The prosecution consisted of a boisterous Bolian who was quite animated when talking. He outlined the events as they played out. He explained that, while the actions of Lieutenant Clark may have resulted in the rescue of a commanding officer, it was his responsibility to abide by the order of those placed in the command above him.
R’Tor sat calmly listening to the prosecution’s case. They marched one officer after another to take the stand. When the commanding officer of the USS Shackleton was called, R’Tor’s ears perked up and leaned forward in his chair. “Captain, do you agree or disagree that Lieutenant Clark disobeyed direct orders?” The captain straightened his shirt and tilted his head to the side to think about his response. After a few moments, the prosecution pressed for an answer. “Captain, your answer please.”
The captain sighed and responded. “Starfleet exists to help expand our knowledge of the universe.” He began. “It is curiosity that leads men to try to go where no one has gone before.” The captain looked at Clark and then back to the prosecution. “Lieutenant Clark took action to preserve life and I do not fault him for that.”
The prosecution responded, “Captain with all due respect you have not answered my question.” A hush fell over the room and the prosecution attempted to push the issue but to no avail. The judge called for a recess and an hour and a half later it was the defenses’s turn to respond.
Standing in the front of the room, R’Tor’s deep voice resonated. “We as officers of Starfleet have general rules of orders and regulations to direct officers to uphold and protect others.” He looked about the room as his tail swayed and twitched. “Protect.” He emphasized that word.
R’Tor spoke about etiquette and policy, he spoke to each witness and drove home the point that due to the events that command fell to a lieutenant who had limited bridge experience. R’Tor almost roared as he talked about General Order #5. “This order prohibits officers from leaving a dangerous situation if that puts others at risk.”
Finally, R’Tor ended the defense of Clark’s actions by highlighting Article 14, Section 31 that states the use of “extraordinary measures” in times of dire emergency is warranted. When he concluded the judges stated that they would have their answer the next day at 14:00.
Clark leaned over to his friend. “What do you think?” R’Tor clapped his friend on the shoulder and with a grin said, “I guess we will find out tomorrow.” Clark blinked twice and shook his head. “What, don’t you know what to expect?” R’Tor snorted as he and Clark exited the room, “Unfortunately not my friend, because this is my first official case outside of law school.” Clark looked at him in disbelief.
The next day tension filled the room as the judges sat down to read their ruling. The middle judge of the tribunal read the decision, “For charges related to violating or failing to obey lawful general orders or regulations, we find that Lieutenant Clark did knowingly and willfully disobey direct orders from a higher-ranking officer.” Clark slumped a little in his chair and R’Tor gave him a slight jab to encourage him to sit back up.
The judge continued, “We also find Lieutenant Clark, without permission or orders took the auxiliary craft from the Shackleton.” The judge looked up, “While these facts are not in dispute, the defense had given us much to consider. “In accordance with Regulation 19, Section C, Lieutenant Clark took command of the situation while his commanding officer was facing an imminent threat.”
Just as Clark was turning to R’Tor to congratulate him, the Judge interrupted. “As a junior officer, you have not earned the experience or right to question the orders given to you.” Therefore, Edward Alan Clark, you are hereby reduced to the rank of Ensign, and a reprimand will appear in your records,”
The courtroom was dismissed, and Clark sat for a moment and bemoaned his situation, “We lost?” His captain approached and reassured him that he did not lose. “You did what you believed to be right, but understand that ethics and the law are not the same.”