SIM:Flt Cpt.Turner,Cmdr.Vess,Maj.Parker,LtCmdr Nugra & Lt Cmdr Mc Ghee: The Trial of Mc Ghee
(( Holosuite - Deck 2 - USS Thunder-A ))
:: The holosuite had taken on an old earth look with the white marble floors, and polished wood seats, witness stand and judge’s bench. Nugra had spent a few hours going through different planet’s law rooms and decided on the human 21st century version. The only change he made sure to program was that the judges bench could sit three, the senior officers who would be judging the Captain’s Mast. ::
:: It would begin in a few minutes and by his order, it would be a closed hearing except for the ones that Mc Ghee had invited. Nugra might not be the Chief Security Officer anymore, but by Gorn tradition this was his case and his case to prosecute. ::
:: Jaxon Mc Ghee, an enigma in itself. The man who abandoned his crew and comrades in the middle of a fight and would not explain himself. There had been some things that had happened from what he heard through the ship’s grapevine, but nothing that would absolve him of the cardinal sin he committed. ::
:: The minutes counted down slowly with the Gorn continually adjusting his PADD to make sure that it was absolutely perfect. It was exactly 1100 hours when the doors of the holosuite opened and the members of the court martial entered. Nugra stood quickly. ::
:: Captain Turner, Commander Vess, and Major Parker all wore faces of solemnity as they took their seats and Jaxon Mc Ghee took his place on the defense side of the courtroom. Jaxon allowed his eyes to briefly rest at Hannibal’s person as he entered, knowing he could rely on his chosen brother to hold his word. The Vulcan hybrid suspected that had Hannibal known what he planned for his defence, that he would never so readily agreed to remain objective and silent regarding the true events of that fateful day. ::
:: Hannibal hated proceedings like this, but he knew they were necessary. This was his first time heading a tribunal... usually he was on the other side, the one being judged. He especially hated the idea that his first tribunal involved his adopted brother. Hannibal knew well the events of that night, and he had done what he could to make provisions for what happened that night. He hoped it would be enough..::
::As soon as the tribunal had settled in their seats, Toni looked to Hannibal and Alucard, and when she received their nods, she began.::
Turner: Lt. Commander Nugra, we're ready for you to proceed.
Nugra: Yes, Ma’am. Case File 238912.22-Hash-2: Lieutenant Commander Jaxon Mc Ghee VS Starfleet Command.
:: Placing his hands behind his back, Nugra began his speech. It was well rehearsed. Even T’Ana had gone over it a few times for effective wording. ::
Nugra: On Stardate 238910.01, Lieutenant Commander Jaxon Mc Ghee willfully broke Article 99 section one, three, and five, Misbehavior before the Enemy. He willfully left the USS Thunder and her crew in a state of peril jeopardizing the lives aboard said ship. Article 92, Disobey a Direct Order, to stay at your post until properly relieved committing dereliction of duty and Article 133 Conduct unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman.
:: Hannibal wanted to cringe at the charges... he knew Jaxon was no coward but each charge was like a knife sticking into him... and he despised the Gorn who pompously dared to stand in judgement of a man he knew almost nothing about. ::
:: The Gorn resisted the urge to pace. ::
Nugra: These said charges are extremely serious and not to be taken lightly. His actions could have been responsible for more deaths in the final destruction of the Thunder than we could possibly know. His actions has shown he is unfit for the pips he wears.
:: It was everything Hannibal could do to stay in his seat, his face impassive. Inside, be was boiling like a volcano, but he had to maintain control, no matter what. ::
::Even from the depths of his meditation induced serenity, Jaxon still felt a small glow of anger at the Gorn’s words. The man spoke insults with same ease as a mentor voicing advice to his pupil. Deep from within Jaxon knew there was some truth in this colorful description of his actions, as it was always easy to simply place blame on only one surface. He felt the urge to speak out the real reasons, quietly, soberly and with honesty that would disarm Nugra’s verbal lashes for good. It would also be so simple to explain away the complex states of affairs that had blinded his judgement and led to him abandoning his colleagues. But there also lay the problem, a full confession would also be too light a path, and one as dishonorable as his actions themselves.::
Turner: Lt. Commander Mc Ghee, having heard the charges brought against you, how do you plead?
:: Before answering the Captain, the engineer reconsidered the charges the Gorn had brought up against him. Since Nugra had charged him in Hannibals cell, a lot of time had passed and he could have spent his spare time to study every jurisdictional event similar to his to prevent the disaster he expected as the outcome. However such a course would only be betraying those lost on the Thunder once more and thus, there was only one answer for the Captains question. Even though the Welshman had spent most of his time recently in deep meditation, Jaxon was still far more Human than Vulcan and now this fact shone through; he turned his blue eyes onto the Gorn officer to see his reaction, here he could also avoid Hannibal who was likely less than pleased at his words. ::
Mc Ghee: :: steadily gazing at Nugra :: Guilty in all three charges, Ma’am.
::His words stung. Toni had expected the truth from him, but she also had expected him to explain the circumstances behind his actions. Had those reasons been the same reasons that had kept Counselor Yael from telling her the details of his sessions with him? Without giving away her feelings in her countenance, she watched the reactions of Hannibal, Vess and Nugra for anything that would give his plea creedance. ::
::Alucard had been taking a sip of his coffee when Mc Ghee accepted the charges against him. It made him pause with the cup to his lips, eyeing the engineer with some curiosity before finally putting it down. Surely he understood the gravity of the situation, and that his career, let alone his freedom, hung in the balance.::
:: Hannibal bit his lip...he didn’t expect Jaxon to fall on his sword, but now he was left vulnerable, subject to whatever punishment the tribunal decided to mete out. He wanted to stop his brother from doing this, but the quick look at him told him his mind was made up, and it was too late to change it now...::
:: Nugra was caught by surprise at the guilty plea that was introduced, but quickly looked at his notes to make sure he was correct. The Penalty Phase would begin immediately to decide the fate of the man across from him. ::
:: In ways, Nugra felt that the law was being harsh on Jaxon. There was a secret that he was keeping and it seemed he was willing to sacrifice his whole career for the sake of that secret. The law was very plain. The human had threatened the safety of the Thunder, he had abandoned his post, and even though there might have be reasons to mitigate that, the damage had been done. ::
Nugra: The Prosecution would only ask that the Tribunal consider what has happened since the destruction of the Thunder and what Commander Mc Ghee has truly done. We feel that is all the proof needed to show how horrible his choice was to his ship and to ship crewmates.
:: Again there was a brief moment in which Jaxon felt the dull anger rise in him, this time stronger and sharper than before and yellow framed pupils dropped wordlessly to the floor in hurt contemplation as his mind left the courtroom and returned to the battlefield. The Gorn had a way of stating the obvious and in this case it was a painful truth that instantly caused a list of names to appear in the Welshman’s mind. After all the time that had passed, especially in those restless nights he still recalled everything, sometimes even cursing his mind with passion as it relentlessly displayed information he wished he could suppress with the same ease as his emotions. ::
::Alucard cleared his throat before glancing left to Turner, then right to Parker.::
::Convinced that there was more to the story than what was being told, Toni withheld comment, passing it to the other members of the tribunal.::
Parker: No comment....
:: Hannibal tried to keep his voice even, unemotional... he wasn’t sure if he succeeded in the attempt...::
Vess: Thank yeh, Commander Nugra. Commander Mc Ghee, do yeh have anythin’ t’ say in yer defence?
:: Nugra sat down and waited to see what Mc Ghee would say in his favor to mitigate the sentence that the Tribunal would be forced to put on him. Something in his gut was telling him this was not a simple cut and dry case like his report said it was. The reptile wanted to ignore the feeling, make Jaxon pay for abandoning his crew and move on. A memory of a lost Gorn ship in the war surfaced, but he quickly subdued it. ::
Mc Ghee: :: Briefly looking at Hannibal :: There is nothing relevant to these charges or to my defence that I wish to add at this time.
::Alucard’s eyes narrowed sharply. A man who wouldn’t even defend himself was hiding something darker.::
:: Standing again, feeling like a kid’s toy the Gorn respectful bowed his head. ::
Nugra: The prosecution has nothing further to say.
Turner: Thank you, Commander.
Parker: I have heard all I need to hear...
:: Hannibal wasn’t going to endorse or indict Jaxon... his best bet was to say nothing. He held one card, one very big card, and soon, he might have to play it, to save his brothers’ career. ::
Vess: Commander, now is the chance t’ explain yerself, t’ give yer reasons fer yer actions. Ah’m sure yeh can understand that yer career is in the balance here. If there’s anythin’ yeh feel would help yeh, say it now.
:: During the many hours of his meditation, Jaxon had contemplated this eventuality and had already put together the answer. Just like his reports it also omitted certain aspects such as S’Caan’s appearance, or that both teens had only been saved and revived because of Chang’s help. Now the same information had to be relayed and presented to ensure justice would be served. ::
Mc Ghee: I discovered that Cabrew, Joel and Bolt were still on the planet and with our battle group engaging the enemy far from the planet and the Thunder in such a state, there were no options to effectively locate and rescue them. I chose to abandon the ship in favor of searching for them personally.
:: Nugra remained silent. This was not the time for him to speak as it was only Mc Ghee’s chance to salvage what was left of his career and dignity. ::
Turner: And where was the Raven at that point?
Mc Ghee: :: turning to look at Captain Turner:: The Raven was unable to directly scan the Embassy as she was needed to hold the Thunder in orbit, we would have lost the ship immediately otherwise. Instead I used her drones to scan the Embassy grounds and direct me in my search of the grounds.
:: Jaxon looked briefly to Hannibal and hoped that he would forgive him for maneuvering him into a position from which he could not help him. While important passages were simply not told, so far everything was true enough. Considering any close range sensor logs had gone down with the Thunder and that the manipulation of the Raven’s logs was already complete, there was nothing that could point to Director Chang ever being in orbit, or to S’Caan’s malicious appearance and its outcome for the enemy. He could only hope that Hannibal had the sense to do the same, the Marine sense of honor was unpredictable at times. ::
Nugra: The Prosecution would respectfully remind the Tribunal that these logs are not in evidence as they were destroyed along with the Thunder.
:: Jaxon had to admire Nugra’s thoroughness, here he was not even trying to defend himself, however his prosecutor was still making sure protocol was being followed. ::
Turner: ::turning her full attention to Alucard and Hannibal:: Commanders are you ready to pass judgement?
:: Commander Vess silently nodded his head at the Captain’s question. ::
:: Hannibal saw this as his one and only chance to save his brother...time to play that card..::
Hannibal: I move to sentence Commander Mc Ghee to time served. Any further testimony on the events of that night have been classified by Starfleet Intelligence. The defendant cannot be compelled to testify on classified matters unless ordered to do so directly by Starfleet Command, and only a flag officer can make such a request....
:: Hannibal had indeed had Chang classify his after-action report, something he routinely did after covert operations. Their actions that night...what he, Hella, and Kamela had done, Changs’ involvement...would never see the light of day. He hoped the Captain and Commander Vess understood the situation..especially the Captain. Kamela killed the double agent who was getting ready to kill her in the opening hours of the invasion. That report, too, was classified...::
:: Hannibals words caused Jaxon’s head to turn sharply towards the Major, a frown furrowing his brow, this approach surprised the Welshman completely. Of course he knew that Hannibal was trying to save him, however he didn’t want redemption as none would ever be enough. There was no words, actions or deeds that could excuse abandoning his colleagues in a time of such need. Regardless of his personal feelings, he had placed the lives of his son and Cabrew over that of men and women who were under his command, in essence Nugra was right. ::
Vess: Ah dunna know if time served is enough here, given the extreme loss o’ life that resulted from Commander Mc Ghee’s actions.
::While Toni was inclined to agree with Hannibal, she felt there wasn't sufficient information to justify such a move. She had trusted Mc Ghee implicitly since the day he had come aboard, and he had never disappointed her, but without a word in his own defense, she had no choice in the matter than to investigate further. And Hannibal had given her the means to do just that.::
Turner: Commander Mc Ghee, I'll give you one more chance to redeem yourself. If you refuse, then I, as a flag officer, will be compelled to request that the full report of your actions of that night, to be declassified, and in doing so, anyone who aided you in them will be implicated.
::What she didn't say, but felt it was made clear enough to him, was if he didn't do it voluntarily, he would be endangering those he was evidently trying so desperately to protect.::
:: Hannibal had placed himself square in the crosshairs, believing that Captain Turner would indeed request that classified report... but he also knew that if she did, Chang would sanitize it as much as possible... which would place him even further in her debt. Captain Turner he trusted implicitly, but the seriousness of the situation meant that even her fairness would be taken to an extreme. Hannibal was ready to sacrifice himself to save Mc Ghee, Hella, and Kamela... and none of them would ever know what he was willing to give up to save them... ::
:: The Welshman looked up and over the Tribunal, blue eyes briefly settling on Hannibal for a fraction of a second. Parker had been trying to help him, but now had possibly maneuvered himself into a situation where he could have caused harm to himself. Jaxon’s eyes settled back on the Captain, he didn’t want to lie to her but couldn’t allow Hannibal to take harm either. Careful wording would have to do here. ::
Mc Ghee: Ma’am, I am guilty as charged. Defence where none is necessary is... :: frowns :: ... illogical. :: The Welshman pauses before continuing :: My choice to rank the life of only one person as more important than that of those under my command is something that is inexcusable. The fact that it was my son is irrelevant.
:: A silence fell over the mock courtroom as Mc Ghee held himself out to the mercy of the court. Hannibal would never forget the glee Nugra showed as he crucified his brother. There was no doubt what he did was wrong, and he deserved punishment, but not destruction. Hannibal had given his advice, and now, Commander Vess and Captain Turner, who held the ultimate responsibility, had to make the decision. Hannibal found it hard to look anywhere but straight ahead, even to look at Mc Ghee. Finally, the tortuous silence was broken, and sentence would be pronounced....or not....::
::The tribunal discussed the problem privately in hushed tones huddles at the table, and once Alucard had rendered his opinion, Toni would have to pass sentence.::
Vess: Ah believe we have our answer.
::Leaning back, they settled in their chairs, facing Mc Ghee.::
Turner: Lt. Commander Jaxon Mc Ghee, please stand for sentencing.
:: Jaxon left his seat and stood up, fixing his eyes on the wall opposite the desk before him. Through his chosen silence he had left the tribunal with little to no choices and even though he had a rough idea of what was surely coming, his heart began beating faster as he awaited judgement. Inside his head, he felt a strange kind of pressure, on one side stood the seven and more years of work since enrolling at the academy, his learning to run department, half of which wasn’t even on the ship. All that stood vis-à-vis to this was some dark and swirling cloud, a huge kaleidoscope of guilt and shame, regret and anger over his actions and what had caused them. It was the third time in his life that S’Caan had influenced his actions and caused havoc. ::
::As he stood, Toni dreaded the job that Mc Ghee, himself, was forcing her to do.::
Turner: Jaxon Mc Ghee, with your guilty plea, you have left us no alternative but to find you guilty of breaking Article 99 section one,three, and five, Misbehavior before the Enemy when you willfully left the USS Thunder and her crew in a state of peril jeopardizing the lives aboard said ship; Article 92, Disobeyed Direct Order, to stay at your post until properly relieved committing dereliction of duty; and Article 133 Conduct unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman. For those offenses, we strip you of the rank of Lt. Commander and status as Chief of Engineering. Hereafter you will assume the rank of Ensign, and remain in the Engineering department. Further, when not on duty, you will be considered under house arrest and be confined to your quarters whether it will be those on the USS Thunder - A or at the Embassy, unless otherwise specified.
:: The Welshman’s blue eyes closed upon hearing the loss of Engineering, one of the few achievements he was truly proud of. Regardless of his imposed Vulcan serenity emotion flashed like lightning of a distant storm over his face while he listened. ::
::She stopped long enough to take a sip of water.::
Turner: However, we will not be closing your case. If at any time you feel you can offer a reasonable explanation for your actions, we will reconvene this tribunal for an extended hearing. Also, should it be necessary for you to attend the functions of the crew as a whole, you will be under obligation to attend, but will have to be accompanied by at least one of the following officers Lt. Commander Hannibal Parker, Commander Alucard Vess, Lt. Commander Nugra, or Counselor Ashley Yael. ::looking straight into his eyes.:: If you understand this sentence, please surrender the applicable pips, and return to your quarters at the Embassy.
:: There …. it was done. Her judgment becoming a mirror to their from now on strained relationship; Captain Turner had placed trust in him very early on, surely seeing something within a freshman Ensign that he himself hadn’t known was there, while at the time oblivious to what was within him. Irony pure. Now this mirror lay in broken shards, a reflection of her trust in him as a person and officer. Jaxon turned his head smartly to Fleet Captain Turner and called on his composure. ::
Mc Ghee: ::returning her gaze:: I understand Ma’am. I will prepare a final report for the new Chief Engineer. In the meantime I suggest either Commander Hendon or Chief Hopkins to oversee Engineering until a replacement arrives.
:: The short Welshman reached up to his collar and removed the pips, his memory recalling the mission’s that had led to his earning them. Memories of quiet days in Engineering, controlling and checking the systems, of times when alarms wailed and orders had been screamed back and forth or when he stood shoulder to shoulder with Isaac fighting down the enemy while Marines fell alongside them. Sometimes the galaxy appeared to be as fragile as it was merciless. So much work and achievement undone by only one action. The newest Ensign to engineering silently set the one and one half pips on the desk, squared his broad shoulders and stood behind the defendant desk awaiting to be dismissed. ::
Turner: This tribunal has come to a conclusion oO for now.Oo Everyone is dismissed.
A JP by,
Lt Cmdr. Jaxon Mc Ghee