The Tribunal, Part 3
Location: The Lissepian Embassy
Timeline: MD 07 1300
Previously on The Tribunal
Tovall stood and once again addressed the Tribunal. "At this time, the Government would like to call Siana Elor to the stand," she announced as the assigned Security personnel went into the hall to retrieve the young Cardassian girl.
Except she wasn't so young any more. Siana Elor had grown up in the intervening eighteen years. Now a woman, she was almost unrecognisable. Her features had matured. A slash of uncharacteristic pale flesh marred one side of her face, a deep tissue scar that had been caused by the fires all those years ago. Her hair only grew on the opposite side of her face, but she wore it well.
"My name is Siana Elor," she said with slight hesitation at announcing herself to a room of strangers.
And now, the continuation...
"Where did you live on stardate 117159.7?" Tovall asked.
"My family is from the Hemlar Province, that's on the Southern continent of Cardassia Prime," she said. "During the war, our home was annexed by the Defense Zone that was created for Planetary Security," she added. "I grew up around the military as they were building our planetary defenses in response to the Federation attacks," she said calmly.
The female Cardassian prosecutor nodded. She understood that when dealing with victims she would have to take her time and proceed in a more deliberate manner than she did with the former gul. "Let's go to the attack itself. Why were you in that area?" Tovall asked.
"Well, that's just where we always played as children," Siana responded. "One day we lived in Hemlar Province, the next, Security Forces had created an installation right in our backyard," she explained. "We would like to go out and explore all the new areas that were being used to train other Cardassian soldiers. It's just that one particular day..." she said as her voice began to taper off.
"Explain to the Tribunal when you first saw the Federation soldiers," the prosecutor prompted.
"Well, it was myself, Relon Cetan, and Bretav Dejak, and a few other kids playing together that day," she started. "We were playing soldiers." She smiled at the memory. "We had just split up when Bretav ran into them first," she said.
"By them do you mean the Federation soldiers?" Tovall asked.
"Yes. In fact, I remember seeing that one grabbing Bretav before we all came out of the brush," she said directly as she pointed her finger towards Commander Ryan.
"Let the record show that the witness has identified the accused, Caleb Ryan, as one of the invaders on the day of the attack," the prosecutor announced for the reporter.
"What else did you observe?" she continued.
"W-W-Well, I was terrified. I did the only thing I could do, and that was scream and try to run away, but Bretav fell and I tried to help him up," she said as she felt tears welling up in her throat. "The Federation soldier tried to grab us again. We got away from him and started to run," she said, the emotion again building in her voice.
"Then we saw the other soldiers coming, so we ducked and tried to hide when we heard the shooting start." She cried. "Bretav and I got separated, and the only thing I remember was another one of the Federation soldiers grabbing my arm again, but I was able to get away...." She trailed off for several moments.
"But Bretav couldn't...he...we thought that he had been killed by the Federation soldiers just like...Relon." She continued to sob gently.
"Thank you, Siara," Tovall said as she gave the young woman several moments to compose herself.
"The Government has no further questions for this witness at this time," Tovall said as she sat.
"You may question," Speer said briskly to Caleb. "With respect for the fact that she is a victim," the green skinned woman warned.
Caleb simply nodded. He stood and straightened his uniform.
“Ah am sorry for what happened, Ms. Elor,” he said, offering the young Cardassian woman a handkerchief. “Ah know what it’s like ta lose someone. And Ah’m sure it was all very terrifying, at such a young age.”
Caleb took a moment to compose his thoughts. “Ms. Elor, you said the Federation personnel grabbed you. Did they do anything else? Did they ever point a weapon at you? Or at any of the children? Did they ever fire a weapon at you?”
"It--it-- it was filled with smoke and disruptor fire. I ..I just remember trying to run away from you and your soldiers," she responded. "Once I broke free from one of the soldier's grip, I ran until I got back to Security Forces. I tried....I really tried to find Bretav so he could get away," she said as she still sobbed.
"I just want...I just wanted to go home!" she tried to say through the tears that continued to well in her throat.
“Ah am sure you did your best, Ms. Elor,” Caleb said gently. “Ah am saddened by what happened, as well. It was not the outcome that was intended. Ah took a disruptor blast myself while shielding Bretav as much as Ah could. But you were unhurt. None of my people hurt you,” he pointed out. “Do ya recall overhearing any of our conversation before the arrival of the security forces?” he asked the young woman. “What our plans were after we had stumbled across each other? Did ya hear us talkin’ at all about invasion, or harming anyone?”
Tovall forcefully pushed herself away from the table and stood up. "Objection!" she said, waiting for the Tribunal members to direct their attention to her before she continued.
Qinee nodded to the Cardassian.
"The Accused is badgering the witness with questions that she cannot possibly answer! She was a child. How would she know what plans Starfleet made either before, during, or after the attack? He is attempting to use her lack of knowledge as a way to bolster his defense. This line of question should be terminated and stricken from the record!" she said pointedly to the Tribunal.
“Ah am tryin’ to establish that we had no such plans, Your Honors,” Caleb said. “That our intent, as stated in the official report, was ta find a place ta lie low an’ avoid contact with anyone until we could figure out a way home, as per Starfleet Temporal Prime Directive protocols.”
"You may continue," Speer agreed, and turned to the young woman on the stand. "Please answer the question."
She calmed down and tried to respond to the question. "I-I had never been off-world, so I did not have a universal translator yet. I-I-I never learned Federation language. I just know that I was scared and wanted to get away from you all," she said, still fighting back tears.
“An understandable reaction,” Caleb said. “Ah am sorry you were frightened, and we meant ya’ll no harm. We were just as concerned when the Jem’Hadar and Security Forces opened fire and caught ya’ll in the middle.”
Caleb straightened and turned to the Tribunal. “Ah have no further questions at this time for Ms. Elor.”
Speer looked along the bench. "Does anyone else have questions for the witness?"
The Romulan shook his head, and her enquiring gaze passed along to Quinee and the Human, Artemis Pierce.
“Not at this time,” Qinee said, and Pierce shook his head.
"If the Tribunal permits, the Government has no further questions for this witness. May she be excused?" Tovall requested.
“Yes,” Qinee said sympathetically..
"Then you may step down," Speer agreed. "Does the prosecution have a last witness?"
Tovall stood and looked at the Tribunal as he contemplated her next choice of witness. She could easily spend the next month calling in witnesses to testify on behalf of the Government, but she knew that the most effective argument would come from those who had actually been there to witness the destruction and the invasion by the Federation soldiers.
"The Cardassian Government calls Bretav Dejak to provide testimony," she announced.
The doors opened and a young boy entered, accompanied by a Cardassian woman. He was formally dressed and looked very serious as we was led to the podium. He saw the Humans watching and his eyes went wide, but he didn't show any other signs of recognition or fright. At the Cardassian woman's prompting, he spoke clearly, "I am Bretav Dejak, and I swear to serve truth and justice," he recited.
Lucent Speer gave him an indulgent smile. "Very well, young man. That will do." She looked to Turvan. "You may begin questioning."
Caleb settled in his seat, looking at the young Cardassian boy. It was good to see him looking better, conscious, breathing. The Starfleet doctors had done miraculous work saving the boy’s life. Caleb still had a bit of tenderness in the area where he’d taken a Jem’Hadar disruptor blast trying to shield the boy. He gave the boy a smile.
"Bretav, we have heard a lot about what led to your being kidnapped and brought into Federation custody," Tovall began as she rose from her chair.
"Do you see the man who took you from your home?" Tovall asked.
Bretav's head tilted slightly in confusion as the Cardassian woman spoke to him. Bretav was born and raised on his home colony. He had never left the planet, and as a civilian child it seemed unlikely that he ever would. As a result of his unfamiliarity with Federation Standard, it would take time for his universal translator to adapt properly.
"Ve’ (Yes)”, he responded in a very short and terse manner. He looked calmly across the room and timidly raised his arm in the direction of Caleb.
"Ҫada (you),” he said in a surprisingly direct tone. "Ta’cardăst (non-Cardassian) took...me," Bretav said as his translator started to translate only the last part of his statement.
Caleb simply sat still. After all, he had never denied what he had done, though he had expected to be brought before a Starfleet Temporal Directive tribunal for it, not a Cardassian puppet court. It was either take the boy and save his life, or leave him to die.
"Since you were taken by the Federation, have they permitted you to visit with your family?" Tovall asked.
The boy paused for several seconds as he processed the question and what response he was supposed to give. "Tho (no)," he said as he shook his head.
"Did you ever want to leave your planet and go with these strangers?" Tovall said as she pointed her finger towards the Federation officers.
Bretav vigorously shook his head in response, too timid to look in the general direction of the Federation soldiers.
"Would you like to go back home to your family?" Tovall asked.
The boy nodded quickly in response. He had never been off-world before and was not used to seeing so many strange aliens or Humans in one area. The idea of being away from his family for the rest of his life caused tears to begin to form in his eyes.
Caleb looked sympathetically at the boy. There had been temporal protocols to follow, and Caleb had never really even had time to give the boy, who had still been recovering from surgery, a chance to contact his parents, if they were still alive, before he had been kidnapped and arrested by the Lissepians.
"Your Honor, the Prosecution has no further questions for this young boy," Tovall announced.
"Very well." Lucent Speer looked to the Fleeters. "You have the right to cross examine, but I will cut short anything that distresses the child.”
“Of course, your Honor,” Caleb said, standing. He approached Bretav and crouched down to the boy’s level as they talked. “How are ya feelin’ today, Bretav?” he asked. “Ah bet you’re glad ta be out of that sickbay, huh? Food’s terrible, right? Except for the jello.” He gave the boy a smile. “You were very brave.”
The young Cardassian child recoiled in apprehension as the Human knelt to his eye-level. He had not really seen the man during the chaos of the firefight, nor did he really see him while he recuperated in the medical facility.
"Ta’cardăst (non-Cardassian)! Ta’cardăst!" he said excitedly as he pointed to the man and continued to recoil. "I...want...home!" he said, his broken Federation Standard forcing its way to the forefront of his brain.
Caleb nodded. He made no moves to get closer to the boy, or touch him to comfort him, just stayed at the safe distance. “We all want that, Bretav,” he said calmly, keeping his voice even. “An’ it will happen as soon as we get this all cleared up. Can we talk about what happened the day you were hurt?” He put his hand on his chest. “Friend,” he said in Cardassian. He wasn’t fluent, but he knew enough words to get around.
The boy continued to shake his head as he backed away further into his chair. "Ta’cardăst! Ta’cardăst!" he continued to shout as he tried to make a break and run around the much taller security officer.
Caleb didn’t make a move to stop the boy, shaking his head sadly. What did they teach those Cardassian children?
"Your Honor! Clearly the boy has been mentally as well as emotionally scarred as a result of the Federation's actions. I ask that he please be allowed to exit these proceedings," Tovall said as she shot from her chair.
"Agreed," said Speer. "The boy can go."
Caleb rose up and nodded. “I don’t want to prolong the boy’s trauma,” he agreed. “Ah’m sorry for what happened, but Ah ain’t sorry Ah saved that little boy.” He walked back to the dock where the other Starfleet officers on trial sat.
Speer's face was impassive. Then she turned to the Cardassians. "That concludes the Prosecution’s section. The Defence may now call their witness, should they have any, up to three. Then there will be brief closing statements before the panel deliberates." She turned to Locke and Ryan. "Do you have witnesses?"
Ryan stood up. “Just ourselves, Your Honor. Our testimony will just reinforce the official report. After action reports were included by every member of the away team. We are willin’ ta take questions from the Tribunal an’ the Prosecution, however, an’ Ah’m willin’ ta sum up the essence of what happened.”
"Very well." Speer said. "Please swear the oath, and you may speak."
Caleb swore the oath, and then started to give his testimony.
To Be Continued
Commander Caleb Ryan
Chief of Security/Tactical
Commodore Artemis Pierce
NPC Caleb Ryan
NPC Caleb Ryan
Lissepian Embassy to the Federation
Deputy Archon, 127th Tactical Wing, XI Order