Earth, San Francisco 10am E.S.T.
Russell, Kelvin, most of the Federation general assembly and Starfleet command are awaiting the arrival of President Larenka, Fleet Admiral Veloru, is standing in the wings of the temporary auditorium built for the remembrance service that will close with the unveiling of two memorial pictures one that will hang on the wall of the Federation assembly and the other that will go inside Starfleet headquarters once it is fully rebuilt and reopens.
It will contain rotating holographic images of everyone killed in the war.
Larenka arrives along with his personal security attachment, as always coming in ahead of him.
As he enters he finds Admiral Veloru waiting for him.
“Greetings Mr President”
“Veloru, how are you”
“Fine, sir, but would you mind if I asked you to have your security team give us a bit of space I'd like us to have a private conversation," Veloru asked.
"Oh yes of course, as it happens after the morning I'd been hoping to grab a word with you in confidence.”
“Ok, Mr President,” he answered, then motioned for his team to go, their leader another Bolian left his with his subordinate team members quickly following him out.
“Admiral Veloru; I think I may have a problem and I’m going to need your help and support, I don’t know if you know or are aware of Ambassador Burton”
“I don’t know, I think I may have met him, but I've met so many ambassadors I long ago lost interest in keeping their names and faces correct.”
“Well, whether you have or not it seems that he is after my job and has gathered a bit of support from the sheep in the general assembly. Even if he doesn't actually have enough to unseat me, he does have enough that he could initiate a confidence vote.”
“Then even if I won that and beat off his challenge it would probably lead to others thinking they can challenge me and try to grab power for themselves, so you see it would be beneficial to have your public backing”
“I’m sorry Mr President, but it would mean absolutely nothing, a copy of my letter of resignation will be sitting on your desk and I have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning to publicly announce my decision to step down and name my successor.”
“You’re serious you’re just going to up and quit out of the blue like this.”
“Well, can’t you possibly put it off for a week or two, just until you help me crush Burton”
“No, I can’t. I've cleared up everything I need to and I've organized a private transport to take me home and frankly, I never really had any interest in playing politics and I certainly don’t care about it now."
Veloru paused as he sought to regain his enthusiasm for this conversation.
After a few minutes he began to speak again.
"May I speak frankly, Mr President.”
“You mean you aren't already.”
“No, believe me, I have shown considerable restraint, Mr President, the truth is that frankly after what you made me do during the war I don’t know how you could think I’d support you, or have any desire to help you in any way whatever.”
“I didn't like you much before that so what would make you think that you deserve to stay in office or that you’d have my support to do so, if you want my advice, do what I’m doing, admit you made mistakes in the war and step down gracefully.”
“You and I both have a lot to answer for concerning the choices we made and I think Starfleet and the Federation will both be better off if we stand aside and let someone else take control see if they can’t guide the galaxy back to the stability we had before the war.”
“Well, thank you for your bluntness, but I see things differently from you, so where you're content to run and hide to take the blame for decisions made in wartime that’s your choice I intend to fight my corner. I can honestly defend every action and decision I made.”
“If I don’t have your support, it’ll be harder, but not impossible and I’m sure I can convince Cole to give me his backing once he takes over.”
“Cole isn't going to be my successor I learned the hard way what a devious toad he is and I don’t intend to let him get anywhere near total control of Starfleet.”
“Well, who are you planning to install.”
“Kelvin Hudson, the same Kelvin Hudson, who criticized almost every decision you made during the war and who publicly called for your resignation both during and before the war, why on earth would you hand the job to him of all people.”
“Because he is the complete opposite of me in almost every way because I honestly believe that he will be able to bring about a restoration in Starfleet to take it back to being primarily about scientific and exploration as it once was.”
“You coward you’re just going to cut and run home like a frightened child handing Starfleet over to him before you do. Well, I intend to do whatever I can to stop you giving Starfleet to Hudson I’ll make sure Cole gets nominated by command, at least then I’ll be able to assure I get his backing.”
“If that’s what you think is in the best interests of Starfleet then it seems like a good thing I’m quitting, I don’t want to have to stand and watch by as that egomaniac destroys Starfleet quicker than a million Jem’Hadar warships as his sense of his own importance far outstrips his actual abilities.”
“Mr President I hope that you take at least one piece of advice from me if you beat off the challenge from Ambassador Russell please, please do not put your backing behind Cole, he is a devious manipulative over ambitious toad.”
“I guarantee you if you choose him, he will betray you at some point and will probably be undermining you from the very start. I don’t think he can help himself, it’s just in his nature to put his own career above the common good of everyone else, whether you do decide if you don’t want Hudson choose someone else I can give you a list of a dozen other more suitable candidates.”
"I do appreciate your honesty regarding Admiral Cole and I will heed your advice on this occasion and ensure whatever I do he gets passed over. However, if I remain Federation President I will also do whatever it takes to make sure Hudson is not your successor."
"I'm afraid it's too late, I've told him he's it and made all the official arrangements to make sure of a smooth transition from me to him, I hate to break it to you, but Hudson becoming the new Starfleet Chief is, as the old Earth expression goes; a done deal."
"Now, whatever political gamesmanship, you might have left to play to stop This Ambassador taking your place or stopping my nomination of Hudson are none of my concern, as I stated I didn't like you much before you had me sacrifice an entire world to the Dominion, now I absolutely despise you."
"I can't wait to get far away from you, but I know my conscience will never allow to outrun the memory of what we did and if yours can, then I will definitely not want any part of a future you are in control of."
"Thank you Mr. President, I bid you good day. There are far more important matters to attend to this day, goodbye. It is my sincere hope I never meet you again."
"Well, I'm glad you were able to show some backbone this time instead of weakness caving into to my request to aid our people at their most desperate hour. I did not force you do help me, I did not coerce you. I simply showed you the truth of what would happen to our people if the Dominion let the Jem'Hadar loose on the homeworld, I gave you a choice and you are the one who acted on it, who moved personnel and ships, not me."
"If there is an evidence trail, I'm afraid that, would it lead back to you alone, nothing ties to me. The consequences for you I fear would be quite grave; If I were you I would be very careful to make sure what we did remains between us."
"If that troubles you, so be it. Because it doesn't trouble me, but I want your word you will take the subject of that conversation to your grave."
"You have no problem with our actions, but still want to keep the details secret. I'd say that kind of hypocrisy sums you up, Mr. President. I give you no such guarantee and in fact I would like to leave you guessing. I like the idea of you, never knowing if or when I might unload that information to the Federation News Service."
Without saying another word Veloru walked away, leaving an angry President Larenka behind. Stood there simmering with quiet anger, but still having to put on a smile and shake hands or in someway greet almost everyone who had come to the service.
After half an hour of people milling about talking to one and other an announcement sounded, ladies and gentlemen may you all please take a seat the ceremony will be starting in ten minutes.
The talking abruptly stopped as everyone soberly sought out a place to sit, while those like Ambassador Burton and Admiral Hudson, who had offered or been asked to give a speech made their way backstage.
Work came to a halt on The USS Melbourne and on Deep Space Nine and every Starfleet and Federation facility in The Alpha Quadrant as the memorial is being broadcast live. Even being broadcast on the Klingon Homeworld, Romulus and even on Cardassia Prime.
It will be a long ceremony as after the speeches the name of every Starfleet officer, Federation citizen, Klingon Warrior, Romulan officer or Reman soldier will be read out. Either by a surviving family member or a commanding officer.
In orbit space station personnel stopped working in deep space, Starfleet officers brought the ships they served aboard to a stop as they all found the nearest monitor.
Aboard the USS Victory, on the bridge acting first officer Litana Tyrl sat beside the captain with the rest of the command staff and some crew members watching it on the main view screen.
As the names were read out she took a deep breath and held it as the name she dreaded hearing was said out loud. Only exhaling a few minutes later when she felt certain the urge to cry had passed.
She didn't notice when another name was read out and a few of the senior staff looked at her and the Captain deliberately avoided making eye contact with her, trying not to see her at all.
Aboard the Enterprise E, Cadet Bao'raz sat in his regular place at helm control, this usually smiling, happy young man in silence as the name's of a couple of his fellow academy cadets names were read. One in particular causing a tear to slide down his blue skinned cheek.
Aboard the USS Colombia Lieutenant B'rax stood in his place on the bridge, there were no names read out that he felt any particular notion to grieve, so he simply bowed his head maintaining a respectful silence for the duration.
On a transport headed back to Earth, Doctor Verok couldn't stop working as she performed an emergency appendectomy on a crew member so she listened to the speeches, she heard one name called, but he was someone she hadn't seen since childhood so that he had died meant little to her.
The one person she had lost had been a casualty of the war, but he wasn't dead and even if he had died there would be no way his name would be read out alongside the victim's of this brutal war.
Having served the majority of the war on Earth at Starfleet medical, she hadn't lost anyone she served with, she had just spent a lot of time taking care of the bodies of the Starfleet officers killed in combat.
Everybody, including the chief just assumed her Vulcan demeanor made her the perfect person to deliver death notifications to the family members of the deceased.
On Starbase Deep Space Nine, Major Kerena Jien stepped off the lift and into Ops.
She came up to Colonel Kira and stood beside her and they watched with the rest of the Bajoran and Starfleet personnel as the memorial service began, feeling grateful to know that she had found out for certain that the name of the one person she cared more than any other wasn't going to get read out.
She did however try her hardest, but failed to suppress a few tears falling as she listened out for and heard the names of his mother and younger brother being read out.
David hadn't wanted to leave his quarters, he knew he would rather have been able to lock himself away all morning, he dreaded this so much. Knowing that this service would put an official stamp on his mothers and his brothers' deaths.
Still, he knew he couldn't avoid watching it, part of him needed to see it, his hope being that this could be the start of him really beginning to grieve for those he had lost and maybe the beginning of finding his way back to the man he was before their deaths. Before the war.
He had spent the morning going around to each crew member who had lost someone close to them, he had made sure he had gotten an exact list and spent a few moments to say a few brief words to all of them before the service began.
When it came time David made his way to the bridge just in time for the beginning of the service, he was a casual viewer only half listening to the speeches, it was what came after that he was truly dreading.
The roll call, the listing of the names of the dead. As he expected tears began to stream down his face as Admiral Hudson as a lifelong friend of hers reads out the names Admiral Deborah Shepherd and Cadet Riley Shepherd, his mother and younger brother.
As he sat let the names being officially listed as killed in action sink in, he began to realize that he couldn't remember the last time he'd spoken to his mother and he couldn't even remember what ship she served on. It took him a split second to remember she had been an Admiral serving at Starfleet headquarters on Earth.
That upset him, she basically raised him by herself, his father walked out on them before he turned 10 years old and he had to think about her rank and where she worked.
Kelvin had been there like a favourite uncle before his dad left and he became more of a father figure after, even so he considered his mother his sole parent. Until he left to go the academy they saw each other practically every day.
Then, with him away in San Francisco and his mom, back then Captain of a Starship they only saw each other when they came to their home in Sydney Australia.
Those visits became fewer the longer he was enrolled as his confidence grew and as he met and became friends with Litana and others. Still, she had been the biggest influence on him, the biggest factor in how he had turned out so it disappointed him to know he had let things about her slip from his memory so soon after her death.
David looked around the bridge at the faces of officers and crew alike all of them sad and a few shedding tears, he saw it as a brief opportunity to distract himself from his own grief and began going around to each of them to get them back focussed on their jobs and to see that each one they had lost died heroically, that however sad they felt they should take comfort from the knowledge that their sacrifices saved the Alpha Quadrant.
He was only half paying attention to the words coming out of his mouth, but while he meant everything he'd said to his crew he simply wanted to help them, but he realised how much they applied to him and his grief over his mother. She did die saving lives she had been evacuating people to safety from the damaged Starfleet headquarters and been killed when another Breen torpedo struck the building causing a collapse of almost half of it.
He had been injured doing the same thing when helping others get to the escape pods aboard serving aboard the USS Dakota when it had been crippled by the Breen energy dampening weapon that almost turned the tide of the war against Starfleet.
He did the right thing risked his life to help already injured crew safely evacuate because of how she raised him, being that unselfish certainly wasn't something his father would have done.
He realised those words had actually helped him make up his mind about one thing, whatever pain and grief he felt running away wasn't the option, he was Starfleet through and through, he believed as his mum had done in the Federation and what it has stood for.
In her memory in honour of her he had finally decided that he would be staying in Starfleet.