Part of USS Olympic: Mission 1 – Uneasy Alliance and USS Mackenzie: The Mackenzie Squadron – The Uneasy Alliance

06 – The Uneasy Criminal

Janoor III
03.06.2401
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Dread walked with Fowler as the young Cardassian boy led them toward the caves. He had told them to walk where he walked, warning them he had set traps.  The two Starfleet officers remained silent as they did as he instructed, walking carefully and hesitantly.  They entered the larger entrance and continued to follow him down hand-carved steps lit by glowing bulbs every few feet.  Sadie scanned the walls as she went, finding the unique minerals were resistant to scanning.  She continued to work as Dread walked ahead of her.  Soon they stepped into a massive cavern with more lights illuminating a makeshift kitchen, living space, and beds off in the corner.  Helena could discern parts of plants, skins, and more that had become the foundation of this boy’s cave life.

“He is this way.”  They walked towards the larger bed and found an elder Cardassian sitting up in the bed, eyes lidded and breathing shallow.  “You help him.”  He gestured from Dread to his father.  Helen slipped out her medical tricorder and shifted a stool to sit and observe the ailing Cardassian.

“I’m Doctor Helena Dread of the Federation Starship Olympic…can you hear me?”  She started the scans while pressing her more extensive bag onto the bed.  The wheezing from the lungs and the greying pallor was not a good sign to Helena, and the Tricorder slowly began to tell the true tale.

Fowler asked the boy, “While she’s working…can we sit and talk?”  The boy looked to his father and back to her, nodding.  They soon sat across from each other, the Chief Science Officer keeping one eye on the doctor and the other on Gurat.  “What happened to him?”

The boy shrugged, “He was coughing more and more this month..but we had to keep up our fight against the infidels.  We were supposed to go out yesterday, but he couldn’t get out of bed.”  He leaned on the table, “Have you met the infidels?  Did they try and kill you?”

Fowler felt her skin crawling with unease.  The boy spoke matter of factly as if this was the truth, and they were having coffee on the promenade of a station somewhere.  “No, they didn’t try and kill us.  What is your father’s name?”  She leaned forward to meet his eyes.

He drummed his fingers on the table, “Palak.  He was the commander of this place once.  He tells me he owned the entire planet.  I want to run the planet someday.  He says they need ruling.”  Fowler swallowed, trying to maintain control.  She had read the detailed briefing as a matter of getting better at her position. Palak had run the defense and offense operations of Janoor III with brutality in measures that had taken her breath away as she’d read file after file.  She looked to where Dread was working and hoped she would see her glance.

Helena worked to stabilize the man and slowly started to see results as his eyes flitted open and settled on her uniform and then her insignia.  He whispered, “Starfleet.”  He grasped her hand tightly and squeezed, “I am glad you have come.”  A deep breath, “I am dying.  My son does not know.  You must return him to my people.”  

Dread nodded as she continued her scans and samples.  “We’ll do what we can.  Your son, Gurat, led us here.  What is your name?”  She waited and listened.  When he said it, she blanched.  She couldn’t help it.  She sat straight up, her hand dropping from his in shock.  She stared at him as the stories from the reports and briefings played in her mind.

He wheezed, “You know, then.”  He lay back in the bed, “I know Starfleet.  You cannot refuse treatment of anyone – even a war criminal.”  He smiled quietly and closed his eyes, “I taught my son well.”  

Dread stood up quickly; her hands clenched into fists.  She left Palak and signaled Fowler, “We need to talk.  Privately.”  They moved away from the boy and found a corner.  The captain started, “It’s Palak.”

Fowler related her conversation with the boy, “He’s a war criminal, captain.  I read the report on his case and conviction in absentia.  He’s pretty high on Starfleet Security’s list.”  Fowler took several deep breaths to contain her nervous energy.  You don’t run into a war criminal every day.  Especially one with a list like Palak.

Helena chewed on her bottom lip as she thought through what they would have to do and how they would have to do it, “We need to get him into protective custody onboard the Olympic and off Janoor III.  The people of this planet will take every pound of flesh off of him to have their justice.”  She stared at the boy who had moved to sit next to his father, “That boy’s been fed the Dominion line his entire life.  They’ve been ‘fighting the infidels’ as long as he’s been alive.”

Sadie snapped her head in realization, “Where’s mom?  And who else did they have with them?”  She looked to the dark corners for any movement or sign of life.  What if Jem’Hadar were huddling in wait to kill them all?

The chief medical officer dismissed her worries, “Our Jem’Hadar friends would have died out long ago without their supply.  The boy didn’t mention his mother.  She may have died when he was born.  He lived rough long before the kid came along.  He’d figured out how to survive so the kid could live with him.”  She pushed off the wall, “Now I have to figure out how to get him into custody without the kid deciding I’m an infidel.”

Helena sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at Gurat, “Has your father told you what’s going to happen?”  She glanced at Palak, and his eyes slowly opened.

He gasped and spoke slowly, “I’ve told him what he needs to know.  That you will keep me safe…and that you will keep him safe…and eventually get him back home to my family.”

Dread deliberated unloading the truth on the child.  Would it help him?  Or would it harm him further?  She reflected on her own experiences – trauma’s scars and wounds were the same for the good and bad guys.  What Gurat was would need to be decided by someone above her rank.  She agreed, “We’ll keep him safe and ensure he gets back home.”  She motioned to the boy, “Follow Ms. Fowler out of the cave – she has to ask for some help for your father…she’s going to take you to our ship.”  

The boy glanced at his father, who nodded, “You can trust Starfleet.”  He embraced his father tightly, tears forming in his eyes before he followed Fowler out and up.  Dread waited until they were gone before turning to him, her kind face flung away and replaced by a firmly furious look.  He flinched but chuckled darkly, “You want to kill me, don’t you?”

Helena stood from the bed and stepped back, “You must know you’ll never breath free air again.”  She stared at him, “I’m a doctor, not a killer.  Did you kill his mother too?”  She held back the snarl that nearly flew from her lips.

Palak rolled his eyes, grimacing as he shifted in the bed, “She died a year after he was born.  He does not remember her. I told him she died in a fight against the infidels.”  He shrugged, wincing, “She died foraging for food.”  A wry cackle escaped his lips, “I have lived long enough to see the Domionion’s return, so it is a good day in my life.  Yes, I have devices to listen to the world outside my own. I hope they crush you beneath their boots.”

She had managed to keep the hatred glowing off him at bay.  She flinched at the fire pushing up against her senses, “They can try.”  She turned as a medical crew with a mobile bio-bed arrived, and she motioned towards the Cardassian, “Take extra care to keep him alive.  Double your security escort from planet to ship.  I want him under a twenty-four-hour watch inside and outside his secured cell.  Speak of this to no one besides your chief, myself, and Captain Crawford.  I find out that’s been broken; my last name will have a very real meaning to each of you.  Understood?”  The collected group affirmed as she went from face to face, her glare ensuring their understanding.  “Get him the hell out of here.”

She watched as they went to work and ensured protocol was followed.  Eventually, he was secured in the bed with monitors active and medicine flowing.  Soon it was just her, alone in the room.  She walked to the handcrafted table and stared at it. She imagined the families he had destroyed.  The children he had murdered.  The generations he had erased from Janoor III.  She snarled, picked up the table, and threw it across the room.  The sound of it smashing against the cave wall and shattering gave her relief.  She moved to the kitchen and smashed plates, bowls, and anything her hands could reach.  A standing counter earned a hard kick, breaking in two as it hit the rock floor.  Moving with quiet intensity, she pulled down the string lights, shattering the bulbs against the ground and the walls.  Each item was summarily tossed and broken.  

She made her way to the beds.  Helena stared at them, her fury billowing into a rage at the life he had lived at the expense of the people of Janoor III.  She slipped out her phaser and set it on a low setting.  Pointing it at each bed, she began to fire, and soon both were in flames.  She turned around and started the walk back to the surface as the smoke and flames filled the room, cleansing the sin that had lived there for so long.

Comments

  • When you introduced the boy I suspected that his father would be the reason for the sabotage, but kept a possible plot twist in mind. I don’t know how Dread kept her cool so well. This would be like finding Hitler or Josef Mengele sick and dying in Argentina The temptation to just walk away and let him die alone would be great. Sad that would still be too good of a death for the SOB.

    May 22, 2023