|rap541 (rap541) wrote,|
@ 2008-08-10 08:37:00
Fic - "Going Native part 61"
Ah... the finale! Not the end - the author plans a few epilogue chapters and some "lost scenes".
Picard had to admit, having the colonial fleet jump deeper into Federation space had eased his mind a great deal, so much so that he was fine with the time wasted by shuttling over to the Galactica instead of transporting. He nodded pleasantly to the young ensign who was piloting and stepped down onto the Galactica’s deck.
He wasn’t surprised to see a swirling mass of uniformed workers, officers and enlisted alike, passing around bottles of drink and celebrating. That was probably a good thing, he thought as he spotted Riker waiting patiently by one of the Raptors. “Number One, what do you have to report?”
Riker smiled slightly. “There were approximately twenty Romulan Centurions that transported over. It was clearly an attempt at espionage, they were all carrying recording devices. Admiral Adama has the one survivor locked in their brig under guard.”
“There was a survivor?” That was more restraint than Picard had expected from the colonials.
“Dr. T’Kil subdued one.” Riker handed him a padd. “It’s in her report. She also reported that Cmdr. Gaeta is in the Galactica sickbay, suffering from a form of severe exhaustion that is a hallmark of Pollux hybrid overexertion of their powers.”
Which was circumstantial evidence that Gaeta had probably caused the Galactica’s initial malfunction, but the very nature of Gaeta’s hybrid powers made it impossible to determine unless the man confessed. That was the main reason Picard hadn’t asked and while he understood why Ambassador Troi was forced to bring Dr. Gaius Baltar’s accusation to light, he wished it hadn’t happened. If it was a violation, it was a minor one and while there were a variety of political reasons that made a slap on the wrist a possibility, there were also political reasons to make sure that an example was made. He almost hoped that Bill Adama had done what he expected, and destroyed any evidence that was left. He just didn’t think the man would do it. Not unless Gaeta asked, and in some respects, Gaeta was more colonial than he was Starfleet. Acting honorably was important to the colonials, and while Adama would consider it honorable to cover up any wrong that Gaeta had committed to save them, Gaeta no doubt would consider it wrong for him to accept such help.
That meant that the evidence was probably still there and he would need to begin court martial proceedings against Felix Gaeta. Who, if he understood the report correctly, was barely alive due to his efforts to save the Galactica. “What else do you have to report?”
“Lt. Barclay reported small pox symptoms but subsequent testing indicates he has some sort of allergy to the mold in the bathroom facilities.” Riker smiled slightly. “On the plus side, other than Worf, I must admit, Barclay is certainly the most popular of the exchange officers. They all call him “MadDog” now and he was patrolling with the Galactica’s pilots, looking for Romulans.”
Picard nodded. Inwardly he was amused and also pleased. In a lot of ways, Reg Barclay was a difficult officer to command. Brilliant but odd, and hard to manage, but somehow he wasn’t surprised that Barclay, of all people, had been the one to integrate well with the colonial people.
“Something I found interesting,” Riker said as they walked down the corridor, “Captain Thrace… Kara Thrace, was found with a similar state as Cmdr. Gaeta. Not as serious but…”
“It indicates that the colonial people have had their fair share of interaction with Pollux life forms.” He wasn’t surprised, not at all. The people of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol had clearly been meddled with in the past. By Pollux Four life forms, the medical scans made that clear. He personally suspected that there had been a strong influence by the Preservers as well but it would take more than casual research to make that clear. “Anything else of interest?”
“Just the Admiral’s refusal to let us look in the science lab.” Riker said it with regret. “I wish Ambassador Troi hadn’t heard what she did. It’s a fine line and the colonials didn’t benefit in the slightest even if there was a notebook with our technology written down. They’re not going to understand why we’re court-martialing the man who led them to safety. Not over technology that they were never privy to. And…” Riker stopped walking and faced him. “I don’t think this notebook is the real violation. I can’t put my finger on it but…” He shrugged, his expression pensive. “I don’t get the impression that Gaeta was so highly thought of or highly placed enough in the command structure to make all the route decisions.”
“I know, Number One. I believe President Roslin is involved. Admiral Adama as well, but after the fact.” The problem with all the talk of directive violations was that hard proof was required. Gaeta confessed but while the man had admitted to using his knowledge of Starfleet space to get the colonial fleet to Federation space, he insisted he had been working alone. That alone didn’t rise to a major violation. Picard suspected, based on Roslin’s lack of surprise and her interaction with Adama, that she had known more than she had let on to Adama. “This notebook… It’s ironic that the one piece of hard evidence we might find is a violation that never helped these people at all.”
“Can you imagine,” Riker said as they began walking again, “If this is true… Gaius Baltar, a supposed scientific genius, just ignored the discoveries Gaeta gave him.”
“That’s the flaw in such thinking, Number One. I suspect that Dr. Baltar has spent many years hearing what a clever fellow he is. When he is presented with the possibility that someone might be as clever, his world view of his own achievement can’t countenance the idea that someone else might be as brilliant as they are. He wasn’t willing to accept that he wasn’t the smartest person in… the colonies and he ignored the possible accomplishments of what he deemed a lesser person.” If Gaeta had gotten a piece of good luck, it was that Baltar had dismissed him as not bright enough to come up with new ideas that were worth while.
“I don’t like this,” Riker said quietly. “These people are fragile, sir. I don’t think they’ll understand our reasons for prosecuting someone they perceive as a hero.” He hesitated. “I’ve talked with these people. It’s amazing that any of them survived this. They might not protest an arrest and a court martial, because they are too desperate to protest much of anything but… A few years down the road and we could have a well remembered political and religious slight to work against.”
“You think they’ll become political players.” Picard said.
Riker nodded. “Not right away, they have got too much rebuilding to do but these are people who won’t be content to sit planet side and let the Federation handle things for them.” He shrugged slightly. “These people… took out Romulan boarding parties like it was some sort of fun filled turkey shoot. An *easy* turkey shoot. They’re aggressive and they will learn quickly.”
“They have a fire to their spirits,” Picard agreed easily. He was glad that Riker had made the same connection he had. “The Federation isn’t the wild mass of wars and armed borders that it was, but that doesn’t mean we no longer need that spirit. I think these people will do well… even if they do think the Prime Directive isn’t to their taste.”
It was touchy though. He wasn’t going to back down. The violation had to be investigated and because of who Gaeta was, he had to be diligent. There were violations that could be winked and nodded at, and without the supposed notebook, Gaeta was looking at a mild reprimand. With the notebook, and the scenario that Baltar had presented, even though nothing had actually happened, the possibility was there that something could have happened. The colonials were an aggressive group of people. New, better, weapons would be like candy to them and that would be obvious to any investigator.
He didn’t have to like going after the young man though, and he didn’t relish the fact that if there was a notebook full of doodled warp engine designs that were never used in the Galactica’s makeshift science lab, he would be sending a man to prison. For the crime of saving forty one thousand people when he could have just as easily sent them to their deaths. He followed Riker to the CIC.
Admiral Adama was there, with President Roslin. He wasn’t surprised to see Luxwana Troi there, strategically attached to Colonel Tigh’s arm. Inwardly he was very amused at that particular choice but he didn’t let it show. Lt. Worf was there as well, looking well pleased with the day‘s events. “Admiral Adama, Madame President, Colonel Tigh, and of course, Ambassador Troi. I understand from Cmdr. Riker that the Romulans were dealt with easily.”
Adama nodded. “I understand that one of my men was transported to your ship with injuries. The report was sketchy.”
“Sergeant Venner is in serious condition but he should make a full recovery.” And the colonial people needed to have a serious public debriefing about matter transporters before Venner was brought back. Venner was still insisting that Gaeta’s godly powers had saved him from demons and that simply couldn’t be allowed. Particularly when the man’s unique body armor was what had really saved his life.
That was another thing among several that the colonials had to offer. He suspected that their new colony, where ever they decided to move, would be quite wealthy in credits from patents. “Unfortunately I have a less pleasant task at hand. I am required to investigate the allegations that Dr. Gaius Baltar has made.” He looked sternly at Adama. There were few things, in his opinion, that touched a man’s pride more than being strong armed on one’s own ship, and he was about to twist Adama’s arm. “As the senior representative from Starfleet, I must request access to the Galactica’s science lab in order to search for evidence of wrong doing on the part of Lt. Cmdr. Gaeta.”
“You do know that Mr. Gaeta is currently unconscious, under medical observation?” Roslin stated. Her eyes glittered angrily despite the slight smile on her face. “Apparently he had several seizures and was close to death before the medical staff was able to stabilize his condition.”
“ I am aware of that, Madame President.” Picard kept his tone curt. Roslin wasn’t a dictator, not in spirit, but she was used to having her way and he had no intention of wavering. “However, I think it’s best for everyone if we get this concern dealt with. Dr. Baltar alleges that Cmdr. Gaeta gave him a notebook full of scientific theories, drawings, and equations. He also alleges that the notebook is most likely among his papers which are locked in the science lab. Right now, this is the only proof we have aside from Mr. Gaeta’s confession to assisting with your navigation. That assistance alone isn’t damning, but if this notebook exists, I will have to initiate formal court martial proceedings.”
“And if I don’t allow it?” Roslin said.
“That isn’t your decision, Madame President,” Adama said quietly. Picard could see the surprise on Roslin’s face. Adama looked at her and then to Picard. “The lab has been locked since this concern was raised. Lt. Cmdr. Gaeta may have been your officer to start, but he’s been one of my officers for longer.” He stepped forward, and looked Picard in the eye. “For the record, the lab hasn’t been touched by me or by President Roslin. I considered searching it myself and removing any evidence, but the officer you’re investigating requested that I comply with your investigation.”
Picard nodded. He wasn’t surprised to see Worf nod along to Adama’s words. Bill Adama had a code of honor that rivaled Worf’s. Unfortunately that meant that a court martial for Felix Gaeta was that much more likely. “Perhaps then, we should get this over and done with.”
“Agreed.” Adama said quickly. He was not pleased, Picard could tell, and the looks Roslin threw at him were telling. If Bill Adama had the honor of a Klingon warrior, then Laura Roslin had the sly cunning of a Romulan politician. If it had been Roslin’s decision, Picard had no doubt that she would have cheerfully led him to a nicely sanitized lab, and sworn on a stack of their religious scrolls that the place hadn’t been touched. And she would have smiled and looked as though she was an angel from heaven, of that he had no doubt.
Adama led them through the winding metal corridors. Roslin was at his side. She was angry, but not angry enough to slip and demand answers in front of Starfleet officials. It was, Picard suspected, wrapped up in religion for Roslin. He had thumbed through copies of the colonial scripture himself, out of curiosity, and he was frankly impressed with how Felix Gaeta hadn’t taken advantage of the colonial people. It would have been very easy to set himself up as a godlike being. After all, Laura Roslin was clearly considered a prophet by the people with just a few vague predictions to her credit.
Although it had already occurred to him, and no doubt to her, that she had won the political jackpot. She had, after all was said and done, led her people to safety after great trials. That was going to be worth another election at least.
The laboratory hatch was closed and locked. Picard waited patiently as Adama opened it. He was surprised when a puff of smoke heralded the door opening, and he could see Adama was surprised as well.
“What the hell?” the man muttered as he stepped into the room. Picard followed, and in the smoky haze, he began to make out the room’s features. There was a lot of antiquated laboratory equipment and computers and tables and… Kara Thrace, standing over a metal trash can. There was a fire in the can, burning merrily, and as he and Adama watched, she dropped a colonial uniform shirt into the fire. Then she poured a bottle of what Picard had to assume was the local alcohol onto the fire, making the flames grow. He could see that she had carefully planned the moment
“Kara! What in the name of the gods are you doing?” Adama said, obviously shocked.
Kara looked up. She grinned, as if a delightful joke had just been told. “I’m burning Lt. Gaeta’s things.”
Adama was taken back, Picard could see that. “Why are you doing that?” he growled.
Kara winked. “Because I don’t like him, sir.” She held up a small notebook, looked directly at Picard and winked again. Then she dropped it into the lit trashcan. “I hope that wasn’t important.”
Picard made a point of looking stern, but deep down, he was laughing. Thrace was on record despising Gaeta, so her actions were plausible, and Roslin and Adama were both too obviously shocked to have known what she was up to. And the only physical evidence of a Prime Directive violation had just been destroyed in a way that couldn’t be pinned on any of the likely guilty parties.