Shore Leave: Drama At Arcadia
Location: Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: Stardate 2263.212
The instant chirping of his communicator brought Chris out of a deep sleep, piercing the veil of unconsciousness that he'd barely reached. As he squinted to open his eyes, he looked at the time. 0500 hours? For a day off, that was awfully early. Especially when the previous night hadn't exactly ended early.
He reached toward his communicator with the uncoordinated reach of a barely awoken man, he fumbled it open and managed an at least somewhat presentable reply. "Captain James, here."
The night shift security officer's voice came over the comm, noticeably alarmed. "Captain...we've got a bit of a situation going on aboard Arcadia. We've detected a minor explosion in the commercial district."
That brought Chris to alertness faster than any coffee or shower could have. "I'm on my way."
Barely managing to wrangle his hair to look presentable, he threw on his uniform and a mission jacket, putting the finishing touches on it while already entering the turbolift to the bridge. He didn't have time to mess with the complicated starbase uniform. His standard one would have to do.
By the time the turbolift doors opened, he had martialled his appearance to the point where he could look almost like he'd taken the time to do so, a trick he'd picked up some years ago. If there was a crisis situation, it wouldn't help crew morale to see their captain looking like he'd been caught off guard.
"Status report," he said, not missing a beat as he exited the lift.
On screen, a station feed showed the smoking wreckage of one of the shops on the promenade. The communications officer's voice came in reply. "Station security is reporting nearly 2 dozen fatalities. Suspect is still at large, but..." There was a weighty pause.
"Spit it out, Ensign," Chris replied, with an intentionally gentle tone.
"Sir...the suspect is Lt. Acainus."
Chris felt his stomach tighten into a knot. A member of his crew was the suspect? He knew these things occasionally happened, but it didn't soften the blow any. Suspect doesn't mean guilty, Chris reminded himself. And if he's innocent, he's going to need your help. Refusing the urge to say anything in reaction, he simply nodded and kept a stoic face. "Alert, Commanders Holmes and
Gallagher. I'm heading to the station."
"Yes, sir," the young officer replied, wiping a bit of sweat from his brow and beginning to enter the commands.
By the time Chris had arrived aboard the station, Ian had been located...with a freshly stabbed corpse and holding his own knife. This situation was quickly escalating, he thought to himself. Upon entering the detention building, Chris was ferried through a quick briefing on what had transpired. A few minutes later and he found himself in front of the cell where Ian had been detained.
The man was facing away from the door when Chris entered. The captain had no idea what he was supposed to do in such a situation. He had to remain objective in this situation. Ian was innocent until proven guilty, and they had not proven anything yet. It hadn't been too long ago that the two of them had found themselves on opposite sides of a similar situation, with Chris being the one in a very guilty looking position. His crew had come through for him, not resting until he had been exonerated. He wouldn't give them any less in return.
In his least intimidating, yet firm voice, he called out to the Akadian. "On your feet, Lieutenant."
Ian usually wore an easy smile and a relaxed expression. Chris had seen him angry before, when they had been held captive together Chris had seen him frightened, but he had never seen him looking like he did at that moment, defeated. It took a moment for the Captain's words to even register with the diplomatic officer and even longer for him to obey them. He slowly stood to his feet. "I...I didn't do it, Chris. I mean Captain, I'd never do anything like that. I don't know what happened. Please, you have to believe me."
The captain once again felt something sink inside him. The man in front of him looked utterly broken. Not exactly the look of a guilty man, he thought. He met the man's gaze and held it. In his years of training, he'd found that eye contact could go along way. Show trust, honesty, attention. "I believe you," Chris said with a reassuring nod, never breaking his gaze. "But I'm going to need more than your word if we're going to get you out of here. We're going to prove your innocence, but first I need to know everything. Lay it out for me. Every detail matters."
"I'd spent some time with Tophen on the station and we had a good time together. So, I decided as long as we were on shore leave I might as well make full use of my time, so I got a room here, Ian replied in a quiet voice, his eyes downcast but still managing to meet the other man's. "That was two, no three days ago now. I've just been hanging around, relaxing, seeing the sights, that kind of thing. I don't recall every place I've gone too, but I've been, well, busy."
"Then, last night, I got a communique from my father, it seems that our Council is thinking of accepting the deal, whatever it is, to join the Klingons. He wanted me to do my duty, as he called it and resign, go home. Join the other side. My father is, well misguided, I did intend to come to you to see how I could join the Federation. My father, no one on the Council knows what the Klingons are really like. If, uh, if they're going to become part of that Empire."
"Anyway, the news, how do you say, pissed me off. So, I decided to go have a couple of drinks. And.." his voice trailed off. Then after letting out out a long sigh, he continued, "I, uh, well, I met a guy in the bar And he invited me back to his place. I should have known better, he was, well too perfect, too much my type. He made me a drink and the next...the next thing I know I'm standing next to him with a knife, my knife in my hands. But, I didn't take my knife with me. I left it on the ship. What the hell is going on?"
Chris felt the paranoid part of him coming roaring to life, sending a flurry of questions through his mind. Usually, he would fight this impulse, but not today. Who was this man who had approached Ian? If he was trying to trap him, who stabbed him? Ian? Or someone else perhaps. If it wasn't Ian, how did they get the knife? Admittedly, a human wouldn't stick out, but they had heightened security since the issue on their last visit. Perhaps Starfleet, even a member of the crew? No, Ian would have recognized them in that case. There was also the fact that Ian, a telepath, had failed to pick up on ulterior motives. Was it the alcohol or something else?
He took a deep breathe, clearing his mind for a moment. Questions without answers weren't going to get him far. "Ok. A lot to unpack here," he started. "Let's start with the basics and branch out from there. I haven't been briefed yet on...on the man they found with you. They were still trying to ID him. It seems Julian was an alias, so at least we have that going for us. Did he give you any indications as to who he was? Even the slightest clue could key us into something."
"I have to be honest sir, " Ian replied leaning heavily against the wall of his cell, "I was thinking with the wrong head. We didn't really talk much about our pasts, we were, well I was more concerned with the here and now. But, what he told me was he was the Captain of a merchant ship, the Percphenie, he called it. He was staying here on the Starbase because he was awaiting a shipment of medical supplies, which he claimed was bound for the front. It seemed plausible enough, so I didn't really question him too much. It would have been impolite to just probe his mind. But next time, assuming that I don't wind up in some penal colony I'd be ruder than hell."
He shook his head slowly, "How many people, how many do they say that I killed?"
“None. You didn’t kill them,” Chris said bluntly. He knew that feeling. It was the most deflating part of this situation. “You can’t think about that. Mourn them once we’ve found the person who killed them. In the meantime, we’ll be investigating every lead we can. You mentioned that your father had sent a message about your people joining the Klingons. Do you think this could be related?”
Ian let out another long breath and sat down on the bed without asking permission. He wanted to find out how many people had died, but he wasn't going to press the issue, the Captain wasn't going to give him an answer so it was an argument he wasn't going to win. And, if he were honest with himself, he wasn't sure how much he really wanted to know.
"Whoever did this had to have a reason," he suggested, "but they didn't want to take credit for it. Which means this was just a simple misdirection, which would be coincidence, I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, or there was something deeper. Rule thirty-one, there is no such thing as a coincidence."
"There had to be careful planning involved here. Julian checked all the circles. From the way, he looked to his personality, to what he liked to do in bed. Like I said, everything was just a little too perfect and I was just a little too stupid to notice."
"If the powers that be on the Council think I'm being unfairly accused, that the charges are trumped up, then they'll be pushed towards the Klingons. Since the Federation, at least for now, thinks I'm guilty, then they won't trust any Akadians. I know how Terrans think I've read your histories. I'm sorry Chris, they're not pretty. Did you know that at one time a whole group of people, citizens of a land called America were interned in camps, without a trial, without evidence simply because people of their race had attacked the Pacific Fleet?"
"I'm not saying that I'm all that important, I'm not. Not by a long shot, but they, whoever they are can exploit this for their benefit."
Chris sighed audibly. The sins of his people’s past could be difficult to confront sometimes. “Humanity has come a long way since then. We once were a fearful hateful race. But that aspect of us is a thing of the past, at least for the most part.”
Chris said the words, but he couldn’t dispel his fears. Though such views were exceedingly rare, they weren’t completely gone. He’d encountered such zealots prior to Defiant’s launch. And other member races might be more inclined to such thoughts. “I’m going to petition the Federation Council in your favor. Hopefully, the gesture will help send a message to your people, that we won’t judge everyone by the supposed actions of one. However, I think you’re right. This isn’t a coincidence and you weren’t targeted randomly.”
“I’m going to have Doctor Holmes give you a thorough examination. If there are any indications of what happened, chemical or otherwise, it could point us in the right direction.” He paused for a moment, turning halfway before looking back at Ian. “Hang in there.”
"Thank you for believing me, that means a lot. Maybe you could have the good doctor bring me a cake, with whatever this era's equivalent of a file is."
The captain gave a wry smile. "I'll see what I can do."
Captain Christopher James
Lt Ian Acainus