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EPIL: S [D06|1300] Causality


EPILOGUE: SUPPLEMENTAL [ DAY 06 | 1300 HRS. ] CAUSALITY


[ Captain Ives | Captain's Ready Room | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ] @CanadianVet
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"Thank you, Ensign, that will be all." Captain Ives rubbed his temple where he sat, having finished the hearing as far as he was concerned. "Dismissed."

"Aye, Captain," said Faye-Eloi Danvers, and smoothed her uniform over her stomach after she rose from her chair. "I am sorry I couldn't give you anything more than were already in the reports."

"That's quite all right, Ensign. Thank you," he said, a small smile given to her before she left. It died pretty quick though, since it was time to hear it from the last source. "Thea, would you please summon Commander Trent to my ready room?"

[Aye, Captain. At once,] said the A.I., who had only wireless access to the intercom at that point. Her positronic brain had yet to be installed in the Main Computer Core. She had yet to fully integrate herself into all ship's systems, but had managed to find some means in which to help with the repairs and the purge of Borg code.

After having made the summons, Jien rose to his feet, looking out at the black space outside his viewport. He put his hands on his hips and thought about what he had gleaned so far, knowing that once he had finished with Trent, there were others to speak with. He would give the man his time, but at that point, there was little that could be done. The damage already dealt.

Jien remained standing where he was, collecting his thoughts around all the reports he'd read, when Trent arrived.

"Enter," he said without turning around, followed by, "have a seat, and tell me in your own words what happened."

Only then did Jien turn around, looking at the deposed Commander, who had been supposed to lead the Theurgy on its mission in his stead, but had instead erred so much that hundreds of people had died needlessly.

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1300] Causality

Reply #1
[ Commander Carrigan Trent | Captain's Ready Room | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @Auctor Lucan

The reunion with Heather had been painfully short, but at least he had seen to it she was settled and safe back in their quarters.  Given the number of casualties that were on board, giving her a medical once-over was of a much lower priority.  But he did change out of his sweated-through, tear-stained, torn uniform, which had also absorbed some of the stench of burnt metal and other odours coming from damaged fighters in to a fresh one.  That alone seemed like a forgotten luxury, to be able to simply grab a clean set of clothes from his closet rather than wait for one to be replicated or to come out of the laundry processor. 

And he had been summoned by the Captain.  That was a talk he had been looking forward to, and dreading at the same time.  He was ready to wager there had been no formal report from Wenn Cinn available, and that would make it his word against the events and the official record...

Making his way up to the Ready Room, Trent waited to be ushered in, and when he was in walked in, his spine straight and his pace parade-square measured.  Not that long ago, his control had slipped the leash.  A leash of discipline that had been strained to the breaking point, for it was the only thing he truly had left, but had been reconstituted in the last hour or so.  He no longer needed fear for Heather, and with the Captain back on board, he no longer had to worry about Dewitt finding a way to silence him. 

But when he was told to take a seat, which he did, he now knew for a fact that there had been no report filed about his conversation with Wenn Cinn.  Otherwise, he would have been called in to be made aware of the final decision, not told, once more, to explain himself. 

"Captain, before we begin, I had this very same conversation with Commander Wenn."  As he spoke the Bajoran's name, the human's near-whisper wavered a little.  He had not known the man long, but theirs was a fire-forged relationship, started in their escape from the Archeron.  Hearing of his death was not something he had fully digested as of yet.  "But given the timeline, I expect he did not submit a report.  However, you can confirm everything I am going to tell you.  I requested the presence of a Betazoid to verify my statements, and Lieutenant Elro Kobol , formerly of Endeavour, was present."

And then he started to recount the sequence of events, beginning with his doubts as to the correct course of action, and his intent to make an attempt he was willing to break off if it should prove to be doomed to failure.  He also explained how he was told his own honour and integrity were deemed irrelevant by Dewitt.  He told how, when pressed, he admitted that Heather's capture was a factor in his thinking.  But he also spoke as to his reasoning for his initial intent, and the mention that this conversation was to be considered privileged and could not leave this very office.

When he came to the events of the battle, Trent's voice had taken a cold, analytical tone.  He was a Tactical Officer first, and he spoke of his assessment of the threat, and the measures he took to make contact with the other Vectors, and then to avoid contact under stealth while preparing what amounted to a minefield to slow down and hopefully discourage Task Force Archeron from pursuing too aggressively.  He mentioned how a civilian had been brought to the Bridge, and while some ideas were workable and  could be used to further his own strategy, others needed to be dismissed.  How he was using every asset at his disposal to avoid contact and give the other Vectors their hour to join them, and an alternate rendezvous site if they turned away without responding.  Until Dewitt decided to commit small craft to an assault against starships and squandered away their single greatest advantage by opening fire. 

"Captain, Dewitt had been challenging me, openly, the moment I decided to not run at the first sign of trouble.  Not that my Vector could have ever outrun the least of Sankolov's ships, let alone stand a chance in a straight fight.  Yes, we took fire.  Long-range fire from fighter weapons.  While our shields were not at full strength our armour could take that fire, and I was ready to break off the engagement altogether.  But when Dewitt unilaterally committed small craft against starships and ordered that we open direct fire, she squandered away our advantage of being under cloak.  I was not going to let, could not allow, those pilots get killed for nothing, so I the only alternative were the mission-kill strike on Bellerophon and a subsequent one on Dauntless.  Commander Marquez was an adequate tactical officer; not the most imaginative, but technically sound, though I'm given to understand he had a history with Bellerophon.  I don't know why she was destroyed, whether it was the proverbial Golden BB or Marquez deliberately targeted something critical and hoped it would be lost in the confusion.  My intent was to remove the immediate threats of Bellerophon and Dauntless so we could break off and resume stealth operations while giving the other Vectors their hour, or execute decoy maneuver with the runabout I had prepared, rather than turning it into the largest torpedo ever launched by a Starfleet vessel if they did not make the rendezvous."

He took a deep breath.  He was not nearly done, and only the hard, flat glint in his eyes spoke of just how furious he truly had been.  "Dewitt removed me from command, stating she could not in good conscience allow me to remain.  After she declared my own was irrelevant.  She declared the other Vectors were already dead.  She gave up on you and our people on Versant.  All the while, blatantly lying about my words and intent, but also breaking my confidence in the process.  And then, not only did she not oppose Commander Wenn's intent to fight the Borg, a suicidal venture if I ever heard of one, at the very least on par with her assessment of attempting a rescue, she supported his mission.  One must wonder, Captain, if that is because she knew she could not wield Security as her weapon against the head of their department the way she had against me.  I have no illusions: I was not well-liked as XO.  I know I worked and drilled this crew hard, and if it was not of that readiness, we would never have survived Starbase 84, even if it did cause a good deal of resentment.  That would be very easy to exploit by someone willing to lie and break confidence as a cover for her own faithlessness and cowardice."

But the Human was not done.  "I know I don't generate the same kind of loyalty you do.  You could give the order to abandon some of our people and expect it to be accepted.  I do not... did not have that kind of support and we both know it.  And yes, Heather weighed on my judgement, I'd have to be made of stone for her not to.  And something else, something I haven't told anyone else: I cannot, will not, ever give the order to abandon anyone.  You know I had to give the order to abandon ship, you know I was spaced.  If others had not raced to relieve what was left of the Harrier, all of my crew would have died, myself included."  He did not elaborate further.  The death of his first starship command was something that irremediably altered Carrigan Trent in many ways he had never expected.  The burden of command was knowing one would lead others to their deaths while not spending them like water; the loss of the Harrier had imprinted upon him one thing in particular: no one is left behind.

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1300] Causality

Reply #2
[ Captain Ives | Captain's Ready Room | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ] @CanadianVet
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Ives listened to Trent, and it was clear he had a biased opinion about his own preformance, that much was expected, but it seemed he truly thought the worst of Dewitt's intentions.

"Faye-Eloi Danvers has confirmed that Dewitt wasn't egotistic or power-mongering in her ambitions, but was truly acting as according to her beliefs about your conduct," said Ives quietly, and he remained where he stood in front of the viewport, looking down at Trent where he sat. "You say she was blatantly lying about your words and how she believed your intents to be, but this is not true. It is you who think little of her, and suspect the worst of her. As for breaking your confidence, I am beginning to think she had every right to do so. Perhaps it was so simple that you didn't see the tactical situation as she could from her position on the bridge, limited as you were to the chair and what you could see. The tactical logs shows me the warp fighters from the Dauntelss were tearing up hull breaches with phasers and firing photon torpedoes towards your fleeing shadow. They were in close enough range to do so, and their aim was guided by the sensor suite of the Bellerophon. By that time, Vector 01 was in no position to do anything about that sensor suite, but it could answer the very direct threat against the already damaged Vector. It is clear to me that Dewitt was defending the ship and crew when she could, instead of loosing crew and sustaining more damage with each second it might take to turn about and do something about the Belleophon's sensors. You were leaking plasma, so the cloaking ability wasn't squandered, as you put it. It simply wasn't going to hide the Vector unless the plasma was contained."

Having said this, Jien slowly walked back his side of the desk. "You did not have to give the order to abandon anyone either," he said, his stare unblinking as he looked down at Trent. "I gave that order for you when I ordered the execution of the Continuance Protocol. It seems to me now you simply refused to abide by it because of Heather, and while I understand where your heart was at, it was still in violation of my order and you had the audacity to compromise the crew and the mission. Command is about making the hard decisions about the greater good, and you were trading the lives of all against a few abductees on an alien ship."

As one of those abducted, knowing what they suffered through, it still did not matter. He set his fists down on the table, still staring at Trent where he sat before the him. "And you come here, into my room, trying to equate our lives on the Versant with the billions of people that would die from a Borg invasion? I don't know if it's my intelligence or Dewitt that you are insulting by that comparison, but clearly you have lost all bearing on what our priority should be. Especially since it's become quite clear how the Infested were trying to hide that the Borg were here. The Borg were our mission, just like it is our mission to protect the Federation."

Unmoving, like a statue, Jien did not have to blink, and he didn't when he ended the brief meeting. "Vector 01 dropped an encrypted message in the Rendezvous Zone should the other Vectors have arrived, which they would. That message would have led to new rendezvous coordinates. The logs says you had the opportunity to leave after that message was dropped, well before the first activation of the cloak compromised the warp core, but instead... you chose to remain. And now I have forty survivors from the Bellerophon aboard, who I somehow have to convince we're not exactly what Command makes us out to be. All the rest of the Bellerophon crew didn't have to die, Commander, if you had just left the area. Those lives are on your head, and right now, I am very inclined to hand that head over to them."

Having said this, Jien's voice cutting in it's tone, he slowly straightened. "Yet I won't.... I can't, of course. What I will do, is to have that third pip removed from your collar, and you will be off duty until I decide what to do with you." Jien folded his hands behind his back, and remained that way until Trent had left the pip on his desk, and removed himself from the room. "Dismissed."

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1300] Causality

Reply #3
[ Commander Carrigan Trent | Captain's Ready Room | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @Auctor Lucan

Had he been wrong all along? 

Had it been wrong to doubt the crew's willingness to follow a commander who'd abandon their captain and shipmates, let alone the woman he loved, even if ordered to do so?

Had it been wrong to not put his trust in a mere beacon and attempt to run the moment danger turned up, even if doing so could have risked a pursuit or left the other Vectors to run into Sankolov and all of his might?  Was he wrong not to put blind trust in a stranger? 
 
Had he been wrong in refusing to throw his own integrity out the nearest airlock and abandon all hope?  That he refused to believe; abandoning his principles was the last thing he ought to have done.

Or did it go back even further? 

Trent's own voice had gone even lower than his regular near-whisper.  He had known his orders.  And he also knew that as the officer in command, was his decision as to exactly how he would set his operational priorities, and how he would proceed with the mission overall.  Had he been mistaken?

"I told Dewitt I meant to make an attempt at a rescue.  That I would break it off if it would be hopeless, even if it would mean leaving you and everyone else behind."  Even if it would break me, he did not add.  Giving the order to go on without at least considering all options was not something he could do; but should an attempt be impossible after careful deliberation and consultation, he would have openly informed the entire ship's company that it would be suicide, no matter the personal cost.  "I could very well have been wrong about the crew's acceptance of simply carrying on without at least trying a rescue, but I was not willing to take that risk."

Trent's eyes had grown hard, and it was only his iron self-control, holding steady now that it longer wrestled with the darkest of despairs, that allowed his tone to remain suitable for addressing his captain.  "I will admit I didn't know what course of action was best, and I rejected the ones I deemed to be morally unacceptable or tactically unsound, based on the information I had, my best judgement and my experience.  So I made a decision" Make a decision, any decision. "The ones I thought were the best for the success of the mission, based on information that was available to me at the time.  And though it is scant comfort, I never intended the destruction of Bellerophon, let alone the death of her crew; freak accident or deliberate gunnery, I gave the order to fire."  No matter what, those deaths would indeed be on his conscience, like the many others.  War was hell, he had walked through it before.  And he hated it.

Standing up, Trent reached for his collar and removed that third pip.  "I never asked for the Executive Officer's position, and I was mistaken in thinking I was ready to handle it again."  At the time he had been buoyed by finding his nerve again in the Vasser Mutiny and the showdown against Calamity; he had caught a glimpse of who and what he'd been before.  He had hungered to reclaim it all.  It had been a mistake and through the exultation of victory he had forgotten his doubts.  "I've been wrong before, maybe I was wrong in how I discharged my orders, and it's a certainty I'll be wrong again." While a ship's captain had broad freedoms in promoting their people, such promotions needed to be ratified by Starfleet Command, and returning the rank of Commander, was, truth be told, a relief at this point in time. "I was not prepared to hold command again, let alone have it dropped in my lap like this."

"If the mission is at stake, if you need to feed me to the survivors of Dauntless and Bellerophon to keep the peace and prevent another uprising on this ship, I'll accept it."  One more deep breath he took, one last one in this room for now.  "I followed my orders to the best of my abilities, to my best judgement, based on the information made available to me at the time, and did everything to stay within the spirit of Starfleet, guided by my own conscience and integrity. If fault can be found in what I did... then so be it.  I made the decisions, the consequences are mine to carry; I'll do whatever duty requires.  If in the end it's my commission, my freedom or my life you want, they yours to take."

And now that he'd been dismissed, he turned to leave.  Though he felt some dread as to his future, he was now free from a burden he had not been ready to assume again.

 

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1300] Causality

Reply #4
[ Captain Ives | Captain's Ready Room | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ] @CanadianVet
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Evidently, Trent didn't know when he had outstayed his welcome. The man's integrity was important to him, enough to have him try to defend his actions, even if it was too late for that. He had already admitted to the actions that the tactical logs proved erroneous in the situation. Jien was of a mind to cut him off and send him out the door like a child who didn't know his place, but he stayed that impulse, remaining silent - face unreadable - until Trent felt he had run out of wind.

Repeatedly, he said he did his best, claiming ignorance of information and the situation. It seemed almost passive aggressive that he suggested that his life might as well be forfeit just so that Ives could appease the survivors aboard, but Jien said naught. Just letting the man rant and believe what he wanted to. Perhaps he would understand, at some point, that even as a Commanding Officer, you could not just make any decision.

It was plain, even as the Theurgy fought the Versant three days past, that even the attempt to tangle with the Savi would have left the Theurgy destroyed - reintegrated or not. That fact had been further emphasized when the Savi dreadnought had attacked the Borg cube.

When Trent left, Jien took a deep breath... changed to her female form, and seated herself at her desk. It had not escaped her how Trent diverted the blame to her for having had faith in him that day after the Calamity was destroyed. He never asked to be her Executive Officer, and perhaps he was right about one thing. She had believed him ready far too soon.

This was why the burden was ultimately hers as well, and why she shared in the guilt towards the dead. Betimes, she had too much faith in people, and those times, the consequences were dire. Such had been the case with operative Hi'Jak, and so had it been with Trent.

Yet did that mean she should be paranoid and distrustful?

No.

She knew better than that, for that trust in her crew granted rewards and progress no amount of threats and cunning may yield. She held on to this belief then, when she began to read more about the Bellerophon crew.

- FIN

 
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