Small Talk - Part 2 "Oath"
Episode 3 - The Future That Was
Location: Starfleet Security HQ, Earth
Timeline: Mid 2416 (Alpha)
[Previously in Small Talk - Part 1 "Rollmops"]
. . . . . .
Caster could sense the unease inside the former marine, and his voice turned a littler colder. "Sir, this is not a request. We come here only as a courtesy for your years of service to the Federation. You can either come with us quietly, or we can resort to Section 2 of the Sedition Act adopted by the Provisional Governing Council last week. But I'm sure you would not want to see your family get . . . involved. It would be very unfortunate."
"Look junior..." Hans used the mildly pejorative term for J.G. Lieutenants. Hans saw the flash of anger build in the Betazoid's eyes, and the fight went out of the old German Marine.
"Fine. I'll go quietly. Please inform your handlers that I did nothing to impede your duties here." Hans wanted to ensure that regardless of what happened to him, he wanted his family to remain unharassed.
The three men entered a transit shuttle with blacked out windows and no registry markings. The golden throated security personnel did not put Hans in cuffs, to which Adlerstein was grateful; he'd at least have his diginity while he entered the briar patch.
. . . . . .
Alcorn flipped through his PADD as he waited for his next . . . "interviewee." He preferred it to "suspect." After all, there was no conclusive evidence, in fact, there was little evidence, that any of Lee's friends and associates had had any contact with the renegade admiral since N'Verix made her treasonable announcement. But his superiors were right. This was a perilous time for the Federation. Already locked in an existential struggle against the Dominions and threatened by the restless Klingons, the Federation could ill afford diverting its dwindling resources to contend with a self-declared "president" and a self-righteous admiral, who would rather see the Federation lie in ashes than bending the already dead letters of the law.
=/\=Adlersteine is here, sir.=/\= His assistant's voice came through his comm badge. Several moments later, a Germanic-looking man with mildly pale skin was brought inside the interrogation . . . interview room. The former marine was calm, his gait dignified.
Alcorn waited a brief moment as the marine stood by the doors. Then he respectfully addressed the man by his rank before retirement. "Colonel, I'm Lieutenant Commander Ryan Alcorn. Please take a seat. My apology for interrupting your meal, but when the safety of the Federation is at the stake, time is of the essence. I'm sure you understand."
Colonel Adlerstein said nothing to the lieutenant commander. He was mostly glad to be away from that damned Betazoid and his damned mind probes. Hans never believed that to be brave one had to have no fear of death; on the contrary, some of the bravest men he had ever served with had admitted to being scared out of their minds every time they saw combat. Truth was, Hans was scared out of his mind; being a student of history, Adlerstein knew what happened to the common folk when a regime though its power threatened. The old Marine was frightened not just for himself, but for his family and his friends.
After a bought of silence, Hans strode to the offered chair. Along the way, Adlerstein decided to be a little defiant, and perhaps even petty, by ensuring his heels made louder clicks on the metal floor than was absolutely necessary. He sat in the chair upon arrival, and noticed that it was cold, and hard, and very uncomfortable.
Typical interrogation Steerscheisse*. Adlerstein said to himself.
"Now Colonel," Said Alcorn. "I'll cut to the chase. When was the last time you talked to Admiral Oliver A. Lee?"
"I'm tracking that you are not allowed under the Federation Constitution to ask me these questions unless I have a lawyer present; as a Federation citizen and an honorably discharged officer in the service of Starfleet, I think I have a right to know exactly what, if anything, I've been accused of and what this is about. Now, shall you tell me Commander, or shall I give you my name, rank and serial number until you decide to pull out my fingernails and so forth?"
Leaning forward, Alcorn rested his arms on the desk and folded his hands. "You must not have been reading the news, Colonel. Amendment XII of 2411 provides for suspension of Articles III, IV, V, IX, and Amendments I, II, and V under extraordinary circumstances by a simple majority vote of the Federation Council. The Council voted for suspension in 2415 after the Nicean riot and renewed it two months ago. The Council might have been suspended itself, but its prior decisions remain standing until they are superseded. As such, the right to counsel is automatically waived in cases concerning Federation security."
"And as you must be aware, Colonel, the Federation has never been in greater peril than it is now. We are fighting against the Dominions for the Federation's very existence while your old captain pops up a discredited political order and openly defies General Bolanus, his lawful commander-in-chief. We cannot allow his shenanigans to distract us from defending the Federation and its citizens from the Dominion menace. His little rebellion and his so-called 'president' will be brought to an end by any means necessary."
Alcorn paused to sip from his glass of water before continuing. "You are a decorated veteran, Colonel Adlerstein. The Federation thanks you for your decades of service, and it asks you to do it one more time. Cooperate with us, Colonel, and help us save the Federation from enemies both within and without."
"So let me ask you again, Colonel, when was the last time you talked to Admiral Lee?"
Hans simply folded his arms defiantly and glared back at the interrogator. "Repeat your officer's oath Commander." the German demanded.
"Fine, I'll help you: 'I, state your name, do solemly swear..." the German's voice raised in pitch, trying to hammer the words home to his interrogator.
"'...that I will support and defend...'" he put heavy emphasis on the 'support and defend' portion.
"'...the Constitution of the United Federation of Planets...'" he thundered his voice so that the words 'Constitution' rang out louder than the rest.
"'...against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'" that one Adlerstein did not like to repeat here; the man before him probably thought he was doing just that, protecting the Federation from internal threats.
"'That I will bear true faith, and allegiance to the same.'" this was the Marine's main point, and he all but shouted the words at the Commander to bring attention to that fact. There was more to the oath, but Adlerstein felt his point was made.
The earnestness in the former marine's voice was conspicuous, and Alcorn respected him and his integrity, but the safety of the Federation was on the line, and he would not allow anything - certainly not sentimentality - to distract him from his job. He would squeeze out every last thread of information from Adlerstein and by any means necessary. After all, he had taken the same oath to protect the Federation from all threat, both foreign and domestic.
As Hans finished reciting the first half of the oath, Alcorn leaned back into his chair. Almost casually he said, "Only if your professed dedication to the Federation was more than just mere words, Colonel, then perhaps those 47 men and women of Starfleet, your own comrades in arms and fellow citizens of the Federation, would not have died a needless death on Carus II."
Adlerstein thought the Commander was a smooth talker up until he mentioned that last point. Carus II was a victory for the Starfleet Marine Corps, considered their own Iwo Jima. Colonel Adlerstein was in command of the 22nd Regiment at the time, and his Marines had recently cleared a bunker complex of the enemy. However, the front at the time had destabilized, and Hans' regiment was operating slightly ahead of the main force. Once they had cleared the bunker, they had captured some 200 prisoners. Not having the resources to properly care for them, and certain that the main unit was only a few minutes behind them, Adlerstein ordered the prisoners to be sent back to the rear lines of their own accord. The prisoners were blindfolded, stripped of useful equipment, and told to walk west until they heard Federation forces identify themselves.
That never happened; according to later reports, that ragtag group of prisoners later attacked a supply convoy. All 200 of the prisoners were killed, but they killed or wounded 47 Starfleet personnel, including General Bolanus' niece, who was a marine herself on escort duty at the time.
Hans looked defeated as the wind went out of his proverbial sails. The incident of Carus II haunted him the remainder of his days in the SFMC. Many of his friends thought that that incident alone prevented him from receiving a star. Its mention brought back emotions he would rather have left buried in the past.
"Four years ago..." the German said softly, his usual authoritative voice now hollow with regret "...it was during a reunion of those who served aboard the USS Bunker Hill under Admiral Lee . . . . . ."
[To be continued . . . . . .]
* Steerscheisse - Steer Shy-shuh: Bull droppings (the vulgar word)
Lieutenant Commander Ryan Alcorn
(NPC - Oliver)
Colonel Johannes Adlerstein