It was an awesome sight.
Sure, it was unusual for a starship Captain to stand on the promenade deck of a ship to watch it dock at a space station – but this was a space station like no other. Deep Space Nine was of Cardassian design, which was more like old Earth stations – ships docked in space rather then in a protected space dock, attached to the station only by a relatively small metal tube.
Samantha Ross watched through several feet of layered transparent aluminum and glass as her ship, Galaxis, slowly approached the hulking, intimidating form of Deep Space Nine. It chilled her as she watched the approach – the station resembled a giant saucer with spikes protecting its top and bottom. The spikes were docking tubes, but they seemed a little terrifying nonetheless. Knowing Cardassians, it was designed that way on purpose.
“Captain, we’ll be docking in a minute or so.”
She smiled through the window and tapped her communicator to reply to her navigational officer’s message. She knew that Susan envied her a little, yet she couldn’t leave her post. Susan was stuck watching the docking on the artificial projection of the viewscreen. “Thank you, Susan. I’ll be on the bridge shortly.”
Time seemed to pass quickly as the ship drifted toward one of the spikes. It was strictly on thrusters now, moving at speeds which old Earth used to measure slow-moving land based vehicles, in kilometers per hour.
She began to look down as the top portion of the ship passed above the docking tube, and the ship slowed abruptly as Susan, on the bridge, made an attempt at her first live docking maneuver, something she never had to do before at the usual Starfleet starbases. Sam guessed that it made Susan a little nervous – but Susan was an excellent pilot of starships, even one as small as Galaxis. She would handle it well.
As if to counter Sam’s confident thoughts about Susan, the ship jarred suddenly, causing her to lose her footing for a moment. She leaned her hands against the inner glass layer of the window to regain her balance. Sam then returned to her own feet and straightened out her uniform, tapping her communicator again – it was time to join the crew in the docking area and enter Deep Space Nine.
“Susan, Terel…I’ll meet you below in one minute.”
Sam headed toward the turbolift, taking one last glance behind her at the towering docking tube, and the darkness of space. She was far from home, about to enter a station at the true frontier of space. Things were done differently here…and she could only hope it would be for the better.
Sam, Susan, and Terel stepped off of a rather primitive cable-drawn elevator which brought them from Galaxis to a small airlock on Deep Space nine. Rather then the sliding doors they were accustomed to from Starfleet technology, the airlock door resembled a giant cog with small strands of arc-shaped thick glass embedded between its spokes. It was secure all right, but had little aesthetic value.
The door ‘rolled’ open to reveal a strange looking man with a security team following him closely. Sam guessed that he was the security chief. She felt a lump form in her throat – if security was meeting them, it most likely meant that the Captain of Deep Space nine had already talked to Starfleet, and she was under arrest.
But that feeling changed quickly. She watched as a tall dark-skinned man with a clean-shaven head and a goatee stepped between the security personnel, a warm smile on his face.
“Captain Samantha Ross?”
His voice was deep, but soft, almost sounding as if he were about to read her a novel. Unable to come up with any words, she nodded in response.
“I’m Captain Benjamin Sisko, Deep Space Nine. Welcome…I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
Sam finally smiled as Captain Sisko shook her hand warmly, vigorously, as if he knew her well somehow. “Am I a legend around these parts?”
Captain Sisko’s boisterous laugh filled the small airlock. “Of sorts, yes. There are many people interested in you. Starfleet, Captain Picard, myself…and a Romulan assassin.”
“Starfleet?” Sam looked around at the security people surrounding herself and her crew, making the airlock seem more crowded then it already is. They didn’t seem the least bit nervous – yet their presence made her nervous. “Am I…under arrest?”
“No, no.” Captain Sisko continued smiling as he glanced at his security chief. “This is Odo, chief of security. They are here for your protection.”
Sam leaned close to Captain Sisko as the security team turned and headed to the outside of the airlock. “What’s wrong with Odo? He looks a little…strange.”
“He’s a shape shifter.” After reaching around Sam to shake Susan and then Terel’s hand, Sisko quickly led the three down a long corridor. “I’m going to place you in quarters away from the airlocks. No sense in giving your enemies easy access to–”
“Wait, wait.” Samantha suddenly stopped, prompting Captain Sisko to turn around and give her a concerned look. “How did I get all of these enemies all of a sudden?”
A big smile formed on Captain Sisko’s face as he indicated for Sam and her crew to enter yet another ancient elevator on Deep Space Nine. It had been updated, but was still driven by a cable rather then compressed air or magnetic propulsion as most Federation turbolifts were.
“We’ll just have to solve that mystery together.”
Samantha stood at the window of her quarters, a small bag with her belongings lying on a table behind her. She was looking outside at the stars, and the near constant traffic of trade and supply ships travelling back and forth to Deep Space Nine. It was a big station – and knowing that not all of the station’s quarters were on exterior walls, it made her feel a little special to be able to take in such a view.
Deep Space Nine was a station like no other in the Federation. It was a crossroads, much like Dodge City in old western movies. Dozens of races, beings with different philosophies, from different corners of the galaxy – they all came here, to this station. They didn’t always get along – but the fact remained that the station was a beacon of hope, a refuge for peace. A place where, with so many conflicting customs, fairness had to preside over law.
It was that ‘fairness’ which Samantha depended on. She was on trial once again – the Captain and crew of Deep Space Nine would decide her fate, whether she would be turned over to the Federation. And this time–
She cringed silently and closed her eyes as all that she had done since she turned herself in at the Starbase flooded back to her. She escaped custody, attacked an officer, stole Federation property, and destroyed another Federation ship. By this time, the charges against her had surely been elevated to treason – probably the only offense left in the Federation with a penalty of death.
The sound of the door chime suddenly snapped Samantha back to reality. She headed to the door quickly, guessing that it was one of her crew members – but then froze when she realized it could also easily be someone planning to kidnap, assault, or even assassinate her. Anything was possible on such a large station. “Who is it?”
“Captain Ross, I’m Security Chief Odo.”
Samantha exhaled deeply, feeling a little more relieved. He wasn’t one of her crew, but at least he answered to Captain Sisko – and he seemed like a very reasonable man. “Come on in.”
The door to her quarters slid open, revealing the security chief. She could see his reflection in the window she faced, as he stood perfectly straight, looking directly at Samantha as he took exactly two steps into the room and allowed the door to close before speaking. He seemed too official to Sam…which made her worry.
“Someone wishes to see you, Captain Ross.” Odo bowed his head slightly as he spoke to her, his body language telling her that it was more of a request then an order. She wondered no more why he was appointed Security Chief – his demeanor and polite phrasing were calming in spite of his gruff-sounding voice and strange appearance.
Sam finally turned around to face Odo, crossing the room to stand in front of the Security Chief bravely. “Who wishes to see me, Odo?”
Odo smiled slightly, seemingly amused by Sam’s question, letting out a slight chuckle as he prepared himself to surprise her. “Your father.”
Samantha carefully kept her enthusiasm in check as she walked into what Odo called the ‘V.I.P.’ section of Deep Space Nine. It looked a lot like an elaborate 20th century hotel lobby, a large round room with a high ceiling and skylights which contained comfortable couches and tables. Along the wall were a few doors painted in eye-pleasing designs. By the spacing of the doors, Samantha could tell that whatever rooms were behind them were huge, for a space station.
“This used to be the Gul’s living quarters”, Odo explained. “It was not well known until we took over this station that Gul’s often lived in such lavish surroundings.”
“What are they used for now?”
Odo smiled again. “Visiting dignitaries, diplomats. And Admirals who are important to honored guests.”
Sam smiled as Odo escorted her to one of the entrances off of the room, and tapped the call button on the wall next to the door. “I’m uh…honored.”
“It’s security chief Odo. Your daughter is here, Admiral.”
It took a almost a minute for Admiral Ross to reach his door – Samantha spent the time rocking on her heels nervously, her arms folded tightly as the door slid open. The last meeting she remembered having with him wasn’t on good terms. She had just turned herself in at Starbase One. Her dad met her at the door, upset because he didn’t get the chance to protect her.
It was the second time she stood up to him, after being upset about having to live in his shadow. The first time was just after she graduated the Academy. She asked for some independence…and he gave her command of a starship.
But now, she was returning to him as a failure. She had lost the greatest gift he had ever given her, and embarrassed him in front of his peers. His daughter, who he touted as a greater success then himself, had become a wanted criminal.
As Admiral Ross stepped through the doorway, she was prepared to have to argue with him, or at least explain herself. But she saw nothing except unconditional love in his eyes. The love a father has for his daughter. At that moment, she knew…no matter what happened, he would always stand behind her.
Samantha smiled a little as they stared at each other for a few more seconds. A realization was sinking in – that they understood each other so well, neither one had to explain what had happened to the other. They just…knew. Samantha stepped forward and hugged him tightly, the only kind of communication needed between them.
“You’re so much like your mother, Sam. I just can’t get over it.”
Sam laughed. “Dad, you say that every time we meet.”
“No, just every other time.” Admiral Ross glanced at Odo, to urge him to wait outside – but Odo, who studied human interaction for decades, had already anticipated it and turned to leave.
Samantha stared into her father’s eyes for a few seconds as she gathered her confidence. She had never asked him for anything since she joined the academy. She was determined to make it on her own. But now…she desperately needed his help. As she began to speak, injured pride tainted her voice with a little sadness. “What’s going to happen to me now, dad?”
Admiral Ross frowned and sat down on a plush chair next to the door of his quarters. “Samantha…I think you need to know something first. You need to know who your enemy is.”
“Yes?” Samantha grabbed another nearby chair, sitting across from her father. She sensed a seriousness in her voice which made her fear – but she knew she had to clear her mind and listen calmly.
“Samuel Cassius used to be my first officer. He was also my best friend. In fact, once you were born, I decided to name you after him, and appoint him as your godfather. He had a son, Christopher. You remember Chris, right?”
A smile formed on Samantha’s face as a name she hadn’t heard in years reached her ears. Since high school, she and Chris were thick as thieves – the right word too, considering how much trouble they both caused. They were soul mates, two people carved from the same mold.
The two even shared thoughts sometimes – which proved to be a problem when they considered dating for a time. They quickly clashed in a relationship, as they were suddenly unable to trust one another. That idea was quickly abandoned so they would remain friends.
But then, in their senior year in high school, tragety struck. Chris had always dreamed of joining Starfleet, of cruising among the stars in a ship, only returning home for special occasions. He was always an adventurer – and it was that nature which left him without the use of his legs. He tried surfing the rapids of Niagra Falls, as many his age did. Unfortunately, he was caught off-guard by a sudden surge in the water flow. He fell…and he was rescued. But by then, both of his legs had been shattered.
Samantha remembered crying when she found out. She tried to share Chris’ pain, to try and help soothe him. She tried talking to him about it. But his response was to push her away. He pushed nearly everyone away – and as he did, his father began to blame the world for what had happened. The Cassius family began to isolate itself.
That’s when Samantha decided to take Chris’ place. She walked into Starfleet headquarters one day, and used her blood relation to her father, a newly promoted Admiral, to sign up for the Academy. She would live Chris’ adventures, and allow him to live vicariously through her.
She thought that’s what he wanted…but he didn’t. When Chris heard of what Sam had done, he cursed at her, ordered her out of his house. She left crying…and since that day, the two never faced each other again.
“Yes, I remember Chris. But I don’t remember his dad.”
“That”, Sam’s father continued, “Is because you only met him briefly a couple of times. He was away from home as often as I was…but he didn’t retire until years after I did.”
“Wait a minute–” Samantha slid her chair closer to her dad’s, and leaned toward him. “You said that Admiral Cassius…had a son. Past tense. He died, didn’t he?”
A sad sigh and slow nod from her father told Samantha that she was correct. “After Chris died, his father became obsessed. He decided that you had something to do with Chris’ debilitating injury. He suggested that perhaps you egged Chris on in an effort to get into Starfleet Academy instead of him–”
“That’s crazy!” Sam stood and walked over to the large picture window at the other end of her father’s quarters. As she brushed her hair back out of nervous habit, she could see the reflection of her father approaching her in the window. “I would have loved to have Chris in the academy with me. We could have worked together–”
“–And possibly fallen in love, and decided to return home. That’s what Chris’ father feared most – that his son’s friendship with you would turn serious…and the career he dreamed about for his son would be ruined. So you see…Admiral Cassius has been fearing you for longer then you can imagine.”
“I never though that–” Samantha sighed and leaned her forehead against the inner glass surface of the window. Her eyes stared out into the darkness of space…yet she saw within herself rather then what was around her. She searched herself deeply, looking to see if maybe Admiral Cassius was right – but all she could see was Chris telling her of his dream to cruise the stars, and search for the unknown. Sam knew that she would be sad to see him go…but she always just knew that it was meant to be.
“What’ll happen to me know, dad?”
He took a deep breath and leaned against the edge of a heavy wooden table in the center of the room. “We’ll hold a trial here on the station in the morning, with Captain Sisko presiding over it. He’ll probably appoint me to the panel. Admiral Cassius will probably present evidence of what you’ve done in the past few days and ask for a summary judgement of law. And then–”
“I’m going to have to pay some penalty, aren’t I? I mean…I destroyed Federation property, stole a Starship and attacked another. And I did it all to save myself. I wasn’t even rescuing anyone, or saving the universe–”
Her father laughed, smiling as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “You really are new to this Captain thing, Samantha. A Captain’s first loyalty is to the ship, and it’s crew. Galaxis is safe, unharmed, and your crew is intact. Ben Sisko is a Captain at heart. If anyone understands why you did what you did, it’s him.”
“You always were an optimist, dad.” Samantha smiled and turned around, hugging him once again with one arm. “Come on, let’s go for a walk. It may be the last time we’ll be able to for a while.”
“What about the Romulan assassin rumored to be on the station?”
“Oh, that’s no rumor.” Sam laughed as she spoke. It brought a smile to her dad’s face. “I think he’s in Odo’s jail.”
“‘She’, Samantha.” Her dad opened the door for her, and followed her into the hallway. Odo still stood there, determined to follow the two and keep them safe. “The best Romulan assassins are women. They usually work to bond with their targets before they kill.”
“Wouldn’t it be funny if–” Sam suddenly turned pale and froze mid-sentence as she pictured her new First Officer, Susan Troy. She was friendly, fairly new…and she was Romulan. “Oh my God.”
Samantha was more nervous then she could ever remember as she tapped the ‘call’ button next to a friend’s quarters. She glanced behind her – Odo stood a few steps behind her, his hands clasped calmly behind his back. How he could remain so calm was beyond Sam’s comprehension…she was about to accuse her only close friend in Starfleet of being an assassin.
The door opened suddenly, and Susan Troy gave Sam a smile. Susan looked at Odo, for a moment, then back to Sam. Her smile vanished when she noticed the sad look in Sam’s eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Are you a Romulan assassin?” Samantha cringed at her own question. She had an uncanny talent for saying tactless things on impulse. While that kind of honesty is valued among friends, Sam knew she would never make a suitable diplomat. Her question prompted a lot of nervousness from Susan – which bothered her a lot. But what bothered her more was the answer Susan gave her.
“I…I used to be.” Susan eyed Odo suspiciously. “Why? I mean…I’ve been in my quarters since we arrived at the station–”
“I know you have”, Odo interrupted in his calm, but gruff voice. “We have an unknown Romulan assassin aboard hired to kill both your Captain and her father. Unfortunately…you fit the profile. I’d like to come in and ask you a few questions.”
Susan looked terrified as Odo placed his imposing form in the doorway. She looked to Samantha for help. Sam took her hand gently and walked through the doorway ahead of her.
“I’ll be right here, Susan. Just tell Odo everything you know, and it’ll all be fine.”
“But…I didn’t do anything! Yes, I was approached for a ‘job’ on Starbase One. But I turned it down.”
Sam and Odo looked at each other. They were both shocked. “Go on”, Sam urged.
“But then”, Susan continued. She began to fidget nervously. “They told me they would get someone else if I didn’t cooperate. I asked who the target was. It was…you, Sam.”
Odo chuckled, almost laughed as he began to understand what had happened. “So you let them think you would assassinate Captain Ross to protect her from a real assassin.”
Susan nodded, and smiled at Samantha. “Clever, huh?”
“I don’t buy it.” Odo frowned and folded his arms. “It’s too easy an explanation…just the kind a real Romulan assassin would use to cover her tracks.”
“Odo!” Sam gave him a quick glare before turning her attention back to Susan. “I trust you, Susan. I did choose you as my First Officer…and I’ll stand by anything you tell me as true.”
Susan smiled at Sam…but quickly switched to a frown as she noticed that Odo still eyed her suspiciously. Odo stood quickly and left the room as Sam gave him a disapproving look. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t honest with you. I should never have–”
“And how would I have reacted to the news?” Samantha sat down in a chair across from Susan. “I think everything worked out for the best.”
“I…I guess you’re right.” Susan swept back some of her hair and looked at the floor momentarily. “I feel terrible about this. You had a hundred percent faith in me, yet I kept secrets from you.”
“It could have been worse.” Sam smiled and rose to head to the door, turning to give Susan an amused smile. “You could have been trying to kill me. Come on, let’s get something to eat.”
The two laughed at Samantha’s dark joke, as they headed toward the door. As inappropriate as it would have sounded to a stranger, between friends it was an excellent tension breaker – as well as reassurance to Susan that they were still friends.
But the laughter came to an end as the two stepped out into the hallway. Waiting outside were Odo, and a security team of five very large men. Sam turned pale as she glanced at Susan, who has suddenly grown fearful.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Samantha’s voice was angry, and hurt as she confronted Odo with her question. It bordered on a demand. Odo, however, didn’t seem the least bit afraid, or even at all affected by Sam’s tone of voice.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” Odo answered in his best sympathetic, yet still gravelly voice. “I must take Susan Troy into custody. It’s my duty as–”
“Hell, no!” Samantha took a sudden step toward Odo, a little surprised that his security team flinched as she did. She couldn’t picture herself as a threat to them. “Who authorized this? Captain Sisko?”
Odo shook his head slowly. “Aboard this station, I have full authority to detain any person I deem necessary for the safety of–”
Sam stepped in front of Odo, her hands on her hips as she leaned toward him. “Denied. As a Starfleet Captain, I have that authority. Go pick on someone else.”
“Enough of this.” Odo took in a deep breath, and just with a simple nod, urged his five security men forward.
Sam angrily shoved the first of the five men who approached her. She was trembling a little bit, part from anger, and part from worrying that the large man would simply break her in half – but she knew she had to appear brave if they were to take her seriously as a Captain. “I want to talk to Captain Sisko, now!”
As the security man closest to her reached for Susan and missed, Sam quickly slipped his phaser out of his belt. She stepped back, keeping Susan behind her, and aimed the phaser at Odo. He didn’t seem the least bit affected by it.
“This won’t help your trial, Captain,” Odo droned in his best monotone. “Give me the phaser, and we’ll discuss this.”
“No more discussion! I’m taking my crew, and my dad, and leaving this place.” Samantha breathed quickly between sentences. Her eyes were tearing from the frustration she felt, as she began to fear that there was no escape from Admiral Cassius and his kangaroo court. No matter what she did, he would find and prosecute her…unless she managed to run away. She silently wondered for a moment if the Vulcans would grant her asylum – while they were Federation members, they also valued neutrality.
Odo raised his chin momentarily to point toward Samantha. “Turn around.”
“What?” Samantha squinted at Odo, giving him a look which questioned his sanity. “Do you take me for an idiot? I’m not falling for–”
Sam wheeled around quickly as she felt something poke her in the back. She gasped audibly at what she saw.
Susan held a phaser in her hand, pointed at the back of Samantha’s head. She was trembling, and tears were streaming from her eyes. Her face was twisted with a mixture of sadness and anger…but she didn’t fire. It was as if she were fighting some sort of inner battle.
“Susan–” Sam took a step back, freezing when Susan moved suddenly. “Give me the phaser, Susan…please.”
Samantha was surprised when Susan simply turned the phaser around and began holding it out toward Sam. Susan’s hands were shaking…she was still fighting something. She was using every ounce of her willpower to force herself to hand the phaser to Samantha…but Sam was cautious, reaching for it slowly.
“Take it…please–,” Susan whispered in a barely audible, wavering voice.
Sensing the urgency in Susan’s voice, Sam suddenly rushed forward, snatching the phaser from her fingers. She could swear that Susan had pointed the weapon at herself before giving it up to Sam’s grasp. Samantha quickly reached around Susan to support her just before she lost her footing…and began crying.
With Odo and his security force following Sam walked Susan back to her quarters, gently lying Susan on her bed. She paused to see Susan curl into a ball, sobbing, as she stepped outside into the hallway.
Odo seemed to anticipate Samantha’s next request as soon as the door slid shut as he quickly barked an order at two of his security people. “No one enters or leaves this room except myself and Captain Ross. Is that clear?”
As the two guards nodded, Samantha followed Odo down the hall slowly. “Shouldn’t we call sickbay?”
“No.” Odo shook his head. “Unless you want Starfleet asking questions. If you care about Susan, we’ll have to do this silently.”
Sam stepped in front of Odo and turned around, forcing him to stop walking. “What happened?”
He looked both ways along the hallway before opening his office door and inviting Sam in. He closed the door behind them. “She was a subconsciously programmed assassin, and even she didn’t know it. I was going to put her into a cell until the trigger time passed, to keep both you and her safe–”
“Wait…in a cell?” Sam folded her arms and frowned.
Odo nodded. “It’s like a drug. The assassin needs time for the effect to wear off, where she can’t hurt anyone. She’ll be fine once she gets some sleep. And Captain–”
Giving her one of his strange, half smiles, Odo walked around to the other side of his desk and sat down, tapping his index fingers together. “You did an excellent job. You’re one of a rare breed…a Captain who genuinely cares for her crew.”
“Thank you.” Sam smiled at Odo and reached across the desk to shake his hand. “And Odo…I’m sorry I underestimated you.”
Odo chuckled. “If I were in your position, Captain, I probably would have done the same. Good luck at your hearing tomorrow. I look forward to seeing you there.”
Samantha laughed to herself as she left Odo’s office. As usual, it was difficult to tell if Odo’s last sentence was a friendly gesture, or a threat. Odds are…it was both.
Samantha dreaded seeing Admirals in full dress. The image itself didn’t upset her – rather it was what she associated it with that instilled fear in her. Since the time she was a small child, she dreaded seeing those uniforms. Whenever an Admiral came to the door of her childhood home, it meant her father was about to leave on an extended trip. The smell of starched fabric, the perfection of the seams, and the steel-like stiffness of the uniform – it all left a bad taste in her mouth.
Even during her time at the Academy, the only time she would see Admirals in full dress were during disciplinary hearings. Luckily, she was only directly involved in one…but she had been called to several to testify either on behalf or, or against, various members of her class.
It was always painful for her – while her own hearing resulted only in a reprimand on her record, she had watched others immediately discharged. She watched one young man walk down the halls of the Academy, his head bowed in shame and his eyes filled with unshed tears as two large security men escorted him to his quarters to gather his things.
He had stolen equipment from a lab to pursue his own hobbies in his quarters. After Samantha testified that she did see the equipment in his room, the Admirals unanimously agreed to order him dishonorably discharged, and that he was to be ejected from the Academy immediately and sent home.
Paul, his name was. Sam remembered him well. She was often assigned to work with him during classes and training. At one time, she almost dated him…but their personalities clashed almost immediately. They decided instead to remain simply friends for the good of their relationship and their training squad.
She didn’t want to testify against him – but the Admirals told her that she would have to, or the entire training squad would face disciplinary action. They all would have been expelled for the actions of the one. Sam suddenly felt the burden of all of her friends upon her…and broke down, telling the Admirals what they wanted to know. She still regretted doing so, as the image of Paul’s face, his shattered pride became forever etched in her memory.
As she sat in a large, impersonal conference room on Deep Space Nine that image haunted her. She sat in the open, in front of her a large steel table which those who would judge her would sit behind once they arrived. The rest of the room was empty – spectators and guests weren’t permitted for a hearing of this sort.
A shiver went through her as one other person finally entered the room – Captain Sisko. He entered the room and sat down in the center chair across the steel table from Samantha, leaning back as he clasped his hands together at the edge of the table. He looked so serious…but then, he gave her a warm, disarming smile.
Samantha nodded without making a sound, as if any noise she might make could count against her in the hearing. She was a stark contrast to the relaxed-looking Captain Sisko. She sat with her back perfectly straight, her hands in her lap, and her legs crossed below her knees. It was almost as if she were trying to melt into the background, refusing to even allow a wrinkle in her uniform give her away.
“Relax. This is not an inquisition. It’s just a hearing.”
Her only response to Sisko’s continued attempts to calm her was simply to smile nervously at him. She knew she wanted to say something, to ask for his help…or better still, to ask him to miraculously solve her problem. But she knew even that was beyond his ability. She figured would have to go through this essentially alone.
But as she watched Captain Sisko stare at her from across the table with his warm, friendly smile, she began searched deep within her and realized that of all of the people she could talk to, he probably would be the only one who would treat her with respect and caring. His smile, his relaxed pose and mannerisms were reassuring…which finally gave Sam the courage to speak. “Have you been through this too?”
“Samatha–” Captain Sisko tried to appear as informal as possible as he dropped his hands in his lap. “If I had returned to Earth for any extended period of time, I probably would have been tried for a list of infractions which would fill this station from wall to wall–”
“But…you didn’t face them,” Sam interrupted. “You’re still here.”
“Yes, I am, aren’t I?” Sisko gave her another warm, disarming smile, glancing through the glass of the rear door to the room momentarily as he saw someone approach. “It appears that you have more courage then I.”
Sam laughed a little, her nervous smile becoming a little more genuine. She knew it was just an attempt of his to calm her, to make her feel more comfortable. It worked, and she was grateful for that. Samantha even leaned back a little bit in her chair. “You have something planned, don’t you?”
Watching Captain Sisko suddenly lose his smile and lean forward, placing his hands back on the table, cued Samantha to the fact that the others were about to enter the room. She stiffened, sitting up straight again – but after her conversation with Sisko, she just couldn’t bring herself to feel as nervous as she did before…because now, she knew she had a friend in the room. She had someone to look out for her interests.
“Captain Ross…You know Captain Picard–” Captain Sisko indicated toward Picard as he entered the room confidently, sitting to Sisko’s left confidently, with a smile on his face. Sam started to feel a little better – the two seemed to be in such a good mood, it could only mean good things for her. Her confidence went even higher as she watched the next person enter the room – her father. “–And I assume you know Admiral Ross.”
Samantha was clearly smiling now as she leaned back a little in her chair once again. Three of the people in the room were on her side. When the next two entered the room, Admiral Cassius and Colonel Reece, she no longer feared them at all.
“We had a meeting with Starfleet.” Captain Picard began speaking immediately, his accented voice serious, yet his expression conveying that he brought good news. In her two meetings with him, Sam learned that was part of his mannerism. “They have agreed to drop all criminal charges against you.”
“What’s the catch?” Sam felt confident as she asked her question, believing that Picard would give her an honest and fair answer. She felt she had nothing to fear from him.
Picard smiled at Samantha’s question. He stood and straightened his uniform, preparing himself to speak as the senior officer presiding over the hearing. Normally, the highest-ranking officer would take that job, or failing that, the commanding officer. But being her father, Admiral Ross was disqualified – and she guessed that Captain Sisko had disqualified himself for some unknown reason. She made a note to to herself to ask about it later.
“Your incidents of insubordination will still be recorded on your record.” Picard walked around to the other side of the table slowly, leaning against it as he stood in front of Sam. “And you will cooperate with Captain Sisko in a continuing investigation you will be made aware of shortly.”
“And my ship?” Samantha’s smile disappeared at the sound of her own question. She looked at Picard, and then across the table at Captain Sisko. The question, in her mind, sounded more like she was begging – but it came out more like a demand.
Luckily, it seemed to amuse Captain Picard. He let out a chuckle. “It’s still your ship, Samantha. Try to keep it in one piece. Now if there are no more questions, I’d like to adjourn this hearing.”
Sam glanced around the room quickly. No one budged, or made a sound – but she did notice Admiral Cassius swallow hard once before Picard finally motioned toward Captain Sisko.
“Very well,” Picard said as he returned to the other side of the table, “Then this hearing is adjourned.”
As she watched Admiral Cassius stand and leave the room quickly, Samantha remained in her chair. Her heart was beating quickly – she couldn’t believe it was all over with. She was free. Her father smiled at her across the table, but he neither he nor Captain Sisko stood. As the door close again, and Picard returned to the table, Sam knew something else was going on – and that Colonel Reece was still in the room.
“Samantha…Colonel Reece is part of an internal investigations into Admiral Cassius’ activities.” Picard sat back down in his chair and slid it forward, leaning across the table toward Sam. “At this moment, Captain Sisko’s security officer, Odo, is taking Admiral Cassius into custody.”
“But we need to ask one favor of you, Samantha.” The sound of Captain Sisko’s deep voice filled the room, soothing Sam despite the edge of urgency it carried. “Admiral Cassius has assassins on this station. You, your father, and Susan are all targets. We will round them up in time, but we need the three of you off the station immediately…for your own safety.”
“We will inform you once the threat has been neutralized,” Captain Picard added. “Then, you will always be welcome as a guest on Deep Space Nine.”
“Thank you so much. All of you.” Samantha stood quickly and shook Colonel Reece’s hand first. “Thank you for stepping forward. I’ll always remember you.”
She leaned one arm across Admiral Ross’ shoulders, and gave him a light hug, ignoring the amused smiles from Picard and Sisko.
Her father smiled. “I know this has all been tough on you, Sam. But look at all of the people you’ve met…and all the places you’ve seen…all on your own. I’m very proud of you.”
“I know, dad. I know.”
Samantha felt a little sad as Galaxis slowly pulled away from Deep Space Nine. She felt like she was leaving nearly everyone she knew behind. Funny, since before she arrived, she barely knew them at all – and in fact, the idea of meeting them frightened her. It’s strange how heroes can seem so intimidating until you meet them in person.
But at least she knew that Susan, Terel, and her father were safe. The advantage to having a Starship of your own to command was control – as long as everyone she cared deeply about was aboard her ship, they were safe. Of course, it wouldn’t last, since Galaxis’ first stop was to drop off her father at home on Earth…as well as one other ‘guest’.
As it turned out, Susan Troy made an announcement shortly after boarding Galaxis – she told Samantha and Terel that she planned on returning to Earth and retiring from Starfleet. While she was rather young to be retiring, the emotional roller-coaster she went through trying to fight off the subconscious assassination instructions planted in her mind was enough to force her to take a look at her life.
“You’ll always be my closest friend,” Susan said, with tears in her eyes, “And I’ll miss you. I just think I need to take a job where I’m can’t possibly be dangerous to anyone.”
Sam laughed sadly at Susan’s little joke. She would be losing a friend and dedicated crew member as soon as they arrived at Earth. It was something she didn’t look forward to…but it was also something Sam anticipated. After all, at one point she herself contemplated giving up as well.
She sighed as she stood on the Promenade deck of Galaxis once again, watching Deep Space Nine grow smaller and farther away. It was in the past now, as Susan soon would be as well. The next time Galaxis left Earth, it would most likely have yet another brand-new crew. But Sam felt confident – she now knew, without a doubt, that she had what it would take to gain the respect of her new crew.
As Samantha watched Galaxis cruise into the cold, darkness of space, it reminded her of her future – dark, cold, unknown, confusing…but exciting to explore. From now on, with every journey she would begin anew, and enjoy what the Federation had given her along with her ship – independence.