<<This log takes place during the lull in the JL between Rob and Savant>>
It was times like these Robert Lansine wished they hadn't found him on Carida.
After a half year away from Starfleet he found himself sitting in front of more pips than he'd ever seen—it was intimidating. A few weeks had passed since the last of the Federation rescue vessels had brought the remaining colonists and Starfleet personnel back into Federation space and away from the conflict on Carida. Despite nearly breaking down after six months of death and isolation, he now waiting for what he thought would be the first of several inquires about his experiences on Carida. While it was nice to be sitting in a climate-controlled room, he would have preferred the deserts of Carida to a face-to-face with some of Starfleet's most important individuals.
"Hrm." Rear Admiral Bogagane rubbed his chin stubble while he studied the young man standing in front of him. Next to him Captain Savage split a grin and leaned back in his chair kicking his legs onto the table top causing the Rear Admiral to grimace and swat them off "this is an official proceeding Captain!" The Admiral shouted.
"Enough, both of you." Vice Admiral Alera Sang broke through the disgruntled chaos. And nudged the Captain to begin.
"Aye, aye." Savage grunted and then looked at Lansine "state your name for the record Lieutenant."
"Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Lansine reporting, sirs," Rob stood straight and said his name for the record.
"Since we have your name." Admiral Bogagane said "why don't you tell us your impression of what happened on Carida Lieutenant? Please be forthright and honest. This is an official Starfleet inquiry. Anything determined to be untruthful may result in a Starfleet court martial for perjury. Do you understand?"
Rob studied the Admiral for a moment, Lansine knew plenty well what court martial meant, "Yes, yes I do sir," he paused again and tried to choose the best place to start. "I suppose it all began when we first landed on the planet on SD 241001.19," memories of the first flight down to the surface began flooding back. Everything had gone so according to plan, it looked like a simple mission. "The Cardassian commander issued Captain Sato a four day window for the Intrepid to evacuate the Federation colonists," his voice tightened as he went on. "On the third day the Cardassians attacked-" one of the Admirals interrupted before Rob could finish.
Rear Admiral Bentine Kotoponi, who had remained silent, spoke up. "Were they members of the Cardassian Military Lieutenant or rogues? I know this may seem like a silly question provided what we know but this is for the record. As you know we are currently on friendly terms with the Cardassian Government. If their military was involved the political ramifications will be far reaching. So were they regulars of the Cardassian Military or otherwise?"
Rob tried to remember what the Cardassian guar had said--it was something about their Gul--he couldn't quite remember what he'd overhead while in prison. "They used rank and appeared to be disciplined, sir," Rob replied, "but at no time did they identify themselves as Cardassian Military or in anyway connected to the Cardassian Union." Starting another conflict with the Cardassians was the last thing Rob wanted right now.
Kotoponi nodded her head apparently satisfied with the answer but Bogagane added his own question "So you were was attacked on third fourth day- why didn't you contact your ship for additional support?"
Rob frowned, "They jammed our communications, sir. By the time we knew what was going on Cardassian strike teams where on the planet shooting at us. I, nor anyone else was able to contact the ship." Rob was growing frustrated from his superior officer's second-guessing. It was bad enough having lived through hell without having someone tell you lived through hell wrong.
"Can you describe the initial onset of the Cardassian attack Lieutenant? Such as what initially happened- what the team members attempted to do- and etcetera." Admiral Sang asked.
The Admiral's words seemed to cue the sound of disruptor fire and distant explosions--Rob could certainly describe what happened that day. "Commander Teal and Lieutenant Neyes had left to begin evacuating colonists on the north ridge of the colony," Rob directed the Admirals' attention to the display screen, "I was still setting up our regional command center at the behest of Captain Sato when a the first scouting team reported incoming Cardassian troops to the west," he paused and took a breath. "They caught us off guard and took the C.C by force. I managed to escape along with three other crewmen on the shuttle Yellowstone."
The row of Admiral nodded their head. Captain Savage on the other hand looked rather bored as he lazily fiddled with a PADD until one of the Admirals slapped him on the back of the head with their own device. "Continue on" Kotoponi said at the pause.
Rob's expression tightened, "There were three of us out of twelve stationed at the C.C," they were second-guessing again. "I managed to land the damaged Yellowstone in the colony while they were getting attacked and picked up La--Lieutenant Neyes," Rob fumbled with Landon's formal title; they'd had been a rarity for him as of late. "We managed to gather up a dozen or so colonists on the Yellowstone while taking fire from Cardassian troops," the sound disruptor fire in his mind was now accompanied by the stale stench of burned flesh. "With the Yellowstone's port thruster damaged in my initial escape we decided to drop the colonists with the shuttle Tempest. Their shuttle was operation and could return to the Intrepid," he stopped again and waited for a response.
"Where was the shuttle's crew?" Admiral Bogagane interjected.
"The Tempest's crew were missing sir," Rob couldn't believe what he was hearing. "We had to find them. We sent the colonists back to the Intrepid and the Lieutenant and I stayed on the surface," Rob took a breath, the brass wasn't going to like what they were going to hear next. "When it became apparent the team assigned to the Tempest had been captured we decided to find them. However, a Cardassian patrol was closing in on our position. I decided the best course of action was to stage the death of Mr. Neyes and get captured by the Cardassians," Rob grimaced waiting for reprimand.
"And how did you manage that?" One of the Admirals asked.
"Neyes injected a radioactive isotope into both our bloodstreams so he could track me once the patrols had left," he hoped the explanation would be enough to starve off a formal disciplinary action. "I was brought to their holding facility until Neyes managed to break in and rescue the Tempest team and myself." Rob said, omitting the rounds of torture and interrogation the Cardassians
"We're already aware of these facts- continue on."
Rob frowned, embarrassed his superiors knew he'd been savagely beaten and bruised in some dark room on a distant planet. "Er, yes sirs, my captors were less than hospitable during my time there," the emotional scars from that terrible night seemed to slowly rip open in his mind. "I'd prefer we refrain from speaking of it."
"And he managed to get them out safely?" Admiral Alera Sang Asked.
"Yes, Mr. Neyes managed to get the others out safely before coming back for me," the guards hadn't known what had hit them that night. Landon had swiftly and silently infiltrated a secure alien prison facility--Rob was still impressed with the feat to this day. His mind wondered to Landon for a moment, albeit painfully. Since his recent rescue from Carida and return to Federation space he had heard the Intrepid was destroyed in combat above him that evening. Whether it had happened before or after Landon's attempted rescue of Rob and the others was still unknown to him. He didn't know if his best friend was dead or alive.
"The Cardassians became aware of the break in shortly after Mr. Neyes and I exited the complex. A firefight ensued and despite the Lieutenant's best efforts he was forced to leave with the others on the Tempest," he paused and examined the Flag Officers in front of him. He was having a hard time reading their expressions. Each one had years of experience hiding their emotions and despite Rob's best efforts, he couldn't tell if he was getting through to any of them.
"Continue Lieutenant." Sang urged.
Rob nodded and began again, "I was recaptured after the Tempest managed to escape and spent the next three weeks in captivity," that had to be the worst part from his entire time on Carida. The guards increased their "enhanced interrogation techniques" after that night--the scars on his back were proof. Doctors had offered to fix them, but Rob had refused. The scars would provide him a constant reminder to how savage the world can become. He had known a certain brand of evil before Carida, serving the likes of Orion slavers and criminals on Orion IV during his childhood had taught him what people could do under pressure but his experiences on Carida were a different shade of wickedness.
"The Cardassians have always been ruthless in that regard." Kotoponi nodded her head and then spun her hand towards Lansine urging him to continue.
Rob began once more, "I stumbled upon the refugee camp a week or so after an explosion at the prison facilitated my escape. They were camped inside a valley surrounded by tall mountains with deposits of a certain heavy metal; Cardassian scanners were not able to find them," he frowned and took a breath, "at least not a first. Several other Intrepid crew had already integrated into their camp by the time I arrived. We managed to evade Cardassian patrols and scans for two months before we were discovered."
"At that point who was in charge of this group?" Bogagane asked.
"I was sir," his voice showed no pride or entitlement. He'd assumed control when there was none. No one had appointed him leader. In fact, it was his own actions that had caused the colonists to turn on him. "When the Cardassians finally managed to find us we defended the camp until fleeing into nearby caves," Rob closed his eyes, seemingly in pain. "We lost 18 men in the attack." Their deaths had been his fault. To this day he still blamed himself for ordering the scouts, a group of Starfleet personnel and colonists,
to check the camp for survivors and Cardassians. They were all killed.
"And you were the sole proprietor of this tactic?" Bogagane asked.
"Yes, I did so without consulting any of others," he'd expected this. If there was something he thought he deserved punishment for it was his final mission to the Cardassian base, no matter what the result. "I take full responsibility."
Alera Sang slid a hand through her short raven hair- her green eyes focusing on the young Lieutenant. The Admiral nodded her head and then let out a small breath before speaking "you did well in a dire circumstance Lieutenant. You should be proud- while the loss of life is unfortunate- it is sadly a part of wearing your uniform."
Rob didn't want to hear excuses for his own actions, but submitted to his superior's assessment, "Yes sir."
"In either case. I believe we have wrapped up this hearing?" She looked around at all the Admiral present. Her hand moved to grab the wooden gavel to call and end when Captain Savage perked up and spoke.
"How do you feel Lieutenant?" Savage asked. He smiled, a bit mischievously "how do you feel after leading so many people to their deaths?"
"Captain that is not an appropriate que-" Kotoponi started to chide but was stopped by Alera "I will let the question stand." She looked at Lansine "answer the question truthfully Lieutenant."
Lansine's eyes darted to the Captain, "Feel sir? How do I feel?" He could feel his anger boiling to the surface but he restrained himself and turned the conversation in a different direction. "I don't even know what I'm feeling. There's a combination of things I'd hoped I would never have to experience and I believe these past few weeks are what I've been afraid of my entire life--I just hope it goes away."
"Don't let it go away. It'll remind you of why you wear that uniform- and how precious the life of those who serve under you really is. Sometimes the Brass forget that fact but the best ones always remember it." Savage nodded to Sang who wrapped up the proceeding by slamming her gavel.
=/\= End Log =/\=
Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Lansine
Chief Strategic Operations Officer
Starfleet Internal Investigations
Beta Fleet Detachment