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Part of USS Polaris: The Voices of Deneb (The Lost Fleet – Part 2) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Questions of Malfeasance

Governor's Mansion, Nasera II
Mission Day 1 - 1000 Hours
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A brisk morning breeze blew through the grounds of the governor’s mansion, the former throne of Dominion oppression on Nasera. The bodies still lay where they had fallen the night before, colonists and Jem’Hadar alike who met their end in the duel for the soul of the city. Commander Robert Drake, Chief JAG Officer aboard the USS Polaris, walked the scene with two of his investigators. They had no emotional reaction to the carnage, but they were fully invested in understanding what had happened.

“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck,” chuckled Chief Petty Officer Geoff Morrey, a seasoned Crime Scene Investigator with over twenty years of experience at Starfleet Security, as he looked at the bodies of Federation citizens splayed across the stone driveway.

“Then it’s probably a crime scene,” Commander Drake filled in. “Don’t you find it odd how the colonists just happened to choose this evening, of all evenings, to storm the governor’s mansion, and that they did it from the west when our people were coming out of the east?”

“The odds are approximately one in nine hundred,” replied Lieutenant Commander Terok, their medical examiner. In reaching those odds, he had considered the probabilities of direction and time and adjusted with a scaling coefficient for mounting sentiments of resistance to be expected from an average occupied population over the course of a month-long occupation.

“Yes, it is almost inconceivable that this was a coincident rebellion,” nodded Drake. “It will be very telling how the team’s debriefings paint the participation of these civilians in their operation.” It was not ipso facto a violation of Federation law to enlist the assistance of civilians on the battlefield, but the appropriate manner and means in which they were used was absolutely defined by Starfleet regulations. “Do we know if there were any survivors?”

“It is our preliminary understanding that at least a dozen colonists survived,” answered Morrey. “I’ve got two of our specialists working on tracking them down now for interviews.”

Terok pointed at the burn pattern on the side of one of the Jem’Hadar splayed across the stone. “The position of this soldier and the location of the phaser burn, the killshot didn’t originate within this courtyard. The angle is wrong.” He looked out past the walls of the estate, across a great field that ran for hundreds of meters before rising into a set of sloping hills in the distance. “It came from those hills over there.”

“Is that a shot you could make Chief?” asked Drake, eying what looked to be about 700 to 800 meters of distance separating them from the shooter’s location.

Morrey laughed. “Not on my best day in my wildest dream.”

“This shot came from one of Commander Lewis’ people,” concluded Drake. There was no way an untrained civilian could hit this shot if a senior security specialist could not. It pretty much confirmed what he already suspected. This rebellion was part of Commander Lewis’ plan. “We definitely need to see the Commander’s after action report.”

Drake looked at the bodies of the colonists again. Lewis had some explaining to do. No rational officer would have considered the equipment these colonists wielded, mostly heavy industrial tools and a few hunting rifles, and come to the conclusion they were sending these colonists to anything but their deaths. And that was almost certainly a crime.

The three investigators stepped through the atrium and began exploring the halls, rooms and courtyards of the large mansion. Now, there were no more colonists, only Jem’Hadar. This had been the domain of Commander Lewis and his team.

“Those guys were ruthless,” chuckled Morrey. “You sure we want to get on their bad side Robert?” While a Crime Scene Investigator, he still had all the training one received at the Security Services School of the Starfleet Enlisted Training Command. But this was something totally different. Somehow, Lewis’ small team had cleared dozens of Jem’Hadar soldiers and, based on the facts at this point, they had only lost one team member of the team doing so.

“I’ve faced far more intimidating of men than Jacob D. Lewis,” Commander Drake scoffed as they stepped into a courtyard in the middle of the mansion. 

There were two medical technicians already in the large outdoor space, standing over the corpse of a deceased Starfleet officer in tactical gear. “This must be the casualty they reported during the operation,” Lieutenant Commander Terok said in a matter-of-fact tone as he approached the corpse. He casually pulled out his tricorder and began scanning. “Cause of death, irradiation of core cardiac and pulmonary organs with high intensity polarons.”

“Caused by a single shot to the rear of the thoracic cage,” remarked Chief Morrey as he came alongside his colleague. “At fifteen degrees off angle.” He looked in the direction where the shot would have originated. There, behind a pillar, lay the body of a Jem’Hadar soldier. Morrey made his way over to the deceased assailant.

The two medical technicians looked measurably discomforted by the nonchalant way these new arrivals addressed the deeply saddening sight before them. They knew this woman. They had worked with her in the Polaris’ Medical Department when she wasn’t training with the Hazard Team. “This is Lieutenant Kora Tal,” one of them explained, trying to humanize the situation. “She was a healer, a teacher and a thinker, a dedicated officer with a husband and two kids back on Bajor. She fought for her freedom on Bajor, and then she joined Starfleet to…”

“To not end up dead,” Commander Drake stated flatly, interrupting the melancholy speech. He didn’t need the sob story. “Your job is to preserve life, and ours is to ensure that proper care was taken to preserve it.” The medical staff should think of themselves as on the same team as him, he figured. If there had been any malfeasance that contributed to the Bajoran medic’s death, he would find it. As opposed to him and his investigators, there was nothing these two medics could do for Lieutenant Kora except throw her corpse in the morgue.

“Hey guys, come look at this,” Chief Morrey said as he knelt at the side of the deceased Jem’Hadar. Drake and Terok approached, and instantly they noticed the same anomaly. 

“Cause of death, cerebral inperfusion due to penetrating neck trauma,” Terok observed. “Curious that, engaged in a gunfight, he would die from a frontal knife assault.”

Chief Morrey pulled his tricorder out and started scanning. “There’s photoreceptive scarring on the walls here,” he explained. “A flashbang.”

Commander Drake stared at the Jem’Hadar. “They bang him so they can stab him and watch him die,” he mused. “This was personal.” And where things were personal, they quickly became inappropriate. “Let’s keep looking. I suspect this is not the last oddity we will find.”

They left the courtyard without another word to the medical technicians. They cared not what was done to the body of Lieutenant Kora. That death appeared clean enough, a discharge of a polaron rifle from the position of a deceased Jem’Hadar.

After another twenty minutes of wandering the expansive estate, they stepped into a large room where something had certainly gone wrong.

“It does not appear you need me to provide you with a cause of death here,” Terok stated.

“No, I most certainly do not,” Drake replied, his mouth agape as he approached a lone chair that sat in the center of the room. Shackled to that chair by his hands and feet was a Vorta, slumped over dead with a single focused phaser burn straight in the center of his forehead. 

In a combat engagement, deaths were expected. Commander Drake didn’t have a problem with the Jem’Hadar casualties that littered across the mansion. They were enemy combatants that were almost certainly engaged in combat against Starfleet officers. Even the stabbing was okay, except in what it indicated about the mental state of the officers. This, on the other hand, was a wholly different matter. This was a restrained prisoner by every definition of the word.

“The abrasion rim indicates a discharge distance of no greater than six inches,” explained Chief Morrey as he leaned over the Vorta. Whoever had taken this shot had literally put the barrel of their phaser right in the Vorta’s face before pulling the trigger.

Drake looked at his colleagues. “This is a war crime.”

“He’s going to deny doing it,” Chief Morrey cautioned. “They’re all going to deny it.”

“Can we sequester their weapons to test signatures?” asked Terok.

Drake tapped his combadge. “Drake to Quartermaster, USS Polaris.”

They waited a good thirty seconds. “Ensign Mills here,” an exhausted voice finally replied, sounding distracted as if in the midst of a dozen other things. “Sorry for the delay. We’re a bit overwhelmed right now with everything that’s happened. How can I help you?”

“Ensign Mills, this is Commander Robert Drake. On the authority of the Office of the Judge-Advocate General, I am placing a litigation preservation hold on all weapons and ordnance returned into your possession over the last twenty four hours by Commander Jake Lewis, Lieutenant Lisa Hall, Lieutenant J.G. Jace Morgan, Ensign Elyssia Rel and Chief Petty Officer Ayala Shafir,” he ordered. “This hold is confidential in nature and shall not be disclosed to any of the named parties.”

“Ummm…” the quartermaster stumbled with his words. It had been an awfully long morning, after a crazy night, and the firmness of that order caught him off guard. “Umm, yeah, sure. But Commander,” he cautioned. “They haven’t returned any weapons.”

“Did you release any weapons or ordinance into their care before the mission?”

“According to our records, negative,” replied the quartermaster. “Just civilian clothing, civilian baggage, tactical vests, and some electronics like PADDs and tricorders. As far as I can tell, they did not submit a requisition for any weapons or ordnance.”

Commander Drake kinked an eyebrow. That was a strange piece of information.

“Alright Ensign,” Drake replied frustratedly. “This hold shall remain in force for any weapons or ordnance returned at a later date into your possession by the five named individuals, until such time as notified otherwise personally by me.”

“Understood. Anything else I can do for you?”

“No, that will be all,” replied Drake before cutting the link. He looked at his colleagues. “That is certainly curious, isn’t it? The Hazard Team heads off on a covert op, and they take no weapons with them.”

“Curious indeed,” replied the Vulcan. “And evidence would certainly suggest they were armed last night.”

“Do we arrange for a warrant to search their quarters?” asked the Chief.

“No,” Commander Drake replied. “The moment a security team shows up at their quarters for a search, they will know something is up. And besides, I don’t think we’re going to find anything. They didn’t leave the ship with weapons, so why would they return with them? This is all mighty strange. We’re going to have to dig a bit deeper first.”

Commander Drake looked back down at the Vorta. What the hell had happened here? He had asked himself that question ever since he heard the Jem’Hadar just suddenly gave up the fight, and now that they were on scene, the anomalies just kept mounting. Dead colonists, a Jem’Hadar stabbed in a gunfight, and now a Vorta that appeared to have been murdered.

“Let’s run a full panel on this creature,” Commander Drake ordered. “And for now, we keep this investigation confidential, even from the Admiral. There’s just too much amok.” Commander Drake knew how Fleet Admiral Reyes regarded Commander Lewis and his band of goons. He would not allow her to obstruct his investigation. And he still had his own concerns with her command decisions during the battle.

Comments

  • Man, you start liking Drake and his manner of investigation, and then...you start to get a sense of how far he'll take this, and as a reader, your loyalty is divided between him and the crew. I like how it slowly unfolds, and we get his rationale as he investigates and digs further in as they go. On the surface, we know he understands the good and the bad stuff. I am curious to see how his keeping this from the admiral will go for him, and I am curious to see the team react to what he does. He's a simple and also complex character who I'm still undecided if I like...which is a good thing! Looking forward to more.

    June 1, 2023
  • This went in like eating a bowl of ramen, just delicious good. It was like being in NCIS or CIS episode where they reconnect the dots of every murder. Drake is a person that does it by the book and you can see how serious he is about getting the justice done in this post. No remorse if its Dominion or Starfleet, crime = crime. Great interactions with the other investigators that fill in the gaps of the interactions and Drake thinking. So can I get a Dr. Pepper? Because I want some more of this!

    June 1, 2023
  • I think this story was good to see what will become amid the aftermath of the situation. Even if it is from someone that people might not like, they still have a job to do and they seem to do it well. I am curious if Drake will find out the truth and who will talk and not talk. He looks like he is used to seeing death as it seems that seeing civilians and Starfleet officers dead didn't seem to bother him all that much. This to me is a bit concerning even for a JAG officer, you would think there would be some sort of emotion or reaction. Though maybe he did just not openly, great job with this chapter, and can't wait to see where this goes.

    June 3, 2023
  • Over the last few months, my house have been binge-watching NCIS, and this is 100% of the same calibre as the writing on that awesome show, maybe even better. What a start to an investigation. Retracing the steps of victims, making wise and sensible deductions, even unearthing a probable war crime. This could be my new favourite bunch of characters. Well written, very believable, and an epic addition to your plot. What the hell will they find out next? And how will Jake and co get out of this?!

    June 4, 2023
  • Robert Drake

    Archanis Sector JAG Officer
    Archanis Station

  • Terok

    Medical Examiner, Archanis Sector JAG Office

  • Geoff Morrey

    Crime Scene Investigator, Archanis Sector JAG Office