Star Trek: New Horizons Season 5, Episode 1 (Proclamation) by captaintigranian
Summary: SEASON 5 PREMIERE: As Crestia looks forward to starting a new life, the Romulan government tries to rip it all away. Meanwhile, Laria presses Tigranian to tell Annabeth and Alex of Torlek's request for their baby.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Friendship, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 7 Completed: Yes Word count: 14394 Read: 825 Published: 10 Dec 2017 Updated: 10 Dec 2017

1. Chapter 1 by captaintigranian

2. Chapter 2 by captaintigranian

3. Chapter 3 by captaintigranian

4. Chapter 4 by captaintigranian

5. Chapter 5 by captaintigranian

6. Chapter 6 by captaintigranian

7. Chapter 7 by captaintigranian

Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Amira Homestead: Gault, Federation Space

Stardate: 53401.7

"I'm so nervous," Crestia said wiping her sweaty palms on the sides of her skirt. The young Elohsian stared down at the computer terminal set up on the wooden dining room table in the Amira's home. "There's no way they're going to say 'yes'," she stammered between shallow, nervous breaths. "People work their entire lives for this and I'm so behind."

"They would be fools not to 'yes'," Lanassa said waving her hands in the air. "If they say 'no' they are not good enough for you anyways."

"And you can always try again next year," Jion added with a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "There's no rush."

"But she will not have to wait because they are going to say 'yes,'" Lanassa grumbled at her husband in Bajoran. Jion looked over to his wife and gave her a nervous look. He admired his wife's confidence, but he knew Crestia was right. When she first arrived at their home a year ago, she could barely read. Lanassa would spend hours at night by the fire teaching her. They began with letters, moved onto picture books, and finally finished a novel together. Then, they practiced arithmetic, history, and basic science. Crestia was determined to rise above her tortured beginnings as a slave, and she knew that started with the education Selonia and the Romulans denied her.

Luckily, she possessed a gifted mind that was up to the challenge. In only one year, she had progressed from elementary school to earning her Federation Secondary School Equivalency Certificate. Now, she would see if all her work paid off.

"Just open it, Crestia-ga-ne," Lanassa said stroking Crestia's dark hair.

Crestia took a deep breath, logged into the computer, and selected the icon that stated she had a new message. A large, official crest appeared on the screen. With a trembling hand she scrolled down and read the words beneath it:

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Washington, District of Columbia, Earth

FOUNDED 1789

Crestia (daughter of) Lucretia:

Congratulations!

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted as a member of the undergraduate Class of 2381. This year's process was extremely competitive as we received over 400,000 applications for a freshman class of only 3500. However, the strength of your application makes us believe you will become a valued part of our school's unique history and legacy…

Crestia froze and placed her palms flat on the table.

"I got in…" she said softly.

"You got in!" Jion shouted with joy.

"Of course she got in!" Lanassa replied grinning from ear to ear. "I never had any doubts! Thank you Prophets! The Prophets are good!" Lucretia bent over and planted two kisses on her cheeks.

"I have never been so happy to have two daughters who are smarter than I am!" Jion said turning towards the Bajoran eternity wheel on the far wall and raising his hands in grateful supplication. He began muttering a prayer in Bajoran.

It was the first time that Jion ever directly referred to Crestia as his child. Even though she loved her mother trapped back in the Romulan Empire, she somehow felt that Jion and Lanassa were now her parents as much as she was. It just felt right.

"I'm going to college!" Crestia said loudly as the good news began to sink in. She pushed back from the table and jumped to her feet. "I'M GOING TO COLLEGE!" she shouted joyfully jumping up and down.

The three elated individuals joined hands and shouted loud enough to shake the wooden rafters.
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
System J-25: Federation Border with Romulan Neutral Zone

"I'm worried, Alex," Annabeth said in the far corner of Scharr's spartan quarters. "I haven't felt him move yet." She gently rubbed the sides of her baby bump hoping for some reaction.

"Honey," Alex said softly stroking her wife's cheek. "It's your first pregnancy and you're only in the twenty-third week. It's completely normal not to feel anything until week twenty-five."

"Ok," Annabeth said relaxing a bit. "I know I'm freaking out a little but I'm just so scared something will go wrong."

"That's also completely normal," Alex replied before planting a tender kiss on Annabeth's lips.

The doors parted and Tigranian and Laria walked in.

"Did we miss anything?" the Bajoran asked excitedly.

"No," Scharr said fiddling with his holoscreen. "still trying to get this damned trans-galactic sub-space chat all set up." Katie, Phil, and T'les were behind the Pershing's chief engineer with drinks in their hands. Tigranian walked over to them while Laria drifted back towards Annabeth and Alex.

"All these babies!" Laria said grinning from ear to ear. "It's so exciting."

"And terrifying," Annabeth added.

"Oh, Annabeth!" Laria said excitedly changing the subject. "I was searching the music database and I found the most amazing music. I think it's in your native language."

"Really?" Annabeth replied with a smile.

"Yeah, I loved it, but I do have a question," Laria asked. "What's a Luftballon?"

"What…" Annabeth said as she dropped her chin to her chest.

"Yeah," Laria said confused. "The singer kept repeating 'Luftballons' over and over again."

"Wir sind das Land von Bach, Beethoven, und Wagner und alles was sie sich erinnern ist neunundneunzig verdammt Ballons…" Annabeth muttered while rubbing her eyes. Alex looked uncomfortable. She always did when her wife shifted to German.

"What?" Laria asked cocking her head to one side.

"Nothing," Annabeth replied with a feigned smile. "I'm just glad you're learning about German music. That's all."

"Oh," Laria said relieved. "So, what is it?"

"It's a balloon," Annabeth said matter of factly. "It's a balloon that lifts into the air…" She held her palm flat and then raised it half a meter for emphasis. "Hence Luftballon."

"Oh!" Laria said. "I get it now. It's just that you humans have so many languages. Every region on Earth, a different language. How do you keep track of them all?"

"Avec la pratique!" Alex said happily with a grin. Laria looked confused and Annabeth groaned.

"Nobody speaks French anymore," Annabeth said. "The French don't even speak French."

"In Canada we do," Alex grumbled under her breath.

Across the room, Scharr continued to make adjustments to his holoscreen.

"Are you having trouble, Commander?" T'les asked. "Would you like assistance?"

"No," Scharr said angrily over his shoulder. "I've almost got it."

"Wow, Sir," Phil said taking another sip of beer. "Aren't you nervous at all?"

"Number eleven, Lexington," Scharr said pressing several buttons on the subspace tuner. "Please keep track of current events."

Katie and Tigranian laughed as Phil drank again.

The left side of the screen blinked into focus.

"You got me, Snowflake?" Scharr asked into the microphone.

"Yeah, Dad!" Zhenia Scharr said from the other side of the galaxy. "Loud and clear." She noticed everyone else in the room as Annabeth, Alex, and Laria walked over. "Hey everybody!" she said waving her hand at the screen.

"Hello, Zhenia!" they all said in unison.

"Is Lieutenant Hawkins there?" Zhenia asked hopefully.

"No, he's not…" Scharr replied as his antenna curled angrily. Zhenia knew to drop it. She also knew he would call later anyways.

"How's Cardassia?" Alex asked as Scharr continued to try to get Lor'Tan General Hospital on Andoria.

"Still the same. The border keeps worrying us, but at least the flow of refugees has stabilized."

Suddenly, the right side of the screen connected and Xel Scharr lay in a hospital bed wrapped in a white gown. Sweat dripped down from her long white hair and her antenna curled with each one of her labored breaths. Schrie and Fos Scharr stood on either side of her bed rubbing blocks of ice over her arms and forehead.

"Hey Honeys!" Scharr said to the screen. "Can you see us?"

"Tren!" Schrie said relieved. "We thought you miss it!"

"Nope, the gangs all here, and I brought someone else."

"Hi, Moms!" Zhenia said waving at her screen.

"Snowflake!" Fos said grinning. "It's good you finally decided to call your mothers." Zhenia blushed a slight shade of blue.

"Where are the kids?" Scharr asked.

"The youngest seven are with your mothers," Schrie explained, "but Tohr, Schryb, and Isiraa are here."

"Hey Dad, Hey Zhenia!" a chorus of voices said from offscreen. Several blue hands waved into shot and then disappeared again."

"Hey guys!" Scharr said happily. Tigranian marveled how much his icy demeanor thawed as soon as he was talking to his family.

"Jesus," Katie whispered to Laria next to her. "It's like the Sound of Music meets The Brady Bunch."
"The what meets the what?" Laria replied furrowing her brow.

"Nevermind," Katie said rubbing her eyes. Laria huffed. It was the second time in ten minutes a human woman rubbed her eyes at her and it was starting to get annoying.

"How are you doing, Xel?" Scharr asked with deep affection.

"It's good think you called when you did," she said before shivering with the pain of a contraction. "Cause I think this is it!"

"Hold on, Honey," Schrie said stroking her forehead with her block of ice. "It's almost over."

"We're all right here," Fos added.

"WHY IN THE ICY ABYSS' NAME DID I HAVE TO BE THE GROUP'S DAMN SHEN!" Xel said shivering with pain again. "ELEVEN TIMES! ELEVEN DAMNED TIMES I'VE PUSHED OUT A KID FOR YOU PEOPLE!"

"Love you too, Mom," Tohr's voice sounded from offscreen. Scharr muffled a laugh. He was so happy to see he's acerbic humor had rubbed off on his oldest.

"Well, right now I hate all of you!" Xel shouted.

"Is that what's it's gonna be like me for me!?" Annabeth said to Alex and Tigranian with terror filled eyes.
"No," Tigranian said shaking his head.

"Not at all," Alex said agreeing with the captain.

Annabeth looked at both of them skeptically.

"Actually, yes, pretty much exactly the same," Alex said looking down at the carpet.

"But I know you'll bear it well," Tigranian added.

Annabeth's gaze looked like it could cut through iron.

"I'm gonna get a drink," Tigranian said excusing himself. As he walked over to the replicator, Laria followed him.

"She's getting close, Daniel," Laria whispered. "When are you going to talk with them about the baby's Klingon upbringing like Torlek wants?"

"When the time is right, L," Tigranian said replicating a raktajino. "It's a big decision."

"We're fast running out of right times," Laria said looking at Annabeth's swollen belly. "In about three months, you'll be having the talk with her son."

"You're right," Tigranian said taking a sip of his mug. "I just have to find the right way to broach the topic. I don't want to seem overbearing."

"Oh, it'll be overbearing no matter how you broach it," Laria said shaking her head. "You just don't have a choice."

"Qu'vatlh," Tigranian muttered as he walked back towards the group.

****

Two hours later, Xel lay in bed with a small blue bundle in her arms and a smile across her face. The tiny Andorian already had a full head of white hair and two tiny antennae that jutted out from its sleeping head.

"That is the most adorable little frosted blueberry I have seen in my life," Katie whispered as she pulled in close to Phil. Scharr didn't pay attention to anything accept the screen.

"A chan," Scharr said touching his hand to holodisplay. The group silently marveled at the beautiful scene from behind him. "She's beautiful."

"You did great, Mom," Zhenia added. "What are you going to name her?"

"You father is actually the one who suggested it," Schrie said gently running her hand through the newborn's hair.

"It was one of his few intelligent ideas," Fos quipped.

"Her name is Ryth," Scharr said softly before looking over his shoulder to the crewmates. "It means family."

There was not a single dry eye in his quarters. Even T'les had to clandestinely wipe her face with her sleeve.

"I guess having a baby won't be so bad after all if it ends like that," Annabeth whispered as she tightly clutched Alex's hand.
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Tigranian was in an unusually happy mood as he stepped onto the bridge the next morning.

"Captain on the Bridge!" Annabeth shouted. However, the captain noticed she was starting to have a difficult time lifting herself to standing under the weight of her belly.

"Carry on," Tigranian replied as he walked towards his chair with another mug of raktajino. "You know, Number One," he whispered as he plopped down next to Annabeth, "I don't think anyone would say anything if you stopped standing up every time I walked in the room. You kinda have a mitigating circumstance going on."

"Dan," Annabeth replied flatly pointing to her belly, "the day I let this thing get in the way of performing my duties is the day I need to retire. Tracking?"

"Yes Ma'am," he said taking a sip of coffee and looking back towards the viewscreen. "I assume we've let Mr. Scharr have a little time off in the duty roster to keep talking to home?"

"I did take him off the roster for the next week," Annabeth said rolling her eyes, "but he flat out refused. Said he would call home in his off-time and that his twelfth child with a warp core still needed him. Then, he went right back to his damned engines."

"Remind me to have a talk with him later about balancing work and family life," Tigranian grumbled.

"Like he would listen to you, Dan," Annabeth chuckled.

"When you right, you right…" Tigranian muttered.

"Captain," Katie's voice sounded from Tactical.

"Yes, Katie?" Tigranian responded.

"Incoming subspace transmission from Admiral Murphy. It's coded personal, Sir,"

"Personal?" Tigranian said surprised.

"Yes Sir," Katie replied awkwardly. "The Admiral also requests you have Lieutenant Tigranian with you when you respond."

The captain looked over his shoulder to Laria at Science. She looked just as surprised as he did.

"In my ready room, Katie," Tigranian said rising to his feet and crossing to his office. Laria followed him.

"What do you think this about?" Laria said nervously walking up to his desk.

"I don't know," Tigranian said taking a seat in his chair and keying up his computer terminal. He input his access code and the somber face of Admiral Murphy greeted him.

"Pete, what's going on?"

"Is Laria with you?" Murphy asked.

"I'm right here, Sir," she said stepping into screen.

"This concerns both of you," he said. "Yesterday evening, the Federation Diplomatic Corps received an official petition from the office of the new Romulan Proconsul…"

"Our helpful friend, Senator Semachs?" Tigranian asked.

"The very same," Murphy replied. "It was about the woman you brought back from Romulus fifteen months ago, Crestia."

"My sister?" Laria asked in shock.

"Your sister?" Murphy replied equally surprised. "I wasn't aware your parents adopted her."

"Not by law, but it's complicated, Sir," Laria said shaking her head. She didn't want to get into the exact family dynamic, but she knew her parents loved her like she was their own.

"Part of me wishes they had, Laria," Murphy said. "The Romulans are demanding her immediate return under Article XXVII of the Treaty of Algeron."

"She's been granted asylum, Pete," Tigranian said shaking his head. "Not to mention the Romulans invaded our space last year trying to steal her back. I think that means they can pound sand."

"They've never officially admitted to the incursion on Gault…" Murphy replied.

"Of course the bastards didn't!" Laria said. "Luckily my parents are good shots."

"Regardless, now they're trying the legal route," Murphy continued. "They say their claim supersedes political asylum."

Tigranian pulled out a PADD and accessed the text of Article XVII. As soon as he saw the title, he nearly smashed the device.

"RETURN OF ILLEGALLY SALVAGED PROPERTY!?" Tigranian shouted loud enough to be heard on the bridge. "The Diplomatic Corps cannot be serious!"

"They're diplomats, Dan," Murphy said with a sigh, "They're job is to preserve the peace at all costs, even when common sense doesn't apply. To the Romulans, she's not a person. She's property that you stole. They're going to try to make a legal claim based on Prime Directive Concerns."

"The Federation doesn't permit or tolerate slavery!" Laria shouted.

"The Federation doesn't, but Romulus does," Murphy said. "They're trying to say it's not our business how they classify Crestia. If they can get the Federation to admit that she was improperly taken from their space, we'll have no choice but to return her."

"She wants to stay in the Federation, Sir! Doesn't that mean anything?" Laria asked.

"Not if she has the same legal rights as a cargo container," Murphy replied.

"I will appeal this directly to the Council. If I have to stand on the President's desk, I will not allow this happen!"

"The Council Foreign Affairs Committee already ruled this morning. They're calling a hearing on Starbase 173. That's the nearest post with a Federation Magistrate certified in Admiralty Law. Crestia will be required to appear. The Romulans are sending a legal delegation to argue their case. It convenes in five days."

"That's only twelve lightyears from here," Laria said stroking her chin.

"I've already spoken with Admiral Paris," Murphy said. "The reason I'm calling is that we both agreed that we think it's a good idea for the Pershing to put into port to check out your warp core for a week or two."

"Our warp core is fine, Admiral. I can't pry my damn engineer away from it," Tigranian said balling his fist and staring at the wall."

"Obviously, you're not hearing me, Dan. THIS IS NOT A STARFLEET MATTER. There is no reason for you or your ship to be at that hearing. However, Starbase 173 has a full repair facility that can be at your disposal FOR AS LONG AS YOU REQUIRE."

"Tracking, Admiral," Tigranian said nodding with understanding. "Our warp core could use a good overhaul." He was already trying to formulate a plan to swing the proceedings in their favor.

"The Diplomatic Corps has already dispatched their security service to Gault to escort Crestia. I would appreciate it if you let your parents know not to shoot them when they arrive, Laria," Murphy said. "We don't want to make this any worse."

"You're asking me to tell my parents to let the State take away someone they love without a fight, Sir?"Laria said incredulously. "Obviously, you don't know Bajoran history very well."

"This isn't the Romulan Empire, Laria," Murphy replied. "Just because there will be a hearing, doesn't mean they're giving her up to those animals."

"Tell that to my medical officer, Admiral," Tigranian said still fuming.

"Trust me. Current events have evolved since you got Alex out of that Reman hellhole. The Federation is a lot more skeptical about building good will with the Star Empire. But Laria, I'm serious, if Crestia runs or your parents try the cowboy routine, it's over. They'll hand her straight back across the Neutral Zone."

"I'll do what I can, Sir," Laria said.

"Stay frosty, Tigranians," Murphy said. "Just because this isn't our show doesn't mean we don't have resources we can spare. Whatever you need, call me. I'll make it happen."

"Believe me, Pete," Tigranian said. "I will take you up on that."

****

"VOS! VOS NAV LAT!" Lanassa screamed in Bajoran at the subspace monitor. "I will never allow anyone to take her anywhere. The only place she is going is Earth for school."

"Mama," Laria begged for her mother to understand. "The decision is already made. The only chance we have is to beat this in the courtroom."

"If you think after the life we have lived, that I will ever trust a courtroom to dispense to justice, you are very wrong," Jion said nervously rubbing his hands together.

"With respect," Tigranian replied, "This is the Federation, not the Cardassian Empire. Justice can be done here the right way."

"Oh, Daniel-gos-ne," Lanassa said looking at a terrified Crestia sitting on the couch beside her, "That is so na´ve. Only the Prophets can dispense true justice. All mortals can and will fail."

"We've had a plan our entire lives in case something like this were too happen," Jion continued, "We thought once Laria became an adult, we would never have to use it, but it looks like we might not have a choice."

"Dade, vos," Laria pleaded with her father. "If you become fugitives, any hope of ever giving Crestia a normal life disappears. The Federation and the Romulans will hunt you for the rest of your lies."

"I've been a fugitive before, Laria-ga-ne," Lanassa said confidently. "The Obsidian Order and two Cardassian divisions could never find me."

"But you will never be a fugitive again," Crestia suddenly spoke. "I am going to the tribunal."

"Crestia-ga-ne…" Lanassa said desperately on the screen.

"The decision is mine and I've made it," Crestia continued. "I came to the Federation to be free and make my own choices. Now, I'm making one. You all have been too kind for me to destroy your lives."

"Crestia, we are doing this FOR YOU," Jion pleaded. "We want to help."

"And I'm doing this for you," she replied more resolutely. "Lady Laria and the Son of Tigranian are right. I've seen that the Federation can be righteous. However, if it is not, than it doesn't matter whether I hide here or in the Romulan Empire. Tyranny doesn't change."

"Then, we are coming with you to the tribunal," Jion said. "She will not go through this alone," he commanded Laria and Tigranian across subspace.

"No, she won't," Tigranian replied. "We'll be there as well. I'll contact Starfleet Command. I'll make sure you get to Starbase 173 as soon as possible."

"Daniel," Lanassa said resolutely. "Understand this, if the magistrate rules against Crestia, they are not sending her back. I will not allow them. Do you understand?"

"Lanassa please," Tigranian continued to plead. "Let's not cross that bridge until we have to."

"Family is everything to Bajorans," Jion said. "Without it, there is no point to live."

"Then I must be Bajoran as well as Klingon," Tigranian replied. "Because I agree."

"We will see you in three days," Lanassa said. "Yis kezza shad les lave."

"Uya au'tan," Laria said kissing the index and middle finger on her left and hand and holding them towards the screen before it went blank.

"So, what are we gonna do to help her?" Tigranian said with a deep breath. He slid the desktop monitor aside and looked into his living room. Annabeth, Alex, Phil, Katie, Scharr, and T'les stared back at him.

"There's no way the Federation sends her back to those animals," Katie said in disbelief.

"Are you so sure about that, Katie?" Alex said nervously rubbing her upper left arm with her right hand.

"I don't take anything for granted anymore," Annabeth said staring out towards the window.

"Who is her legal representation?" T'les asked with a hint of concern breaking through her Vulcan calm.

"I don't know," Tigranian said shaking his head. "Probably some dumbass public defender fresh outta law school that the Diplomatic Corps has on retainer. In any case, it's probably not the best legal mind in the Federation."

"No," Katie said rubbing her eyes. "The Federation only reserves those for news talking heads and the kids of Council members."

"Are we off the record right now, Sir?" Scharr asked as his antennae straightened.

"Of course," Tigranian said nervously spinning an old-fashioned pen through his fingers.

"If the magistrate screws this up, do we let them take her?"

"What do you mean, Tren?" Laria asked.

"We have one of the most powerful starships in the fleet and I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Articles of the Federation against all enemies: foreign AND domestic. One of those articles prohibits slavery."

"You're talking about a coup, Tren," Tigranian said. "No, I will not allow that to happen.. Disobeying Starfleet is one thing, but openly defying a civilian court goes against the fabric of our society. There has to be some way to save Crestia that doesn't involve us taking the law into our own hands. Not to mention, you all have families counting on you as well, especially you 'father of the year'" Tigranian said starting back at Scharr.

"There is another way," Phil interjected. "The right way."

"And what exactly do you mean by that, Phil?" Katie asked skeptically.

"I know a guy," he said confidently. "I just need to make a subspace call." He turned to Tigranian. "And, Sir, I'll probably need Starfleet's help to get him to the tribunal in time."

"Does anybody else have any other ideas?" the captain asked. One by one, everyone shook their heads in the negative.

"Alright Phil," Tigranian said shrugging his shoulders. "Tell us about your guy."
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Starbase 173: Sector 23, Federation Border with Romulan Neutral Zone

Stardate: 53402.3

Crestia sat nervously with her palms flat on the wooden surface of the defendant's table. Lanassa, Jion, and the Tigranians sat behind the wooden railing separating the dock from the rest of the newly refurbished hearing chamber in the heart of this space station. The black-robed civilian magistrate loomed from his bench as he examined some of the particulars of the case on a set of PADDs provided by the courtroom clerk. A few meters away, three Romulan advocates in grey and blue robes sat with arrogant smirks on their faces. Normally, it would be offensive for them to expect such an easy victory, but just as Tigranian feared, Crestia's advocate inspired absolutely no confidence. The pasty human from Alpha Centauri couldn't have been more than 25 or 26 years old. He wore a cheaply stitched, replicated suit that he somehow still had wrinkled. Even worse, he hadn't said more than three words to Crestia since he first met her twenty minutes ago.

"I thought you said you had a guy," Laria whispered to Phil angrily who was sitting in the row behind her with Katie, Alex, and Annabeth. Scharr and T'les had been left in charge of the Pershing's "repairs." Tigranian thought it better to keep them at a distance just in case.

"Sir, are you sure Admiral Murphy said the ship would arrive from Earth in time?" Phil asked desperately.

"Starfleet's not late without good reason, Phil," Tigranian replied with concern. "However, that ship doesn't have you at the helm."

Lanassa and Jion shifted nervously as they waited for the proceedings to begin. Laria's did everything within her powers to keep her parents from causing a scene. If things went badly for Crestia, there was no telling what they would do. She now understood how dangerous they could be when provoked.

"Starbase operations to Lieutenant Lexington," Phil's communicator chimed.

The magistrate glanced over the top of his PADD at the offending officer. Normally, he would have thrown anyone out of the courtroom for failing to silence their communicator, but since the proceedings had not yet begun, he let it slide.

"This is Lexington," Phil whispered in reply.

"The starship Oriskany just docked in Bay 3. There is a passenger here who says he is waiting on you."

"Go, Phil, go!" Tigranian ordered his helmsman. Phil jumped to his feet and charged out the back doors of the courtroom. He had not been gone one minute when the judge banged his gavel. A large bailiff began speaking.

"This hearing of the Federation 43rd Circuit Court is now in session, The honorable Magistrate Tarano Pemberley presiding."

"Alright," Pemberley said dispassionately. "Today we will begin hearing arguments in the case of the Romulan State versus Federation Trade Commission. We will be examining whether Article XXVII of the Treaty of Algeron takes precedence over the legal claim of the defendant to remain in the United Federation of Planets."

Tigranian leaned forward over the railing and whispered loudly into the ear of Crestia's advocate.

"Aren't you going to object to the classification of this case under trade law? By the hand of Kahless! She's a sentient being!"

"Listen Starfleet," the advocate responded angrily. "The Diplomatic Corps assigned me to this case. You might know starships, but I understand the legal code!"

The magistrate banged his gavel.

"Advocate Haley, is there a problem?"

"No, your honor," Haley replied nervously.

"Good, I actually care about people paying attention while I speak in my own courtroom."

The Romulan advocates held back laughter as they smirked in their opponent's direction.

Suddenly, the back door flew open and Phil hurriedly stepped inside. The judge banged his gavel again.

"Lieutenant!" he said very upset. "Do you mind explaining why you cannot seem to refrain from disrupting this proceeding?"

"Please forgive my nephew, your honor," a refined voice boomed from the back of the courtroom. "He was merely escorting me from my ship to this courtroom as quickly as possible. The Oriskany ran into an ion storm that delayed us several hours."

The older gentleman who walked down the central corridor towards the railing wore an impeccable black suit with white pinstripes. The neatly folded silk square in his lapel pocket perfectly matched his tie, and his pressed shirt with silver cufflinks looked starched enough to cut paper.

"And you are?" Pemberley asked incredulously.

"Sir Arthur Lexington, Esquire," the man said walking through the swinging gate into the dock like he owned the courtroom. "Chief Humanoid Rights attorney for the British Commonwealth and senior advisor to both the Federation Supreme Court and the Diplomatic Subcommittee of the Federation Council on matters of Galactic Refugee Resettlement."

"I told you I know a guy," Phil whispered taking his seat again.

"You never told me you had a 'Sir' in your family, you scheming little limey," Katie said surprised.

"You never asked," he replied before planting a peck on her cheek.

"Arthur Lexington?" Pemberley asked leaning backwards into his leather chair. "I thought you retired four years ago?"

"Sir Arthur, if you please, your honor. And you are correct. However, my credentials are valid to practice law in front of Federation Federal Benches for one more year. I have them here if you wish to examine them." He pulled a small PADD from his jacket pocket and presented it towards the bench as the rest of the courtroom looked on dumbstruck. The Romulan advocates were seething as Haley looked like he was about to faint.

"That will be quite all right, Sir Arthur, Pemberley said annoyed. I know and respect your work as well as the regulations regarding certification."

"Thank you, your honor," Sir Arthur said with an aire of British arrogance as he placed the PADD back inside his jacket.

"However, if you don't mind me asking, what are you doing here?" Pemberley added.

"Why," Sir Arthur said throwing his shoulders back confidently. "I am Miss Crestia's advocate, of course."

"Excuse me, Sir Arthur," Pemberley replied. "But the defendant has already been assigned legal counsel by the Federation Diplomatic Corps."

Sir Arthur didn't bat an eye.

"As your honor must already know, Federation Legal Code: Article 1578 Subsection A.1 states that any defendant in matters of salvage or property dispute with either Federation or Non-Federation citizens may choose their own legal counsel. Now, since Ms. Crestia is of the legal age of majority recognized by the Federation for her species, I believe the choice is hers…" he turned to glare at Haley, "…and the Federation Diplomatic Corps has nothing to do with it since they have done so little to defend her already."

"Ms. Crestia?" Pemberley asked. She looked over her shoulder to her assembled supporters. All of them nodded emphatically.

"I want Sir Arthur to represent me, Sir," Crestia replied.

"Very well," Pemberley said. "Court reporter, please note it in the transcript."

"Now, hold on one second," Haley said rising to his feet. "This is my case."

"Mr. Haley, if your client wishes to change advocates that is her right," Pemberley responded. "Even our Romulan friends here understand that. Don't you?"

The lead Romulan advocate rose to address the court.

"Your honor," he said tucking a hand into his robe, "Whoever represents the property in question is irrelevant. It does not alter the fundamental strength of our case."

Pemeberley held up his hands.

"Your honor," Haley said glaring towards Sir Arthur, "Ms. Crestia is not a Federation citizen and this is no normal property dispute. I was specially appointed by the Federation Council through the Federation Diplomatic Corps…"

A hand reached out, grabbed the young man's shoulder, and dropped him back into his chair.

"Now listen here, you little shit," Tigranian spit into the counsel's ear so only he could hear. "This isn't a dispute about a shipment of stem bolts or a derelict freighter. She is a woman whose life is on the line. Now, you can either shut the hell up and let the professional with four decades of experience work, or I can take you out into the corridor, snap your piddly little spine, and watch you flop on the deck like a fish out of a water. The choice is yours…"

"Your honor," Haley said quickly. "I hereby recuse myself from this case." The advocate pulled out a cheap briefcase and started shoveling his PADDs into it. Sir Arthur stepped over and offered his own piece of clandestine advice to the young advocate.

"If I might make a suggestion before your next assignment, young man," Sir Arthur whispered, "Justice may be blind, but the judge and jury are not. Invest in a better tailor." The gentlemen grinned and patted Haley on the arm as the young man bolted for the door.

"Well," Pemberley said as Sir Arthur took a seat at the table next to Crestia. "This has certainly been the most interesting opening moments of any case I have ever been a part of. Perhaps we can conduct the rest of it with a bit more reserve? Advocate Nonclus," he said looking towards the Romulan delegation. "Your opening statement?"

The Romulan rose to his feet.

"The Romulan State waives their right to an opening statement, your honor. We will present all our evidence as part of our case and testimony."

Pemberley cleared his throat as the Romulan sat back down.

"Very well, Sir Arthur, your statement."

The gentlemen gave a reassuring squeeze to Crestia's hand before rising and walking out towards the bench.

"Ex turpi causa non oritur actio," Sir Arthur projected out towards the courtroom in a booming voice. "From a dishonorable cause an action does not arise," he said pacing back and forth with a commanding presence. "This legal doctrine has been precedent for a millennium. The Romulan State cannot possibly expect the United Federation of Planets to honor their claim over this young woman, seated right here in front of you. She is not a piece of property to be negotiated, she is not an object to which we can attach ownership, she is not an item that can have a monetary value affixed to it. She is a living, breathing sentient being with all the rights thereof.

The Fourth Guarantee of the Articles of Federation is completely explicit:

We, as a nation dedicated to the freedom and prosperity of all sentient beings, and being hereby resolved, state that all forms of slavery, indentured servitude, and forced labor except as punishment for a crime where the party has been duly convicted are prohibited within the United Federation of Planets or any place subject to its jurisdiction.

This is not law, Ladies and Gentlemen," Sir Arthur said crossing his arms. "This is guiding principle enshrined in a sacred document that all civil servants are sworn to uphold and protect. The fact that we are even entertaining the suggestion that the Federation return a sentient being in our territory to a state of slavery stands in opposition to all that we hold dear. I implore the court to remember its oath. For if it does," he said holding up a finger and turning towards Pemberley's bench, "it will see that there is no other decision but to deny the petition of the Romulan State."

Sir Arthur returned to his seat next to Crestia. The assembled gallery's confidence rose after hearing his stirring oratory.

"Advocate Nonclus," Pemberley said. "Present your case."

The Romulan slowly climbed to his feet with a devious smirk on his face.

"The Romulan State completely agrees with Sir Arthur," he began pacing back and forth across the open floor in front of the advocate tables. "Slavery is prohibited in the United Federation of Planets…"

Laria leaned across the railing and whispered in Sir Arthur's ear.

"Where is he going with this?" Sir Arthur begged her to remain quiet with a brush of his hand.

"However, the crux of our claim is that this defendant should never have been allowed to enter the Federation from the Romulan Star Empire where her legal status is recognized as property," Sonan continued in a grandiose voice. "Federation records show that she first appeared in your space on Stardate 53327.1, a mere 48 hours after the Dacen Slave Revolt. The property in question was last registered in Romulan records as belonging to the Lady Selonia, wife of our Praetor Neral.

Our laws are quite explicit, when a wife dies, her property passes to her husband. Therefore, she belongs to Praetor Neral until either emancipated or death occurs." Nonclus paused as he glanced in Tigranian's direction. "We may never know how she crossed the Neutral Zone and entered the Federation…"

Tigranian balled his fists. His kidnapping was still a sealed state secret in both the Federation and Romulan Empires.

"However, it is obvious that her escape was the result of the actions of criminal servile insurrection. When she was accepted by Starfleet in Federation Space, it constituted a gross breach of Treaty. No Romulan private party may be claimed by any citizen or government organization of the Federation as per the Treaty of Algeron…"

"Objection," Sir Arthur said boldly. "Ms. Crestia was not claimed by anyone in the Federation as salvaged property. She was granted asylum and refugee status."

"Advocate Nonclus," Pemberley corrected. "Sir Arthur is correct. Under Federation law, salvage law and political asylum are completely different statutes."

"Correct, your honor," Nonclus said confidently gesturing with his right hand, "however, the property in question does not fall under the jurisdiction of Federation Law. She never did."

Lanassa leaned over to Jion and Laria and whispered in Bajoran.

"If he keeps referring to Crestia-ga-ne as property, I'm going to kill him."

"Mama," Laria replied. "Please remain calm." Tigranian took a deep breath. He hated legal maneuvering. It was like watching an imminent disaster unfurl that he had no control over.

"Romulan State Exhibit A," Nonclus motioned towards a holoscreen erected on the side wall of the courtroom. "Article XXVII of the Treaty of Algeron."

The text appeared in bold black letters in Federation Standard which Nonclus read aloud:

"Article XXVII: All conventions of private salvage law between the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire are hereby abrogated by this treaty. Any private property, defined as property owned by individuals or private organizations, recovered on the opposite side of the border will be immediately returned to the nearest Romulan or Federation outpost or consulate for immediate repatriation across the Neutral Zone. Property recovered in the Neutral Zone will be returned to a neutral party for arbitrated negotiation. This provision does not apply to any public or state property owned by government organizations or military entities…"

"Your honor," Sir Arthur said flippantly. "I believe everyone in this courtroom understands the text of Article XXVII. However, opposing counsel has yet to state why it is relevant here."

"Sir Arthur is correct, Advocate Nonclus," Pemberley said. "I understand that the treaty exists, but not how it applies to your claim that it allows Federation participation in slave trading."

"Very well, you honor," Nonclus said steepling his fingers in front of him. "Romulan State Exhibit B." He nodded to his partner who changed the display on the holoscreen.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," Nonclus continued with confident arrogance, "What you see before you is the printed text of the Federation Magistrate's decision from Federation Vs. Kernath, a legal decision issued by the Federation 12th Circuit Court on Stardate 40356.2.

For those not familiar with the case, On Stardate 40023.6, a Klingon prisoner named Kernath, Son of Tenpar escaped the Klingon penal asteroid Rura Penthe. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Klingon court for publicly insulting K'mpec, Chancellor of the Klingon High Council. He was able to barter passage on a freighter to the United Federation of Planets, where he was arrested one month later for public intoxication.

When it was discovered he was an escaped fugitive in the Klingon Empire, Federation authorities prepared to return him, however, he challenged the ruling on the grounds that he was a political prisoner. Insulting a public figure was not a crime in the Federation and therefore he deserved to stay.

The Federation magistrate stated in his decision:" Nonclus motioned to his partner again who highlighted a portion of the written ruling. The words expanded and filled the screen.

"Though Freedom of Speech is enshrined by the Articles of Federation, the Federation's treaty obligations to the Klingon Empire in this matter are clear. The Second Khitomer Accords unequivocally state that prisoners wanted in either the Federation or Klingon Empires will be extradited to face trial in their own respective country. This is usually interpreted as a protection for Federation citizens in the Klingon Empire, however, it applies equally as strongly to Klingons in the United Federation of Planets. Nowhere does the Khitomer Accords state that any crimes are exempt from extradition. Therefore, I am ordering the defendant's immediate return to Klingon authorities as the treaty supersedes Federation law…"

Nonclus turned towards the assembled court room audience and grinned. His expression sent a shiver through the audience.

"The Treaty supersedes Federation law…" Nonclus repeated slowly for emphasis.

"Your honor," Sir Arthur said climbing to his feet. "That case is completely different. Kernath was a convicted criminal and Ms. Crestia has not committed any crime."

"I can assure you, Sir Arthur," Nonclus said crossing back to the center of the floor. "A slave murdering their master and then escaping is a crime in the Romulan Empire..."

"She didn't kill anyone!" Tigranian shouted as he rose to his feet.

"No, she didn't…" Laria said standing next to him. Pemberley banged his gavel.

"The audience will withhold all outbursts or I will clear this courtroom!"

"Sit down!" Sir Arthur said turning to both of them. "You are not helping anyone."

"I suggest the both of you both take his advice," Nonclus said to the Tigranians while raising an eyebrow. "Otherwise, the Romulan Empire might request the extradition of other criminals known to be at Dacen Prime…"

Tigranian then understood he knew the truth. Slowly, he and Laria took their seats, but the captain subtly raised his right hand and dropped his two middle fingers into his palm. He remembered it as a particularly forceful and obscene gesture from his time with Romulans. Nonclus grimaced as he recognized it.

"What was that?" Lanassa asked.

"Call it cultural exchange…" Tigranian said still glaring at Nonclus.

"Getting back to the matter at hand before I was rudely interrupted," Nonclus continued, "the legal precedent is clear. Crestia must be returned to the Romulan Empire."

"I would also like to state," Sir Arthur said clenching his jaw from his seat, "That Kernath died less than two years after his return to Rura Penthe."

"That is a matter to take up with the Klingons, Advocate," Nonclus answered him bluntly. "Not us. However, I can assure this court that Crestia will only be returned to servitude. She has already received a pardon for her crimes."

"Never the less," Sir Arthur said slowly rising to his feet, "The precedent Advocate Nonclus cited relates to criminal extradition, not property exchange. Article XXVII still does not apply in this case. Ms. Crestia is not property…"

"I can assure you, Sir Arthur," Nonclus countered, "She is. In fact, she has never been anything else. Romulan State Exhibit C: The slave rolls of the House of Vreenakii." An image appeared on the holoscreen. It was the picture of an Elohsian infant wrapped in a white cotton blanket. Romulan text scrolled down the side of the screen. Crestia began shivering. Hands from both Lanassa and Sir Arthur steadied her.

"Slave Crestia, Female, born at the Aranax Estate to Slave Lucretia, House Maid, and Slave Nerophon, Stable Attendant on the 157th day of the 32nd year of the Reign of Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Ronaria," Nonclus spoke as if he was describing the lineage of a piece of furniture.

The picture changed to an Elohsian girl roughly ten years of age. The girl was gaunt and pale, streaks of tears ran down her face and set of freshly carved Romulan initials bled from underneath her left clavicle.

"Marked with the House brand on the 248th day of the 3rd year of the Reign of Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Vexaria…"

Crestia felt herself crying now. Jion and Laria's hands had joined the others offering her support. Tigranian shivered with rage.

The final picture was of Crestia in a simple white dress. Her eyes were bleak and hopeless.

"Transferred to the House of the Neralii upon the marriage of Lady Selonia to the Praetor Neral on the 84th day of the 10th year of Vexaria…"

Nonclus walked over to his table and flared his robes out for dramatic effect.

"Your honor, would you please have the property rise to her feet and pull down the left collar of her shirt," he said.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Lanassa shouted. Pemberley banged his gavel while holding back his own revulsion.

"We must confirm for our case that this is the property in question," Nonclus said not taking his eyes off of Crestia. "Your honor, if you please."

"Objection!" Sir Arthur said looking up towards the bench. "This is merely a thinly veiled attempt by the plantiff to demean the defendant!"

"I'm not demeaning anyone, your honor," Nonclus replied calmly. "I merely want to confirm that this is the slave on the holoscreen."

Pemberley covered his face with his hands and shut his eyes.

"Ms. Crestia," the magistrate said trying to hide the shame in his voice. "Please rise and pull down the left collar of your shirt."

Crestia gritted her teeth.

"You don't have to do anything," Lanassa whispered firmly in her ear. Crestia turned her wet face to Lanassa.

"Remember what I said about the Federation being righteous?" she said before pushing the others away from her. Crestia reared back from the table and rose to her feet defiantly. In a fluid motion she ripped her collar away from her shirt. Beneath the torn fabric were the three Romulan letter carved deeply into her skin. Tigranian knew them well. He still bore the horrible scars on his own skin where they used to be. They stood for:

Selonia Venanatra Vreenakii

Nonclus grinned again as he spoke:

"The Romulan State rests."
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Crestia sat on the edge of her bed in the starbase's guest quarters quietly sobbing to herself. Lanassa and Jion sat on either side of her. Her adopted mother slowly rubbed her back as the tears streamed down the young woman's face. Laria and Tigranian silently stood across the room staring out the window. Despite their best efforts, the memories of Alex's debacle with Kival kept pushing their way back into their consciousness.

"You don't worry," Lanassa whispered into Crestia's ear. "It will all be alright."

"How?" Crestia paused just long enough to look skeptically into Lanassa's face. "How does this turn out alright?"

"Because," Lanassa said calmly. "I'm going to kill him."

Everyone in the room new she was serious.

"And I'll help," Tigranian said not taking his eyes off the stars. He wouldn't risk another Alex Hunter. The last time he had put his faith in a Federation magistrate, he had nearly lost one of his family and it was a miracle they ever got her back. He wasn't going to take that chance again. At least his crew would not be affected this time. "We'll figure it out. We'll plan out an escape route…"

"YOU'LL DO NOTHING OF THE SORT!" Sir Arthur bellowed from the dining room table where he was seated. "Nothing changed today. Not a single thing. They know they don't have a case legally so they're baiting us. They're trying to goad us into doing something stupid and aggressive so we lose the legal advantage. If we do that, they win no matter what happens."

"Are you willing to risk her life on that?" Lanassa asked forcefully.

"Madam, I would risk my own life on it," Sir Arthur paused, "Your battlefields may have filled with phaser fire and blood, but mine has been the courtroom for over forty years. I know it very well." He rose up to his feet. "I have fought endlessly to win justice for victims of atrocities like this poor young soul has endured. I believe in what I'm doing," he said pounding on his chest. "Now, I ask you give me the courtesy of believing in me as well. Surely, you understand tactics, Mr. Tigranian?" he said turning to the captain. "Learning to think like your enemy?"

"I've never wanted to think like one of them…" Tigranian muttered still staring out the glass.

"Regardless of what you want, Sir," Sir Arthur continued, "you must. When backed into a corner, a Romulan will lie their way out of it every time. I've seen it before. Do you think that showing those ghastly images to the judge strengthened their case? Of course not! The magistrate was horrified."

"Then, why did they do it?" Laria asked skeptically.

"Because they know they are dealing with dangerous people who have lived by their ability to take the law into their own hands. That's exactly what they think you'll do and then they win the propaganda victory they have sought this whole time. They don't want this poor girl! They want their prestige back."

Tigranian shut his eyes as he remembered the late Promagistrate Kival's words to him on Cardassia. Though it sickened him, he knew that Sir Arthur was correct.

"What are you going to do?" the captain asked.

Sir Arthur took a deep breath as he walked over and kneeled down in front of Crestia. He gently took her hand in his and stared into her eyes.

"My dear child," he began softly. "I cannot imagine the pain or fear you are suffering through right now, but I do understand the strength and courage it has taken for you to get this point. If you trust me, I promise that you will never be returned to those terrible people. However, I need you reach down inside and find just a bit more valor. Can you do that?"

"How are you so confident?" Crestia asked as her voice cracked.

"Because tomorrow the magistrate will hear from the most important voice in that courtroom. Once he understands, he will do what is right. I feel it."

"And just whose voice is that?" Jion asked still rubbing Crestia's back.

"Why Crestia's, of course," Sir Arthur said with a smile. Once she saw his resolve, Crestia slowly felt her faith start to return.

"Sir Arthur," she said with a deep breath. "No matter what happens tomorrow, thank you."

"No child," he said reaching up and placing a hand on her cheek. "Thank you."

"Words!" Lanassa shouted staring at Sir Arthur. "Just words! I have heard them all before. There is no guarantee that the court will decide correctly. We have one last chance to ensure her freedom. We must get her away from here as quickly as possible. Better to live free as a criminal than as a legal slave! That is the way of the Prophets!"

"No," Crestia said still staring into Sir Arthur's eyes.

"No? No what?" Lanassa asked still extremely upset.

"No, I will not run," Crestia said looking into the eyes of her adopted mother. "That is what they expect me to do. What they expect a slave to do. But I am a free woman, and I will face them as a free woman. No court can change that."

****

"Please state your name for the record," the bailiff said as Crestia took a seat on the witness stand.

"Crestia, daughter of Lucretia."

"And do you swear that your testimony will be the truth and nothing but the truth?"

"I swear."

The bailiff nodded and stepped back to the wings of the courtroom as Sir Arthur wearing another impeccable suit stepped forward.

"Before we begin I understand congratulations are in order. You were just accepted in Georgetown University, were you not?" he said interlocking his fingers and leaning on the railing of the witness box. Pemberley raised an eyebrow at that surprising revelation.

"Yes, I was," Crestia said. "I was very nervous about it though."

"Well, it very much speaks to your abilities," Sir Arthur continued conversationally. "It's quite a difficult school to get into."

"Thank you," Crestia said slightly averting her gaze. "I hope I still will get to attend."

"Don't worry," Sir Arthur said glancing over to the judge. "I'm sure you will."

"Objection!" Nonclus shouted angrily. "Irrelevant as well as presupposing the outcome of this case."

"Advocate Nonclus," Sir Arthur said glancing over his shoulder. "If I didn't presuppose that my client would win her case, I wouldn't be a very good attorney now would I?"

A chuckle echoed across the courtroom much to the chagrin of Nonclus and the other Romulans. Pemberley banged his gavel.

"Order, please. Advocate Nonclus, after the leeway granted to you yesterday, I think you can afford to grant Sir Arthur the same courtesy."

"Thank you, your honor," Sir Arthur said gratefully.

"However only a little leeway, Sir Arthur. Please get to a relevant point."

"Of course, your honor," Sir Arthur replied as Nonclus slowly sank back into his chair. "Ms. Crestia, if you applied to University, you must have idea of what you want to study?"

"I wanted to study both economics and political science," Crestia said.

"Those are two interesting subjects. Why?"

"Because," Crestia said glancing over to Lanassa in the audience. "I made it out of the Romulan Empire. There are millions more still suffering under enslavement. I wanted to dedicate my life to changing that by becoming a diplomat and an advocate for change."

"Why?" Sir Arthur asked.

"Is there a point to this indulgence, your honor?" Nonclus asked angrily.

"Sir Arthur," Pemberley warned. "Please ask a question relevant to this case."

"Your honor," Sir Arthur said standing up straight. "I assure you, her answer could not be more relevant. Crestia, please," he said turning back to her.

"The Federation is a wonderful place," Crestia said. "At first I thought it was a dream, but then I realized that freedom is the norm. My life before…" Crestia said turning towards Nonclus and his two companions, "…was the nightmare. I was denied education, I was forced from the day I was born to serve a woman with no soul or conscious.

"Objection!" Nonclus shouted angrily. "Slandering a fallen martyr of the Empire is offensive to us!"

"And you are offensive to me…" Sir Arthur muttered.

Pemberley banged his gavel.

"Overruled, but please maintain diplomatic decorum, Sir Arthur. Ms. Crestia, continue."

"I was never allowed to know my father. He was mated with my mother and then sold to another family. As soon as I was old enough to be marked, I was taken from all I loved and trained to be a handmaid. I was told that was all I would ever be. Selonia commanded me every day never to hope, never to have dreams, because I was just an object to be used and discarded. I was beaten, I was abused…" Crestia paused as she gathered strength to say what she must. "…and I was repeatedly violated because Romulans have no regard for any lives besides their own," she spit out not allowing herself tears. She refused to show anymore weakness in front of the Romulans. Not today…not ever again.

"Objection!" Nonclus said. "These continued attacks on the Romulan State are completely irrelevant. It is established under imperial law that slaves are property and have no rights to their own bodies. That accusation is also utter slander or does your Prime Directive not matter now?"

Before Pemberley could rule, Crestia shouted directly at Nonclus.

"I am a free woman. I am no one's property and I am no one's slave, no matter what this hearing says."

Pemberley banged his gavel but couldn't bring himself to speak. Luckily, Sir Arthur answered for him.

"Your honor," Sir Arthur said stepping away from the witness box. "I'm sure that Advocate Nonclus expects me to try some legal maneuvering or pull out some precedent or regulation that discounts Article XXVII." He stopped dead and stood up straight. "I'm not going to do any of that. This is the easiest case I have ever been a part of. The immortality and horror of the Romulan State's claim speaks for itself.

On one end, we have a young, intelligent, kind woman who only wants to improve the lives of others still trapped in bondage. On the other, we have a government on the verge of collapse desperately grasping at any straw that can restore some glimmer of past glories. Now, the Federation can either uphold the bedrock principle of individual freedom or we can sacrifice this girl on the altar of diplomacy with the disgusting and pitiful excuse of 'It's none of our business.' The choice is yours, your honor." Sir Arthur said sitting back down at the defense table. "The defense rests. Your witness, Advocate Nonclus."

Tigranian leaned over the railing and whispered in his ear.

"You're taking an awfully big gamble. Principle has failed to win over courts before."

"It's not gambling if you know you're going to win, my boy," Sir Arthur whispered back. "I never throw the dice unless I know exactly how they're going to land. Just watch."

Nonclus climbed to his feet and threw the ends of his robe behind him.

"Are you the same slave we viewed on the holoscreen yesterday?" he asked angrily charging towards the witness box.

"Crestia," the Elohsian said not breaking eye contact with him. "My name is Crestia, and as I said, I am not a slave."

"That is not your decision to make," Nonclus spit back at her. The judge paused expecting an objection from Sir Arthur, but none came. Instead, the gentlemen merely settled into his chair to watch the show.

"Actually it is," Crestia said looking back into Nonclus's eyes. "And I would have made it a lot sooner if I had the education Romulus denied me."

Nonclus opened his mouth to counter, but Crestia beat him to the punch.

"It's a decision that's being made all across the Empire by brave men and women who will no longer be held in chains. I know, Advocate, I know!" Crestia began shouting at him. "I know that thousands of troops are being withdrawn from Cardassia because the revolt is growing every month and Romulus is terrified. I know that half the Imperial fleet is stuck in port because they have no fuel!" Crestia looked over to Pemberley. "The rebels destroyed the deuterium mines and liberated the workers."

"Are you going to get in any trouble for sharing those intelligence reports with her?" Laria whispered into Tigranian's ear.

"Maybe," Tigranian replied shaking his head. "But it was for a good cause. In any case, I know a decent attorney," he said looking towards Sir Arthur.

Crestia then looked back at Nonclus who was now so shocked he couldn't find words to speak. "I also know that your own cousin, the Imperial Governor of Franovost, had his throat slit while he slept by his own house servants. They then escaped to follow the banner of Rellas!"

"Be quiet," a shaken Nonclus ordered, but Crestia didn't listen.

"Honestly, I pity you," she continued. "Because you don't know your way of life is dying…"

"I said be quiet!" Nonclus shouted, but Crestia spoke even louder.

"And I will always fight for its death!" she said slowly rising up onto her feet and turning to Pemberley "Either with words from the Federation," she then looked back at Nonclus. "Or with a disruptor rifle on Romulus. Either way, I will never be anyone's slave ever again."

"I SAID BE QUIET!" Nonclus screeched as he leapt towards Crestia with a raised palm. Just before he swung down at her, a figure flashed over the railing and a clenched fist grabbed Nonclus's wrist, pulling him back from the witness box. Tigranian slowly placed the muzzle of a phaser into the Romulan's temple.

"Do your job!" Tigranian shouted at the bailiff who was frozen in shock at the attempted assault that just transpired in front of him. "Or I'll do it for you," Tigranian said pressing the phaser deeper into Nonclus's skull.

"Captain Tigranian, release him now!" Pemberley said still trying to regain a grip on his senses. "Bailiff, escort Advocate Nonclus from the room."

Without another word, Nonclus disappeared with the guard into the hallway. The other two Romulans jumped up and ran out after him. Pemberley had no idea how to process what had just occurred.

"Since the Romulans have left the court room…" he stammered. "I believe that means they have nothing further for this witness. Court is adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m." He banged his gavel and disappeared into his chambers.

Tigranian adjusted his uniform as Lanassa ran towards Crestia.

"You were amazing, Yis chat lave! You were so strong," the Bajoran said wrapping her arms around her.

"I've wanted to say those things my whole life," Crestia said shaking her head. "I just never thought I'd have the chance."

Tigranian replaced the hand phaser into the concealed holster under his jacket.

"You know, you could be arrested for carrying a concealed weapon into a courtroom," Sir Arthur said with a smirk.

"I never leave home without it," Tigranian said shrugging his shoulders.

"There's no way you could have known that he was going to snap like that," Alex said walking over to the defense table with the rest of the crew behind her.

"Instinct, my dear doctor. Always trust it," Sir Arthur replied.

Tigranian and Laria started laughing.

"And just what is so funny?" the gentlemen asked haughtily.

"Nothing, Sir," Tigranian said wrapping an arm around his wife. "It's just have heard that advice a few times before."

"Well done," Laria echoed.

"You were spectacular, Uncle," Phil said with pride.

"It's not quite over yet," Sir Arthur said adjusting his coat and grabbing his PADD from the desk.

"Pretty sure it is actually," Katie said. "I've never heard of the prosecution being escorted from the courtroom."

"My girl," Sir Arthur said smiling, "If you're going to be a Lexington, always be prepared for the unexpected.

Oh that reminds me," Sir Arthur said suddenly becoming very serious. "Philip, call your parents. A wedding doesn't plan itself and they have some important questions to ask about the guest list."

"Yes Uncle," Phil blushed as Katie groaned.
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
"All rise!" the bailiff shouted as Pemberley exited his chambers and headed for the bench. The entire assembly of the court room rose to their feet in unison. Tigranian couldn't help but notice that Nonclus was absent. Only his two assistants were present at the plaintiff's table.

"Please be seated," the magistrate said quietly as he adjusted his black robes over his chair. As everyone took their seats, Pemberley nervously rubbed his chin. "This case," he began slowly, "has been extremely difficult in both content and execution. Slavery is completely illegal in the United Federation of Planets, and I want the record to show that I find it personally repugnant. However, the current legal precedent does force this court to concede that treaty stipulations can take priority over even the Articles of Federation in regards to interstellar disputes. That is why they exist…"

Crestia grabbed the sides of the table till her knuckles turned white. Sir Arthur reached out his hand and wrapped it around hers. He wanted to let her know she was not alone.

"Providence, by the luck of it, seems to have given me an easy out," Pemberley continued. "As a result of his egregious lack of decorum yesterday, Mr. Nonclus has been asked to leave the United Federation of Planets immediately. Normally, when this happens, a case would be summarily dismissed. However, the consequences of this decision are surely to be so profound, it would be irresponsible for me not to fulfill my sworn duty. Therefore, I have decided to issue a ruling anyways. Will the defendant please rise."

Crestia and Sir Arthur rose and faced the judge. Lanassa and Jion followed suit and placed their hands on her shoulders. Laria and Tigranian were next. Soon, the entire crew of the Pershing was standing together to hear the magistrate's decision. It was not lost on Pemberley who paused before continuing.

"Tolerance," he began, "for other people, for other nations, for other ways of belief…is a principle so dear to the Federation that we have enshrined it in our charter of government. The First Guarantee, known by some as The Prime Directive, clearly states that the Federation has no power to influence the domestic affairs of other societies. However, in our sometimes aggressive and frankly, misguided, attempts to enforce tolerance, we lose sight of why it is actually important. Though a virtue, it can also be a terrible vice.

Tolerance exists not as a means to itself, but as a means to an end. It represents the sacred idea that every sentient being has the right to live according to their own beliefs and convictions without interference. If we lose sight of this fact, then we become the tyrants we so claim to loathe.

The institution of slavery, by its very nature, is antithetical to our way of life. If I uphold the Romulan State's claims on Ms. Crestia, than I am implicitly stating that a nation's laws and customs are more important than the rights of the individual, and that is a legal precedent that I will neither write nor have my name attached to. Therefore, I issue the following ruling:

In regards to Romulan State versus Federation Trade Commission, I, the honorable Michael Pemberley, being a recognized officer of the Federation 43rd Circuit Court in good standing, do rule that:

The petition of the Romulan State to claim Crestia, Daughter of Lucretia as improperly salvaged property is hereby denied.

That recognized sentient beings cannot be classified as "property" within the United Federation of Planets in accordance with the Fourth Guarantee of the Articles of Federation.

This court does uphold Crestia, Daughter of Lucretia's claims for political asylum as it has been established that her return to the Romulan Star Empire will likely cause significant harm to her.

Advocates," Pemberley said turning to the Romulans, "Go back to Romulus and tell your superiors that if they wish to own slaves, do it your own turf, because the United Federation of Planets will always be free." Sir Arthur couldn't help but smile at the magistrate's last barb. It was a wonderful reassurance that his life's work was still worth it. "And Ms. Crestia," Pemberley said turning back to the Elohsian still frozen in disbelief, "Good luck at Georgetown. This court is adjourned." Pemberley banged his gavel and the court room erupted.

As the well-wishers gathered around Crestia to congratulate her, she merely smiled and placed her hands over her face in relief. The two remaining Romulan advocates looked so pale they were wondering if they should ask Pemberley for asylum as well. They made a quiet exit through a side door.

"It's over! It's finally over!" Lanassa shouted as she wrapped her arms around Crestia.

"Mama," Laria whispered firmly into her mother's ear while holding out her hand. Lanassa rolled her eyes and clandestinely passed a small hand disruptor to her daughter. She then whispered in Bajoran:

"The Prophets help those who help themselves, Child."

"Thank you!" Crestia said throwing her arms around her gentlemen attorney.

"My girl," he said returning her embrace. "All I did was add emphasis to your voice. You did the real work."

"You're free now," Tigranian said to Crestia. "Really free."

"Not yet," Crestia said shaking her head. "There's one more thing I need your help with."

****

In the Pershing's sick bay, Crestia slowly removed her shirt. Then, she slid the strap of her bra down over her shoulder.

"I'm ready now."

Alex nodded and picked up a dermal regenerator. With an experienced hand, she erased Selonia's mark. In less than a minute, all evidence of her previous servitude was replaced with smooth skin.

"I can easily do this for you as well, Dan," Alex quipped as Crestia pulled her shirt back on.

"No," he said shaking his head. "It's a reminder for me every time I look in the mirror why a warrior must keep himself dangerous. Besides," he said pulling Laria closer. "Chicks dig scars."

"Not those," Laria muttered rolling her eyes. Alex laughed as she walked back into her office.

"All my children together for once," Lanassa said with a sigh. "It's a pity it always takes a crisis for it to happen."

"I don't know," Laria replied, "The Peldor Festival happens pretty close to Georgetown's fall break. We might be able to organize a little reunion on Gault."

"Don't put ideas into your mother's head if you can't follow through," Jion said firmly. "I have to live with her. With the house empty again, it won't be easy."

"Well, I just have to ask my captain for permission," Laria said looking over to Tigranian.

"He'll see what he can do," Tigranian said reassuringly. "However, your shuttle leaves in an hour and we have that dinner with Alex and Annabeth tonight that we have to get ready for."

"What dinner could be more important than family?" Lanassa chastised him as she helped Crestia down from the biobed.

"Mama," Laria said switching to Bajoran in case Alex could hear, "this dinner is also about family. Remember what I told you about General Torlek?"

"We understand," Jion said as he embraced them with his goodbyes. "Besides, we have to get back to Gault to get this one ready for school."

"Yis chat lave tus ganne," Lanassa said hugging Laria and Tigranian.

"Au'tan," Laria said back to parents.

"Thank you for being here," Crestia said as she hugged the Tigranians.

"Study hard, Kid," Tigranian said tussling Crestia's hair. "College is full of temptations if you know what I mean."

"Oh, Son of Tigranian," Crestia said shaking her head. "You don't have to worry about me. However, I'm a free woman now. You won't be the last man I ever touch."

Suddenly, Tigranian turned bright red. Laria glared at her adopted sister who shrugged it off.

"What is she talking about?" Lanassa asked Laria in Bajoran.

"Nothing, Mama," Laria said. "Nothing at all."
Chapter 7 by captaintigranian
The young Klingon stared at the battlecruiser's viewscreen. As he watched the debris from the Romulan flagship drift through the void, he took a deep breath.

"I never thought I would never hear the call of battle," he said resting his hands on the Vegeance's weapons console. "But when they started firing, it's like I knew exactly what to do…"

As he trailed off, Captain Koth approached from behind him and placed a leather-gauntleted fist on the boy's shoulder.

"That's because the way of the warrior lives in the heart of every Klingon. You can ignore it, you can run from it, but in the end it will always remain," Koth said as his eyes burned from underneath his sharply crested forehead.

The boy turned to him, worry and doubt furrowing his smooth, beardless face.

"But I am long past the Age of Ascension. Isn't it too late for me?"

"It is never too late to live with honor, Themar'ek," Koth said with the grin of a seasoned warrior. "However, you will need a guide on your difficult journey. If you let me, I will be that guide for you."

After a few tense moments, the boy nodded.

"I would be honored, Sir."

Koth reached out his free hand and grabbed the young man's wrist as the rest of the bridge crew looked on approvingly.

"Then, we travel the River of Blood together from now on. Qapla'."

A booming refrain of the program's theme music began to play and credits rolled across the screen written in tlhIngan Hol.

"So, what did you think?" Tigranian said excitedly hopping up from the couch in his quarters and walking towards the holoscreen.

Alex leaned against the far edge of the sofa while Annnabeth rested against her shoulder. Laria picked the last few pieces of popcorn out of a large bowl. It was the fifteenth time her husband made her watch this episode, but she knew that tonight, the rerun was for a good reason.

"It was alright I guess," Alex said trying to be polite. "I mean the characters were pretty good, but the dialogue was a little stilted."

"And those special effects," Annabeth said shaking her head. "It was like the holoanimators weren't trying at all in some places."

Tigranian shook as his head as he pulled an isolinear chip out of his holoscreen's digital player. He replaced it in a brightly colored case with an old-fashioned Klingon D7 on the cover entitled:

"Battlecruiser Vengeance: The Complete Original Series, Seasons 1-9"

"You have to remember that this show is a hundred years old. Sure, it's a little dated in places, but it's a cultural phenomenon!" the captain said proudly returning his collection to its place of honor on his shelf. "I mean, it's the most enduring entertainment franchise in the entire Klingon Empire."

"And it was Daniel's favorite show growing up," Laria said repeating what her husband had told her a least hundred times during their marriage.

"How am I not surprised?" Alex said with a chuckle. Tigranian shook his head as he took a seat on an ottoman two meters away.

"I'm not the only fan in the Federation," he continued. "It's themes of honor, family, and bravery resonate with a lot of people."

"It's a television show, Dan," Annabeth said skeptically. "and a violent, imperialist one at that."

"It's so much more than a television show, Number One," he said with a sigh wondering if they would ever understand the point he was trying to make.

"Apparently, there's a huge Battlecruiser Vengeance fan convention every year in Quin'lat on Qo'nos," Laria said turning towards Alex. "Dan is always saying we should drop some leave and go."

"Oh my God!" Alex said laughing. "You mean one of those really nerdy conventions where you dress up in costume and spend all your money on toys and t-shirts while actors talk about what it was like to be on set fifty years ago? One of those conventions?"

The captain pursed his lips.

"You don't have to go to conventions in costume…they're just a lot more fun if you do. Also, they're not toys, Alex, they're collectibles," Tigranian countered a bit defensively.

"Yeah, I can see that," Annabeth said glancing over to a plastic scale model of the Vengeance with a thirty centimeter tall Captain Koth action figure standing beneath it. They were proudly displayed on the shelf besides Tigranian's holoscreen.

"I had to take them with me or else my mother was going to throw them out," he said glancing down at the carpet. "She had already gotten rid of my Captain Koth bat'leth with battle action light and sounds…" he grumbled angrily.

"I told you I would find you another one for your birthday," Laria said shrugging her shoulders.

"I don't want another one!" Tigranian said through gritted teeth. "I want mine! What if I threw away Rijo and replicated you another pugabeast?"

"Don't even joke about that!" Laria replied angrily. "You leave my pugabeast out of this."

"Jesus, some children never grow up," Alex muttered while shaking her head. "Are you ready for this?" she said turning to Annabeth.

"Nope," she flatly responded grabbing the sides of her protruding, pregnancy belly. "And I'm telling you right now that all your collectibles are going in the trash reprocessor the day you turn eighteen, yes they are!" she said in a cutesy baby voice to her stomach.

"That's cold, Number One," Tigranian scowled at her.

"Relax, Dan," Alex said taking a sip of wine. "We're just messing with you. I mean it's not like you're one of those weirdos who writes fanfiction and posts it on the holonet."

"Actually," Laria said reaching for her own wine. "His is really good. Really fleshes out the love story between Lieutenant Karona and Commander Taros."

"LARIA!" Tigranian shouted.

"Oh, Dan…" Annabeth groaned.

"Sorry…" Laria mouthed at her husband apologetically as she took a long sip from her glass.

"Look," Tigranian said rising to his feet. "I actually asked you guys here tonight for an important reason besides making fun of my treasured childhood memories." He nervously stroked his chin. "It's a promise I made to Torlek when he found out you were pregnant."

"Dan, what is it?" Alex asked extremely concerned.

"Why do you think I chose to show you that particular episode of Battlecruiser Vengeance?" he asked.

"Had a lot of violence?" Annabeth asked.

"There was a ten minute explanation about the history of the bat'leth?" Alex guessed.

"They fought a Romulan raiding fleet and we all hate Romulans?" Annabeth added.

"Not quite," Tigranian said sitting back down on the ottoman and steepling his fingers. "It was about a young man who grew up away from the Empire and never learned anything about his people. No matter how hard he tried to run away from his heritage, it finally caught up with him. Luckily, Captain Koth was willing to help Themar'ek find his way before it was too late."

"I'm not sure I like where this is going," Alex said nervously glancing at her wife.

Tigranian hit his hands together, climbed to his feet, and walked to the window. He ran his fingers across the frame as he stared out at the stars.

"You are being uncharacteristically vague here, Dan," Annabeth said. She pushed herself up with considerable effort and stood with her hands on her hips. "I'm not sure I like it."

"It's because I find myself in a position where my choice heritage is in direct conflict with my obligations both as your friend and as your donor," he said turning around and leaning against the transparent tritanium glass. "I chose to live as a Klingon among humans. You both did not. You should not be expected to follow traditions that are not your own."

"Ok, ok," Alex said raising her hands and standing next to her wife. "What if we both promised to listen to whatever you have to say and remain calm and rational the whole time."

"Easy for you to say," Annabeth said. "You're not riding a wave of hormones while carrying a three pound parasite in your uterus…"

"Beth…" Alex cautioned.

"Ok, ok," Annabeth said forcing a smile. "Calm and rational."

"Just tell them, Daniel," Laria said shaking her head.

"Torlek has claimed your baby as a member of his house," Tigranian said with a deep breath. "He requests you to raise the child as Klingon."

"WHAT?!" Annabeth and Alex said in unison.

"Wait, wait," Alex said doing her best to keep her promise to remain calm. "What exactly does he have to do with our baby?"

"In the Klingon tradition, the father's blood is as important as the mother's. It passes from him to his child. Torlek made me Klingon with his own blood which means his blood entered your child through me," Tigranian explained. "By Klingon law and tradition, your son is Klingon which means Torlek is obligated by his honor to take him into his house."

"I don't see Torlek carrying around this baby!" Annabeth shouted.

"I know Annabeth!" Tigranian said rubbing his eyes. "I know. I've waited as long as I could to bring this up, but we have to discuss it before the baby is born."

"If he tries to take our baby…" Annabeth said as her voice transitioned to a low, protective growl.

"He's not going to do anything," Tigranian said holding up a hand. "And even if he wanted to, I wouldn't let him."

"Trust me," Annabeth said very annoyed, "it wouldn't matter if you, Torlek, and a thousand Klingons showed up at my door. This baby isn't going anywhere."

Tigranian sighed as Laria jumped in.

"Alex, Annabeth," she said trying to calm them down. "Torlek doesn't want to take your baby and he doesn't want to raise it. He merely wants to protect it and make him aware of Klingon culture. But, if you refuse, he's already said he won't bother you about it again."

"You knew about this?" Alex said in shock.

"When I'm not the science officer on this ship, I am a member of Torlek's house," she said firmly.

"And what exactly would this protection entail?" Annabeth asked.

"BETH!" Alex said in shock.

"I want to know, Alex," Annabeth said. "I'm not going to refuse an offer I know nothing about," she turned to Tigranian, "but that doesn't mean I'll accept it either."

"The child would be blood christened as a member of the House of Torlek," Tigranian explained. "And then a warrior who has completed the Rite of Ascension would swear an oath to raise the boy is accordance with Klingon law and tradition. Kind of like a godfather."

"Blood christened?" Alex said suspiciously.

"It's mostly symbolic now," Tigranian explained. "Blood christening goes back to a time when Klingon nobles were in a constant state of feudal warfare. Less honorable houses started assassinating the children of their rivals in an attempt to eliminate their heirs.

The ceremony is where the Head of the House takes responsibility for the upbringing and safety of an infant. It also serves as a warning to any enemies that harming it before the Age of Ascension will mean blood feud."

"And I imagine this godfather person would be you, Dan," Annabeth said lowering herself back onto the couch with a groan.

"I am the only one in this group who has completed the Rite of Ascension, so that narrows it down," Tigranian replied.

Alex suddenly grabbed a pillow from next to her wife and threw it into the wall as hard as she could.

"Do you really believe this, Dan?" the doctor asked him as she clenched her jaw. "That the baby Beth and I raise won't be complete unless he leans to eat gagh, stab things with a bat'leth, and asked to be tortured with painsticks?"

"Alex," Tigranian said looking up at her. "I will support you in whatever decision you and your wife make…" he paused. "But yes, I do believe in this."

Laria shut her eyes. She felt what was coming. Alex looked as if Tigranian had stabbed her through the heart.

"Then you shouldn't have agreed to any of this!" she shouted. "This is my baby! Not yours! Not Laria's! Not Torlek's!" You better tell your brother to keep his promise and stay away because I will not have any Klingon laying a finger on this child. And if you ever speak to us about this again, that will include you."

Now, it was Tigranian's turn to look crestfallen.

"ALEXANDRA!" Annabeth yelled.

"No!" Alex shouted back at her wife. "I will not sentence our son to a life of violence and pain before he is even born!"

"Do you think I might have an opinion on this?" Annabeth said with growing anger.

"You're not seriously considering letting them do this are you?" Alex gasped.

"Beth, I haven't decided on anything, but current events have once again shown me that Dan and Laria always will do the right thing, even when it's difficult. Putting them in a position where they have to choose between us and their family isn't fair to anyone!

I've stood with Dan and Torlek as their cha'DIch, I've been a guest in their home on Qo'nos. I've watched them stand up to injustice time and time again, including when they saved you." Her last comment put a crack in Alex's armor. "They are good people and we shouldn't dismiss them out of hand. Let's at least talk about this between ourselves."

"I promise," Tigranian said regaining his composure, "that I will not force you into anything. Discuss it, pray on it, and then let me know."

"Regardless, I don't think anything could change my mind," Alex said crossing her arms. "Kahless himself could walk through that door, and I wouldn't be moved."

"OWWW!" Annabeth suddenly shouted. She doubled over and grabbed her stomach.

"What?" Alex shouted diving to her wife's side. "What wrong?" Tigranian and Laria both leapt towards Annabeth as well.

"Is everything alright?" Laria asked desperately. Tigranian was poised to ask the computer for an emergency transport to sick bay.

Suddenly, a strange smile crossed Annabeth's face.

"Nothing's wrong," she said looking up with wonder. "He kicked…" Annabeth whispered. "When you said 'Kahless,' he finally kicked."

"Oh no," Alex said rearing back. "No, no, no!"

Annabeth looked over to Laria and then Tigranian in amazement. The captain reached over and grabbed Laria's hand. At this moment, he knew it was better to remain silent, but inside he whispered:

"Kahless the Unforgettable, be praised."
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