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Devil's Due

Posted on Thu Jan 31st, 2019 @ 2:25am by Rear Admiral Gareth Tau & Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker & Ferrofax & Rear Admiral Aerilyn Nyel
Edited on on Thu Jan 31st, 2019 @ 2:53am

Mission: Season 1 Interlude I (E2.5)
Location: Starbase 375
Timeline: ID 70

The look upon ben-Avram's face was all the assurance that Mrazak needed. So arrogant. So self-righteous. And so nervous! That Hebron had thought to strip him of his rank and that he would just take it lying down. Clearly he didn't know who he was dealing with. It had been a lengthy wait, bearing the loss of his rank, working tirelessly in the planetside Archives, trying not to screw anything else up. But then the day came.

Of course, the trip on the Phantom made the quick hop to Starbase 375 from Memory Theta a short one -- even shorter than the necessary time to clear the plasma storms of the Badlands at full impulse.

That meant Mrazak only had a few hours of quiet gloating before the Phantom docked at Starbase 375. And since this matter was as high profile as it was classified, it meant that many of the big-wigs would be present. It never occurred to Mrazak that Akiva would win out in the face of an official judicial inquest. Oh, no. The stars were aligned in his favor this day. He had seen to that.

When they boarded the station, a Security team escorted Mrazak through the docking area. The lieutenant had introduced himself, but Mrazak wasn't listening. He'd nodded a false acknowledgement and fell into line behind the man, letting his meat-shields flank him on either side. It was a long hike to the turbolifts, but Mrazak didn't mind. The next time he would set foot on this promenade, it would be as a full commander again. Ben-Avram and whoever else he brought with him would just have to sit back and cry once it was all over.

As Mrazak entered the room, he found a long table full of brass looking very displeased to be there. None of them brightened upon his entry, least of all Admiral Nyel who sat near the middle of the long table. Mrazak was led to one of two small square tables with ben-Avram directed to its opposite. Together, they all formed a triangle beneath a long and narrow view port.

"All rise," said the Security Chief. "The Honorable Penelope Delahunt presiding."

Mrazak rose as ordered and watched as a too-young woman entered the room.

"Be seated," she said. "Today we are gathered to adjudicate an Article 32 inquest into the Article 15 Captain's Mast performed upon Commander Mrazak on Stardate 47985.2, which demoted him to Lieutenant Commander as non-judicial punishment for multiple charges--dereliction of duty, malfeasance, and conduct unbecoming of an officer." Judge Delahunt finished reading and set her PADD down. "If the members of the panel will speak their names aloud for the record, we may begin."

"Commodore Gareth Tau," said an older man whose complexion matched Mrazak's. His stony expression did not. Mrazak saluted him anyway. "Task Force 72 Executive Officer and Director of Office of Special Investigations."

"Rear Admiral Aerilyn Nyel," said the woman next to him, though she looked absolutely bored and annoyed.

"Mr Ardent Smith, Special Liason for the President of the United Federation Of Planets," said a man befitting the name. Not too tall, not to short. Brown hair, round cheeks, forgettable eyes and a suit replicated right out of a catalogue instead of a tailors shop. He leaned forward, turning to look at the other officials on the board. "And I would like it on record that this is a stupid risk. I thought the entire reason we created Memory Theta was so there were no records, or meeting, or minutes. So that they could do what we need them to do, without instigating a sector wide panic. If we want them to be the next Section 31, the worst kept secret in Starfleet, I think this is a very good step. I think that should be applauded."

Mr Smith, the Special Liason and super stoked member of the board, leant back in his chair and scowled at Mrazak. Probably not a good sign.

On the other hand, Mrazak smirked broad and deep at the man's statement.

"Who invited this peasant?" Aerilyn asked, barely acknowledging the man speaking. She waved her hand, forgetting he even said anything.

"It should be stated that Section 31 is not, nor ever has been, sanctioned by Starfleet or by any lawful agency of the Federation," Gareth intoned. "The Office of Special Investigations may be classified from top to bottom, but we follow the rules, both secret and public, in order to provide full accountability to those with the need-to-know clearance." He gave a nod of deference to the Staff Judge Advocate.

Judge Delahunt nodded in return. "Thank you, Commodore. Given the sensitive nature of this inquest, we'll cut to the chase. The members of this commission panel should be familiar with the reports, so I will allow only necessary questions before final our deliberation and ruling. Admiral Nyel, you may proceed first."

All eyes fell to Aerilyn.

The woman leaned forward, taking off her glasses to rub them with a dark blue cloth. "Tell us, Akiva. It's my understanding, from Mrazak's appeal, that instead of confining him to the brig, as per standard protocol, you sent him down to Tartarus. Is there a reason you put someone that, in your words..." She picked up the PADD in front of her and read from it. "'commits acts so vile he is unfit to wear the uniform' at the very heart of Memory Theta's artifact warehouse? Would you consider that a prudent act on your part?" She looked back up to the Commander. "Seems like you sent him exactly where he'd want to go."

Akiva stood to his feet and coughed into his hand. "On the contrary, Admiral. Mrazak was never detained, but merely reassigned. It had been some months since Mrazak's last tour of the Archives, and his lapses in judgment were personnel-related rather than performance-related, so it seemed the best place to keep him out of trouble. Despite his callous disregard for anybody but himself, it did not seem right to deprive Memory Theta of such an experienced officer. Mrazak was a welcome addition to the duty rotation, from what I was told, save for the... incident."

"By 'incident,' are we to understand you mean the quarantine breach?" Gareth asked. "It was my understanding that Commander Mrazak was instrumental in resolving that crisis."

"Yes, Commodore, after he likely caused it," Akiva cut in.

Gareth raised an eyebrow. "Do you have proof to that effect?"

"No," Akiva reluctantly conceded.

"Then I must second the question of just what are we doing here?" Gareth pressed his fingers together into a triangle.

"I am not the reason we are here, Commodore." Akiva shifted his weight, but nonetheless stood tall. "Lieutenant Commander Mrazak filed an official appeal, as was read by Judge Delahunt. I stand by my actions and would defer your question to him."

"Very well," Gareth grumbled. "Commander Mrazak. What is it you want to see happen today?"

And there it was. Mrazak grinned broadly. "Justice. I want to see justice today, Commodore. Admiral. Good Sir. Your Honor." He addressed Gareth, Aerilyn, Smith, and Judge Delahunt in turn. "Commander ben'Avram's non-judicial punishment was filed incorrectly."

"How so?" the judge asked. "The paperwork seems to be in order."

"If I may approach the bench?" Mrazak asked.

"Proceed." Judge Delahunt cocked her head curiously.

As Mrazak stepped away from his table, he shot Akiva a particularly cocky look. He waited until he was directly in front of Judge Delahunt before he spoke again. "Ryland Dedeker," he said, just loud enough for her to hear. "I know what you did. And furthermore I know that he's in trouble--again. Reinstate my rank, dismiss these frivolous charges, and I will conscript your brother, lock him into my operations as permanent essential personnel, and throw away the key."

The judge's eyes widened at the whispered yet brazen words coming out of the man. How had he known? Her eyes darted back and forth to the other panel members, wondering if they had overheard. What would they think? More importantly--if she made her problem their problem, what would they do? She covered her microphone with her hand. "He'll disappear, never to be heard from again?"

Mrazak nodded. "You have my word."

Gareth narrowed his eyes, but said nothing. There was little he could say or do in a JAG matter. His position on the panel was more of oversight than judicial, ostensibly for justice but ultimately to ensure the smoothness of Memory Theta's operations. There were crucial details missing from what he managed to overhear of the bargain was being struck, and he could not bring himself to care. If it meant getting out of there sooner, then he would gladly give his silent approval.

Aerilyn pursed her lips, considering what she overheard.

"Very well." Judge Delahunt nodded for Mrazak to return to his table. "After reviewing the details of the case and hearing supplemental questioning, I am prepared to render my ruling, which is as follows."

Akiva swallowed the lump in his throat.

Mrazak grinned.

"The Article 32 appeal to the original Captain's Mast is sustained. The demotion of Commander Mrazak to Lieutenant Commander is hereby overturned and absconded from his personal file. The original Article 15 charges will remain at the discretion of the Memory Theta administrating officer who filed them, but it is determined that Commander Akiva ben-Avram is not of sufficient rank to unilaterally demote an officer without JAG approval. This court is adjourned."

Judge Delahunt pounded the gavel, looked Mrazak over one more time with a threatening glare, and then removed herself from the room.

"The Honorable Judge Penelope Delahunt," the Security officer called after her, barely in time to get the words out before she rushed from the room.

Akiva stood dumbstruck, mouth agape. "What... what just happened?"

In the climax of his smug victory, Mrazak stepped toward Akiva to leer in his face. "As I said, Commander. Justice."

With a pep in his step that wasn't there before, Mrazak left the rest of the business behind and exited the room. Just as he'd foreseen, he now stood on the station's promenade as a free man. He inhaled deeply as if savoring crisp, fresh air, and then exhaled it in dramatic fashion.

"I suppose you're rather pleased with yourself." Judge Delahunt had not gotten more than a few steps from the door before she'd stopped to wait for Mrazak.

"Your Honor, I have never felt so pleased." Mrazak grinned widely.

Delahunt sighed and rolled her eyes. "Don't forget our deal."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Mrazak said. "Still in the detention center, is he?"

"... yes." Her eyes darted away for a moment.

"Good. I'll pick him up on the way back to my ship."

Delahunt perked up at that. "Oh. Good. Great, even."

Mrazak took a bow and followed the signs to the detention center. This time the turbolift ride felt like riding a cloud. When it deposited him in the detention area, it seemed over too quickly.

Alone and without any orders, Mrazak approached the brig officer. "Good day to you. I am here for a man."

The brig officer looked him up and down warily. "Transfer orders?"

"Not exactly," Mrazak said. "Allow me?" He reached for the brig security console without waiting for permission. After entering in his clearance authorization, a large symbol overtook the display screen.

In response, a buzzing snap from Cell B signaled the deactivation of its force field.

"What in the blue hell is going on?" called a voice from within it.

Mrazak ignored the brig officer, now unimportant and virtually non-existent, and walked over to the cell. "Lieutenant Ryland Dedeker," he said.

A harried looking man lay on the cot propped up on one elbow. "I ain't a lieutenant," he said.

"You are now." Mrazak tossed him two circular pips, one light and the other dark. "And I got a job for you."

Ryland caught the pips in midair and examined them in his hand, even bouncing them for good measure. This seemed almost too good to be true. "Did Pen send you? She's always pullin' my grits outta' the fire."

"Why don't you come along, and I'll tell you all about it," Mrazak said, turning around and taking his leave. "I could use a good pilot at the helm of my ship."

Walking away with strange men was usually at the bottom list of Ryland's to-do list, but this time he would make an exception. This guy was a Vulcan anyhow. How much weirder could he be?


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