Reconnections - Part 2 "Wise Men"
Episode 3 - The Future That Was
Location: Kalandra Sector Command HQ, Betazed
Timeline: Early 2416 (Alpha)
[Previously in Part 1 "To the Bunker Hill"]
. . . . . .
"Even after so many years, you are still full of surprises, aren't you?" Said Oliver as he left his chair. A few moments later he was back with a glass in hand. Sitting back down, he poured himself some of that whiskey. "To the Bunker Hill." He raised his glass.
Zax pulled a glass filled with the whiskey into view of the screen. "May she rest within the Shaper's Embrace," he said as he too held up his own glass. Once Oliver had tipped his own glass ever so slightly, Zax kicked back the glass into his mouth, enjoying the burn as it went down.
. . . . . .
Oliver downed the content of his glass. "You know, many people in Starfleet would kill to have a look of that long range transporter of yours. Can't say I disagree with them, not the killing part, of course, but the truth is the tactical and strategic possibilities it offers would give us an edge. And heaven knows we need an edge over the Dominions if we ever want to force a draw out of them, and frankly a draw is the best we can hope for at the moment."
Zax shook his head. "Our former captain already did, and Starfleet did killed captain Miizk over it. The truth is, the ship itself doesn't trust the Federation anymore." It pained him to say it, but it was true; the Federation had lost its way since the days when they both had walked the corridors of the old Bunker Hill.
Oliver sighed, something he seemed to do quite a lot these days. "We have done many things that we are not proud of, things that make us not sleep too well at night, but I'd like to think that the Federation still stands for something, something noble, something greater, even if we have lost sight of them for the time being."
After a pause, he continued. "But I'm afraid many people, like the Senandarix, have lost faith in the Federation, and worse, they have lost faith in what the Federation stands for. And can I really blame them? Everyday you hear about corruption, scandals, riots, martial laws, abrogation of civil liberties."
"Just yesterday I had to remind Chancellor Elbrun, again, that as long as Betazed remained a member of the Federation, the Federation Constitution and its Guarantees of Fundamental Rights were still the supreme laws of the land, and that I would not send in Federation troops against Federation citizens exercising those very rights. And then just a few hours later, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Elbrun and her government's war time emergency measures."
Shaking his head, Oliver poured himself some more whiskey. "Throughout the day today there were running street battles, and I mean battles, between protesters and the police, and not just in Rixx, but also Medara and other major cities. Things are a bit quiet now, but if it happens all over again tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, I might have no choice but to accede to Elbrun's demand and send in the marines, or at least the Betazoid Guard troops."
"But even then," He emptied his glass of its bitter content. "Even then, Zax, I have to believe that we are fighting for a Federation that still stands for the ideals that it was founded on, however lost it might be at the moment."
He had to believe it.
The El Aurian captain nodded in understanding. He looked away from the screen as he let out a depressed sigh. "The ideas and philosophies of the pen exists in abundance for many reasons...but only in pen. For in action, the rules of the pen are too easily open to perversion, and the whims of men. Only in actions can real truths be found...and only so long as they never bring harm intentionally to another." Zax looked Oliver right in the eye.
"Those words were spoken by Jonathan Archer...the first President of the Federation." He shook his head. "The Federation might still stand for those ideas, but its lost its way as an altruistic society."
"Wise words from a wise man." Oliver picked up his glass again, but this time sipped from it instead of emptying the whole glass. "I don't know how this war is going to end, Zax, but even if we were to win, however unlikely it is, but even if we were to win, we'd all be damned if we were to triumph over the Dominions only to become the Dominions."
"See that you don't, Olli, because the Dominion are more than just an Empire, they're an idea...just like the Federation. An idea, which is winning." The El Aurian sat back in his chair. "Even if you can fight this war out to draw, militarily, you'll still loose unless you can change back into the people that you were before the war...the people that I fought for in the first war."
"That's what I'm afraid of, Zax." Said Oliver, looking into the amber-colored liquid in his glass as he slowly stirred it. "As long as my troops obey my orders, I can hold on to this sector indefinitely. Give me two more fleets, I could retake the Xeron system and stabilize the entire front. And if I had at my disposal all the resources and assets of Starfleet, heck, I could even push the Dominions back far enough to force a peace treaty out of them. Of that, I'm fairly certain."
Finishing the remaining whiskey in the glass, he continued. "But to restore faith in ideas, ideas that took generations to nurture, ideas that have been crumbling to pieces for decades," He paused and poured him some more whiskey. "I'm only a mortal, Zax, a very flawed one at that. I think I'll leave that arduous task to someone else, someone younger, more energetic."
He looked down into his glass again. "I think, when the war is over, I'll go back to teaching. Maybe the University of Betazed, my alma mater. When the war first started, I was the most hated person on most college campuses, but it seems my reputation has rebounded somewhat lately, at UB at least, so maybe they would take me onto their faculty."
He paused briefly and said. "Or maybe I'll just retire back to Earth and be the good father I should have been all those years. Who knows, with some luck, even Michaela might talk to me again." His voice trailed off a little as he finished his sentence.
The El Aurian shook his head at the sight of his former commanding officer. "What the hell, Lee! You sound like you've already given up on the United Federation of Planets!"
Oliver looked away from the screen and through the windows into the sprawling ground of the sector command headquarters and the eerie silence of a starless night sky.
"I'm . . . tired." He confessed.
"I don't care!" He stood up from his desk, nearly shouting at Oliver. "My people have a saying: The person at the right place at the right time with the right ideas, can change the entire course of history!" He sighed as he sat back in his chair. "There's still a chance you can salvage both the Federation and this war..."
Oliver was slightly taken aback by his former pilot's outburst. Looking back at the view screen, for a moment he wasn't sure how to respond. He didn't know what was more surprising, Zax' outburst or his faith in him. There was a time when he, too, believed that he could do great things, a time when he was full of hope, not only for himself, but for the Federation, too. How much had the war changed him.
Or perhaps he had let the war change him.
Filling his glass with more Ma'atakiansian whiskey, he said, "You make it sound like I could be the savior of the Federation." Emptying the glass, he set it back down on the desk and poured some more. "With a few exceptions, people who see themselves as saviors inevitably turn out to be egomaniacal tyrants, Caesar of Rome, Lorre II of Kaeden, Khan Noonien Singh, the list goes on."
The El Aurian captain calmed himself down as he set back in his chair. Someone once said: 'Don't be a great man, just be a man. Let history make its own decisions...'" The old man sighed as he looked back at the aging human. "What's happened to us Olly? When did we both become so anionic towards each other?"
Oliver recognized that quote of Zefram Cochrane, another wise man, but he wondered what Cochrane, or Archer, would have said about the sorry state of affairs that was today's Federation.
"I don't know, Zax. Maybe that's what happens when you get old. Well, at least I'm getting old. You are, what, still in your middle age?" He picked up his glass again, but only stirred it slowly. "Being able to live for that long, you El Aurian must have a very different perspective on life." Pausing briefly, he asked, "So you think we still can, not only salvage the war, but save the soul of the Federation, too?"
Zax leaned into his desk, folding his hands around his empty glass. "I know there is," he said. "Right now, there's an alliance of worlds forming just beyond the Federation's Frontier to fight the Dominion should the Federation fall. And two of its founding members are former Federation worlds." Something beeped on his console from the other side of the screen. Zax hit a few buttons and frowned at what he saw.
"I have to go, Olly. Duty calls."
Oliver nodded with a small smile. "As always, Zax, thank you."
With a few more taps of his console, another screen popped up on Oliver's console. "I'm sending you the coordinates for a pulsar nebula around 24 Parsects from Betazed... If you're ever in need of a favor, just aim a tetrion pulse at it." The former pilot nodded as to Oliver.
"Until next time..." and the screen went black.
Oliver sighed and sank back into his chair. His gaze fell on the bottle of whiskey. He should have started drinking a long time ago.
Vice Admiral Oliver A. Lee
Commander, Kalandra Sector
El Aurian Privateer Vessel Senandarix