SIM:JP - Cmdr Nicholotti, Lt Orman, Lt Zehn, Lt Sahmson - Endgame
((Entrance to the Black Tower, Starbase 118))
::The small group of officers marched through the halls and past the Marines who stood guard by the outer doors of the tower. There were plenty of rumors about the place, about how it used to operate outside of the normal command structure, but those days had passed. Starfleet Intelligence, now that the Federation wasn't in a state of war, operated within the normal chain of command and under official Starfleet regulations. This was a change that some higher ranking officers, more accustomed to the freedoms the old Black Tower organization allowed, both loathed and tried to ignore.::
::That intentional ignorance had nearly caused the destruction of Starbase 118 and the death of every living being aboard.::
::Now it was time to remove the problem. Having been in contact with Command, Kali had her own orders. Starfleet officers were to adhere to a higher calling -- one where life of any kind was sacred. Allowing tens of thousands of people to die was simply unacceptable.::
::Kali had gathered those she trusted and those who would be needed to enforce the orders she now held in her hand. Together, that group made their way unquestioned through the near empty halls of the tower toward certain confrontation.::
((Admiral Murlow's Office, Upper Level, The Black Tower))
::The Captain of Starbase 118 didn't wait for permission to enter. Instead, she keyed in her override code and entered the office to find the man behind his desk and a woman, whom she assumed was Jennifer, standing next to him. Both looked up at her and the team of officers as they entered the room.::
::Without giving them a chance to speak, Kali looked the man in the eye and spoke with a voice that demanded respect and compliance. It was not loud, but still quite firm and strong.::
Nicholotti: Admiral Dargon Murlow, Jennifer Azorian, you are hereby ordered to stand down and resign your commissions by order of Starfleet Command, stardate 238906.12.
::The looked at her quizzically.::
Murlow: What? ::He paused as the orders seemed to process through his brain.:: On what grounds?
Nicholotti: On the grounds that you, and you ::she looked to the woman next to him.:: willfully committed crimes against the United Federation of Planets and, particularly, this station.
::This seemed to fluster the admiral who rapidly grew angry. It was a calm anger though, the type that really did worry you if you stopped to think about it.::
Murlow: What I did was required to keep the Federation and her interests safe.
::His voice was now a low growl, a tone that Kali matched.::
Nicholotti: What you did was reckless, dangerous, and could have met with disastrous consequences.
::Presently the woman, Jennifer, looked to Murlow and then back at Kali. With narrowed eyes, Kali could feel the hate pouring off of her like a flood.:: ::Jennifer wanted to roll her eyes. But she kept that hidden. She felt calm. She'd done her job and nothing more. Followed orders. Whatever happened from here was of little consequence. The Federation was safe. Slowly she began to project anger though, hoping perhaps to instill a bit of last minute parenting in this child of a first officer.::
Azorian: And what would you have done? Huh?
::She smiled slightly and continued,::
Azorian: Open up trade negotiations with a few figureheads while what was left of the Romulan military ran headless through Federation territory, just so you could sleep at night with a clean conscience? Because hey, at least you followed the rules, right? You were just the victim. You looked through a straw at the situation in the Romulan Star Empire and all you saw was an exploding star and a few billion refugees. You didn't see what they were doing to their own people. You didn't see them manipulate billions of subjects, and turn them into true believers in a fake ideology. You didn't see the build-ups, the mass recruitment efforts, the subtle nods from public officials endorsing deployments of resources who didn't even know why they were there because they'd been so misinformed. Christ, you didn't even see Reikara until we pointed it out to you! You didn't see the big picture, and you still have no goddam clue what becomes necessary once you do see it.
::Meeting the fire of this woman's fury with her own, Kali's nostrils flared.::
Nicholotti: Then your picture is skewed. ::Looking back to the Admiral.:: Perhaps you didn't hear me the first time. I am here to accept your resignations. Now.
::At this insistence, Murlow stood in an attempt to intimidate her with his height and size. She could feel the officers behind her brace themselves for whatever was coming.::
Murlow: I will have your commission for this, Nicholotti!
::He spat her name with a force that matched his growing anger. But in spite of the man's attempts to force her to back down, Kali stood her ground with the same calm determination and show of force she had when they'd arrived.::
Nicholotti: No, Admiral. I will have yours.
::The orders were already in Nicholotti's hands. Starfleet command was willing to let him and Jennifer resign and fade into the annals of Black Tower history, but if they chose not to cooperate, she was to force the issue. There were only two options now: They could resign, or they could resist, in which case they would be arrested. Kali gestured to Katy.::
Nicholotti: You have five minutes to start drawing up your resignations, both of you, or Lieutenant Orman will be taking you both to the Brig.
::Katy, who stood just behind the captain in her hazard suit, nodded, allowing the tiniest flicker of a smile to touch the corner of her mouth. She would, that touch of expression said, follow such orders with a measure of enthusiasm.::
::At this, the woman on the other side of the desk sneered.::
Azorian: You're simply the administrator of a starbase. You could be replaced in a heartbeat.
::Kali snapped back.::
Nicholotti: And you are simply a cancer on the entirety of the Federation and everything it stands for. ::She glared at them both.:: You put thousands of people's lives at stake for your little game. Now that game is over.
::Idealists had been at the root of the problem Starfleet had been trying to solve when they'd deployed Jennifer in the first place all those years ago. True believers would chase their dreams down to the bottom of hell if they had to.::
Sahmson: Hi, Jennifer.
::She looked over when she heard the familiar voice. The asset stood there looking much the same as he had back in San Francisco and then in Burns Lake. There was an air of uncertainty in his eyes, a need for something he couldn't name but whose nature Jennifer could place in seconds. Maternal direction.::
Azorian: Hello, Sahmson.
Sahmson: I was wrong. And so were you.
::His lips seemed to quiver slightly. This was actually difficult for him. He'd endured every form of interrogation SFI could muster, every type of psychological manipulation. But the rejection of a mother figure was worse than all of those. That had been why she'd insisted that exploitation of family ties be left out of his training. A man as great and talented as Sahmson was would need to be cursed with an Achilles heel somewhere.::
::Jennifer's face was imposing, the way a huge statue staring down at a child was imposing. Sahmson could feel brimming within him so many possible things he might say. 'I'm sorry' 'I quit.' 'I hate you.' 'I hate what you did to me.' They were all wrong, like so many directions to step off of a narrow path in the dark, thousands of meters above the ground. So he chose one.::
Sahmson: Jennifer, I'm not who you think I am.
Azorian: And who do you think you are, Sahmson? Hm?
::A thin smile crept across her face as she cocked her head.::
Azorian: What are you now? A reformed sinner? A child? An old man?
::Sahmson could feel himself grow cold and ashamed. He breathed a little harder. Beneath him he could still feel the ground. He was still Sahmson.::
Sahmson: I'm Sahmson.
::His voice shook as he saw again the haunting image, someone dialing -- no, tracing her fingers -- along a labyrinthine shape -- his shape. Her yellow eyes studied it, trying to find in it hope. The shape was desperation and it was salvation, all grafted onto Rinanovian flesh, standing erect and branching through the generations of Rinanov's centuries-old resurrection, before the lights and the gray skies. Before mother and Sahmson.::
Sahmson: I survived the conquest of my people.
::He heard himself speaking the words not so much as though they were his but more like he was observing someone else.::
Sahmson: I lost my mother and now I don't even remember her face anymore. I cried for her enough. I.... ::his voice quivered.:: died for her enough. And.. And...
::Jennifer put one hand on her hip and watched the man trying to show off his newfound freedom.::
Sahmson: I've... already confessed.
::Of course he had. But it was too late for that to matter now.::
Sahmson: You need to resign. And so do I.
::Kaedyn Zehn stood at the back of the small group of officers, he had received a brief update from Lt Commander Taylor but had not been involved in the investigation of the two corrupt intelligence officers. As Nicholotti's new intelligence officer he had a place there but he resolved to stay quiet and simply observe the remarkable situation of a Starfleet Admiral being forced to step down.::
::The interaction between the man who had revealed the plot and the woman on the other side of the desk was short. Some might have even called it sweet. Yet Kali was busy glaring at the man who was still standing his full height with an angry scowl on his face. She could see him running through the options in his mind as the officers behind and beside her did some posturing of their own. Kali had made sure there would be little trouble should he decide that resigning was something he didn't want to do, so after a moment it was no surprise to her when he sank begrudgingly into the chair.::
::Without a word, the Admiral began tapping something into the console on his desk, and when he was finished, he transferred it to a padd. Kali and the others in the room remained silent as he did so, even the woman next to him whose eyes burned into the team that stood waiting to remove the man from his place of authority.::
::Standing, Murlow walked out from behind the desk, padd in hand. He approached Kali, still standing his full height in the most intimidating manner he could muster.::
Murlow: You have no idea what you've done. There are objects in motion that you have no prayer against. We might have been your last hope, but you've made sure we are gone.
::He hissed, not so much spoke, the words. Kali did not flinch at his decidedly serpentine observation. She didn't acknowledge the statement either as she looked over the padd and then up to the woman still on the other side of the desk who followed the Admiral in the process of drawing up her resignation. Soon, Kali had two padds in hand with the required information on each. It was only then that she smiled at both of the officers.::
Nicholotti: You will be escorted to the USS Cavalier to return to Earth. They are already waiting for you.
::That was all there was to say. Kali nodded to Katy and her team and led the way out of the office and through the Black Tower. It would be the last time Admiral Murlow would see the place, much less come anywhere near it. Starfleet Command would see to that.::
::Once the captain and the others had gone from the room, Katy turned towards two of her people and spoke quietly.::
Orman: Samms, Newman, take Sahmson, follow Taylor. She'll know what to do.
::Or at least Katy hoped she would. It had been awhile since they'd spoken about it, but the Lt. Commander had seemed to be on board with Katy's intentions for Sahmson's freedom, and she had the connections to make it happen. She turned her attention back to the traitorous monsters in front of her, then spoke to the rest of her people.::
Orman: Scan them for weapons, explosives, chemicals, biologicals, and known inert precursors to dangerous compounds. Then we escort them. ::She gave a mocking nod of faux-respect to the former officers.:: We don't want our guests to get lost along the way. The trip down to the docking bays is a long one.
::She smiled wickedly as they began to carry out their orders.::
::Sahmson watched as Jennifer broke eye contact with him. She was typing now, her graceful fingers gently tap-tapping the padd in front of her. Her face held a look of calm acceptance, like this was the normal course of things. When she looked up at Sahmson again she did so coldly, as though studying him. He thought that for a moment he saw her brows raise slightly, as though she had finally realized something. Both were leaving Starfleet, Jennifer losing her career, Sahmson abandoning an institution.
He turned slowly and walked away. They walked together through the corridor in silence, until he and the others began to hear the footfalls of the people throughout the Starbase walking in all directions.::
Commander Kalianna Nicholotti
Starbase 118 / USS Victory
Lieutenant Katy Orman
Chief of Security
Starbase 118 / USS Victory
Lieutenant Kaedyn Zehn
SB118 / USS Victory
PNPC Lt. Sahmson
Former Security Officer
as simmed by Lt. Commander Kevin Breeman