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The Law Shall Take it's Course

Posted on Saturday January 21st, 2017 @ 10:27pm by Commander Declan Macclure & Captain John Williams

Mission: Intermission 1: New Home
Location: Starbase 39-Sierra: Dragonkiller's Dream
Timeline: 4 February 2392, 1800

Dragonkiller's Dream pub
Starbase 39-Sierra
4 February 2392, 1800

Deep in the pulsating heart of Starbase 39-Sierra's civilian commercial spaces, there sat a pub. On the outside, it was nothing much, the sign merely depicting St George, in full armor, killing a big red dragon, with the name "The Dragonkiller's Dream" below the picture.

On the inside, it was designed after a classic British pub of the 20th and 21st centuries - which, in contrast to earlier eras, meant a full kitchen and full meals on the menu, not just drinks.

So it was that John Williams found himself walking in, in civilian clothes that kept him nondescript and didn't point out his Starfleet rank - only his background as a fighter pilot, testified by the cartoon of Snoopy as a jet fighter pilot that was on a patch affixed to the chest of his jacket. It would be good to forget his rank for a bit. And maybe get dinner, too.

For now, though, he headed to bar, nodding and smiling as the bartender recognized his new customer. "Hey. I take it from the jacket you're from the carrier that pulled in the other day. What can I get ya?" the bartender asked.

"Sheesh, I didn't even have a unit patch on this and you figured me out. You're good," Williams complimented. "What're the good beers on offer?"

"Guinness is the usual favorite if you're new, but I'm sensing you're not?" the bartender asked with a grin.

"Not hardly. New here, but this is hardly my first time in a starbase pub," Williams confirmed.

"In that case, how do you like your beers?"

"I'll drink almost anything except American-derived macrobrews, but my favorite tends to be the darker stouts," John noted.

"You might want to try the stout we have from the Trappists at Nieu Flandres, then. It's a bit low in the alcohol content for my personal taste, but it's a good beer," the bartender recommended.

"Sure, I'll try a pint...." A pause, as the bartender had neither offered his name yet or given a chance to ask.

"My manners. Rob, Rob Andrews," chuckled the bartender, extending a hand. "You?"

"John Williams," Williams said, extending the hand.

"Ah, the CO of the big carrier that pulled in. Trying to forget your new rank, I sense?"

"For a bit. If I can."

"Good call. Let me get you your beer and a food menu." A quick handover of a PADD (ruggedized to survive a pub's hazards) containing the menu, and then the bartender went off to get Williams his beer and talk to other customers.

Walking in to the pub Macclure looked around and then headed over to the bar, settling in next to his CO he waved at one of the bartenders, "Rob, a pint of the local bitter and the fish and chips today."

The bartender nodded to indicate he heard the order and went back to work, Declan looked at his boss, "Well Congratulations to you sir. A well earned promotion."

"Thanks, and the same on yours. Now, want to explain to me why you left out of your career summary to me that you'd earned a VC in a past life?" Williams asked as their beers arrived, followed by their individual orders of fish and chips. As he headed over to a table, he eyed his XO with a grin. "And what else have you deigned to leave out?"

Macclure looked at Williams, "the VC was because I was too stubborn to just bail out of my Spitfire because it was too close to a major residential area. So when I put it in a field, I spent 6 months in rehab and never flew again, part of that was being decorated." He sipped his beer then sprinkled malt vinegar on his food. "Not much else, Translator at the Belsen trials, including the execution of sentence afterwords. As for the medal, I didn't really do anything but not want to kill civillians. It was just dumb luck, and King George looking over the paperwork that got me that."

"And here I thought rule one of being an extraterrestrial on a pre-warp planet for basically anybody was 'stay out of history'," Williams remarked with a grin. "Ever consider contributing to the Terran Oral History Project Georgetown is running?"

"I did my best to stay out of history, but unfortunately it was overtaken by events. Some historical interaction is necessary, I tried to keep it as low as possible. Besides, when they pieced everything together with my lives, the UK government offered to reinstate my pension for the VC, I told them no backpay and if they had to donate it to the Haig Fund" After a brief pause he continued, "I will reach out to them on that it definately sounds like a worthy cause."

"Re the backpay...Talk about an interest-deferred bonus," Williams chuckled. "Considering the Haig Fund says they survived World War 3 due to a sudden anonymous donation they've never traced the origins of, I figure that must have been you. And yeah, the oral history project is one I actually did interviews for, both as an interviewee and, during grad school, as an interviewer. I'll get you in touch with the program director, Dr. DeMichele, and see if he wants me to do the interviews, or if he wants to send out a grad student." Pause. "Moving on, how you liking the post, now that we've had a month or so to settle in?"

"I'm finding my way around, it's a very fascinating ship, just the size alone. The crew seems rather smart, very dedicated, I rather like it."

"On that first point, count me stunned, yeah. Even the departments where we wouldn't expect to find the sharpest knives in the drawer, we somehow got enlisted who are, for the overwhelming majority, rather more intelligent than Starfleet usually gets. Hell, many are just plain nerdy. That's awesome. Makes me wonder if we've deprived every village in the Federation of their geniuses, but it's awesome for us, means we can actually delegate stuff down to even the junior enlisted if we need to," Williams noted as he carved at his fish, taking a bite afterwards. After swallowing, he continued. "Not, mind you, that I want to, but knowing I can - knowing my crew at even the most junior levels is qualified to step up a level or two, something I learned long ago never to presume - that's a huge help as I work out plans and procedures. I'll be sending a thank you note to the enlisted detailers, I'll say that much."

"I usually go with a bottle of scotch to the Senior Chief in detailing, he does like a good highland single malt. " Macclure commented, "Works better then the officers I've found, the senior NCO's run the service, it's one thing I stressed when I had new officers on any posting I had."

"As it was in the wet-navies, so it is in the space-navy, yeah. Highland single malt? I'll keep that in mind for when I send him a gift basket for his birthday," Williams replied with a grin. It was a blatant dodge around the ethics regs - you weren't supposed to gift the detailers for things like this, but there was nothing saying they couldn't get birthday presents. Ridiculously high-class presents, even, from COs. Not every CO did it, but those determined to work the system in their favor didn't stint.

With that said, he moved on. "Meanwhile, annoying factoid of the day. We had a ChEng assigned to us - then BuPers had to take him away from us just before he boarded the damn transport out here. Apparently things went...poorly with the Indefatigable's space trials, and they're assembling a mishap investigation board. So they need staff for that, so I lose my line on a good ChEng. Admiral McDermott is promising I'll get one before the month is out, but we'll see. We do have a line on a Combat Ops Chief, though - an Andorian, damn if I can remember his name. So there's hope we'll leave for our COMPTUEX with a full senior staff."

"We never know with Starfleet, much like most schedulers they have a habit of changing crew to suit their needs, regardless of what we need." He checked his PADD, "Well, Lt Commander T'Nella just got pulled, orders cut to the Cardassian DMZ Starbase duty...." he sighed, "apparently some Intel folks don't want her near the Neutral zone, they think she'll defect or some bloody silliness."

"That's great. Just when I thought I had a chance of convincing her Starfleet wasn't filled with bigots, I'm proved wrong. Cute," Williams replied, scowling. "And I see we lost the Intel chief we just had assigned."

"Starfleet giveth, Starfleet taketh away, I just wish they would stop taking away." Macclure grumbled. "I swear BEF wasn't this crazy."

"Sure they were, you were just an NCO at the time. It was your officers who felt the full effect of the crazy," Williams noted.

"True, but we still had some crazy. Though when the Americans showed up we had more crazy. I remember a young Captain of theirs who worked with training, I had been moved back after catching a Mauser round to the thigh. I figured he was going places, and I was right, met him again during the second, Though his mouth would get him in a bit of trouble, always did. Monty couldn't stand the man. So I had to act as liaison." Then he shifted, "Hopefully the rest of this cruise will not be as transfer filled."

That got a grin from Williams. "The way you name drop. Just casually mentioning having met Patton not once but twice. Show off," he teased. Then a nod. "Hopefully. I'd like to actually have the same people in place for a long time, maybe build up some cohesion the natural way, not through mandatory stuff."

"Mandatory fun, every military has one, show up for this event, have fun, oh yes it's mandatory." He chuckled, then paused, "as for training exercises we take a page from Flavius Josephus; their drills are bloodless battles and their battles are bloody drills. Put them through the worst when we can control it, and we can get their best when we can't."

"Basically, yeah. That's the idea behind Lion Passant, anyway." Williams attacked his food for a bit, then looked at his XO. "After we pass the 'final exam' that is Lion Passant, presuming we do, they're a little...mystified as to what to do with us. I'll go over it more when we're in a secure location, but suffice to say Starfleet is tempted to let us just roam the border, scaring the Romulans and seeing what we find. We can do maybe 180 days from homeport before efficiency and performance metrics enter a red zone, but at least initially I'm thinking 90 day patrols are the way to do it. Ideas welcome, though."

"Put them through the paces, hell when I was in charge of RTC we were implementing a program called Battle Stations, a series of events that allowed the recruits to be pushed to their limits, we could do something similar, basically throw everything we can short of a pirate boarding party and even that. Once it's done we can stand down for crew recovery."

"That's basically the idea for Lion Passant. What I'm looking for is ideas for after our post-exercise recovery period," Williams explained. "Because Starfleet Command has, er, no clue what to do with us."

"Probably the usual thing for a carrier, show the flag, giant show of force, near the Romulan Neutral zone." He looked a little displeased saying that, "We're going to park a giant bloody warship outside one of the most paranoid systems in the universe and hope like hell they don't freak out. But if I can stop Montgomery and Patton from going pistols at dawn, anything can be stopped."

"They mass gigantic warbirds off the Neutral Zone all the time. Turnabout is fair play, so far as the Romulans go," Williams replied, shrugging. "I'm more intrigued by the reports of pirate activity along the Zone, using our fear of tweaking the Romulans for cover."

"Orions or is there a new player in the mix? I know there are several former Maquis groups who didn't take to peace and started freelancing."

"They're not sure, to be honest with you. Beyond that, I'll forward you the Intel summary once we get back aboard," Williams considered. "But that's likely to be tasking after the exercise, to go investigate and stamp out what we can. We won't be able to bring an end to piracy, but we can at least impose law and order temporarily."

"Problem is too temporary and we just push the problem along. Honestly, I'd like to see if we could work with SFCIS to set up a quick trial system, or try and open negotiations with the local systems, some are Cardassian, and there is a Klingon element to allow them to extradite. Turn a few pirates over to the tender mercies of the Klingon Empire might make some think twice. "

"I think we might have issues with either option, but I'll see what Command will allow."

"I don't think they'd approve hanging them from the yardarm." Macclure commented, "Odds are we will have mostly some former militia types, and quite a few former Maquis who didn't want to go back to the farming life. Actual consequences will definately make someone think twice, they know if Starfleet takes them they sit for a few years 'rehab' in some colony, if the Klingons take them, it's a death sentence, same for Romulans. Might make someone think twice." He had a more conservative way of looking at things, some of which brought him in to conflict with Federation politics.

As did Williams. However, there were other concerns. "Yeah, but the key is what we can get past command. Going around them just means I lose my career when they find out, and I like my career." He paused. "Put together a briefing paper you'd be willing to present to the Chief of Staff and higher headquarters, and I'll make sure you get face time with em."

That drew a nod, "While I may not be the most career driven officer, career suicide would be bloody stupid. and it wouldn't just impact me, it would impact you. So I'll work on a draft report, I know a few folks in JAG and outside to assist with legal drafting But I believe we could convice them, the diplomatic benefits alone with the Klingons and Roumulans would go a long way." He paused, "But one thing we would need is proof of guilt. I'd rather not have an innocent man sent to the drop on my concience."

"Yeah. I was already thinking we'd handle any proceedings according to the manual for courts-martial, we can get a judge attached to us from the JAG office if we get it approved easily enough. Standard for guilt, I'm thinking that beyond the usual 'beyond reasonable doubt', you want at least two subordinates to identify them as the leader during proceedings. Which is a thing: I would not, personally, recommend a death sentence against anyone lower than a ship's captain," Williams replied. "Ideally, I'd want their bosses, though." A pause, as they continue eating. "Now, a more interesting question would be 'How the hell would we conduct em?' Because remember, none of our medical or counseling staff can be involved in any way, by their professional rules of conduct, last I checked. Not even in determining the point of death. Which makes issuing, well, the necessary death certificates...tricky." Beat.

"Does it feel weird to you too, that we're discussing capital punishment over dinner like it's nothing?"

"I'm the totally wrong person to ask on that one sir." Macclure commented then continued, "But it could be an outcome of capturing a pirate, turning them over to say the Klingons or Romulans, we can recommend but we cannot interfere in their legal systems, if we got to a situation where we had to carry out the sentance on the ship, I'd rather discuss it now then have to hammer it out on a clock, though to be frank I doubt that will happen."

"Fair point. I'm much more comfortable with a hurried extradition than doing it ourselves. Don't ask me why, the outcome would be the same," Williams replied with a shrug.

"If we are sending them off, all we are doing is making sure the law takes it course, if we carry it out ourselves, it sticks with us. I know I've done it. It changes you in some ways."

"Pretty much. Let the blood be on the Klingons' or Romulans' hands."

"Exactly, the law shall take it's course."

"Or something."


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