still I am always happy to see you Nan, though I am assuming from your message this isn't a social call." Bacco smiled and ran a hand over her silver hair. "As usual, you get right to the point." Both women exchanged light smirks before Bacco continued. "But yes," she said. "I wish I was just calling you in for tea and chance to catch up, however, the universe seems beset to keep us from being able to do that." "That will happen when you're the mostimportant person in the Quadrant," Staunton teased. "What's the matter?" Bacco looked away out towards the Paris skyline and pursed her lips. "What I am about to tell you, Keri, is classified.Right now only my senior advisors and a handful of Starfleet Admirals have been briefed on it. The Security Council hasn't even been fully briefed yet." Staunton nodded. She didn't have to tell Nan that she could trust her, that was already implicit by even having the conversation.After a few moments, Bacco brought her upto speed on the events of the last several months in regards to the Gamma Quadrant, the Excalibur, Captain Corizon, and her conversation with Thomas Fozzolo. When she'd finished Keri sat, not exactly stunned, but rather surprised. Not that something like this had happened – it had happened before – but that it had managed to slip through the cracks so long was disconcerting. "Alright," Keri said. "And what do you want me to do?" "When Republic returns with the Excalibur," she said. "I am going to ask the council to appoint you to run the investigation under JAG." "Okay," she said with a moment of hesitation. That had been alittle over a week ago and she still hadn't fully felt comfortable with thesituation. The scope of the incident was still overwhelming. If what Fozzolo had told the President was true, then it extended well into the upper echelonsof Starfleet and the Federation government itself. How was she supposed to fight that? She frowned again. "So what exactly is going to be the scope of my investigation?" "Specifically you will be asked to lead the inquiry into the actions of Captain Corizon and by extension his crew." "And the other stuff?" Bacco took a deep breath. "If it comes up in the investigation," she said, choosing her words delicately. "Then of course you're to pursue it to the extent you feel required and at the end you will be free to make any recommendations." "Good," Staunton said, exhaling. "I won't lead a witch hunt." "And I am not going to ask you to either,"Bacco said firmly. "I want to get to the bottom of this, but I also want to do it the right way. Captain Corizon needs to have his day in court." "And the rest?" "In time, I think we can shed enough light on this to flush a lot of it out." It was a complicated case. On one hand, the Captain had readily admitted in his deposition to Admiral Blurox of willingly violating treaty and ignoring orders;but the mitigating circumstances meant that they needed to hear everything from everyone they could. She frownedagain as she glanced at her chrono, noticing that the first official meeting of the board of inquiry would start in less than an hour. And if figuring out what to do with Corizon wasn't going to be complicated enough – there was the sticky matter of figuring out what to do with his crew.
  17. Fiona Weber stepped carefully into Republic's brig, monitoring her steps. She had not gone far without her cane since the Oest incident -- only as far as the replicator outside her office to get a raktajino, on a good day... but she'd be damned if she let the damned Dameon see her limping in on the thing. She nodded to the security ensign on duty. "I am here to see Doct-- Captain Corizon," she said, forcing a slight smile. Corizon heard the voice and lifted a ear, though he remained in a quasi-lotus position on the small bench of the brig. The ensign also lifted a brow, but it wasn't as if he cared. No one had told him the Captain wasn't allowed visitors. "Um, sure," he said, motioning her towards the cell block. "There you go, Doctor." "Thank you, Ensign," she acknowledged, turning the corner into the row of cells. It wasn't hard to find him. Oh, no. They only had one bad little dog in their pound. She slowed as she approached his cell, arching an eyebrow as she came to a stop in front of the Dameon. Fiona stared for a long moment in silence, crossing her arms as she regarded him. "Doctor Corizon, I presume." He didn't bother opening his eyes, nor did he move. "Captain," he corrected, coolly. "What can I help you with?" "Old habits," she said, dismissively. "You'll always be Doctor to me, whatever rank they paste on your collar..." She smiled, her eyes glittering. "Or take off. Pips are fleeting after all, aren't they?" "You'd know, I suppose." Her smile fell in an instant. "Really, Corizon," she snapped, dropping into a stronger British accent than her voice usually bore. "I don't think you're in any position to make such snide remarks. Look at you. You're in the bloody brig. Run by a crew you left high and dry while you went off... God knows doing what." "I have no intention of explaining myself to you," he said, finally opening his eyes. "So whatever you've came down here for, I suggest you get on with it." She smiled again. "Why, I thought you'd be happy to see a friendly face during your darkest hour. Did I need another reason?" "This hardly compares to being held prisoner by the Cardassians." He didn't mention that if it didn't compare to his imprisonment by just the Cardassians, that his imprisonment by the Cardassians and Vorta blew it out of space. Fiona dropped her voice, taking another step closer to the forcefield. "You're sitting in a Caitian admiral's brig, on a Starfleet starship, you're about to be disgraced before the whole fleet, and you're not at all upset. Why, do you have another conniving little plan to get out of all of this?" "I knew what risks I was taking," he said, burrowing his self-doubts beneath a sheen of calmness. "And I knew that there would be a price to pay for them as well." "Really, did you? Did you know you'd be on the verge of sacrificing your damned career, and everything you've worked for? You're a damned captain, and you're throwing that away. You know the kinds of things you can do for the Federation when you're in a position like that. Now who's going to? Not someone with your experience, that's for sure." She snorted indelicately. "Tell me, Ah-Windu. Were you even thinking when you left us floating in space, moments away from having life support fail?" "Your situation wasn't that desperate," he corrected. "And yes, I'd rather intended for the Jamestown to pick you up." He took a breath, pushing the annoyance out of his mind -- the claim that he'd abandoned still bristled him. "As for the rest of that," he said, "my career is less important than the safety of the Federation. If you think I would put my career before that, then you don't understand what my career has been built upon." "I'm not talking about your career. I'm talking about the fact that wherever you go from here, you're not going to be saving the Federation anymore. I think you reacted and went boldly forward without considering the consequences. I think you got cocky. I think that you got so damned confident in your own abilities to get out of anything that you went rogue without even considering all of the consequences. Hell, any of them." She jabbed a finger forward, millimeters from the forcefield. "I think you got sloppy, Corizon." He actually laughed. "Well," he said with a grin he couldn't help, "I appreciate your assessment of me, but we all know how accurate that's been in the past." "Extremely accurate," she snapped, face falling quickly into a scowl. "You can stop your sarcasm at any time. You're the one sitting in a cage right now, not me." She smiled again, without a trace of sweetness. "I've had a... misstep here and there--" "We all have our own cages," he said as the grin faded. "But if you must know, I did know full well I'd more than likely be sacrificing my career when I gave my orders. There's a reason they give cadets Kobyashi Maru you know." "We always have choices, Doct... Captain. You've made yours. I don't know what was going through your mind at the time. Was whatever convoluted mission you...Captain Courageous... were destined to undertake so damned important that it couldn't have waited a few days? Or that your contacts couldn't have provided a cover for you?" A slow smile started to spread again. "Assuming, of course, you still have friends in the industry." He gave her a puzzled look. "Of course I do, not that I care. Besides, I couldn't risk someone finding out I had a damned cloaking device sitting in my engineering office." He also wondered how many times he was going to have to explain himself before they understood that throwing away his career was the least of his worries. She barked out a laugh. "Oh please, I highly doubt that..." She stopped. "That you had a what?" Now rather proud of himself, he leaned back into the wall. "Oh," he said, slyly. "I suppose they wouldn't tell a simple doctor now would they?" "Don't you dare call me that, you treacherous little canine," she fired off, bristling. "You actually. Truly, had a cloaking device." Fiona snorted again, which proceeded to turn into a laugh, then another. Laughing hurt, though, and she stopped fairly quickly, putting a soothing hand on her side. "Oh, God. That's priceless." He smirked. "I hear my chief engineer put a pink case on it, too." "Let me see if I can get this right. Let me," she said, biting down on her smile and looking at the Dameon. "You have a fracking cloaking device. God only knows why you have a cloaking device. But you have a cloaking device. On your ship. And you have some secret mission, that's safety-of-the-Federation worthy, Captain Canine must go and save the day. And since you have this cloaking device, which the Romulans would skewer you for if they knew about, you decided to go... bloodhounding around the damned Neutral Zone." "Why else do you think I had the cloaking device in the first place? You can't exactly cross into Romulan space without one, now can you?" Her back still throbbing from the laugh attack, she pressed a button from the wall running along the side of the cell, taking a seat on the bench that emerged. "No, I know you can't. But..." She nearly started laughing again. "Ah-Windu, darling. That's precious." The smile fell. "Did you consider the fact -- your own worthless career aside -- that you could have started a war?" she inquired, mildly. "The thought had occurred to me," he said honestly. "However, the war that could have been started had I not was going to be far worse, and far more likely." "Oh, really?" she asked, leaning forward and propping her chin on her hand. He leaned back again. "I am not going into details because I certainly don't trust you, but just take me at my word -- the alternative was far, far worse." "I"m hurt," she answered. "If you told anyone it should have been me." "I'd tell the leader of the Dominion first." Not that he wouldn't, or that she likely didn't know everything he knew if not more, but Fiona certainly didn't know that. "Sticks and stones, Corizon. It isn't as if I've ever betrayed you, exactly. But no matter. Such things bore me anyway," she lied. "Now," he said placidly. "What is it you came down here for?" "I'm chief medical officer," she said, leisurely, thinking she'd finally started to get under his skin. "And it's my duty to conduct a proper psychological and psychiatric evaluation of our pet rogue." Fiona had received no such directive, but initiative never hurt a woman. "I'm going to see if there's a mental deficiency to cause you to act in such a shameful manner.' "You're not even a psychologist," he pointed out. "And you should know by now that I am going to pass every psych evaluation given to me." "I generalize, and I did cross-training in psychology," she reminded him, and gave him a slight smile. "And yes, Captain. I do know that all too well." Fiona pulled out a padd with a sigh, activating it and its record function. "In the past six months, have you started taking any new medications or been diagnosed with..."
  18. He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself doesnot become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazesinto you. - "Beyond Good and Evil", Aphorism 146 (1886) He wasn't entirely sure how long he'd been in the Republic's brig. He'd been sitting in the same cell, largely undisturbed for several hours, at least, in a quasi-lotus position meditating. Though he'd never admit it, even perhaps on some level to himself, there was an indignity about the entire situation. He had, after all, dedicated his entire life to theservice of the Federation, given his blood for them even. And here he was, sitting in the brig like little more than a common criminal. Of course, he wasn't a common criminal. He was, after all, a renegade Captain who'd taken matters into his own hands when he felt the regular chain of command no longer sufficient and in doing so he'd not only endangered the lives of his entire crew, but also put the Federation in an intensely delicateposition by breaking long established treaties with an often pricklyneighbor. In one defiant act, he'd likely thrown his entire career away; and for what? A few conspirators, a case of Romulan weapons, some data that Starfleet would have obtained anyway, and a half-decrypted computer core that might or might not contain the information needed to end the smuggling. Perhaps it was failure, not pride that gnawed at him the most. He had done far more questionable acts in the past, and this wasn't the first time he'd played cowboy either – but he'd never, in his recollection, managed to fail in his gambits. They'd always worked out somehow, yet this time it just never fell into place and for that, he would now have to pay up. What would the cost be, he wondered? He sighed considering his series of conversations with Rear Admiral Blurox. She'd chastised him for not trusting her enough to bring her in on his scheme.That particular line had struck him as rather odd. She'd lectured him at length about the merit of following the chain of command; but what she never seemed to grasp was that he was faced with a situation where the chain of command was broken. He'd filed report after report recommending action on the weapons smuggling, yet nothing had ever came of it. He'd learned from his actual superiors, both in ATAG and at Camelot, that they too werebeing stonewalled. So how else was this going to play out? What was he supposed to do? Why hello there Admiral I've Never Met, did you know that there's a weapon smuggling ring bringing weapons into the Gamma Quadrant to further rebellions against the Dominion and not only are they likely operating with the approval or at least within the knowledge of our government, and likely the Romulans, but that our own people are helping it along and keeping a full investigation from being launched? And he couldonly imagine what the response would be to that, let alone when added Oh, and by the way, I have a cloaking device Semil gave me and I am planning on making a little stopover in the Neutral Zone to meet a Romulan Ambassador who has some information on the smuggling, want to come with? Truthfully he couldn't blame her for lecturing him. Her opinion was going to be pretty much what everyone who questioned him was going to ask and say. Why didn't he try harder to find a solution that didn't violate treaties or cause him to go AWOL? They wanted to sit and act like that everything could be fixed by following the chain of command, because to do otherwise would open the conversation to the notion that the chain of command itself was broken.That would require recrimination on the parts of people who were either part of this whole mess willingly, or who know about it and refused to do anything about it because they were either too afraid, or were powerless to take action and he wasn't naïve enough to believe that would ever happen. He frowned deeply. Perhaps they were right. Perhaps he should have tried harder to do everything by the book first, before he went off on a clandestine mission. He was certainly sure that his prosecutors would do everything in their power to prove he had other options. His thoughts lingered to a conversation he'd once had with a certain captain some years before, when he was then faced witha decision to break law in the name of protecting the Federation or to find analternate solution that would be perhaps less expedient. Sorehl had told him he needed to learn to be less secretive and more trusting; he was right then, and in all probability he was right now too. As the memories of the conversation bounced about in his head, he considered his own conclusion at the end of thatparticular debate. "What good is it to protect the Federation, if we destroy the values it stands for in the process?" The thought lingered in his head longer than he would have liked, and when it finally did leave, he was left feeling much less comfortable with his own actions.
  19. It was a gloomy day in Paris, which was unusual. Even on days when it rained, Paris always seemed to be an eternal city of happiness, but today, Nanietta Bacco ruminated, Paris was gloomy. From her fifteenth floor office atop of the Palais de la Concorde that housed the executive offices of the Federation President, she could see most of the city, and on a clear day, a the rolling landscape of the French country-sides and the glittering gardens of Versailles – today was clearly not one of those days. Frowning, and putting a hand to her tightly weaved silver bun of hair, she turned around. In the course of a week, she’d learned that not only had there been a secret weapons smuggling program being operated by Federation and Romulan operatives, helping aide rebels in the Gamma Quadrant but that people in her government were covering it up. Not only that, but that a Starfleet Captain who’d already caused his quotient of problems this year, had gone AWOL with a heavy cruiser in an attempt to expose said weapons smuggling. The political and personal ramifications of this to her were staggering. She had worked her entire career to build a reputation as someone who did things the right way. She prided herself on the openness and transparency of her government, and now she found herself embroiled in cloak-and-dagger controversy that threatened to bring down her entire government. The intelligence community, she decided, would be the death of her. Facing her were her four most trusted advisors: the Vulcan ambassador Savak, her chief of staff Kale Bhuren, her Secretary of State Justin Shapron, and her chief security advisor Thael ch’Kaen. She looked first to Bhuren, but eventually settled on a position that let her talk to all of them. “I was just informed by Admiral Kalictus that the Republic has intercepted the Excalibur just inside Federation space.” A sigh of relief washed over their faces (with the exception of Savak who merely nodded.) Bhuren spoke up first, “Well that’s good. Luckily we were able to catch this before it turned into something bigger.” “You don’t sound so relieved, Nan,” Shapron said. “What aren’t you telling us?” Bacco exhaled. “Because the early report from Admiral Blurox indicates that not only did Captain Corizon wantonly violate the Neutral Zone, but he did so using a cloaking device.” Savak lifted his brows as both Bhuren and Shapron frowned. ch’Kaen tilted his head towards her, making sure he had not misheard before speaking. “A … cloaking device?” “Yes. A cloaking device.” “The Romulans are going to be livid,” Shapron said. “They don’t know yet do they? Like we haven’t told them?” “Republic’s report wasn’t entire clear, but apparently a Romulan ship encountered the Excalibur which escaped by cloaking, on top of that, the Romulan’s ‘representative’ was on the bridge the Republic for all of this.” Nearly growling Shapron shook his head. “I wish someone would have consulted us about that.” “It did not appear,” Savak said calmly, “that Admiral Blurox had much of a choice in that matter.” “This whole bloody thing is a mess,” Bhuren injected. “I know you told us was Fozzolo said… but this is just…” “I know. And I intend to have another long chat with Thomas. In fact, I want to have another long chat with all of the heads of intelligence in one room.” “Is that wise,” ch’Kaen said. “In my experience, they will all lie to cover for themselves and try to pass responsibility off to someone else – even if they had nothing to do with it.” “Oh,” she said. “I considered that, but I figure if I have them all in one place they can’t right blame the other one without it being obvious.” “A prudent strategy.” Savak interjected. “And one that’s been long overdue,” Bhuren said, “If this comes out, we can pretty much kiss our political careers good-bye. The idealists will savage us for not flushing it out sooner, while the hawks will throw a fit about you not doing enough to support the cause of the Dominion Separatists in the first place to provide cover for the people do are really behind all of this.” Bacco leaned against her desk with a frown. “And if we try to keep this quiet, everything you just said will be magnified tenfold if it does come out.” “So what do we do?” The four men looked at each other for a long while and then to Bacco. She’d started rubbing at her temples trying to will away the pounding headache that had infected her brain, though to no avail. Finally, she clasped her hands behind her back and walked towards the window. “For now, we let the system take its course. Republic will escort Excalibur back to dock. Once they do, I will instruct Command to proceed with a full inquiry into the disappearance of the Excalibur. Meanwhile, Justin, do what you can to keep the Romulans from making a big deal out of this for as long as you can. Thael and Kale, I want you two to setup a meeting with all the heads of intelligence for me. I don’t want to tip my hand to them just yet. Hopefully with the inquiry we’ll be able to flush something out without it blowing up in our faces.”
  20. Corizon entered the secure room to find a doctor attending to the freighter crewman. “Can you wake him Dr. Agura? I'd like to have a word with him. I promise I won't be long.” Surprised to see the Captain and XO enter the room, “Yes, of course,” Agura said, and prepared a hypo and administered it to Mikey to counteract the sedative. Wydown took a position near the door, but looked over the medical records displaying on the screen. “He's stable. The wound looks like an easy fix. It'll be a few days before he can put full weight on his leg though” “Good, if it were something more serious it would be even more complicated. If you wouldn't mind, Doctor. The Commander and I would like to speak to him alone.” Agura nodded, “Of course.” “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bac-ey.” Rue whispered quietly. The fuzzy feeling in Mickey’s head felt like he had been on a drinking bring on Risa for the last week as he started to open his eyes. If it hadn't been for the pain in his leg, he'd have chalked it up to a hang-over and went back to sleep. However, the light filtering through his eyelids told him he was not in his own bed. Squinting up, he saw the outlines of two others, and it began to register that these were not Burris White, Nathaniel or Lobo. "Ughhh, who's there? What have you done?” "Ah, good. You're awake," Corizon said in as pleasant a tone as he could muster. "I am Captain Ah-Windu Corizon, commanding officer of the USS Excalibur. I am sure you're wondering why you're here, yes?" Still trying to wake up, "Coriz...oh crap," he tried to sit up and jolted the just barely healed leg. "Oh bloody hell that hurts!" “Now just take it easy. You've got a nasty bump on the leg," he said. "You're in sickbay of the Excalibur; the docs say to take it easy." "Wait! I remember now...what the frig? What was that thing? I thought it was a woman...but ..." Mikey frowned. "That freak shattered my leg. I gave the signal, aren't your people trained in Federation cover tactics? I assume you would be....since you are evidently here poking your noses around. Five years of setting this up to get the right evidence, and along you come......I hope you have good reason." Corizon blinked a few times, his ears perking. "What do you mean, cover tactics?" * "Nothing......," Mickey thought that evidently these were not the ones he was expecting to eventually show up. Corizon glanced to Wydown for a moment before turning his attention back to Mikey, doing his best to stay calm "Five years? Working to gather evidence? What are you talking about?" "Seriously, what was that thing? She ain't Starfleet! And since when do Starfleet officers attack on sight for a non-physical confrontation!? That freak could have killed me! I'm lucky I didn't bleed out the way she messed my leg up. Even with the bone knitter, this thing is going to take a while to heal, and it's going to friggin hurt!” He paused. "For that matter, why are you here?" Corizon shook his head. "I do apologize for that, I have asked for a full report and I will deal with it, but that's not why I am here." Mikey took a look at Wydown, then back to this Corizon. Well, at least one of them looked normal, ship full of freaks. It was bad enough having to work with the Romulans, and now he was on a ship full of ......he didn't know what they were. Mikey looked at Corizon, "Why 'are' you here?" Pausing for a moment, considering the possible things he could tell the freighter crewman, Corizon took a deep breath. "I am here to get some answers for what a Federation-flagged freighter was doing inside the Neutral Zone." Not certain this 'man' for lack of a better thing to call it knows anything about Mikey’s mission, he gave a plain answer instead. "We had been doing some trading with an Iridian trader that does some trading in the Tarusus system, since we can't go in there ourselves." Mikey continued. “He likes to meet near that nebula, to keep the Romulans from finding him trading with one of their border enemies." Corizon shook his head. "Why don't we just skip to the part where you tell me the truth, hmm?" "You mean the truth, as in why a Federation Starship is also hiding in the neutral zone or attacking traders in neutral space?" "I don't think you're in any position to be asking me questions, but suffice to say we would have detected this 'Iridian trader' and we didn't." Having yet to see one of the approved coded hand signals from either of the two in the room, Mikey wasn’t cleared to give them the information that they are asking for. So he remained silent. "Listen, I don't want to make this any more painful for you than it already has been. We have three cargo containers sitting in security right now. What's in them?" "It's already been pretty painful. Are you threatening to make it more so?" He turned to look at Rue as well, who’s surprised expression was hard to miss. Corizon rolled his eyes. "If you cooperate, I can have you released to quarters under house-arrest. If you don't, you all get to stay in the brig." "And blow my cover? No, back to the brig it is then." Corizon frowned. A ship full of covert agents. He sighed, considering for a moment, the hand gesture the freighter crewman had been giving. "Your cover. So you're a covert agent, working for someone within Starfleet, and you're on a freighter inside the Romulan Neutral Zone? Did I have that all right?" Corizon glanced to Wydown for a moment, then back to the freighter crewman before making a sign with his hand that to anyone watching would have been completely benign. "Ah, you so do know a few people I see. What about her?" Rue watched the interplay between the two of them with the most benign expression she could come up with. She was actually rather amused by the battle of wills going on in front of her and wondered who’d come across as the victor. Boys would be boys, she thought silently. "She's my XO, anything you can tell me, you can tell her. Who are you working with and what was your mission?” "Deep cover intel," he looked warily at him. "But if you're with them, why did you attack us, instead of aid us? We were trying to get these weapons to the Gamma Quadrant as it was.” Corizon considered for a long moment what exactly his next response was going to be. Which side was Mikey playing on? Was it possible that there was a covert operation to clean this out, or was it possible that there was a covert operation helping this along? There was only one way to find out. "We couldn't be sure who you were, I do apologize. Things have gotten tighter lately." "So why did you attack our ship? And us!” Mikey pointed to his leg. "We didn't attack your ship, unless you mean boarding it. That was the Romulans who blew your ship up. As for why Lt. Victria attacked you, I said I am looking into it." "It's going to be hard enough to get that meathead Burris back in the good graces of …what? They blew up the ship? All I remember is her taking me out, then being beamed here and lying in your brig." "Yes, a Romulan vessel attacked. We were able to escape and put some distance between them and us, but most of the cargo was lost." "Probably cutting their losses once they saw you. They had split our cargo into 3 separate ships so as 'not to have all the eggs in one basket' so to speak.” "The rest of the cargo?" “Yeah, it was a big shipment, but after something happened about a week or two ago. She split up the cargo – and sent part of it off to some other project in Romulan space. We were to be first to move, as we could move freely in Federation space. Once it was delivered we were to come back, to pick up the remainder from the 3rd ship.” Mickey continued. “Hell of a good plan though, with the Federation and Romulans not shooting at each other for the time being following the war, it's easy enough to get the items needed moved to the Gamma Quadrant, and since we’ve got enough people in place nothing gets checked at inspections.” Corizon nodded. Mikey ran a hand through his ragged hair and leaned back into the bio-bed “So what I don’t get is what you all were doing out here in the first place? No one’s said anything about a ship being involved.” “That’s a long story,” Corizon said, mentally kicking himself as he realized his little ruse wouldn’t hold up much longer. “And it’s pretty clear your crew ain’t Starfleet Intell…” “They’re not,” Corizon said. “As I said it’s a long story. Listen, after you’ve recuperated a little more, I’ll fill you in, until then let’s not talk about it anymore.” Frowning , Mikey considered the situation, still unsure if he trusted Corizon. “So you weren’t briefed on this op?” “Not fully, like I said when you’re doing better I’ll brief you a little more on what we were doing out here.” “I guess I don’t have much of a choice,” Mikey said, growing weary. “So what’s your next move?” “We still have a mission to complete, but we’ll get you back for a debrief.” “If she blew up the ship, she'll assume we're either dead or were captured by you,” Mikey said reflectively. “So I guess we can’t go back, can we.” "On the other hand,” Corizon said. “We could go ahead and deliver the three crates to the GQ then. Where were you going to drop them off at? I mean, something is better than nothing, right?" "Like I said, we were meeting an Iridian trader, not too far from here. Always plant a truth in lie, right?” Corizon smiled, “Makes it easier to swallow.” "That she-devil t'Rahks, she'll be having to preserve her own hide if the rumors are true. From what I understand, she's being blackmailed herself, and really don’t' care if she lives or dies half the time. That's why she's so dangerous. Thing is, if she's lost her shipment, someone's going to be really pissed with her. More so if she blew it up herself. She'll probably blame you for that.” Corizon nodded, not entirely sure who he was talking about. "Well give the coordinates to Commander Wydown. We'll see about dropping what’s left off with the Iridian trader and get you all back home. Let the brain trust back home figure out what to do next." “I could care less about that scum you have down in the brig, but I don't want to blow my cover, you'll have to put me back with them or else, tell them I died, or am too serious and need other treatment. They really are a pack of jackals and fools.” "Well, I am sure the Doctor can be persuaded to keep you here." Corizon looked to Rue. “Commander once you’ve got the coordinates, meet me outside. I want to have a word with Dr. Agura.” Wydown nodded, curious to what game Corizon was playing. Extending his hand, Corizon smiled to Mikey. “And, I just realized I didn’t get your name.” Mikey extended his hand to shake Corizon’s. “Mikey, Mikey Janson.” What a terrible cover name. “Alright Mikey, glad we got that all straightened out.” Looking puzzled, Mikey glanced from Corizon to Wydown and was met with a casual shrug as Corizon headed out. A few minutes later, Wydown exited the secure room to find Corizon finishing his conversation with Agura. “Walk with me Rue,” he said nodding to Agura and then heading for the door. “Well that was interesting,” she finally said when they were in the relative privacy of the empty corridor. “He’s Starfleet Intelligence alright.” “And all that jiggery pokery?” She paused when Corizon looked a bit confused. “The hand signals? Is that what that’s all about?” Corizon nodded slyly. “Yep. He must have been a deep cover agent planted into the freighter crew to protect the interests of Intel in all of this.” “So Intelligence is involved?” “I am sure of that now more than ever,” Corizon said with a frown. “But I don’t know how deep it goes, this is getting big – maybe too big for us.” Finally. “Oh yah think?” Wydown said with a half-teasing poke. “So what do you want to do next?” “Let’s meet up with the Iridian trader, maybe we can get some more information out of him. Find out who he’s shipping to in the Gamma Quadrant. With that we’ll have enough proof to go back to Command and force them to launch a full investigation.” “And just how do propose to get that information out of him.” Corizon smiled, fangily. “I haven’t figured that exactly out yet.” “Why does that make me nervous?” “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Wydown stopped and folded her arms. “Of course not,” she said frowning. Finally sighed. “Sod it. We’ve followed you this far without a real plan. What do you want me to do? Besides keeping the natives in check?” Corizon continued to smirk. “Go ahead and head to the bridge. Check in with the Major and find out what they’ve learned about those crates, though I suspect they more than likely contain disruptors.” “Aye,” she said. “So head towards the coordinates?” “Yes,” he said. “And you?” “I am going to go have a word with our other deep cover agent.” She frowned. “Just try to remember what we talked about earlier, eh? You go in there with all guns blazing, you’re not going to get anything out of him. This isn’t the time to bung a rock just to see the glass shatter.” Corizon nodded. “I will, don’t worry. I think he might have just become more useful to me.” As they parted ways, a strange thought hit Wydown and she begun to worry if that was the only thing that mattered to Corizon – how useful an individual was to his personal agenda.
  21. Clouds rolled across Caporia V. Her twins suns sat low in the afternoon, and the chill of night swept across the landscape. Like many worlds in the Dominion, Caporia was once home to a vibrant, technologically advanced people. They had built cities of towering glass and steel spires, monuments to the greatness of their people. Once they had looked to the stars with a sense of awe. They had reached to the cosmos in search of new life and new wonders. The Caporians had colonized most of their solar system and had begun testing their first warp capable ships when the rich deposits of thorium ore caught the eye of the Dominion. At first the Dominion had been welcomed by the Caporians. The magnanimous Vorta offered them technology far beyond their own and promised to protect them from far less civilized aliens who, they said, would rape and pillage the fertile lands of Caporia. It had, at the time, seemed ideal. The Dominion provided the Caporians with advances in medicine and science generations ahead of what their scientists had achieved; and provided them protection. In return the Caporians would give the Dominion access to the rich thorium ore that laced their southern continents. The Dominion gave the Caporians equipment and shared innovative mining technicues that at first caused the thorium to come easily and at record pace. The Caporians flourished, and with the guidance of the Vorta, began taking their first steps into intergalactic relations. It was an idyllic situation; but as the mining became more difficult, the miners began asking for more compensation for the dangerous work and while at first the Dominion acquiesced they soon began to ignore the demands of the workers. Eventually, with their demands unmet, the miners across the continent soon began striking and even government intervention wouldn’t cease the strikes as the miners believed that even if they did get concessions from the government, the Dominion would only ignore any rules the government made. The Caporian government pleaded with the Dominion to meet the demands, but the once benevolent Vorta remained unmoved and even threatened the Caporians with the fearsome Jem’Hadar if work at the mines did not restart. Like so many worlds across the Dominion, that had been where it started to go wrong for the Caporians. As the yields dwindled, the Dominion demanded harder and harder labor. Eventually they made good on their threats and on a brisk fall afternoon the Jem’Hadar seized all of the mines on Caporia V. The reaction was also typical. The Caporians demanded the Dominion return control of the mines, and the Dominion refused. The Caporians fought back, but were easily overmatched by the battle-hardened Jem’Hadar; and like so many other worlds it provided all the excuse the Dominion needed to conquer the rest of the planet. Within days the Jem’Hadar had devastated the major cities and taken effective control of the Caporia. And while ferreting out the last of the isolated resistance cells took some time, a new Vorta backed government was quickly installed and work at the mines resumed. Whole populations of Caporia were relocated into new Dominion built cities closer to major production center of weapons and other industry that would power the very warmachine that had so easily conquered their people. It had been nearly two hundred years since the fall of Caporia as the suns set in the distance, and amid the towers of the Dominion-built city of Ghadar, unrest fermented. There had been, of course, rebellions during the nearly two centuries of Dominion rule, the Aborgha Uprisings being the most infamous. Those, however, had always been easily crushed by the Jem’Hadar and the leaders of the uprisings summarily executed –a long with millions of Caporians; but even as the spectre of the failed rebellions and the deadly responses of the Jem’Hadar loomed in their past a group of Caporians were meeting to decide the fate of their world. In the Sharonnna, Alouis D-Zol sat silently, watching and listening. A northerner by birth, but southern by blood, it had been his clan that had first stood before the Dominion and demanded change. It had been his clan that had suffered the most in the early days of the conquest. It had been that history which had hardened him and his linage. Short, pale and white-haired, D-Zol physique had been ruined by time; and though it was clear that his body had once demanded great power, the wisp of a man seemed out of place with the brutish figures male and female who talked in heavy, empowered tones. He sighed. He had seen it before. The young, untested ones wanted to prove themselves. The Dominion, they said, was weak. They would fall before the united front of the people of Caporia. Caporia, they said, would taste freedom in but days. Then, he thought, it would end in bloodshed –as it always had. Better than anyone, he knew how this would end. He supposed he could not blame them for the ignorance of their youth; but he knew. As the confab continued, D-Zol remembered painfully how it had once been him in their place; young, untested, full of all the rage in the world. Like so many of his people and his clan, D-Zol had lost his parents at young age. His father in a labor strike and his mother in accident at the plant she toiled at dail to feed him and his younger brother. When they died the children were separated and sent to labor camps for the orphaned. Scarred, traumatized, and bearing a powerful clan name, he’d risen quickly through the ranks of the resistance. The rebellion began slowly, but under his guidance it grew in size and scope. Slowly but surely they had gained strength, eventually counting their numbers in the thousands. Just like the young men and women around him now, he thought that if they disrupted the Dominion’s efforts on the planet enough, they would simply give up and leave. He was wrong. The Uprising had been a disaster. They had started in the winter as food became scarce and the ground became cold. Led by his freedom fighters, the people began striking, demanding better conditions from the Dominion, coupled by an attack led by his best people on the Dominion strong hold of Car Gaon. The attack went well, and the Vorta in charge, Lexin, was forced to surrender to the rebels. The victory was short lived though, as the Jem’Hadar soon came to reclaim the planet. They retook Car Gaon, brutally murdering every Caporian inside the city, and on top of that cut off all food supplies to the rest of the planet’s settlements determined to starve the Caporian resistance – literally. With the deaths of millions on his mind, he considered the plan they laid forth. A source, he’d been told, from the other side of the galaxy had offered them weapons and supplies to mount an armed resistance against the Jem’Hadar garrison on the planet, like the ones on Granar Minor and Tavox. But what did they want in return? The good will of the newly freed people of Caporia, they said. They also said that they would guarantee arbitration between the Dominion and the Caporians by the Federation. A dubious claim, he supposed, but one that seemed supported by the results on Granar Minor and now Tavox. Finally, as they dreamed of freedom and boasted of the near invincibility of their plan – he spoke. His voice as ragged as his looks. “These new allies you speak of,” he said, standing. The sudden burst of voice from the quiet, elderly man went at first unnoticed, but when he repeated himself, this time louder and more authoritatively, the entire room silenced. “They promise to aide us, yes? To give us the means we need to break free of the Dominion, yes? And what do they ask in return? Nothing. What a deal.” Before anyone could respond, he waved a hand. “Now I know that you say they are genuine in their sincerity, that they truly wish us to be free, but I wonder do we know these people? It was not too long ago that we knew nothing of those beyond the Dominion. We know little of the people beyond the wormhole, and even less of their true nature. Yes we know they fought the Dominion, but are they not also allied with them? How easily their allegiances seem to have changed. “Would we kick one tyrant out of our lands, only to invite a new one to take its place? Good relations can mean many things – ask our forefathers about that. Do not forget that the Vorta came in peace with helpful hands before they enslaved us.” “The others have trusted them,” a bold, handsome Caporian said, the small flaps on his nape spreading wide. “And look what they have. In three hundred years we have never been so close to truly dislodging the Dominion. They are weak. They cannot hope to keep us chained forever. “We did not invite you here to kibbitz, we invited you here…” “I know why you invited me here,” D-Zol said sharply, though his voice never raised to a shout. “You invited me here because to the people I am a hero, yes? Because you know you cannot raise the masses without me.” The handsome Caporian bristled, his nape flaps opening and closing. “You were once,” he said. “But can a hero be so reluctant? Would you keep us forever chained to the Dominion? This is our best chance to…” “If only it were so simple,” D-Zol said. “I do not fault you for your enthusiasm, Qal’Sho . You are young and do not know the weight of your choices.” Qal’Sho sneered angrily. “What do you mean? Have you lost your stomach to do what is required for our people?” “No, but unlike you, I have been here before and I know that we must consider the possibility of failure and what that would mean to our people.” “Just because your rebellion failed does not me this will.” Unmoved by the attempt to bait him, D-Zol continued unabated. “I do not deny that your plan has a far greater chance of success than any we have seen before, the Dominion’s ability to hold onto their worlds is fading; but what you have not done is consider the full scope of what is before us. As I said your plan depends entirely on support from these outsiders. You know nothing of them other than they have offered you assistance. They may have helped the other worlds, but you cannot say for sure they will not turn on us as soon as the Dominion is gone. “If the problem is outsiders then outsiders sure cannot be the solution, can it? Would we go through revolution and rebellion only to find ourselves once more at the heel of a foreign power? If we are to free ourselves then we need to assure that it is not momentary.” “Then what are we to do?” Qal’Sho said questioningly. “You know as well as I do old man that we do not have the material to support a full-scale rebellion. If we did, then we would not need them.” “Then maybe what we need is not an armed conflict?” “That is funny,” Qal’Sho said with a laugh that was joined by several others in the room. “The Dominion deal only in force. They will only reason with force. If we are to succeed then we must show them we have equal force.” “How naïve you are Qal’Sho. The Dominion might be weakened, but we can never have force equal to them. It is only by mercy’s sake that the other worlds have no simply been wiped off the face of existence. If the Dominion so chose they could do the same to us. Why then should we take that chance? If we protest peacefully…” “Peace? Now you want peace? Pah. You’re nothing but a scared, cowardly old man afraid of…” “How little you understand. Am I scared? Am I afraid of repeating our past mistakes? Of course. But cowardly? You’re one to talk. Any man can throw a punch or take up the sword – war is little more than fear cloaked in courage. “No, where we went wrong fifty years ago was becoming violent. I will not allow you or this council to repeat those mistakes. I won’t support this.” Qal’Sho rose, glaring angrily. “Then we move without you, be gone coward.” “Very well, if you speak for the council, I will take my leave. I have ever served the people and I continue to do so, but the course Qal’Sho sets you down is one destined to end in their blood. I will not acquiesce to their slaughter. We have come so far to make such a tragic mistake. I implore you to see the danger ahead and to walk away now while we have the chance.” As D-Zol began walking towards the door he heard the chatter of others and soon found himself with a following of people, nearly half the council, walking out. With the disinters gone, Qal’Sho thumped his chest and flared his nape flaps. “Very good,” he finally said. “We did not need them anyway. Nalzon, set the meeting up.” “Perhaps,” Nalzon said, “we should consider what D-Zol has said, even if he is wrong, it will be difficult to secure the support of the people without him and the others.” “Pah,” Qal’Sho said. “The others will return once we begin our victory and D-Zol? He is nothing more than faded relic, a shadow of the man who once was. The people will see that, they will see him for the coward he is…” “Very well, I will setup the meeting…”
  22. Dawn broke over the Al-Ucard homeworld, though the piercing rays of the blue giant would not seep through the heavy cloud cover that bathed the world in a protective cocoon. As he looked out from the high balcony of the Altheeris Spire, Anval wondered curiously why the Scorpiads had imbued them their weakness to ultraviolet radiation. It was a question, he supposed, that he would never adequately have answered. Oh there were certainly explanations. Al-Ucard priests and scientists had spent years discussing it; just as they’d spent years discussing the purpose of the Al-Ucard. Yet, still, he’d never gotten an answer that satisfied him and now that the Al-Ucard were casting off the yokes of their creators, masters and gods, he would never get the chance to ask them himself. Sighing, Anval headed off the terrace and closed glass doors behind him. Inside, the young Al-Ucard found a most curious visitor waiting for him. “Lord Tiamat,” he said, rather startled to see a member of the Council in his personal chambers. “To what do I owe this honor?” Standing across from him, the lithe, silver-haired figure of Lord Tiamat waived a hand. “Forgive the intrusion, Anval. Your housekeeper let me in.” “None was taken,” he said motioning for Tiamat to enter more fully into the room. “Please make yourself comfortable.” “No need, I cannot stay long. I am here to summon you to a meeting of the Council.” Anval blinked, unable to hide his surprise. “May I… may I ask what for?” “You are being summoned for a special mission, the Council will brief you more fully once you arrive. As you know Anval, our war with the Scorpiads hangs by but a thread. Our alliance with the Eratians is tentative and the hives have begun to grow weary. Their resolve has weakened.” “Well, my lord, they have lived much longer under the direct rule of the Scorpiads. What is the nature of this mission.” “The Eratians need to see that this war is winnable. We must give them a victory least they surrender themselves to the Scorpiad.” “Is that even an option?” Tiamat frowned deeply. “If we offered ourselves to the Empress she would no doubt accept out surrender, but none of the Council would survive and our people would be chained for another ten thousand years before we could rise once more.” “I understand. “Good, Anval. The Council has great faith in you, as do I.” “Faith,” Anval said. “Is such a strange word. We grew up with reverence and faith in our gods, and now we presume to slay them.”
  23. The leader of the Vorta Council, Taenix, sat looking at a stack of reports. She felt her stomach twist with anxiety, a feeling she found most unusual and most undesired. Another three systems were in a state of ‘rebellion’ with five more asking for similar autonomy as to what the citizens of Granar Minor had negotiated with the help of the Federation. She frowned deeply and felt an inner urge to throw the reports against the wall, but resisted. “You seem tense,” she heard the voice of Weyoun over her shoulder. “Something I can help you with?” “Unless you have a solution to my problems, which I doubt,” she said, “then no.” Weyoun circled around to face her, tipping his head to one side in customary Vorta fashion. “Ah,” he said. “Reports from around the Dominion, yes?” She nodded and waved to the datapads, literally dozens of them, spread out on the table before her. “For ten thousand years, the Dominion has ruled over these species with minimal troubles. Sure there was the occasional uprising, rebellion, but this? Dozens of species asking, no demanding they be granted autonomy or outright independence. It’s madness.” Weyoun tilted his head to the otherside, considering the most delicate way to address a subject he’d long avoided. “Yes,” he said, “but in the past we have not shown any reservations about using the Jem’Hadar to quell such rebellions.” “Yes,” she admitted. “But you and I have been over this. If we use the Jem’Hadar to put the rebellions down, we face the risk of them calling our bluff, or worse the Scorpiad taking advantage of the situation. They don’t know how weak we really are right now, how venerable our forces are…” “That is a possibility,” he said, “but I can’t help but recall a conversation I once had with someone some years ago about the merits of… how did Dukat put it … winning the hearts of the people, to make them see our superiority.” “You have to be joking,” she said with a side-long glance. “These people have spent their entire lives hating the Dominion, fearing our oppression.” “Oh,” Weyoun said. “I thought it was a fools-errand then, and it is now.” “What do you mean?” “It’s time we start thinking about more than just maintaining the Dominion Taenix.” “What?” “The Founders created the Dominion to maintain order and peace among the people of this Quadrant. They were all, as we once were, savage, primitive people.” “And just where are you going with this, Weyoun?” He sighed and looked away. “I think it’s time we start thinking about a new Dominion, about the future of the dream the Founders had – an organization that brings peace and order to the Gamma Quadrant.” “You’re starting to sound like Semil,” she said without emotion. “Should I worry about your motives, Weyoun. Keevan would have me believe you’re not to be trusted.” Shaking his head, Weyoun looked directly into her eyes. “Semil,” he said, “does not want what I want. He wants a new Dominion, yes; but the Dominion he wants is led by the Hundred. “ “I see,” she said. “And what of your new Dominion?” “I have mediated much on my last meeting with the female Founder. She said that the Vorta would have to forge our own path now, that the Founders’ could not help us.” “As you’ve said,” Taenix noted, still unsure of where Weyoun was going. “It is my thought that we form a new Dominion,” he said. “Not one formed by conquest or domination, but one where we welcome the subjects of the old Dominion to join us freely.” “And why would they do that?” “Because despite our weakness, we can still offer them a level of protection that they cannot have on their own, not to mention technological resources…” “And you think that we would still be doing the duty the Founders gave us?” “The Founders created us to govern in their proxy, to be their liaisons – the keepers of the peace. We can still do that, Taenix.” Taenix leaned back into her chair and took a very long, deep breath. “The others,” she asked, “do you think they would ever willingly go along with this?” “I do not know,” he said honestly, “but you must be prepared to act, sooner than you would like.” “What?” Weyoun pursed his lips. “I have spoken to Semil. He contacted me a few days ago.” “I see,” she said warily. “And just what did Semil want with you, Weyoun?” Sensing her caution and distrust, he waived a hand. “It was merely a courtesy call. Semil and I have had our differences, but he also knows that I am not as reactionary as Keevan and also that I am in your confidence.” “Confidence,” she said, “that I hope has not been misplaced.” “I assure you Taenix, if I harbored ambitions such as Keevan, I would have moved against you long ago. “No, Semil did not try to convince me to join him or his cause. He wished me to remind you of his message.” She frowned more deeply. “Yes,” she said. “I have not forgotten since our last conversation.” “And we still yet face the same paradox do we not?” “Yes,” she said. “If we refuse to give him what he wants, we risk him following through with this threat and with that we risk losing the entire Council, not to mention the Jem’Hadar.” “And if you give him what he wants?” “I risk being seen as weak, not to mention my one bargaining chip with the Hundred.” “Perhaps, but if we do give it to him, perhaps Odo can talk some sense into the Hundred.” “I am not sure that is a risk I am willing to take.” “Is the alternative preferable then?” She sighed and looked towards him again. Her inner doubts swirling as she struggled to keep her composure. “I do not know, but what I do know is that the fate of the Dominion rests upon my decisions and I do not know if I can make those choices.” Weyoun placed a hand upon her shoulder. “The Founders chose you for this role; and though I doubt even in their wisdom that they could have foreseen it, they obviously had faith that you would do what was right.” “I do not know what to do Weyoun,” she said, her voice faltering. “To have this burden… to the stakes…” “I have been in your position Taenix,” he said distantly at first. “To have such a burden given to you by the Founders is both a blessing and a terrible weight. We have been imbued by the Founders to have faith in them, to believe in their divinity; but yet if they are divine then how can we fail? Yet you and I have both felt the sting of failure, and yet we know them to be divine beings. It is our faith that tells us to continue and even in failure to continue on with the course set forth by us by the Founders, for they are wise in all things. And without our faith in the Founders, we are no better than savages.” “You are truly a credit to us all Weyoun,” she said warmly. “You have been through so much, yet your faith remains unshaken.” “I would not say that,” he said, “but through all of the trials, I have found that it is the faith in the Founder’s wisdom that has sustained me.” “I see,” she said. “What then would you council me do to, Weyoun?” “If you do not wish to risk giving Semil the device,” he said. “Then perhaps it is time we tell the Council. Perhaps not the entire truth, not just yet or at one time, but at least something …” Tipping her head she considered it. “I have long resisted telling them,” she said. “I fear it would shock them.” “You cannot keep the truth from them forever…” “I know, I know…”
  24. Aboard the freighter Harpalyce, Joshua Sanders leaned back into the poorly upholstered chair of the command center of the Altair¬-class vessel. Once a sparkling, resplendent freighter that had boasted some of the fastest engines then available, the Harpalyce had since gone through five owners, four major refits, a run in with Tarkalian Raiders, and three name changes; she had also, albeit briefly, served as the flagship of Tarais Bein’s “Freedom Force 9” fleet during the Dominion War. As he sat twirling a stylus between his fingers, Joshua Sanders couldn’t help but feel as if he were in a literal piece of history. As he considered whether or not to take a chance with the replicator a deck below him, the Harpalyce cruised along idly at warp 3.6 – the maximum cruising speed she could maintain for longer than a couple hours before her core would have to be stripped and cooled down and the rebuilt entirely – in the no man’s land of the Neutral Zone. He looked over to the analog monitor that showed the status of each of the cargo units and sighed. How he’d let himself get talked into this particular mission continued to escape him, and more importantly he didn’t particularly see any way out. Glancing back to the chronometer he decided to take his chances with the replicator and looked to his shift mate. She was tall, slender, domineering and self-assured (did he mention intimidating?) and had three full ranks on him. He also felt rather certain that she knew far more about the actual nature of the cargo stored below deck than she was letting on, but he also didn’t trust her enough to even bring up his concerns. “Hey Kayla,” he said. “I am going to go grab something from the replicator. You want anything?” She looked up, flipping her sleek, raven hair to one shoulder. “No, but thank you,” she said curtly. “I am fine.” “Okay,” he said. “I’ll be right back.” “I am fine,” she said. “If you want to take the rest of the shift off, don’t worry about it.” “Gee,” he said smiling, despite himself. “Thanks Command…” “Kayla is fine,” she said quickly. “Remember your briefing.” “Of course, Co… Kayla.” Kayla waved him off, watching as the sandy-blonde human scampered off the bridge. She leaned back into her own chair with a heavy sigh. She’d barely started to run sensor sweep of the area when she heard the deep voice of Darris Gis’Akk. “I still don’t understand why they’d put such a greenie on something like this,” he said, sliding into the seat next to her. “Boy’s going to blow it and get us all killed.” “He’s just anxious,” she said, patiently to the large mound of flesh that had deposited itself next to her. “It’s his first actual mission. He doesn’t even know what we’re doing…” “He really thinks we’re just transporting some supplies for a joint operation between the Tal’Shiar and Starfleet Intelligence?” “Technically, we are.” Gis’Akk chuckled in a low rumble that resembled a rock slide more than a laugh. “What is that human phrase… always hide a truth inside a lie?” “It does make them easier to swallow,” she said with a smirk. “Anyway, he’s too scared to even ask about it.” “You think he wants to?” “Wouldn’t you?” “I would have just looked in them myself.” “That’s why you have that,” she said, motioning to a long vertical stripe that ran down the entire length of the Rokkarian’s blocky face. Frowning, Gis’Akk instinctively put his hand to the mark, both in shame and annoyance. “I suppose you’ve got a point.” “Of course I do,” she said. “Listen, I understand your concern for the boy…” “No,” he said gruffly. “Just my own hide.” “Of course,” she retorted, content to let that slide. “Anyway he’ll be fine. As soon as we’ve cleared the Neutral Zone we’re home free anyway.” “What about the other two shipments?” “They’re on Romulan transports.” “Figures,” he said. “Bet they didn’t get scrap heaps without working showers.” “Of course not,” she said. “You think those bastards particularly care if we live or not?” “No, but you’d think they’d want our shipment safe too.” She shook her head, though not in agreement. “Anyway, get back down to engineer and check with Dalo. Ask her if we’re going to need to switch anything up when we get to the tachyon field.” “No problem,” Gis’Akk said. “I’ll also stop by the cargo hold and make sure your little friend didn’t get curious.” “And what are you going to do if he did?” “What do you think?” “If you make a mess, clean it up.” Kayla turned towards her console, mostly to hide her frown. “I am sure he didn’t though.” "Better not."
  25. Corizon watched as the ‘Rihannsu’ in his brig sat silently. This was, of course, not the Captain’s first experience interviewing a Romulan who’d fallen into his lap, nor, he guessed, would it be his last – assuming he didn’t end up in a Federation penal colony. He inhaled, exhaled and ran a clawed hand through his silver hair. His ears twitched anxiously. His eyes glanced over the man. There was something unusual about him, something Corizon couldn’t entirely place either. It was if he knew him, but why would he know a Romulan defector? There was something strange about this and Corizon would, he promised, get to the bottom of it. “So,” the security guard next to him said. “Are you ready, sir?” “Yeah,” Corizon said, sobering. “He’s had enough time to sweat.” The security officer nodded as Corizon headed out of the monitoring room. -- On Earth, a different type of interrogation was occurring. “I assure you Madam President, that I didn’t directly approve this.” Nanietta Bacco crossed her arms and looked directly into the Admiral’s eyes. She’d been in professional politics nearly her entire life, the largest portion of that as a civil servant and governor of a colony who’s existence was predicated on the continued protection of Starfleet; that experience, she’d found, was invaluable as President of the Federation because even though she was, technically, the Commander in Chief, there were plenty of Admirals who felt they didn’t need to explain themselves to her. She eyed him up again before uncrossing her arms and leaning forward on the large desk that had once sat in the American White House. “Directly,” she said sternly. “That seems to be the key word here, doesn’t it.” Thomas Fozzolo smiled, wryly. He was in his mid-sixities, but didn’t look much beyond fifty. His sleek black hair had only started to develop streaks of white hair. He shifted in his seat to line himself up with the President. “You asked if I approved any mission for him, did you not?” Bacco’s glance transformed into a withering glare, “This isn’t my first day on the job, Admiral. It isn’t even my term.” Fozzolo dropped the grin. “I didn’t mean any offense, ma’am.” “No,” she said. “I doubt you did, but what you are doing is being obstinate.” “Ma’…” “Don’t even try to deny it,” she said sternly, her voice remaining even, though commanding. “You intelligence types are all basically the same. I know full well that ATAG has been, in the past, given a fairly free hand, hell I’ve let you get away with somethings I should have called you out on in the past that made my job harder; but this is getting to be more than even I am willing to allow. “In the past three months, your agent, Captain Corizon, has been nothing but a trouble maker. When I start to know a mere Captain’s file by rote, there’s something seriously wrong.” Fozzolo shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Bacco was formidable, and as the only person with any real ability to affect his unit, he had hoped to avoid incurring her wrath. “Madam President,” he said, moderating his tone. “I assure you…” “Assure me of what? I get that Corizon is a good at what he does, but danmit he’s out of control.” “Madam President,” he said again, more resolutely. “I’ve know the man for nearly his entire Starfleet career. He’s a lot of things, but trust me…” “You’ve been lying to me since you walked into the door,” she said. “You know damned good and well where he is; and even though you might not have directly approved this mission, I’d be willing to wager a large amount of latnium that you did know he was going to do something incredibly stupid.” Fozzolo sighed heavily. “I apologize, Madam President. If you were in my position, with the information I have, you might understand.” She blanched, trying to avoid raising her voice. “Thomas,” she said, “your job is to give me the same information , if you have something I suggest you start talking because at this moment, I am seriously considering if your unit is worth the trouble you make.” He nodded. “Of course. It’s just that we weren’t entirely sure if you or any of your people were involved.” “Involved?” “Yes,” he said soberly. “About five months ago, Starfleet Intelligence and ATAG begun to suspect, independently of each other, that the Dominion uprisings were being fueled by outside sources. From what we were able to glean from the SI’s investigation, they were curious how the uprisings were able to arm themselves so easily, given how tightly the Dominion had controlled weapons – even with the stability issues it’s not as if the Dominion allowed civilians usage of weapons capable of fending off the Jem’Hadar.” “Yes,” she said. “I had read the reports, especially after the Granar Minor incident.” “What you might not know that the Excalibur, and at least two other of our vessels in the Gamma Quadrant found caches of Romulan weapons.” That piece of information had caught her by surprise. “What?” “About four months ago, while Captain Corizon was recuperating from injuries on an away mission, Excalibur was sent on a mission to map an area of globular clusters under Captain Irae Varen. While on the mission they located a derelict freighter, aboard the freighter they found a cache of Romulan disruptors. I am fairly sure that Varen had been briefed by someone because as soon as they found them, he ordered them locked down the records. The weapons were reportedly turned over to Starfleet Intelligence, but…” “But?” “But my people couldn’t find record of them being part of the official investigation.” Bacco frowned. “Why do I guess that’s not the end of the story.” “I wish it were,” he said. “While Excalibur was en route to Granara Minor, they found a shipment of weapons that had been loaded aboard as medical supplies.” “Oh for the love of…” “Captain Corizon felt the same way.” “So?” “Admiral Abronvonvich reported it back to Command, where he was ordered to have Corizon turn them over to an Intel ship. Corizon and Excalibur had just rendezvoused with said ship when the whole incident with the Eratians and the Al-Ucard happened.” “So Starfleet Intelligence is behind this?” “Yes and no,” he said. “From what we can tell anything that is going on isn’t creeping to the top levels of intelligence, they don’t have any records of getting the weapons.” “I see, and where are they now?” “I don’t know. Corizon and Excalibur encountered weapons with the same serial numbers on another planet, but were unable to recover them. We tried to get Starfleet to officially launch an investigation but he was rebuffed.” She sighed heavily, feeling a headache coming. “So he took matters into his own hands. Lovely.” “Yes,” he said. “He’d arranged to meet with Ambassador tr’Aenikh; the Ambassador had been doing an investigation of his own.” “This gets worse all the time.” “Yes,” Fozzolo admitted. “I’ve know Ah-Windu for a long time, nearly three decades and he’s never been this focused on something.” “In some ways I am thankful,” she said leaning back into her chair. “If word that we were involved with smuggling weapons to the Dominion came out…” “Our resources indicate that the Dominion is aware that insurgents are getting weapons from the Alpha Quadrant, but they’re in no position to start pointing fingers.” “What about the Hundred? Are they involved?” “No.” “How can you be sure?” He paused for a long moment, taking a deep breath. “Semil contacted Corizon en route to the wormhole.” “And?” “They spoke about that, and Semil asked Corizon to get to the bottom of it, because he wasn’t sure how long Taenix could keep that information from the rest of the Vorta Council and because he wants to avoid further conflict.” “That makes sense,” she said thoughtfully. “The Hundred don’t want to destroy the Dominon, they just want to control it themselves.” “Exactly.” “So you think Corizon is in Romulan space?” “He contacted me before they left Deep Space Nine,” he said. “He told me he was going ‘look into’ the situation, but he didn’t tell me anything else. I give you my word I didn’t know he was going to abandon the Republic and go off on a goose chase into Romulan space.” “Very well,” she said. “If what you think is true and there’s a high level conspiracy within the Federation and the Romulan governments, we’ll need to take great care in action.” “Yes, Madam President, we will. To be honest with you, I think it would be best if you let this play out and we agree this conversation never happened. If we try and act without proof, they’ll just bury it deeper. If you take it public, it could be a major diplomatic and political disaster.” Bacco frowned. She hated that. She’d sworn the day she took the oath not to get involved in back-room, cloak-and-dagger non-sense and to be as open and transparent as possible. Yet, here she was faced with having to do exactly that for the good of the Federation. “I suppose you’re right,” she said. “You do know, of course, that when this does come out – when he’s either caught, or returns, that even if he does have the evidence you need that he won’t be spared. I won’t tolerate that.” “He knew what he was getting himself into, I can assure you of that. Corizon is… well let’s just say he’s been chasing a monsters a long time, and he knows that if you take the laws into your own hands that there are consequences to those actions.” “Very well,” she said. “Next though, don’t keep me in the dark about this. I understand you keeping others out, but don’t keep me out. Who else knows about this… outside of ATAG?” “A few select members of the Admiralty and Diplomatic Corps.” She frowned. “I don’t like anything about this and when this is all over, you and I are going to have a long talk about the role of ATAG and how it operates.” “I suspect,” he said honestly, “when this is all over there will be more than enough hearings about how the intelligence community operates, but of course Madam President.”