PH/D01 - Conference Room
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The Philadelphia's small conference room contained only the standard long table and chairs for staff meetings. It was tiny compared to the USS Nile and even the battered old Yeager. A Security officer, a Bolian, stood beside the door, and seated at the table was a middle-aged human, slightly balding, with a stern face and the rank of Lt. Commander.

"Thank you, Ensign. Please wait outside," the human said to the Security officers, the one waiting and the Vulcan's chaperone. Both left without a word. The officer indicated a chair with a motion of his hand and T'lari sat down.

"I'm Commander Lamont. This is just a preliminary interview, Lieutenant. You have the right to legal representation at any time should you choose it. This interview is being recorded, and your words can be considered evidence in any case against you."

T'Lari nodded.

"Please tell me what happened between the time Captain Braggins contacted you aboard the USS Yeager and the cessation of hostilities."

The Vulcan did so. She made no attempt to spin the events or paint either herself or Braggins in a better light. There were gaps, of course. She had known nothing of Jensen's mutiny or anything about the attempted theft of the Philadelphia. The Vulcan had certainly sensed (both observationally and psionically) the tension on the ship when she was beamed aboard, but there hadn't been anything to do except her job since things had been moving so rapidly.

"So you are saying you willingly engaged in the theft of a Starfleet ship, followed the illegal orders of a Captain, and helped cause an interstellar incident?" The human's tone held a slight hostility he was trying to mask with a neutral but stern voice. He wanted her to say something useful... but it was clear to he that as far as he was concerned she was a small fish. He wanted Braggins and possibly Jensen.

"That is correct. Although the Cardassian ship did fire on the Philadelphia first, and with weapons capable of penetrating our shields."

Lamont was irritated. "Thank you, but that will be determined through a review of records. You're in enough trouble as it is. It would be better for you if you could provide us with some... insight... about the actions of Captain Braggins."

As expected. I have nothing to lose by voicing my opinions.

"Insight?" She raised an eyebrow in the manner of her people. "You wish to turn me and have me testify against her in any court martial proceedings." It wasn't a question.

"If necessary, yes. Feel free to tell me what you think, Lieutenant."

She nodded. "I never had any intention of doing otherwise, sir. In my opinion, Captain Braggins acted to uphold the values of the Federation and Starfleet. She acted to protect both the lives of officers and to prevent the Cardassians from gaining valuable technology that they would use against the Federation."

"By stealing a ship, and attempting to steal another?"

"Yes, Commander. The use of the crews of the Artemis and Philadelphia to undertake Operation Ursa Major was a very poor decision on the part of Starfleet from the beginning. Such matters are best left to trained infiltration teams, not the crews of starships. And then to cancel the mission while it was underway, when it was too late to recall the Artemis crew, was in my opinion an illegal order, an attempt to cover up a mission that command had decided was too risky."

Lamont was irritated by her calm demeanor. This clearly was not what he wanted. "Sometimes circumstances change, Lieutenant. It's not your place to question orders."

"It is the duty of all Starfleet officers to question orders if they are made with ill intent. Either Starfleet Command was panicking and attempting to minimize the damage by pretending that the Artemis crew was acting without orders, or it was a deliberate decision to cancel the operation after it was underway and with no possibility of recall. The first is far more likely, but the second is a possibility I do not discount. Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

She'd always liked that. Humans, for all their passions, did have an understanding of logic that was impressive even by Vulcan standards.

"Starfleet wouldn't..."

She cut him off. "Engage in illegal orders, risk war, allow technology to fall into enemy hands? Sell out a starship crew by pretending their mission was unauthorized? Commander, we both know that isn't true."

The Commander held up his hand, having made the decision to stop the interview. "That will be enough for now, Lieutenant T'Lari. Return to your quarters. There will be further interviews soon."

"Yes sir." She rose. "Captain Braggins saved the lives of nineteen loyal officers that Starfleet had abandoned. Loyalty is a two-way street, to quote a human proverb. If Starfleet demands loyalty it must show loyalty. It seems to have a problem with that."

Her escort arrived and she left the room, leaving a very irritated officer wondering where he'd lost control.

== ETL ==

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