USS Adelphi

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Post 32 - Betwixt Pragmatism and Patriotism

Posted on Wed Jun 3rd, 2020 @ 6:30pm by Captain Björn Kodak & Lieutenant Commander Kora Lenek & Lieutenant Commander Jason Morris & Lieutenant Commander Karim MD & Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Grey M.D & Lieutenant Nico Oliveria & Lieutenant Timmoz & Lieutenant JG Tovan Astril & Ensign Ariennye t’Aenikh

Mission: Episode 1 - The Metreon Paradox
Location: USS-Adelphi, Briefing Room
Timeline: Just after post 31

[USS-Adelphi]
[Briefing Room]
[Not long after post 31]


This was it: Kodak's first briefing as Captain of the Adelphi -- a sudden change of events the Chameloid was still reeling from. But there wasn't time to debate whether he was up to the task of captaining the vessel or not: truth be told, like it or not, the Adelphi was his now and the Commander was damned sure he'd demonstrate confidence (whether he felt it or not) in front of his senior staff. Everyone having assembled quickly after his summons, Kodak looked around the table, attempting to make eye contact with each person before finally nodding.

"Let's begin, then," came the Captain's low rasp. "We have a decision to make. And I do mean we," Kodak emphasized the word. "While the final decision will always be mine, you'll find that I will often rely on your council. I've been many things in my career...helmsman, engineer, tactical officer, XO," he explained, "but no one person, no matter how experienced, can make these kinds of decisions without the informed advice of his expert department heads. And so we find ourselves gathered now to review what we know and openly discuss whether we should grant asylum to Mister Jasaxar and his people. To get us started, let's pool what we know about the situation."

After several minutes of briefing the staff regarding Jasaxar's depiction of the Talaxians' plight during his visit to the Adelphi, Kodak handed things over to Lenek. The new Executive Officer briefed those who'd not beamed aboard the Bolitx on the conditions found there, followed up by a report from Doctor Grey on the medical situation with the refugees. Her report even included mention of something called Prixin, apparently some kind of mechanism or group meant to help Talaxians escape from the Haakonians. Was the Bolitx part of this movement, not unlike the Underground Railroad from Earth's violent past? And was their plight enough to afford them the asylum Jasaxar had so desperately asked for?

So much to discuss and not a lot of time, Kodak thought to himself, musing it all over before sitting back in his chair slightly. With all reports completed and all of the informational cards now on the table, the Captain posed the question they would have to wrestle into submission.

"Do we return the Talaxians to the Haakonians -- knowing the conditions they will likely return to -- in hopes that we avoid making a powerful new enemy in the Reach? Or do we grant Jasaxar and his people asylum," Kodak weighed the words, "helping them to escape at the potential cost of our reputation in the Reach and possibly our very lives? The floor is open. Please use it quickly," the Captain ordered.

"We currently do not have enough information regarding the Talaxians' plight to warrant an overtly hostile action against the major power in this region. We can't even be certain that a great deal of their current condition is not self-inflicted or even purposely exaggerated to generate undue sympathy. Their dealings with Voyager may have given them the impression that the Federation will swoop in and save them all, but from the realistic standpoint, we have neither the presence or the ability to take action based on one ship, one small group of people, being caught in what might very well be the consequence of some unknown actions that, were it to be known, would make rendering aid to them not only unwise, but all the more dangerous to us in the long run," Lieutenant Commander Lenek pointed out in what could only be described as the cold pragmatism of a Cardassian.

"It is my opinion, Captain, that siding with the Talaxians in this matter will cost us far more in the long term, and not benefit the Federation in any tangible way. If the Haakonians are engaging in practices that are inhumane, we should deal with that when our presence here is more established and we can allow people far better equipped to handle the situation do so. One ship against what could turn into an armada is not odds I'd call favorable," The First Officer concluded.

"The misery of the conditions they escaped is very real to them. Overpoweringly so. To be bluntly honest, I feel we'd be betraying the very core of the Federation if we didn't help these people." Tov pointedly didn't look at the new XO. He'd never had any hard feelings for Cardassians, but he had a near instant dislike for the callous way Lenek was asking them to act. His eyes were on his new Captain, and his face was a mask of calm. "We can only act on the information we have. I am not saying we should jump in and try to blast our way through a Haakonian fleet to liberate the quadrant single handedly. I just think we need to treat these Talaxians as the refugees they say they are, and that they appear to be both physically and mentally."

Karim was the next to speak. As during the briefing when Captain Koloth had been present on the Adelphi, he had claimed the seat opposite Kodak at the conference table, setting him apart from the others.

"Lieutenant Commander Lenek makes a very well-reasoned and logical argument," he began impassively, coolly examining the ship's new commanding officer alone, not addressing the others. "If we consider this from a tactical standpoint alone. This is your first major command decision, Captain Kodak, and the decision you make will set preliminary policy for the Federation in this region of the Delta Quadrant - and we are not here to establish a military foothold. Starfleet is a humanitarian armada, dedicated to peaceful cooperation and the proliferation of understanding and cultural exchange. To refuse asylum to the Talaxians on the basis of making an ally of a nation with greater firepower will set a precedent that will not be ignored."

Karim spun and rocked his chair slightly in a very un-Vulcan display, although his fingers remained steepled atop his lap as he twisted left and right in thought. "I am minded to coin a Terran phrase: 'it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission', and that is doubly true when it can be done with a minimal loss of life. People are precious about the deaths of their countrymen."

The Cardassian's eyebrow twitched slightly, "Need I point out that the request for asylum didn't come until after the Haakonian vessel arrived. The fact that such a request only came to us in hindsight, rather than when we were aboard their vessel speaks volumes... or rather it should speak volumes..." Lenek made it a point to look toward the Chief of Security when she said that, "As to the tenuous nature of the request. At no point when we were on that vessel did any of them ask for assistance. In fact, when we were assessing damage, there were areas we were told they would rather us not go. And to bring an even sharper point to that, when the comment was made to scuttle the ship and take them away with us somewhere safe so they couldn't be tracked down later... there was instant hostility to the idea. Correct me if I'm wrong, Ensign, but that ship is fairly old, yes?"

As Lenek's eyes set to rest on Tov, he finally turned his head and met the new executive officers eyes. His own held something of their normal life, mixed with a sharp edged, fiery glint. He remained silent for the moment, though the mask of calm he had been wearing eased into an almost eerie calm. He wasn't angry, though none present knew him well enough to be able to state that for certain, but he was definitely settled in his position of needing to help the Talaxians.

Ensign t'Aenikh's head jerked back at suddenly being placed on the spot, "A... according to the scans I've made of the Talaxian vessel... it is at least fifty to sixty years old..."

"Which makes it all the more strange that being able to cut ties with a vessel that they now say was being pursued by hostile authorities was abhorrent to them. We could have provided them with more than enough supplies and assistance once they reached their destination, and their trail would have gone cold here. Instead, we have been placed in the middle of a political struggle... and are being forced to choose sides. I maintain that we have precious little tangible evidence to support that these refugees aren't actually fugitives, at least in part, and that our interference in an internal political situation will be easily forgiven," the First Officer leaned back in her chair to highlight that she had finished speaking for the moment.

Timmoz had stayed quiet as he watched his fellow officers banter back and forth. His arms folded across his chest, he focused on each and every speaker with his usual cryptic smile then would slide his gaze to the next. It was hard to tell what he was thinking- unless one knew Orions or Timmoz well. Orions had a long view of history and life's treasure were seen differently. He had his own pragmatism. "I'll," he raised his voice between the volley, "Point out that they already fired on us. And without any communication. They already see us as enemies." He glanced at those advocating help, "The Talaxians saw our strength and are prepared to use us as a shield as well. They're opportunists." The lime green one pursed his lips in thinking, "Find out if the Haakonians want them for any particular reasons- crimes- or are they open to us removing the Talaxians for them. If so we honor our word and offer to resettle them in the Alpha Quadrant. But if the Bolitx get choosy," he shook his head, "Hand them over to the Haakonians. Another Human euphemism is, don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Nico had been so appalled by what the Executive Officer had suggested, and he'd been rendered speechless for a few moments as Tov spoke up. At least Tov understood the Federation's ideals and what it represented when you put on the uniform. Not trusting himself to respond, he waited for a tic too long, and the XO responded to Astril again. By the time the XO finished, he was shaking with anger, but Timmoz spoke first, and while it wasn't the glowing support for Lt. Astril's suggestion, he would have preferred it was a helluva lot fairer than what Lenek had suggested. Pursing his lips, he gave the Orion a sideways glance before turning to the XO, "All, do, respect, Commander," he stared in a clipped tone. "I don't understand how someone can wear this uniform and callously suggest we give over the Talaxians because the other side has more guns. That's what power is, isn't it? They've got more ships, more guns, and they can make life unpleasant for us, so let's just give them back their slaves? Just wipe our hands and warp out, eh Commander?"

Nico was obviously out of line, but he didn't care. He was a Starfleet officer, and as far as he was concerned had a solemn duty to protect the weak and oppressed. Plowing on, "Did it occur to anyone that they may not want to abandon the Bolitx because it is their home? Jasaxar is easily old enough to have been on the ship its entire existence. That ship is their home, and whatever shape it is in, it has saved them and provided for them for decades. A decision like that takes time."

"It did occur to me, Lieutenant," Lenek turned to regard the engineer, "However the fact remains, as Mister Timmoz pointed out, they have been awful quick to use us as a shield, but they have provided precious few details as to why they would be treated so abhorrently in the first place. And just so you are aware, power is not meant to be used blindly simply because a situation looks a certain way from outside observation. Had the Cardassian Union understood that prior to making deals with the Dominion, my own people would never have been slaves to Jem'hadar and shape shifters."

Shape-shifters. For a fleeting moment, a dark look crossed the Commander-as-Captain's visage. For much of his life, he'd heard those words spit out like an epithet. More times than I care to count, he mused to himself, thoughts threatening to sweep him wholly back to earlier times. Can't get bogged down by that now, though, he thought with a resolve Astril would no doubt be able to feel from across the table. Feeling eyes on him in response to Lenek's comment, Kodak resumed a mask of calm neutrality. "I think we can all agree that emotions are running somewhat high at the moment. And rightly so," the Chameloid underscored.

"This isn't an easy problem to navigate. I understand the pragmatism expressed thus far," Kodak's eyes flicked to Lenek before switching to Oliveria, "and I also feel the weight of our morals as custodians of Federation virtues. While it is far from ideal that this problem has become our own," the Captain intoned lightly, "in our lap, it has now squarely fallen. As we talk through the issues and try to find the line betwixt pragmatism and patriotism, try to remember that at our core, we are all good intentioned. Disagreements are natural, but let's try not to take them personally."

"Now," Kodak seemed a little tired, "some excellent points have been made. If the Adelphi had been my home for 50 years, I'd be loathe to leave her, as I imagine Mr. Oliveria here would be, too," he offered the engineer a slight smile. "But Commander Lenek also raises a good question: if the goal is to escape unfettered, at what price freedom?" Yellow eyes -- once hidden behind colored contacts to conceal his identity as a shapeshifter himself, studied each person in turn. "Doctor Karim is correct that this event will shape our policy in this region for perhaps decades to come. What shall we be known as? Saints and saviors? Pragmatic opportunists? Or is there something perhaps in between?"

"It occurs to me that we don't have to take either of the extreme positions, of either openly supporting the Talaxians or refusing to assist them; we can extend refugee protections to this group, and remove them from the current situation without specifically accepting their asylumn claim," Elizabeth commented after the CO had finished. "With the greatest respect to the Captain, it is not our place to decide Federation policy on such a grand scale, especially given Stafleet's new presence in the area; our first responsibility is to the group we have in front of us, of which there are unanswered questions..."

Elizabeth paused.

"As for their ship; if they want freedom from their oppressors they have to be prepared to leave home, that is the sad truth of the matter, they can't have their cake and eat it too," Elizabeth continued. "Take surgery, for example; a patient might not want to lose an organ, but to save a family member they may need to sacrifice a kidney as a transplant, or in a trauma situation, away from the wonders of modern medicine, would you rather lose your leg or your life?"

"A leg, or indeed a ship, can be replaced... a life, or freedom, cannot."

Tov had shifted his attention to each speaker in turn, the eerie aspect his calm had taken as Lenek spoke to his points had eased back into a simple calm visage. Eyebrows relaxed, eyes mobile, taking in everything they could. Once the doctor had finished speaking, he looked back to their captain.

"In the end we can only act on what we actively know. The Haakonians fired on us without provocation, and the Talaxians requested aid." He rolled his shoulders back, easing a tension he hadn't felt growing there. "I hate to simplify a truly complex situation so much, but that is what we know. If we give the Talaxians to the Haakonians, we tell the quadrant that we back down once fired upon. We tell the quadrant that, no matter our spoken ideals, we will not render aid if someone else takes offense to that aid. That isn't the Federations way. We do not back down when the fight is brought to us, and we do not turn away anyone who requests aid."

"Or..." the Cardassian rose a finger at the word, "We show the quadrant that we, as the Federation representatives in this region, are not so hot-blooded and quick tempered that we simply take complex situations at face value, that we respect the sovereignty of other cultures, and that we take more than emotions into account when we take action. If the people aboard that ship are truly innocent victims of a hateful government, then you may be correct that saving them is the right thing to do. But are they? I can't answer that question... no one in this room can answer that question with surety."

"I would propose, then, that we ask the Haakonians, who we only spoke to for a few moments what their reason for even wanting these Talaxians is. If they can show us evidence that they have somehow earned this pursuit, committed some crime or trespass that would have made firing upon that vessel and us a justifiable action... would your Federation sense of justice be satisfied?" Lenek asked.

Timmoz was again watching the banter. This time, he stayed quiet. What was being shared was such a Human take on the universe, save from their resident Cardassian. Timmoz locked eyes with Lenek and nodded silent agreement: it was such a Federation notion to interfere with outsiders. Space was cold, and space was cruel. And yes these lives had either cast themselves out into it for freedom, or been cast out that way. But that didn't make it immediately their problem, in Timmoz's paradigm. Federation "meddling" may have saved his hide, but he still struggled with how and when these Samaritans should be extending their hand, or realizing what they were reaching for was a parasite. To Timmoz, they were the latter: the Talaxians offered nothing.

Jason had kept quite through the majority of the conversation/debate, both sides had made their point and both sides could be right, but which side to be on. "Captain, I think we need to get more information on this. We need to better understand what these Talaxians did to warrant such a pursuit, and it's our responsibility to do so since they have requested asylum with us from the Haakonians." Jason stopped for a second to work out what to say next. "Sir, it's entirely possible that the Talaxians have done horrible things and should be handed over to the Haakonians, and it's entirely possible the Haakonians are committing mass genocide of a species that they conquered," Jason told the room.

Jason stopped for a moment to let what he said sink in and to once again think what he should say to make his point. What orders can be used here. he thought. Unable to think of anything he waited to hear what the others thought.

"We aren't talking about going and liberating all Talaxians, we are talking about a request for asylum by the Talaxians on the ship out there..." Tov gestured at the nearest bulkhead. "...and our choice is to either accept their request, or let the ship that showed up and started shooting us without provocation take them. We are Starfleet Officers."

"I believe our ruminations," the Captain spoke up once more, "could indeed benefit from some additional information. If we're to fully consider the asylum request, we need to understand the context around its genesis." Kodak had been deeply listening to the round-robin discussion taking place and felt ready to transition talk into necessary action. "I will contact the Haakonians and request that they meet with us. Commander Lenek, Doctor Karim," he looked to the two in question, "I'd like you to sit in on on those meetings, should the Haakonians agree to them. You can help us get a better sense of their position. Everyone else, we have quite a lot to do at the moment. Medical care, repair efforts, and battle readiness should all continue. You know your roles and I'm sure you'll manage them well."

Chameloid eyes then moved from person to person, hanging on each for just a moment before passing on, sincerity shining through Kodak's gaze. "I want to thank everyone for your candor in this meeting. We're a new crew and have only begun to test the bonds of duty and fledgling friendship. I feel conversations like these, while not always pleasant and harmonious, are essential to building cohesion and helping us navigate troubled waters. Thank you for your part in that. I'll update you as we know more." And, with a nod of finality, the Captain said, "Dismissed. Thank you again."

As people began rising from the table, the Commander found himself brewing and stewing in the thoughts of all that needed to be accomplished. Kodak was confident that they would gather the information needed but he couldn't help but feel some anxiety around both of the paths so far laid in front of them. He could only hope that additional information might bring one of those paths into clearer focus.

*** A post by... ***

Commander Björn Kodak
Commanding Officer
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant Commander Kora Lenek
Executive Officer
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant Commander Jason Morris
Chief Operations Officer and 2XO
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant Commander Karim MD
Head Counselor and First Contact Specialist
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Grey M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant Nico Oliveria
Chief Engineering Officer
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant JG Timmoz
Chief Flight Controller
USS-Adelphi

and

Lieutenant JG Tov Astril
Chief Tactical and Security Officer
USS-Adelphi

and

Ensign Ariennye t'Aenikh
Chief Science Officer
USS-Adelphi

 

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