Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: WAYSTATION
“The Rebuttal Period”
By Alan Decker
As the last note faded from the air, Federation President Bradley Dillon turned to his companion. “Well?”
“I have to admit that was…very good,” the holographic entity known simply as “The Doctor” replied (Just to be clear, this “The Doctor” was the former Emergency Medical Hologram from the USS Voyager and not a 900+ year old Time Lord from Gallifrey. Thank you. Moving on…).
“Good? Z’haana Draal’s Mimi is definitive!”
“Yes, but it’s still ‘La boheme.’”
Bradley laughed. “Point taken. Next time, you can pick the performance.”
“I’ll find something appropriate, but I doubt anything in my home can match the acoustics you have here,” the Doctor said, rising from his seat in the large leather recliner across from Bradley. The two recliners, a bar, and a replicator were the only furnishings in the space actually. The rest of the room was empty, which was by design. Bradley had brought in the foremost experts in acoustics and sonic reproduction from around the quadrant to ensure that his “Music Room” was absolutely unparalleled. Hidden speakers had been perfectly focused and placed in the walls, which were covered in a special tile developed by Dillon Enterprises. The tile was currently selling well to concert halls, theaters, and the like, but Bradley had it first. There were some perks to being the CEO.
“You are more than welcome to come back here anytime,” Bradley said, standing with his guest. “You bring the recording; I’ll provide the listening space.” Really the offer went without saying, though. In the month since he had first become acquainted with the Doctor, Bradley had hosted the holographic entity on Waystation four times. He found the Doctor to be an entertaining conversationalist as well as a man of excellent taste (Although, Bradley wished those tastes extended to the pleasures of food and drink. Perhaps he would have Dillon Enterprises R&D look into the problem.). More importantly, though, the Doctor was a veritable fountain of information on Kathryn Janeway. Bradley had never been so crass and obvious as to ask the Doctor anything directly about his former captain, but, considering that he’d spent a large portion of his existence on Voyager, the Doctor’s conversation tended to naturally end up in that arena.
“But are you sure that you have to go so soon?” Bradley continued.
“I’m afraid I must. Besides I believe that you have long journey to Earth and a debate to prepare for.”
“That I do. I would offer you a ride back, but…”
“I understand. You want to keep our friendship out of the campaign. I honestly haven’t spoken to Admiral Janeway about it, not that it would be an issue, I’m sure. She would never try to dictate who my friends are.”
“Of course not,” Bradley said as they exited the Music Room out into the corridor of Bradley’s private quarters.
“But she can be a bit…moody when things aren’t going her way. She once practically locked herself in her quarters for several days when the enormity of the challenge of getting Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant was threatening to overwhelm her.”
“Understandable under the circumstances,” Bradley said.
“I suppose,” the Doctor replied, more than a hint of disapproval evident in his voice. “There are other ways to handle issues like that, though. Especially considering she had a doctor on board programmed with a wide range of psychological knowledge. But enough of that. I have to get to my transport. Good luck in the debate, Bradley. You’ll excuse me if I don’t choose sides, though. I will get no enjoyment from watching two of my friends verbally fillet each other.”
“I’m sure it will be very civilized,” Bradley said. “From what I’ve gathered from you, your former captain is a woman of high character.”
“That she is,” the Doctor said, stepping into a turbolift. “Until we meet again, adieu.”
“And to you,” Bradley said with a slight bow before the turbolift doors closed. Bradley waited several moments, just to make sure his guest was truly gone, took a second turbolift car down a level, then wound his way through several hallways until he reached his destination: one of the five small special projects labs he maintained in the Dillon Enterprises complex.
“Did you get it?” Bradley snapped as he strode into the lab.
The room’s one occupant, a Rigellan male who was hunched over a console, stood up to his full height (which was close to two meters, so his head was nearly brushing the ceiling) and turned to Bradley beaming. “There he is!” he said far too warmly for Bradley’s tastes as he rushed over to Bradley and grabbed his hand for an enthusiastic shake. “The big man, the head guy, El Presidente!”
“Doctor Fouklok, please!” Bradley said, snatching his hand away.
“You have wonderful skin. Do you moisturize?”
“Daily. Did you get it?”
“What do you use?”
“Yes. I got it. Now you’ve got to tell me how you get your hands to be that smooth. And soft. I could upholster a sofa with that skin…not that I would because…well…that’d be kind of gross. So what do you use?”
“I’ll have Gisele send you a case of the stuff if you’ve pulled this off,” Bradley said, pushing past Fouklok on his way to the console the Rigellan had been working at when Bradley arrived. “This was our last chance. I have to be on a ship for Earth within the hour.”
“Relax. We’re fine,” Fouklok replied.
“That’s what you said on each of the Doctor’s prior visits.”
“I needed that time to get the parameters of his program and to figure out what I was up against. The relay we mounted under his chair did just what we wanted.”
“Excellent,” Bradley said, watching the data scroll by on the screen. “But we did not reproduce him, correct?”
“No. That’s why I needed the earlier scans. We were able to separate his personality routines from his basic data storage systems and just copied the information you requested. We now know everything he knows. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do this with people? I mean Vulcans have the whole katra thing, but this is different. The person is gone, but the knowledge remains. And you don’t have to do any of that creepy talking to a dead guy to get it.”
“I need this downloaded into a padd,” Bradley said, ignoring Fouklok’s rambling and typing a clearance code into the console to allow the data to be downloaded out of the secure Dillon Enterprises system.
“Sure thing. But do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“What?” Bradley said, making little effort to hide his exasperation.
“If this was all you wanted, why didn’t you just get the Voyager logs? Surely most of this information is in there.”
“Yes, but they’re still classified. Even the Doctor’s memoir went through several rounds of vetting before it was allowed to be published. As President, I could request the logs, but that would be seen as abusing my office to get an advantage against my opponent. This way, I am using my private resources. Also, logs can be altered, scrubbed, and you never know if the person recording is giving all of the information. I would prefer an unedited perspective, which the Doctor’s databanks will provide.”
“Oh. I guess that makes sense,” Fouklok said, handing Bradley the padd he’d requested.
“I’m glad you think so. I appreciate your assistance, Doctor Fouklok,” Bradley said before turning to go.
“Wait. You want to grab some lunch?”
“Another time. I’ll have Gisele provide you with some gift cards to the Double D Diner, though.”
“Hey! That’s great! Thanks!”
“You’re very welcome.” Bradley ignored the ensuing monologue detailing what Fouklok planned to order for lunch and fled the lab (without looking like he was fleeing, of course). While concentrating on his speedy exit and his desire to dig into the latinum pool of information waiting for him on the padd, he almost ran into Ensign Tina Jones, who was waiting for him out in the corridor.
“Tina!” Bradley exclaimed surprised before quickly getting himself back under control. “Of course I mean, Ensign,” he said more calmly. “To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”
“Gisele said I might be able to find you here.”
“And so you did,” Bradley replied, making a mental note to have a word with his assistant. As much as he enjoyed Jones’s presence, now really wasn’t a good time. Her opinion of him would no doubt be diminished if she’d walked into the lab just a few moments earlier. “What can I do for you?”
“Um…I’m guessing you’re going to be leaving for Earth soon.”
“I’m actually due to depart within the hour.”
“Well, I was hoping that…I mean, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like…to come with you.”
Bradley stared at her for a few moments without realizing he was doing so.
Jones turned away. “I’m sorry. It was just an idea. I didn’t…”
“No,” Bradley said quickly, placing his hand on her arm. “I would be honored if you would accompany me. It just…wasn’t what I was expecting. Are you sure want to do this? And that Captain Beck would approve of you being away for so long? Earth isn’t exactly right around the corner.”
“I have plenty of leave saved up. It’s not like I take a lot of vacations,” Jones said. “Besides, after what happened before the last debate, I want to make sure that you actually get to this one,” she added with a slight smile.
“Then it’s settled,” Bradley said.
“I’ll go grab my stuff,” Jones said excitedly then dashed toward the nearest turbolift.
Now that was an interesting turn of events, Bradley thought. But as pleased as he was that Jones wanted to join him, he knew that he couldn’t let her become a distraction. As it was, the delays in getting the information from the Doctor’s program had cut Bradley’s preparation time for the debate shorter than he would have liked, but at least he now had the data in hand. If the people of the Federation wanted to elect Kathryn Janeway their leader, he was going to show them exactly what kind of leader they were going to get.
TEN DAYS LATER -
Bradley hadn’t spent a lot of time with her during the trip to Earth, not that Ensign Jones expected him to. He was running behind Janeway in the polls, so this debate was crucial for him. Jones couldn’t help feeling a certain amount of guilt about that situation. She wasn’t egotistical enough to believe that she’d changed the course of the election, but she also knew that Bradley missed the first debate scheduled between the presidential candidates (the serious ones, at any rate. Nobody cared what that quack from the Path of Khan party had to say.) because he returned to Waystation after hearing that Jones had disappeared. And to top that, he’d ended up rescuing her from her psychotic secret admirer.
Jones couldn’t begin to guess how she could repay Bradley for that, not that he ever remotely implied that he wanted repayment in any way. After the whole kidnapping thing, Lieutenant Commander Craig Porter told Jones that he actually suspected Bradley was her secret admirer until the truth was discovered. Commander Morales had been ready to toss Bradley in the brig as soon as Porter presented the idea to the command crew.
It wasn’t Bradley, though, and honestly Jones didn’t know how she would have reacted if it was. The idea had never even crossed her mind. Bradley Dillon did not seem to be the sort of man who would resort to sending anonymous gifts. If he had an interest in someone romantically, Jones imagined that he would be rather forward in his efforts to sweep whoever it was off of her feet. He was a multi-billionaire. He could do a hell of a lot better than a bouquet of flowers and some old car.
But then there was the rescue. He came alone, risking his life, to save her. It may not have been intended as a romantic gesture (even though in Jones’s mind it certainly qualified as romantic), but it meant a lot all the same. And now she hoped that in some small way her attending the debate and supporting him would show her gratitude.
She wasn’t sure how that plan was going, though. While Bradley would have dinner with her in the evenings during the trip, for the most part he had been sequestered in his study with his campaign manager, Donna Lymon. He was friendly enough during their meals together (which is more than could be said for Donna Lymon. She never missed an opportunity to shoot a dirty look at Jones when they passed each other in the corridors of Bradley’s yacht.), and their conversations were always engaging. Still they never approached anything resembling depth. Jones couldn’t say why exactly, since Bradley was as warm and charming as ever, but she just had this feeling that Bradley’s mind was really focused elsewhere. Considering the importance of this, the last debate, though, she couldn’t blame him.
So now, with several hours still to go until the start of said debate, she sat by herself in the auditorium of Kathryn Janeway High School in Bloomington, Indiana as preparations for the event continued on the stage in front of her and reporters from the various news outlets staked out their positions. Bradley was somewhere doing final preparations of his own with Donna Lymon. There wasn’t anything Jones could do to help and no one else she really know, so Jones just sat.
A bit of movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention, though she quickly wished it hadn’t. AWN News reporter Joan Redding was heading right toward her. Despite being a familiar face, Redding was not someone Jones had any urge to hang out with at the moment…or ever really. The two hadn’t ever been exactly cordial. That situation stretched back almost 5 years to shortly after Redding’s arrival on the station when she decided to take Hypple, Jones’s Multek assistant, back to Multos to get an exclusive, despite the fact that the Multek Enclave as a whole wasn’t yet aware that other life in the universe existed. Jones managed to stop Redding. She also punched Redding out, something that she wasn’t exactly proud of. Okay, she was, but she knew that she shouldn’t be. Ever since then, they’d generally maintained a professional distance from each other, only interacting when necessary.
Bugging Jones here definitely did not qualify as necessary.
Unless Redding was going to ask about…
“So word is that you arrived with the President,” Redding said, perching herself on the chair beside Jones. “Care to comment on your relationship?”
Yep. That’s what she was asking about.
“Bradley and I…” Jones stopped herself. You used his first name? Real good, Jones. Try again. “The President and I are friends. I’m just here for the debate.”
“So no canoodling on Fed Force One?”
“No. And we didn’t come in Fed Force One.”
“Why? Were you interrupted in the middle of things?”
It took Jones several seconds of confusion to figure out what Redding was hinting at. Or not hinting really.
“Not that kind of come!” Jones shouted…way too loudly judging by the fact that everyone in the auditorium was now staring at her. “Our relationship is strictly plutoic,” Jones hissed.
“Platonic,” Redding corrected.
“But you are friends. That’s no secret,” Redding said as the rest of the room’s occupants, seeing that there was no more excitement forthcoming, returned to their regularly-scheduled activities.
“I already said that we were.”
“Then maybe you can help me with something.”
“I’m not going behind Bradley’s back to a reporter.”
“I’m not asking you to…if you don’t want to. But there are people who believe that the voters have a right to know what the candidates are hiding before we hand them the reins of power, and right now Bradley Dillon is hiding a very big secret.”
“We’re not that close,” Jones said. “He wouldn’t tell me his secrets.”
“So you have no idea why he missed the first debate?”
Jones almost reflexively said no, but then stopped herself. Suddenly she knew what she could do for Bradley. No one understood why he’d skipped the first debate with Janeway, and Bradley probably didn’t want to look like he was making excuses by telling the story himself. But there was no reason Jones could think of why she couldn’t talk about it.
So, rather than saying no, Jones instead asked, “Where’s your cameraman?”
Some distance away, in one of the high school classrooms that had been set aside as a dressing room/waiting area, Bradley Dillon and Donna Lymon sat reviewing the notes downloaded from the Doctor’s program yet one more time.
“You’re sure you’ve got it all?” Lymon asked.
“By this point, I feel like I was trapped on the damn ship with them,” Bradley replied.
“Because we don’t know what you’re going to be asked about. If you’re going to be able to use this information, you have to…”
“I know what I have to do,” Bradley said, tossing the padd aside as he leapt from his chair and began to pace. “I just want to get on with it.”
“So does Janeway, I’m sure. We couldn’t have given her any more of a home field advantage if we’d had the debate in her living room.”
“It won’t matter,” Bradley said distractedly.
“Tell that to the audience of rabid Janeway supporters that’s sure to be out in that auditorium. And if you don’t think that their responses are going to have some effect on the people watching across the Federation, you’re crazy.”
“I assure you that I’m not crazy,” Bradley said. “I’m…” He trailed off as his attention was grabbed by the image on the holovision that had been set up on the teacher’s desk for their convenience. “What are they doing?”
“Who?” Lymon said, turning to the holovision. “An AWN exclusive? Who are they interviewing? No. No no. It’s Janeway. She gave them a pre-debate exclusive to… Hey! That’s…”
“Tina,” Bradley finished as Lymon rushed over and turned up the volume.
“What the hell is she doing?” Lymon asked.
“…I am a security officer on Waystation, a Federation outpost in Sector 41.25. That’s out near the Beta Quadrant,” Jones was explaining.
“Waystation is also the home of Federation President Bradley Dillon,” Joan Redding said.
“And you and the president are friends.”
“Yes. We’ve known each other for a long time…ever since he moved to Waystation.”
“So he told you then why he missed the first debate.”
“No,” Jones said. Bradley could see Redding blanch, but he knew what was coming next.
“I was the reason he missed the first debate,” Jones continued. “On the day of the debate, I was…kidnapped by an alien being. Bradley was the one who found and rescued me.”
“He rescued you?”
“Yes,” Jones said firmly. “And he had to fight a robot to do it. Well, it was the alien in a robot suit, but it was still really dangerous.”
“Yes! Ask any of the Waystation command crew, and they’ll tell you what happened. Bradley turned his ship around as soon as he heard that I was missing. He came back, and he saved me, even though it meant missing the debate.”
“If this is true, why didn’t he tell anyone?”
“Because it wasn’t any of their business,” Bradley said softly.
“You’d have to ask him,” Jones said. “But I think it’s because he didn’t want me to think he was using me for his campaign. Bradley, if you’re watching, I don’t think that. And in front of everybody, I want to say thank you. I don’t know what would have happened to me if you hadn’t gotten there. I’m always going to remember what you did for me.”
“There you have it, ladies and gentlemen,” Redding said. “According to Starfleet Officer Tina Jones, President Dillon missed the first debate because he was off being a hero. AWN will be working to confirm the details of Ensign Jones’s story as the evening progresses, but, if true, it certainly puts those events into a new light. This has been Joan Redding with an AWN exclusive, and we’ll see you back here for the start of the debate.”
Bradley and Lymon were silent for several moments as AWN went back to their regular programming until…
“HA!” Lymon exclaimed.
“What are you screeching about?” Bradley snapped in irritation.
“That’s called cheering, Mister President. Your friend may have just saved this campaign.”
“I didn’t want her to do that.”
“Too bad. She did. I’m going to have to fight the urge to kiss her next time I see her.”
“I need to talk to her,” Bradley said, heading for the door.
“No, you don’t,” Lymon said, grabbing Bradley’s arm. “You can’t be seen with her yet. Let what she said settle in with the voters. Right now you’ve got one job. Destroy Janeway. We’ve worked too hard on this for you to get distracted now.”
“…was trying to help you. Don’t blow it.”
“I will not blow it if I talk to her.”
“Dammit, Bradley! Listen to me!”
“How dare you raise your voice to me!”
“It seems to be the only thing that gets through to you,” Lymon shot back. “Now are you going to do what I say and let me manage this campaign, or am I walking out of here?”
Bradley’s scowl deepened, but he said nothing. Instead, he scooped the padd back up as he sat back in his chair.
“Thank you,” Lymon said, taking the seat opposite him. “Look on the bright side. You can pretend that Janeway is me and take it out on her during the debate.”
“Physical violence against your opponent is generally frowned upon,” Bradley replied darkly.
“I guess Janeway and I should both be grateful for that,” Lymon said. “Let’s go over this one more time.”
Joan Redding may have gotten her exclusive scoop before the debate, but the debate itself was time for the big dogs to play. Redding and AWN hadn’t quite reached that level, which was why August reporter Sokaw of the Federation News Network was moderating the evening’s debate. The Vulcan had been anchoring evening news broadcasts on FNN since the days of James T. Kirk and showed no signs of retiring any time soon. He was a statesman of journalism with a deep voice that projected authority and intelligence.
Redding hated him with every fiber of her being. But there was nothing for her to do but watch as he began the evening’s event.
“Good evening and welcome to the second scheduled Presidential debate between the Republicrat nominee, Admiral Kathryn Janeway, formerly of Starfleet, and the Federation Party nominee and incumbent, President Bradley Dillon.”
On cue, Bradley and Janeway entered from opposite sides of the stage, shook hands in the center, then moved to their respective podiums to the sound of applause filling the auditorium. As the din subsided, Sokaw continued, “While this is the second scheduled debate, tonight’s event is the first to actually occur, so we will have a great deal of ground to cover. I will moderate tonight’s debate following rules worked out by representatives of the candidates. Each candidate will have a two-minute opening statement. I will then ask a series of questions, all of them chosen by me alone. I have told no one what the subjects or the questions will be. For each question, candidates will be given a two-minute period in which to respond. Does either candidate have any questions about the format before we begin?”
“I do not,” Bradley said.
“No,” Janeway said. “But I do want to thank you, Mister Sokaw, for agreeing to moderate these debates. I’m sure President Dillon feels the same.”
Bradley nodded, making a mental note to grab the next opportunity to spontaneously thank someone that arose. While Sokaw couldn’t care less about Janeway’s platitudes, the voters would add considerate to Janeway’s lists of admirable (no pun intended) traits.
Sokaw nodded as well, acknowledging Janeway’s remarks, then continued on, “Admiral Janeway, as the challenger, you will make your opening statement first.”
“Thank you,” Janeway said. “First off, let me say what an honor and a pleasure it is to be here, back in my hometown and my alma mater, for this debate. The people of Bloomington have given me the warmest of receptions, and I am grateful to you all for your kindness and hospitality. My crew and I found that those two concepts were in short supply in the Delta Quadrant as we made our 70,000 light year journey home. And while I already knew what it meant to command, my time on Voyager taught me what it truly meant to lead. Leadership cannot be learned in the classroom; it must come from experience. Now that I have returned to my home in the Alpha Quadrant, I wish to put my experience to work for the people of the United Federation of Planets. Like the Delta Quadrant, our own backyard can be a place lacking in kindness and hospitality. The Federation, however, is a beacon of those traits as well as many others. We must work together to expand the reach of our beacon and to show those who might wish us ill the force for good in the universe we represent while at the same time reminding them in no uncertain terms that we possess the power and the will to oppose them should they attempt to do us or those we protect harm. Thank you.”
Janeway’s brief opening was met with thunderous applause, which didn’t surprise Bradley in the slightest. It was her home crowd after all. He smiled graciously as the audience showed their delight at her comments, all the while reviewing his strategy. She’d done exactly what he’d expected. Brief remarks designed to make him look like a speechifying blowhard if he went on and on. Sticking to Voyager to emphasize her hero credentials. And not a real issue in the lot. That was fine. The issues would come during the questioning.
“Mister President,” Sokaw said, turning to Bradley. “Your opening statement.”
“Thank you, Sokaw. Ladies, gentlemen, and multi or differently gendered beings of the Federation, my esteemed opponent and I come to you tonight from a bastion of education, a site where young minds are molded and prepared before they move on to face the forge of adulthood. As my opponent has noted, she has been through one of the fiercest forges any of us could imagine where she was thrust into a situation well beyond any that her prior career in Starfleet had prepared her for. Four years ago I too was thrust into a strange and daunting situation, but with the utmost confidence and desire to serve, I took the reins of the United Federation of Planets and did my utmost to guide her through the length of my term. We have had four years of relative peace, highlighted by improving relations with the Romulan Empire and the beginnings of a new Federation-friendly regime on Cardassia. Peace has led to prosperity, with new trade routes and markets opening at a rapid clip. And with prosperity has come a better life for our citizens, allowing us to continue to move forward in the areas of science and exploration. But this is not to say that there have not been challenges. We have faced threats from the Romulans and the Collectors. We have endured disease and natural disasters on our member worlds. And we have done so together. It has been my honor to serve you for these last four years, and I am confident that my administration has been a force for positive change. The past four years have been ones of wonderful accomplishments, and I am eager to see what more we can achieve together in the next four. Thank you.”
The resulting applause was enthusiastic. Not at the level Janeway received, but strong all the same. And a few cheers told Bradley that he had some supporters in the crowd. It was a start, and he’d given Janeway her due, which was more than she had done for him. The opening gambits were now complete. It was time for the true match to begin.
The first few questions were soft lobs. Just the warm-ups before the true sparring began. Bradley tried to control his impatience. He wanted to go right in for the kill, but he knew that he needed to keep things gentle at first. Coming out swinging would just make him seem vicious. So he bided his time until…
“…and for our next question, we will begin with Admiral Janeway. One part of Starfleet’s charter is exploration. While no one would say that we should give this up entirely, there are those who feel that the expansion of the Federation that seems to inevitably occur after exploration is damaging to our way of life. Resources are expended to support new members and defend ever-expanding borders. Should we then consider limits to our expansion and reducing the number of new worlds to which we grant membership?”
“That’s an interesting question, Sokaw,” Janeway replied. “On Voyager we certainly dealt with issues rising from limited resources; however, I do not see that as a problem on a Federation-wide scale. New members bring resources of their own as well as new technologies and knowledge that enrich our society as a whole. Yes, there are certainly trade-offs, but I cannot see denying the benefits of the Federation to any world that desires them.”
“Mister President?” Sokaw asked.
“While I agree with my opponent that new members bring benefits as well as providing new trade markets to existing Federation worlds, I would not be quite as free with distributing member status on worlds we have only recently encountered. Membership in the Federation is a great responsibility for our member worlds, but the bestowing the mantle of that membership on others is perhaps an even greater one. The technology alone that we possess could, in the wrong hands, greatly affect an entire world, star system, or even an entire region. We must be very careful to ensure that potential new members are worthy of our trust, for rash decisions can have horrible consequences, as my opponent learned many times on her journey home. One must only look to her experiences with the Vaadwaur to see that. This species had preyed upon its neighbors for centuries before being defeated and put into stasis. Admiral Janeway and her crew revived them without gathering all of the facts about their crimes, setting several of their ships loose on the Delta Quadrant before she discovered the error of her actions. Situations such as this are why we must be vigilant. Imagine if she had gone as far as to give the Vaadwaur advanced Federation technology just as she did with a violent hunter race called the Hirogen. As a result of the technology she gave them, a group of homicidal holograms was released on another section of the Delta Quadrant, resulting in the deaths of several innocent beings. So yes, the Federation is the pinnacle of governments in the known galaxy and, as such, will attract many worlds that will desire membership; however, granting membership status is a grave responsibility which must be undertaken with proper consideration, investigation, and restraint.”
Bradley could see the flash of shock in Janeway’s eyes before she regained her composure. He so wanted to ask, “Something wrong, Admiral?” But, of course, he couldn’t. Time to see if she would be able to respond.
Several more questions passed, and so far Janeway hadn’t shown any sign that she had the ammunition to hit Bradley the way he’d slammed her. Time to press his advantage.
“….Admiral, I cannot help but note that both you and President Dillon are humans, thereby ensuring that the next president of the Federation will be human as well,” Sokaw said. “This is, of course, barring an unforeseen challenge from one of the minor parties. Assuming for the moment, however, that a human will be President and governing from the human homeworld, how will you ensure that your administration addresses the concerns of the diverse population of the Federation?”
“I’m glad you asked that, Sokaw, because I believe diversity was one of the hallmarks of Voyager and is greatly responsible for our successful return to the Alpha Quadrant. From the moment of our arrival in the Delta Quadrant, we were faced with a situation where two crews were going to have to live as one. I brought the Maquis on board and integrated them into my crew. Their diverse backgrounds and often diverging opinions became a vital resource that I could rely on for information and counsel. Along the way, we also brought members of other species into the fold, including a Talaxian, an Ocampa, and a Borg drone that we liberated from the Collective.”
“A human drone,” Sokaw said.
“Yes, but she saw herself as Borg. My point is that I have already led a diverse populace and welcome the opportunity to do so again. I have no doubt that the members of my cabinet will show a great deal of diversity as I choose the best and brightest from across the quadrant to join me in forging a bold new direction for our citizens.”
“Before I respond to the question, one comment,” Bradley said. “Considering that our path for the last four years has been one of peace and prosperity, I have to ask just what this bold new direction Admiral Janeway intends to send us down is?”
Bradley’s comment elicited a fair amount of chuckles and some applause from the audience.
“That was not the question, though,” he continued. “As you no doubt are aware, Mister Sokaw, my cabinet already contains a great deal of diversity, starting with my Vice President, Heran Roloi, from Betazed and moving through the other posts including the head of Starfleet, Fleet Admiral Nosira Ra’al from Hinaree.”
In the audience, Ra’al flinched. Bradley had just used her to bolster his own side. How dare he!
“In fact, I believe that you will find only two other humans in the upper echelons of my cabinet,” Bradley said. “Diversity is not an issue for me. I have already chosen the best beings for the jobs, and I stand by those decisions, as I am sure Admiral Janeway stands by the decisions she made about Voyager’s command structure while in the Delta Quadrant. She placed several members of the Maquis in key positions, including Helm, Chief Engineer, and even First Officer. Fortunately only one, the Cardassian spy Seska, was disloyal to Janeway and tried to destroy Voyager; otherwise, with half of the command crew not from Starfleet, the Admiral could have very easily lost her ship. But the Admiral chose the best people. Her First Officer, Chakotay, went so far as to stop her from committing the cold-blooded murder of a Starfleet Officer, Crewman Noah Lessing of the Starship Equinox, even though it meant Janeway briefly removed him from duty.”
The flash of shock lasted a bit longer this time. Bradley worried that he may have pushed a little too hard with the “cold- blooded murder” remark, but with any luck she was too staggered to realize that she had the perfect opportunity to object. Sokaw was starting into his next question now, so her chance was gone. Too bad, Admiral.
In a bar in San Francisco, a man winced.
The occupant of the stool next to him, noticing the movement, looked the man over.
“You’re from that Voyager ship, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” the man said.
“Yeah. So you were there. Is what Dillon just said true? Your captain really try to murder another officer?”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Yeah, sure it isn’t,” the man at the next stool said skeptically.
They were silent for a moment.
“You still an ensign?” the man said.
Kim just glared at him.
“Yeah, I thought so.”
“….I would be remiss in my duties as moderator if I did not bring up what is perhaps the greatest threat facing our way of life, and that is the Borg. Admiral Janeway, you have faced the Borg many times in your career, so I will start with you. If elected, how would you further prepare the Federation to deal with the Collective?”
“Let me start by saying that I’m not certain there is a Collective left to deal with,” Janeway replied. “After Voyager’s last encounter with the Borg, we left the Collective in ruins and quite possibly destroyed them altogether. However, I am not so arrogant as to assume the Borg are gone completely. My experiences with the Collective have taught me to never underestimate their abilities. Therefore, one of my first actions as President would be to appoint Annika Hansen, or Seven of Nine as we know her, as my Special Adviser on the Borg. From there, we would strive to ensure that all of the data on the Collective gathered during Voyager’s journey home was disseminated to the appropriate Starfleet personnel, so that counter-measures can be developed. The Collective is not invincible, and I am certain that we have the information we need to keep the Federation safe from assimilation.”
“I appreciate how you phrased this question, Sokaw. You said further prepare, which is really the accurate situation. The Federation has been preparing for an eventual Borg incursion for years now. My predecessors in the office of President started this process, and I have continued it because, despite the damage Admiral Janeway caused to the Collective, we cannot assume that the threat has passed. From the moment of Voyager’s return home, the information it had gathered was indeed disseminated to the foremost experts in the Federation. In the Federation, mind you. Not just Starfleet. And we have added that knowledge to our pool of information. Believe it or not, ships other than Voyager have encountered the Borg. While Admiral Janeway was away, the Borg did attempt to assimilate Earth, an attempt that failed due to the efforts of Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise. Federation policy continues to state that we will search for any and all methods by which we can either destroy the Collective or prevent its unrelenting assault on the worlds of the galaxy. Admiral Janeway herself encountered several promising offensive weapons against the Borg. The beings known by the Borg as Species 8472 showed themselves to be resistant to Borg nanoprobes…at least until the Admiral gave the Borg a way to alter their nanoprobes to work against 8472 in exchange for safe passage through BorgSpace. Of course, this turned 8472 against us, and the Borg attempted to assimilate Voyager anyway. In later encounters, Voyager discovered a species that had developed a virus designed to infect Borg vinculums and another that had developed anti-Borg pathogens. While her contact with the species in question did involve interfering with said species’ efforts to damage the Borg, we do appreciate the information Voyager brought back and are actively pursuing all avenues that have been presented to us.”
Janeway nodded and forced a smile in acknowledgment of the compliment, backhanded as it was. What else could she do? Any other response would just seem defensive.
After a few more questions, the debate was drawing to a close. Janeway had held it together, but the smiles that came so easily at the beginning of the debate were gone. She’d stumbled over her answer in the last question on economic growth as well. Focusing too hard on her response, Bradley knew. Rookie mistake, but easy enough to do when you’re rattled.
And Janeway, whether she was showing it on her face or not, was indeed rattled.
“We are coming to the end of our allotted time,” Sokow said, “so I will ask each of the candidates to make their closing statements. Again, please observe the two minute time limit in your statements. Admiral Janeway, we will begin with you.”
Here we go. Time to see if Janeway had it in her to recover from what she just endured and sent a coherent message to the voters.
“Thank you,” Janeway said, before taking a long pause. “A lot of people have asked me why I decided to enter this race. To be honest, I’ve asked myself the same question. But in the years since I returned from the Delta Quadrant, I’ve seen a Federation greatly in need of a change of direction, and I believe that I can provide that change. I…” Janeway stopped and shook her head. “There’s a lot of things that I’m supposed to say here. Platitudes I’m supposed to offer, but after what’s happened here tonight I can’t do that. I won’t stand by while my accomplishments are attacked by this…man.” She turned toward Bradley. “You have no idea what we went through in the Delta Quadrant! You’ve never had to face a real life-or-death decision! The Federation is a toy to you! The whole timeline is a toy to you! Or do you expect people to forget that you ran off for a year and ended up in the 21st century? I did not stand for having my actions questioned by my crew and I certainly won’t listen to it from the likes of you! I brought my ship home! I defeated the Borg! And now I’m stuck behind a desk spouting exposition! People should be spouting exposition to me! Meanwhile, what have you done? Found new ways to increase your company’s profits and broken the Temporal Prime Directive! What the Federation needs now is real leadership. Not to be herded toward oblivion by a man out for nothing but his own personal gain! On Election Day, the voters will show you what leadership means, Mister Dillon. They will throw out your illegitimate presidency and put in someone with true command experience: ME!” Janeway caught herself before she could scream any more. Then, after two deeps breaths, ended with an almost muttered, “Thank you, and I appreciate your support.”
Sokow looked down his nose at the Admiral for a few moments, leading Bradley to once again note that Vulcans, despite their insistence that they did not show emotions, sure had disdain down to a science. “President Dillon,” Sokow said finally.
Bradley stepped out from behind his podium, a breach of protocol to be sure, but it made it easier to woo the audience. “Thank you, Mister Moderator. And I would like to thank you all for your attention this evening. Debates as part of the political process go back literally thousands of years, and it is through this format that you, the voters, truly get to see what we stand for and, perhaps more importantly, get to know who we are. I would also like to thank my opponent, Kathryn Janeway, for a hard-fought and lively exchange this evening. But I must once again ask her what this change of direction is that she feels we so desperately need. Think back over the last four years and ask yourself, ‘Has my life gotten worse?’ For some of you, it undoubtedly has. I’m not so much of an idealist as to believe that I can be all things to all people. However, I do believe that I have done my best for the citizens of the United Federation of Planets. I was not going to discuss my trip to the past at the Directors’ behest, but since my opponent has brought it up, I will address her remarks. I do not count myself as a hero, but what happened very likely saved us all from an incursion by the Critics. Was there a Temporal Prime Directive violation? Probably. But considering what was at stake, I stand by my actions. I have no doubt that my opponent would have done the same. According to her own logs, a future version of herself came back to Voyager and altered the timeline to save only two of her crewman for personal reasons. And in another instance, she risked giving knowledge of the future to a Romulan commander from decades ago just to get personal messages back to Federation space. We will not dwell on the Temporal Prime Directive implications of that. Instead I wish to close tonight with a discussion of the future: our future. Despite my opponent’s objections, I am proud of the direction we are heading. Internally, we are seeing an unparalleled period of prosperity. Relations with our galactic neighbors are at the most peaceful we have experienced in our lifetimes. What is required now is that we take fullest advantage of the opportunity we have to continue to improve the quality of life within the Federation and beyond. I have had the honor over the past four years to lead our people on this course. To slip into business parlance for a moment, you may not have hired me, but now you, the voters, must determine how you feel about the job I have done. Think about your lives. And then decide if we’re ready for this unknown new direction of which my opponent speaks. Thank you, all.”
It was supposed to be a party. The first of many, Fleet Admiral Nosira Ra’al had assumed. Kathryn Janeway had a reputation as a strong leader and an able speaker. Plus she was in a high school named after her in her own damn home town. How much simpler could this be?
But it hadn’t worked out that way. Maybe that’s what the universe had decided to present Ra’al with for being cocky about Janeway’s prospects.
This was all Bradley Dillon’s fault.
“How did he know so much?” Ra’al muttered as she, Janeway, and Abraham Carter, the chairman of the Republicrat Party sat at one of the tables in the school cafeteria commiserating about the (let’s face it) ass-kicking they’d just endured.
“About what?” Carter asked.
“Voyager,” Ra’al said. “Those logs are classified.”
“He is the Commander-In-Chief,” Janeway said. “If he wanted those logs, he could get them.”
“I’ve had the access monitored. No one has pulled them in months. There were some initial requests from reporters when your candidacy was first announced, but we denied them all and steered them to the records we did release. Wait! We can go after him for revealing classified information!”
“Wouldn’t that make us look petty?” Janeway said.
“Incredibly,” Carter said. “Not that it could hurt us much after what you just pulled.”
“What I pulled?” Janeway said. “I didn’t ‘pull’ anything.”
“You let Dillon get to you.”
“I didn’t appreciate the way he presented some of the events from Voyager. We should release the full logs, so the truth will be out.”
“Trust me. You don’t want to do that,” Ra’al said.
“We don’t need to give the Federation party more ammunition against you. And we still don’t know for sure that the logs are where Dillon got the information in the first place.”
“What about him?” Carter asked, gesturing across the subdued room toward the holographic Doctor. “Word is that he’s become pretty chummy with Dillon.”
“To the point if giving him every detail of every incident of our journey home? I refuse to believe that,” Janeway said.
“I will not.”
“He’s coming over. Ask him,” Carter insisted.
“Congratulations, Admiral,” the Doctor said warmly as he stepped up to the table. “It was a spirited exchange.”
“Thank you, Doctor, but it’s just Kathryn now. And I’m not sure that congratulations are in order.”
“The President did seem to be in rare form tonight. I have to say that I was honestly surprised. He’s never indicated to me that he was that familiar with our experiences on Voyager.”
“He probably wasn’t until he met you,” Carter muttered.
“I don’t like what you are insinuating, sir.”
“And I don’t like betrayal,” Carter shot back. “This woman was your captain. Your friend! And you…”
“That’s enough!” Janeway said. “I’m sure the Doctor wouldn’t do anything to harm my campaign.”
“Thank you, Kathryn,” the Doctor said. “Now it’s true that I have become friends with President Dillon, but I have found him to be a man of great character and charm. Our conversations have mostly centered around music and theater.” He stared pointedly at Carter. “It’s called culture. When my time on Voyager has been discussed, which isn’t often, it is generally in cultural terms. And I can assure you that, despite his position, I have never divulged any classified information. Nor would I.”
“I know, Doctor,” Janeway said.
“Then how did he know so much?” Ra’al asked.
“It doesn’t matter. He beat us, so we move on. What’s our next step, Mister Carter?”
“After your meltdown on live holovision? Damage control,” Carter said, getting up from the table. “But before we start that, I recommend some heavy drinking.” And with that, he headed off to the bar that had been set up against the rear wall of the cafeteria to take his own advice.
High above Indiana, a far more festive occasion was underway in a ballroom in the Earthrise Hotel located on the public docking facility hovering in a geosynchronous orbit above the North American continent. The event planners of the Federation Party had decided to hold its post-debate soiree well away from the site of the actual debate in the belief that they would need a place to sulk far from the taunts and jeers of Janeway’s exuberant supporters.
How quickly things can change.
Now the party planners were scrambling to make sure they had enough food, drinks, servers, and “Dillon for President” paraphernalia to keep their own exuberant supporters satisfied.
One person who was definitely satisfied was Bradley Dillon, standing at the edge of it all surveying the revelry with a glass of champagne in one hand as he shook hands with a constant stream of well-wishers with the other. He spotted Ensign Jones standing a short distance away, smiling as she watched him. Bradley extricated himself from his current conversation and made his way over to her.
“Quite a night,” Jones said.
“That it was. Oh, if I were you, I would keep an eye out for Ms. Lymon. She seems determined to find you,” Bradley said.
“What for?” Jones asked anxiously.
“Something about kissing you. Your statement this afternoon made her very happy, to say the least.”
“I didn’t do it for her.”
“I hope you know that I didn’t want you to do that.”
“I do,” Jones said. “But I wanted to. People should know what really happened.”
“Well, Ms. Lymon believes you may have saved my campaign.”
“I think you pretty much took care of that on your own tonight. If I’d known you were going to beat Janeway so badly I would have saved my announcement until you really needed it,” Jones said with chuckle.
“All the same, I did appreciate the thought behind it. Thank you.”
“It was my pleasure,” Jones said. She looked out at the center of the ballroom where several people were dancing. “So…I know this probably isn’t protocol, but…”
“Mister Dillon!” an urgent voice called from the crowd. Bradley’s assistant, Gisele, suddenly broke through the dancers, rushing over to Bradley and Jones’s position. “Here you are, sir.”
“Yes, I am,” Bradley said. “Is there a problem?”
“Doctor Fouklok is on the comm from Waystation.”
“Fouklok? Is the man insane? Take a message.”
“He says it’s urgent, and he will only speak to you.”
“Very well,” Bradley said with a roll of his eyes before he turned to Jones. “I apologize for this, Tina. I’ll be back in a moment, I’m sure.” Bradley followed Gisele to the exit, his Special Secret Section agents falling into step beside him, and back to his private study on his yacht where his desk monitor indicate that a comm was waiting on hold. He settled into his chair, steeling himself for whatever minor crisis the scientist had inflated to emergency status, then opened the comm channel.
“What is it, Doctor Fouklok?”
“That’s some great hold music you’ve got there,” Fouklok exclaimed. “What is that?”
“I am rather busy, Fouklok. What did you need to speak to me about?”
“There’s a problem with the Doctor data.”
“I already used the data. How could there be a problem? Is it inaccurate?” Bradley didn’t see how that was possible, since Janeway never corrected him, but if he’d just spent the evening spouting wrong information…
“No no. It’s fine. It’s just…we got too much.”
“What do you mean too much?”
“We got him.”
“Him? You copied all of the Doctor?”
“Enough,” Fouklok said. “His program has been recompiling itself in our databanks. I don’t know if the complete personality is there, but there’s definitely some kind of sentient activity going on.”
“How did this happen?” Bradley demanded. “You assured me that we were just copying the Doctor’s knowledge.”
Fouklok shrugged. “This was new stuff, man.” He started laughing. “It’s not an exact science!”
“Sorry, Mister Dillon. I just wanted you to know before the Doctor Junior pops out of a holo-emitter somewhere in the complex.”
“That can’t happen.”
“Well, probably not, but it could…”
“No. It CANNOT happen. Delete the program.”
Fouklok jerked back. “What? But he’s sentient!”
“DELETE HIM!” Bradley thundered.
“Anything wrong?” Ensign Jones asked as Bradley rejoined her in the ballroom.
“Not at all. Just some minor business to attend to. Now then, if I’m not completely mistaken, before I was called away, you were about to ask me to dance.”
Jones blushed. “I…it was a thought.”
“And an excellent one at that. I would love to,” Bradley said, extending his hand to her. Jones took it and allowed herself to be led out onto the dance floor. Bradley moved with all the poise and grace she always expected he would, and, as she struggled to keep up with him, she was overcome by a feeling.
The feeling of being swept off of her feet.
The author would like to acknowledge the true source of President Dillon’s information, the prosecution sections of The Court- Martial of Kathryn Janeway (http://www.treknation.com/articles/court_marshall_janeway_intro .shtml) written by Sara Rose and David E. Sluss.