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Part of USS Mariner: M1: Into The Gamma Quadrant and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

23) The Guilty

USS Mariner - Brig
March 2401
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The crew was struggling. The recent events were like a nagging Ferengi that didn't get his prize at some casino hitting them. Not having the proper staff to deal with this, not being able to hand them over to the authority just yet due to their mission and the weight it carries. It all came down on Silina's shoulders. The math was simple in this situation. Sazra was in no condition or mindset to deal with these mutineers. If she did, she would judge the nearest airlock to fall under the fair-condition terms of a judgment. Adrián might have been an option, but when it comes to a serious case like this, it will backfire on him as being too soft. 

She walked into the brig once again and had already concluded a few interviews with the prisoners of this little coup. The conclusion so far was that 6 people were certain of being court marshaled for their participation in this act. Of course, Lieutenant Shew was among those 6.  The others were weighted in the amount of involvement, the information they received, and their acts of redemptions. Walking to her first interview of the day, Silina shrugged knowing the discussion point of Sazra about redemptions, but the rules were firm in this case. Redemption was a thing to consider given the situation. 

Interview Cailra

Stopping at the Chief Operations brig, Silina had held her PADD to her chest looking into the brig. She saw a woman praying to whatever god she had hoped to come for redemption on her behalf. Silina could only figure out that she still had hope, but judgment would be harsh like any other. Sitting down and looking at the Lieutenant who finally noticed Silina “Lieutenant Cailra, I am here to have a chat with you about what will happen next” 

“What will happen next…?” Her voice was shaking, and her facial expression could write books that she realized what would happen. Cailra felt scared that fate was now catching up to her. “Ah yes, the mutiny”

Giving a soft and brief nod to her, Silina continued. “Yes, first things first. What made you do it?” As a doctor by practice and a first officer on duty, she needed to know what these mutineers thought. What makes them break their sworn oath to do this?

She looked away briefly as her lower lips trembled and quickly fixed her posture looking back at Silina. “Fear…” Cailra briefly spoke “The Dominion war had taken my family members, friends that died in the line of duty. Now have them on board the ship was a bridge too far for me. It was like looking at history being on a bridge that didn't matter anymore" Cailra clearly explained, trying her best to keep her composure together.

The act of fear was a common thing that she had heard a few times during her interviews. Silina could feel some level of understanding acting on that. But she was telling more than fear. It was unacceptable for Cailra to accept the Dominion onboard, unable to let go of what was and feeling insulted by what had happened. Taking a deep breath “But you have not been able to place that faith back in your command team? Because if you told any of us then we would be able to prevent what had happened”

“I don't tend to agree with you Commander, the words of Lieutenant Shew were comforting and believable that what we did was the right action in this whole affair.” Cailra replied with some sadness in her eyes “But I do believe that my actions were wrong. I acted on my emotions rather than my logical thinking and tried to correct it where I potentially could” 

Looking back at her PADD, Silina could see that Cailra shot down Cho to prevent Commander Valerio from being shot down. “An act of redemptions, or an attempt of it” Silina corrected herself and nodded slowly before looking back at Cailra. “But you were acting on your emotions and realizing that you were wrong in what you were doing is a good growth curve. But a curve that was expected when you were an Ensign and not a Lieutenant” Silina was harsh, but felt it was needed given the situation.

“I understand Commander” Cailra replied briefly feeling her world collapsing around her. 

“Do you now?” Silina narrowed her eyes and tilted her head to the right. “In your actions, you have fired upon colleagues that have been transported to the sickbay. Some were unharmed by the mere fact that they were stunned, but others had light injuries due that they fell from height or against objects in their area” 

Nodding to that “But they are not death” Cailra concluded, “They are alive because I ordered my team to keep the phaser at stun. I can't get it over my heart to let my fellow officers die. That would beat the purpose of the mutiny. We just wanted to go home away from the Dominion" 

Not the thing she wanted to hear completely, Silina shrugged and leaned back in her chair. “So you still think that your actions were justified? That shooting your colleagues was the right way?” 

She shook her head. “No, don't get me wrong Commander!” She replied quickly “I struggled with the idea from the start. That is why I gave myself up when the skirmish in Engineering ended, and Commander Valerio stood next to me. We should have approached this more maturely and talked about it. Let our emotions be heard to the command team and realize the weight of the mission” 

A stare came from Silina as she let out a sigh. “Alright, that would be enough for me to conclude this interview. I will recommend the following to Starfleet JAG“ She sits forward again looking at the now scared Cailra who held her hands together. “Lieutenant Junior Grade Cailra is to be demoted to the rank of Ensign, with a probational time of 12 months before receiving another promotion. You are to be removed from your position as Chief of Operations and cannot regain this position for 24 months. You are to remain detained in this brig until we arrive at Starbase 86 where you will be handed over to JAG to receive my recommended judgment. Your career onboard the USS Mariner has ended” Silina felt the weight of her words but knew it was the right thing to do. ”Do you understand Ensign?" 

Tears started to roll down Cailra's face as she was hoping for anything but these words. “I….understand” Her voice trembling as she let her head hang. 

Standing up with her PADD, Silina looked at the broken woman. “As a Chief, you are a leading example for the crew. You failed to show that principle that a Starfleet Officer lives by every day. Duty, loyalty, and honor” Silina shrugged feeling a bit of a hypocrite as her actions can't be justified every time. “Learn from this, and go through Starfleet to get that trust back. Do any job needed, do not resist it…question it…make Starfleet believe in you again.” She turned and walked away. “Good luck Ensign” Hearing the woman cry louder as the next interview awaited her. 

Interview Cho

Walking to the next brig on her list made her narrow her eyes as she sat down. In the brig, a young Asian woman sat against the brig wall, and it was like she was waiting on something to happen. She showed no regret, not sorrow, or sadness. Silina wondered what was going through this Ensign's mind. “Ensign Cho, I am here for the interview that will be conducted to judge your actions"

Keeyiro looked in the direction of Silina and kept her facial expression neutral. “I believe I have the right to be judged by a JAG officer, Commander. You are the First Officer of this ship that was indirectly the cause of the mutiny. Thus, your opinion will be validated as biased by any JAG officer” Keeyiro explained and looked away. “I will await the JAG Officer.”

“You really think you are in a position to make any kind of demands Ensign?” Silina calmly spoke looking at her PADD. “You were part of the team that assaulted the Engineering together with Lieutenant Cailra, who in the end shot you down to end the siege" Silina looked back at Keeyiro. “What is your statement in this matter?” 

The painful memory of being shot by a fellow officer that was supposed to have the same thinking was not helping in her case. She felt anger, betrayal, and more “I ….don't understand why she shot me” She mutters crossing her arms over each other “We had a goal and ….wanted to bring the Dominion back. Make you guys see that …you were wrong”

It felt like educating a child to Silina. One moment she was rebellious yapping about her rights and the other she was confused and angry about the betrayal that Cailra had done to her. “How do you feel about that, that she shot you down?” Silina kept her posture in this matter. She was dealing with a young inexperienced officer that in her eyes still had hope of improving herself. 

“It felt that I was betrayed….” Keeyiro looked at Silina. “Like the command team betrayed us. Why would they withhold information from us? Why would you go to the enemy's front door while our people were dying on the frontline at Deneb? Why is STARFLEET NOT ACKNOWLEDGING WHAT IS HAPPENING” She yelled at the end breathing heavily and trying to calm down. “I have….so many…”

“Questions” Silina added and saw a nod from her “Mmm, what we do as Starfleet Officers, or Enlisted is to explore the unknown and perform our duties to help those in need. I can quote you the vision of Starfleet, but it doesn't help if you are missing the point” Silina shrugged. “The core is that we are in this together. We sign up for a journey of a lifetime. Unknown what will happen, unknown what we shall see or do” Calmly explains her vision on this matter “Curiosity right out there” She points to her side into the void. “But we need every single one of you to function. As Captain Kobahl said, what weight does a Captain have without any of you if she doesn't have her crew behind her?”

“So you are saying I pledge my loyalty to a Captain that keeps secrets from us?” Keeyiro defended her standpoint and still felt anger boiling her blood.

Shaking her head “You pledge your loyalty to the ship you serve on. You trust your Captain to make the right call. If they don't they are the ones that have to live with the aftermath that comes. Some Captains that made a bad call learn from it, some retire from their position, and others step down and resume their previous posting in their department. No one is perfect Ensign” 

Keeyiro couldn't argue with that statement. She felt like Starfleet was protecting the Captain from the lies she told everyone. “Will she pay for her crimes?” Keeyiro looked seriously at Silina, wanting an answer, not demanding it. 

“Yes” Silina said with sadness in her eyes. “As will I, and Commander Valerio” She added and placed her hand on her leg. “When you become a Chief of a department or join a command team you take responsibility of your actions and those under you. This mutiny…." She took a deep breath and struggled for a brief moment with it. Silina knew where the problem lays in this mutiny, a poor choice of Sazra but she couldn't say that to her. Sazra was naive to think that her crew was as loyal to her as those on any other ship. “Was the mistake that we brew over time based on lies that were meant to protect you” 

“Protect us? Protect us from what…why are you and Valerio taking her fall for her poor choices!” Keeyiro felt emotional.

“Because it is our responsibility to protect you. We felt that this information was so sensitive that someone would attempt to hurt you. Captains at the front of Deneb must worry daily if they live or die to protect the Federation. We have to worry about anyone trying to stop us. We don't know how Gamma Quadrant would react to our presence, we don't know what would have happened at the borders….but our mission, lives depend on it” Silina took a deep breath again. “As for the choices of Captain Kobahl, as we are part of her command team we are by justification rights responsible for the actions that she does. We must make the judgment call to say if our Captain is right or wrong. So if she made a bad call, we made a bad call. We accepted this together, and we will face it together” 

That was the weight of command? What were the implications that were going to happen? Their Captain would take her command team with her on this road of poor choices. Or did Keeyiro not accept what was happening? What if she did put her trust in them? It calmed her down. It made her think of what she had done. “What….did I do” She muttered.

“I think this is a good moment to conclude our interview. Ensign, I will make the following recommendation to JAG when we arrive at Starbase 86. We cannot demote you seeing your rank is the starting one. We can't dishonorably discharge you because of how fresh you are in service. So I can only conclude that your actions are based on biased information that made you act as you did. You are six months bound to your current rank without any attempts of redemption within that time to gain the favor of promotion. Your position as the Intelligence Officer will be removed as you are deemed untrustworthy of sensitive information. We can review your career at twelve months period.” Silina looked at a broken Ensign that finally realized what she had done.

Keeyiro had watery eyes and looked at her. “What….am I supposed to do?” 

“Learn from your mistakes. Your career options will be limited. Most likely I will advise a career tour of every department. Learn from their departments, learn from the Chiefs there, and find your path” Silina stood up. “You might have skipped the shot on this Ensign, and if it were Captain Kobahl you would have been transferred. But I see potential in you….don't disappoint” With that she left the young Ensign behind. 

Interview L'iera

Already a few had lost their ranks, their positions, or even discharged from their service to Starfleet. But Silina learned more from these interviews than the mutineers learned about themselves. The main issues are blind loyalty, leadership bias, and false information. But Silina also learned that the crew had their doubts about the choices that were made, choices that she agreed to and supported. Arriving at the last one was the one she had an issue with herself. Ensign L'iera, the Assistant Chief Medical Officer was involved in this mutiny.

Sitting down at the chair provided, Silina looked agitated at the Deltan woman. “Ensign, I am here to interview you to conclude your …crimes” Her approach was different, more loaded than the previous ones. This felt personal to her.

The Deltan jumped off her seat and walked to the force field “Commander Ruslanovna, I ….I wanted to apologize for everything that has happened. I acted on …misguided fear. I know I shouldn't have done that, but I have not hurt anyone in my actions” 

“Stop it” Silina waved her arguments off and stood up placing the PADD on the chair but not breaking her eye contact with L'iera. “How can you plead or beg for forgiveness….you are a medical officer sworn to protect and help those in need. To not harm anyone, but to provide aid to help them live if it's friendly or foe” Silina felt her blood boil. This was really personal for her.

L'iera took a step back from the field taken by the anger of the Commander. “I ….understand the ramification of my choice. I sided with someone with the wrong goal and played on my emotions" L'iera felt like she was slowly breaking apart. “I am sorry” 

Realizing how she stood there, Silina tried to calm herself down. “You know I am by nature a medical officer right?” She pointed out her service record. “I have seen shit out there that makes a Klingon shiver on the ground like a targ that got wounded” Silina shrugged at her comment. “I have heard all kinds of excuses and remorse statements from every single person that was part of this mutiny. But in the end….I can't put my finger on what you did” 

“What ….what I did?” L'iera felt confused.

“You swore to protect, you sworn to aid, you sworn to help those in medical need. Yet you ….sided without asking your command team with someone that had harmed in mind to your colleagues and potentially the Dominion Representatives….you know what would have happened if you won?” Silina crossed her arms looking at the shaking girl.

She noticed that her body was shaking against the harsh attitude of the Commander. “I don't know…”

“Millions would have been added to the list of death that Starfleet…that the 4th fleet and Federation is currently losing at Deneb. We lost colonies, outposts, and Starfleet ships to the Dominion” She raised her voice. “And what would have happened is that Lieutenant Shew would either bring them back or incidentally shove them out of an airlock!” Silina felt her anger boiling again as she tried to fix her posture. “But….now these people in Deneb have a chance, and you are f*cking lucky that I need every single officer to function in this mission” 

“I am sorry Commander. I swear I didn't know that this would happen” L'iera started her eyes swelling up as a tear rolled down her cheek.

Silina stepped to the console and tapped on it as the force field disappeared. She looked at L'iera. “Report to your Chief Ensign….a recommendation will be made to JAG when we arrive at Starbase 86. You shall remain an Ensign for the coming six months without any redemption to a promotion within that time. I will let our Chief Medical Officer deal with your punishment” She grabbed her PADD and looked at L'iera. “Make one bad move, and I swear I will drag you back into that brig myself” With that said she walked off leaving the young Deltan back alone.

Comments

  • This was an excellent exploration of the emotions, choices and ramifications of the mutiny. Although the command staff held everything back from their crew in the lead up, in this after-action affair, Ruslanovna did an excellent job explaining what was at stake, what the outcome would have been if the mutiny had succeeded. That was my favorite part of this post, how it contextualized it in the broader context that if the mutiny succeeded: "Millions would have been added to the list of death that Starfleet…that the 4th fleet and Federation is currently losing at Deneb. We lost colonies, outposts, and Starfleet ships to the Dominion... But….now these people in Deneb have a chance." This will be a transformative experience for these misguided officers, and it will be interesting to see how it shapes people like Cho and L'iera in the future. I also like the fact that you chose to levy different punishments on different characters based on the realities and expectations on their positions. It all made a lot of sense.

    June 7, 2023
  • Brilliant line "Ah, the mutiny." It's interesting to see the different responses to the XO's questioning, particularly Cailra, maintaining a quiet dignity. It's was moving to see that whilst she regrets her actions the reasoning behind them is somewhat sound, and in a way she's not wrong, there is fault on both sides and the command team are recognising that in different ways. We repeatedly hear that a captain must depend on their crew but Silina starts peeling it back when she says "naive to think that her crew was as loyal to her as those on any other ship", perhaps if this was Jaxartes or Damascus would the secrecy have caused so much friction? Or would they have been secretive at all?

    June 8, 2023
  • I loved this. But I feel like they all off easy especially L'iera.

    June 9, 2023
  • I was deeply entertained by the confusing muddle of emotions the prisoners were working through and the ouroboros of blame and betrayal intertwining every character. I found myself rolling my eyes at Cho feeling betrayed by a crew member stopping her from committing a mutiny, but with the sorry state of Starfleet Command in this era, I suppose anyone would be confused and highly strung. I appreciated Silina's practical view that the command staff certainly made decisions that contributed to the unhealthy mental state of the mutineers, but also recognizing the time and place where it was necessary. Although damn, I didn't expect Silina to take it so personally when it came time to interview L'iera. That emotional twist resonated so well!

    June 14, 2023
  • This was a great exploration of a very multi-faceted situation. We have Silina working through the interviews and we get three very different points of view and reactions from the mutineers. I loved the fact you used the rule of three there to build up to that charged interview with L’iera! Looking forward to reading more!

    June 15, 2023