Fleet Admiral Allison Reyes rose early as was her custom. Usually, the day would start with a jog to get the blood flowing, but only three days since the Battle of Nasera, she didn’t have the time for her usual routine. She went straight to her Ready Room to review the latest updates, as she wanted to be down on Nasera by 0800 to check up on the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Admiral Reyes started with casualty reports, as she did every morning. Dozens of officers remained in critical condition, and each day, there would be a mix of good and bad news. Some would pull through. Others would tragically succumb to their injuries. Last night was no different. Five out of critical, the miracles of modern medicine at work, but there were also two who passed away.
922 was now the number. 922 officers who had given their lives for the freedom of Nasera. The number hurt, but she had moved past the shock. Now it was just reality and, while it hurt to admit, it was only the tip of the iceberg. The longer this conflict continued, the worse it would get, and when Commodore Jori arrived with the Verity and the Serenity in two days time, Reyes knew she’d be heading straight back into the fray. And she would continue to add to that number.
Admiral Reyes’ mind drifted to her fellow commanding officers. How were they faring? She pulled up the latest reports from the Fourth Fleet. Endeavour Squadron was engaged in a pitched battle for Izar, Saratoga Squadron was moving against the Dominion fleet yards near Ciatar Nebula, and the Pioneer was nearing Saxue. Meanwhile, Mackenzie Squadron was over Janoor III and the Resolute was on the ground on Arriana Prime. For those captains, and so many more who had answered the call, they were now face-to-face with the enemy. They would have to make hard choices, and, at the end of the day, there would be more casualties. So many casualties. It was the reality of war.
In reports from the Hathaway, the Mackenzie, and the Andromeda, she saw something else that worried her: Changelings. Admiral Reyes hated Changelings. They turned officer against officer and neighbor against neighbor, seeding fear and distrust in the very people on whom you relied. She remembered the draconian measures Starfleet Security put in place during the last war. If these reports were right, they were probably needed again now. Why hadn’t they just let the morphogenic virus run its course? Sure, lawyers and historians would have called it genocide, but Admiral Reyes had no sympathy for the Dominion’s masters. The Founders had chosen this path.
Another concerning development came from Odyssey Squadron. When they arrived in the Divinium system, they found the colony gone. Not destroyed by an orbital bombardment, nor occupied like Nasera had been. Just gone. And the reason was terrifying. The latest report suggested it was the result of a metagenic weapon. If metagenics were at play, the plight of Nasera would pale in comparison to what was to come. And it made her genocidal thought about the morphogenic virus seem even more justified.
A chime at the door pulled her from her thoughts.
“I’ve got it!” Lieutenant Emilia Balan declared as she entered the room. “I know what we need to do!” The eyes of the Polaris’ cultural affairs specialist were lit up, enthusiasm exuding from her entire being. “We’re going to give a voice to the voiceless!”
Looking up from her PADD, Admiral Reyes recognized the look at once. It was that of someone that just had a breakthrough. “Come again?”
“You know how everyone is doing their best to bury their heads in the sand and pretend this isn’t happening?” Lieutenant Balan asked, referencing the Federation’s indifferent obliviousness to the events transpiring in the Deneb Sector. “It’s not that they don’t care. Innate, it is human spirit to care. The problem is that they don’t really know. We can fix that. We can inspire the Federation to rise against this… this brutality.”
Admiral Reyes set down her PADD and looked at the excited young woman. She had a sense where this was going.
“Over the last two days, I have walked among these people. I have listened to absolutely heartbreaking accounts of what they went through at the hands of the Jem’Hadar,” Lieutenant Balan explained. “Starfleet Command cannot turn a blind eye to firsthand accounts! The pain, the horror, the grief in their eyes, their faces, their voices, when you hear it, you cannot do anything but want to help. They can’t go on saying it’s a Breen border conflict when the stories of these people are in their faces. We just need to get them out!” Her passion was palpable.
“Did you ever consider for a moment that Starfleet Command already has firsthand accounts?” asked Admiral Reyes. “That there’s some other angle here, some reason they’re not acting.” She had no doubt Starfleet Intelligence and Starfleet Command had the same reports she did. They were just choosing not to do anything with them.
“Maybe they don’t know how bad it is,” replied Balan, still optimistic.
“No, I don’t think that’s it,” Reyes cautioned. Not only had she filed her report with Jori and the Fourth Fleet leadership, but she’d also sent a briefing to Starfleet Command, one that contained irrefutable details, at the attestation of a Fleet Admiral, to the presence of Jem’Hadar. Yet, as recent as this morning, the Starfleet-wide sitrep from Starfleet Command mentioned nothing about the Dominion presence in the Deneb Sector. “They know. They’re just not doing anything about it.”
“Then let’s take it to someone who can force them to act,” Balan insisted firmly. “The people. Take the voices of Nasera, and hoist them onto the galactic stage. We go straight to the press.”
“You know what you are suggesting is a complete violation of Starfleet protocol?” Admiral Reyes cautioned. The Lieutenant had just proposed disclosing sensitive military intelligence to the public without following the chain of command.
Lieutenant Balan’s face fell, disappointed.
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it isn’t an absolutely lovely idea.” Admiral Reyes knew Commander Drake would try to skin them for it. Leaking sensitive information was punishable by dishonorable discharge and prison time if it occurred in an active warzone. The catch here though was that Starfleet Command had not classified the Deneb Sector as an active warzone. That meant the most the JAG would levy would be an administrative punishment. Allison Reyes was a Fleet Admiral. What did she care about a disciplinary finding on her service record? It would be a badge of honor if the action led to public outcry that forced Starfleet Command to act. “I say we do it.”
Lieutenant Balan was confused. She had never broken the law, at least not intentionally. “Are you suggesting we knowingly violate Starfleet protocol?”
“When you listen to the people of Nasera, when you hear their stories, what does your heart tell you?” Admiral Reyes asked. “To stand quiet and follow orders, or to do what is right for them? Countless officers across history have faced this question. I would prefer to be remembered as Gallery or von Choltitz rather than Hagenbach or Keitel.”
Lieutenant Balan was not a study of military history, so those names meant nothing to her; however, she understood the sentiment. After spending two days walking among the suffering, listening to their heartbreaking stories, she knew what was right. “I understand.”
“But it would be best if you keep this between the two of us for now,” the Admiral added. “Collect what you can, get it to me, and I will handle the rest.” For now, she didn’t even intend on telling Fourth Fleet Command. She’d work through other channels. She had no intention of getting gagged before they could give voice to the voiceless.