Of War and Politics - Part 2 "No, You May Not."
Episode 3 - The Future That Was
Location: Bridge, USS Themyscira
Timeline: Mid 2416 (Alpha)
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The old man sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "I still have a few question, Olly; Once you've taken out Bolanus, then what? If the Federation is going to survive beyond this coup, then it needs to get back to its political roots."
"Something tells me you already have some ideas in mind." Said Oliver.
Zax sighed as he adjusted his tunic. "I have a few," he said; "I'm just not sure that you're going to like them."
"Let's find out."
"First, we need to have new elections to replace just about everyone in both the executive and legislative branches. Primarily, the Executive. Then have a complete, independent audit of all sector commanders to see who really has the experience to turn the tides of this war."
"Sound plan for peace time." Said Oliver. "But we are in the middle of an all-out war, Zax. Nearly one-third of the electorate are in Dominion occupied territories, and on the worlds that are still free unrest is happening with increasing frequency. Just last week, Chancellor Elbrun called for a snap election on Betazed in the hope that it would shore up the mandate of her coalition government. Even before the voting started, there were incessant allegations of electoral fraud and vote buying from all parties involved. The election had to be abandoned after days of running street battles in every major city among the police and rival protesters. At the end I was able to calm things down without having to send in the marines, but not before I was peppered with Yalasat fruit and rotten Tespar eggs. Have you ever been peppered with Yalasat fruit and rotten Tespar eggs, Zax? The sight was repulsive and the odor was far worse."
Oliver looked away for a brief second before continuing. "The point is, under circumstances such as these, any political campaigning would be ideologically and emotionally over charged. At the best, the legitimacy of the elections would be in doubt, and at worst there could be bloodshed and anarchy. Even after we remove Bolanus, there is no guarantee things would get any better. In fact, it could very well get worse. According to some polls, as many as 42% of the public support or at least are sympathetic to Bolanus and his cause. Who is to say the 7th Fleet and I would be welcomed as liberators on Earth? Could there really be free and fair elections not marred by blood and violence when the electorate are so polarized and fractured. Even if elections were held, when so many have lost their faith in the system, in the Federation, who is to say they would not vote another Bolanus to power?"
Zax shook his head as he listened to his former captain's rant. "Oliver, listen to yourself; you sound Bolanus! You can't just carry out the letter of the law. Sometimes, you have to seek out the spirit of what the law's intention." The ancient El Aurian sighed as he visibly tried to calm himself down. "Technically speaking, when Bolonus removed President Jiv'ek from office for corruption. By law, he technically does have immunity under the Constitution of the United Federation of Planets, so long as he resigns both his current position as the Head of State as well as his commission from all military applications within 50 hours following the end of the War."
Oliver could not believe what he was hearing from his former pilot. Visibly dismayed, he leaned forward against the desk. "Jiv'ek might be corrupt, but it's not up to Bolanus to remove him. You should know, Zax, under the Constitution there are only two ways to remove a sitting president: impeachment by the Federation Council, or a recall referendum by the voters. The fact that Jiv'ek deserved to be removed changes nothing. What Bolanus did was extra-legal and unconstitutional. It was a coup d'etat, plain and simple. Besides he didn't just remove Jiv'ek. He dissolved the Federation Council, the Assembly and the Supreme Court. In fact, his first order of business as the new 'head of state' was to suspend the Constitution. Now, if you think he would . . . . . ."
Zax cut off his old friend before he could even finish his argument. "-You said it yourself, Oliver; a sizable minority of the people recognize the corruption that's been happening from the top down! As flawed having an election at this time would be, its one of the few options open to us at the moment that has any chance of preserving the Federation."
Oliver fell back into his chair. Looking up at the ceiling, he let out a long sigh. His younger self would have relished a debate such as this, but he was not his younger self. After twelve miserable years of war he was tired and exhausted. He just wanted to get it over with and find peace with Michaela. Having a quarrel with an old friend over politics was the last thing he wanted.
Now more resigned, he turned his gaze back to the holographic display. "The bottom line is, I have no authority to call for new elections, Zax. Only the Federation Council and the President do. But of course, there is no Federation Council, and President N'Verix is still putting her cabinet together. In any case I doubt she would be inclined to call for new elections so soon after she was sworn into office."
The El Aurian eyed his former commander with a look of suspicion. "Technically speaking, you do: You can go to N'Verix and demand that she organize it. You can use Jiv'ek's corruption to have her begin the selection process of a new FC!" He said. "What if she orders you to negotiate with Bolanus? You know damn-well that he cannot stay in any position of power. Not after this! Olly, if N'Verix stays in power and unchallenged, then I can garantee you that this will be the end of the Federation!"
"She is my commander-in-chief." Answered the human. "I will give her my honest opinions, and I will persuade her, but what I will not do is to disobey her lawful orders, however much I might disagree with them. If she orders me to negotiate with Bolanus, I would negotiate; if she orders me to resign my commission, I would resign. And heaven forbid, but if she were to order me to surrender to the Dominions, I would surrender, because I would rather lose the war than become another Bolanus and trample under my boots everything that the Federation stands for!"
Zax sighed in resignation at his friend's admission. "Olly," he began, searching for the right thing to say. "I'm sorry, but I can't let you use any of Sen's technology. We'll patrol the boarders and I can have an emergency beam-out ready for your people should things go south, or worse.
Oliver's eyebrows locked at the El Aurian's response, but then they relaxed, and he slumped back into his chair. At least his former pilot didn't call him a coward like some might have. "I understand." He said simply.
A few moments of silence passed between them before Zax spoke again.
"Look, I probably shouldn't be telling you this yet, but the El Aurian Counsel of Preservers have chosen a new Homeworld here in the Alpha Quadrant, out in the Gullundrian Sector. They're rebuilding from the old Federation colony abandoned there jointly with the Uliquar In Hegemony, and they've become the leading party in the fledgling alliance out there. I can have Rokar put you in contact with them, but it may not be in time for your little anti-coup."
Rokar, that's a name Oliver hadn't heard in a while. He once tried in vain to have the El Aurian - and Zax' son - court-martialed for his involvement in the Timor affair, which, ironically, led to his own first command on the Bunker Hill. Then, of course, there was also that rescue mission gone awry. But all of that seemed like an eternity ago, and now he had neither the enthusiasm nor the energy he had had back then. In any case, he could use any help he could get, and so could the Federation.
"Thank you, Zax. I appreciate it."
Pausing briefly, he added. "Hopefully next time we talk, we won't be at each other's throat like this."
The El Aurian nodded in hopeful understanding. "As do I, Olly...As do I," he replied. "Until next time; Senandarix: Out" The transmission deactivated as Zax cut-off the transmission, leaving both old men to their thoughts.
[To be continued in Of War and Politics - Part 3 . . . . . .]
Admiral Oliver A. Lee
Commander, Kalandra Sector
Master of Command,
El Aurian Privateer Vessel Senandarix