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Difficult Decisions

Posted on Sun Mar 29th, 2020 @ 1:41pm by Captain Abigail Laurens & Lieutenant Commander William Gunnison & Lieutenant Farizah Alani & Lieutenant Alexis Aenera & Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Thor & Lieutenant Commander Calvin Morgan & Lieutenant Tavis Styvek & Lieutenant Commander William Rogers

Mission: Dead Moon
Location: Observation Lounge

Abigail sat at the head of the long conference table in the observation lounge, waiting for the crew to arrive. There was no tea or coffee, no plates of cookies, everything about the conference table highlighted the fact that Ichiko wasn't present.

This was a conversation that she needed to have with her crew, without her first officer around. With a sigh, she leaned back in her chair, elbows on the arm rests, her hands clasped on her lap as she waited for her senior staff to arrive.

"Captain." Rogers was the first to arrive. He'd nodded to his commanding officer and took his usual seat. The usual joviality with which he carried himself was not present today. He'd only half expected this meeting, unsure of which way the captain would jump. Her decision would be telling.

Ghant Xerix greeted the captain and Rogers with a grin. “Ma’am, Lieutenant .” He took a seat opposite Rogers and thumbed through the PADD he had brought with him, attempting to familiarize himself with the crew.

Ben stood outside for a moment trying to straighten his uniform and neaten his hair a little before entering and taking a seat.

Lieutenant Farizah Alani had straightened her uniform with a quick tug before she entered the Observation Lounge. This was not the sort of situation she thought that she would be in during her first posting as head of a department; however, this was what she lived for. It was why she became Starfleet. You could never predict it.

Sliding in the room Calvin leaned against the wall. His uniform jacket long disappeared somewhere. He was wearing his uniform undershirt with his lab coat over it. He wasn't in the mood for sitting, or for having to leave Sickbay for that matter.

Alexis was troubled as she walked in, missing her normal exuberance for such a meeting. Her collar was crooked, just slightly, and her steps were slow as she slipped around to her customary place at the table. She reached up in a customary movement to brush hair off her forehead, but instead ran her fingers through it before beginning to toy with the very end of it.

Styveck entered and slipped quietly into the back of room, he stood and watched the officers interact while they waited for the Captain to begin.

Abigail nodded at each person as they arrived. "My apologies at the lack of refreshments," she said quietly. "As I'm sure you can tell, Commander Gail is not joining us and she normally takes care of such matters."

She paused for a moment, waiting as everyone helped themselves to the replicator and found seats, her gaze slowly shifting between the crew and the ship outside before she started speaking again.

"As I'm sure some of you might have realised, there has been a fundamental change in our situation. Starfleet intelligence is less than 24 hours away from us. We were told to retrieve this vessel to hand it over to them so they can examine the technology. The away team, or more precisely, Lieutenant Rogers, was the first to realise that this ship is Ts'usugi in origin. We do not know what happened to the crew, we do not know how the ship came to be in the middle of Hell, but what I do know with certainty is that the Ts'usugi are very private people, especially when it comes to their technology." Abigail paused for another moment as she looked around the table. "I have made the decision that I will not be handing this ship over to Starfleet Intelligence. I will make any and all effort to return this ship to its rightful owners. It is not our technology to claim."

"So we're disobeying orders?" Rogers piped up, his fingers drummed awkwardly on the desk. "thought it might come to this ever since we worked out who that ship belonged to. It got me thinking: in my day if an order from command was illegal, you were expected not to follow it. That still the case?"

Abigail shook her head slightly. "I believe Intelligence plans to acquire the vessel under essentially salvage laws. Our initial reports to them indicated that the vessel was abandoned and with it being in Federation space, they would be free to claim it. I am under direct orders to hand the ship over to intelligence. If I fail to do so, I will potentially face disciplinary action. I want to make this clear to all of you now, none of you will face any fall out from this. Whatever decision is made rests on my shoulders and my shoulders alone. If you want out now, by all means, you are free to leave. Record it in your duty log that you are temporarily standing down from duty. I will not hold it against you in any way, shape or form."

"You may not," replied the Bolian Security Chief chimming in after the Captain "but you do not speak for the Judge Advocate General's office" added Farizah who quickly cleared her throat. "With all due respect, Captain. To what extent can your protect any of us from the reaches of pissed off admiralty? If some of us choose to stand down from duty or go on record against you that's one thing, but what of those of us who will follow your orders through?" inquired Farizah.

Ghant’s eyes were the size of saucers. Not a week into his assignment aboard the Astraea and already dereliction of duty and it’s ramifications were being discussed. He knew the Captain only briefly, and by reputation. He scratched at his stubbled jawline before speaking “I’m with you, Captain. I’m certain that you wouldn’t pursue this course of action without excellent reason. Whatever you need, Ma’am” he said.

"Screw the JAG office," Calvin blurted from the side of the room where he still leaned against the wall. He almost surprised himself he said it out loud, shrugged and let it be. "Bunch of pencil pushers. Let's give the ship back to our long eared friends and call it a day."

"Captain," Will asked, "can we revive Cmdr. Gail or Warrant Officers Ottasu or Veera any time soon? There's a possibility that they could access the Ts'usugi ship's logs and see what happened to the crew. If we can locate the crew and they're alive, then it seems like the idea of their ship being salvage becomes a moot point. If nothing else, there might be a possibility that, as Ts'usugi citizens, the three of them could claim the ship on behalf of the Ts'usugi government and demand that it be immediately turned over to them."

"Our Ts'usugi guests are awake, I have spoken to Commander Gail is preliminarily aware of what is going on. My preference is to distance them from any decision making in this instance, lest we jeopardize their tenures within the Fleet...." Abigail's voice trailed off. Above all else, she had learned that the Ts'usugi were very loyal, and that sense of loyalty in this instance left them all in a difficult situation.

"I have decided to contact the Ts'usugi government and inform them. We know there are three crew members already aboard the ship, that is the transport that happened during the Romulan attack. Their actions were not approved by me, but it may make this situation easier. Now we just need to work out how to stall intelligence until the Ts'usugi can get here. Any suggestions?"

"How long do we need to stall?" Rogers asked. "As it stands it ain't like we can get back on board to hand it over anyhow. The ship had it's shields up when I left the bridge."

Abigail nodded. "We're working to find out who they are," she replied quietly. "There was an unauthorised transport during the Romulan skirmish. Despite the fact that transporter logs were scrubbed, we've been able to determine that three people transported from the Astraea to the Ts'usugi vessel. They've somehow managed to raise shields. It may be helpful, at least no one can transport onto the ship now. As for how long we need?" She shrugged slightly. "At this stage, we just don't know."

"Admittedly, this may be a long shot, but any chance we could cite the Prime Directive here and insist that we turn the ship over to the Ts'usugi instead of Starfleet Intelligence?" Will asked. "After all, the Ts'usugi have always avoided revealing certain information about themselves, information that I'm sure would be learned if Starfleet were to be allowed unrestricted access to both the ship and its database. One might argue that by our gaining access to such information, even if Starfleet classifies it and never deliberately uses it to harm the Ts'usugi, it might negatively affect the future development of Ts'usugi society if they knew that we knew stuff they didn't want us to know about them."

Rogers frowned. "I thought that directive only applied to pre-warp civilisations? Kinda hard to see how that applies to the Ts'usugi." He started typing away on his PADD a look of concentration passed over his face. "Does give me an idea though."

"While the Prime Directive is often applied to situations where Starfleet is dealing with pre-warp civilizations," Will replied, "the wording in its strictest form deals with any civilization, even those that have warp or similar faster-than-light capabilities."

"It's intent is to apply to singular planetary-bound civilizations, specifically as a 'do-not-interfere' with the internal development of the civilization in question." Alexis finally spoke up, a tremor in her voice, "It's the internal development interference bit that applies to ALL civilizations, warp capable or not. This doesn't count." Her eyes stayed stuck on the very center of the table, not meeting anyone else's, "I believe the ship should go to Starfleet. I'm sorry, Ma'am, but I can't agree with your decision. I understand that the Ts'usugi value their privacy in all things technological and societal and I would never, not ever condone actively seeking to violate that desire on their part, but this just isn't us doing that. This is a opportunity for us, for the Federation, to legally discover what we don't know about them. We could learn so much about our allies and maybe find a better way to help defend ourselves and them by being able to look at their technology closer."

"The intent is to avoid unduly influencing another society's development, no matter the situation," Will said. "It's why, for example, Starfleet wasn't allowed to take sides in the Klingon civil war between Gowron and the House of Duras. We simply do not know enough about the Ts'usugi to know why they have the policies they do, much less how it would impact them if said policies were violated. Even when it's legal, it doesn't does not always mean it's ethical. From my understanding, we've been politely given a very reasonable request to not pursue anything about the Ts'usugi that they aren't willing to share with us, and how would it make us look if we blatantly disregarded that request the first chance we got? No Federation ally would ever have reason to trust us again."

Abigail's gaze fell on Alexis, watching her in silence for a moment. "Perhaps we could all learn a lesson about honor and respect from our Ts'usugi friends," she said quietly.

So that was one definitely against, the security person on the fence, the Doc and Gunnison on board and a few others left to declare. Rogers wondered if now was the best time to outline his plan given that now there was potential opposition to it in the room.

Ben looked physically uncomfortable, while he had heard of the Prime Directive he was not too sure of what it truly entailed. He simply sat there nodding.

Lexi’s eyes never left the middle of table where they had been fixed during the entire meeting as she’d listened to everything and everyone. Even so, all she did but give one nod, wondering if this would be the moment she would be relieved of her duties, hoping it wouldn’t be.

Styveck held his silence until the conversation began to dwindle befor asking a question, "Captain if I may be so bold as to speak a moment,' he continued without waiting for permission. "You are admitting right from the start you are prepared to disobey direct orders not once but at least twice, by entering restricted space and then not keeping the technology as instructed. This will most likely end in a court martial and be the end of your career, it may also affect the officers in this room who side with you. I am not trying to throw a bee into the rock's nest as you humans say, but I do believe this needs to be considered."

Calvin shrugged, shifting his weight slightly in his spot by the wall. "I'm okay directly disobeying direct orders, but I'd rather see if we can talk this one out with Starfleet. However at the end of the day, It isn't our toy. Not ours to take. They want to pull us in front of JAG? So be it. I learned from a doctor who probably has the universal record of JAG instances for a medical officer and he's still batting a 100. What are they going to do? Demote me?" He touched his collar to theatrically take a pip off, and realized he didn't have them on. "I guess I demoted myself already at some point today," He said confused, mostly to himself. "Permission to go do something useful Captain? I've got patients to see and I doubt I've left any gray area to my opinion at this point."

"Starfleet were the ones who ordered us into restricted space, Chancellor. I don't see them trying anyone for that." Rogers noted. "Situations changed since the orders were given. Maybe Intelligence will be reasonable? I'd like to see some of this 'evolved humanity' I keep hearing about."

Casting a glance toward Calvin, Abigail nodded slightly. "Of course Doctor, thank you," she said quietly. "I appreciate your candor."

Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes for a moment, an expression of almost eerie calm crossing her face. "No one on this crew will be held accountable for any actions that may be taken, I will make that clear right now. These choices are mine and mine alone and I will be the only one to bear any and all responsibility for my choices. You may all leave now, thank you for your presence and your input."

Ghant hung back, concern evident on his face. “You ok, ma’am?” He inquired, approaching where she sat.

Farizah stood and watched as the crew began to leave. The Captain remained and Xerix appeared to be lingering. Perhaps wanting to show support as she did. "Captain, I am here to serve under your command. I'll follow you into any battle and through any voyage."

Abigail looked up, offering a faint smile to both of the officers who had fallen behind the exiting crew. "Thank you, both of you," she said quietly before standing up herself. "If you'll excuse me, I have to take care of something." With a slight nod she turned and walked out of the observation lounge. She had made her decision, it was time to act on it.


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