Originally Posted by Torrik Nils/02-3-2009 04:27:10 PM

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Bridge ::

On the viewscreen, bright tendrils of mysterious energy reached out towards the Intrepid Class vessel and a kaleidoscope of dancing light cascaded towards her hull. The Celestial Temple ferried another Starship full of travelers from one quadrant of the galaxy to another. Nils watched with a knowing smile, imagining the Prophet's non-corporeal forms sailing just next to the ship bringing them all safely through their cosmic construct. And as abruptly as they'd entered, the rift between quadrants spat them back into the black velvety darkness of real space.

"We've cleared the event horizon of the wormhole," Stryfe said from the Helm.

"Set a course for Deep Space Nine," Captain Torrik said, returning his attention to the console on his seat's armrest. "All stations prepare for docking." He paused and reviewed reports from all departments making certain the ship was set up for a successful rendezvous. "It just feels safer in this quadrant," he said quietly.

From where he stood, watching the light show, Harry turned towards his CO, "That's just because the Alpha quadrant's slime has already risen to the surface… the rest of the pond can't see their messes." Certainly the scum who'd set the killer code in the holodeck was proving hard to spot… and Jenny had been glued to the search for two shifts, so far.

"The messes you can see are always preferable to the ones that emerge unexpectedly," Nils said, agreeing with the XO's sentiment. "And after dealing with mirror dimensions, altered reality, and a brain scramble in holodeck…" The Bajoran sighed deeply. "Well, let's just say our 'real' has become very appealing."

"We are being hailed by DS9 Flight Control," T'Preen inserted, "there is a UFP freighter waiting final departure clearance… we are to hold at 2,000 kilometers until they've cleared the dock."

"SOP: hurry up and wait," Harry muttered, bouncing on his toes, "Message received," he told the Vulcan. "There's your reality," he threw to Torrik, "long stretches of boredom broken up by moments of complete disaster… or… maybe for us it's the other way around…"

A verrrry quiet, "Amen to that," filtered from somewhere around Tactical, where Esperanza Fuentas was currently running the station.

"Boredom is relative," Nils chuckled with a nod.

Which got Harry to thinking that, just over a month past, he'd wanted nothing more than a quiet stretch. Now the quiet only left room for contemplation and the XO found he didn't like any of the thoughts which came to visit. Maybe that was why he expended so much energy on messing with Seldon… the CMO's rants were a distraction. "At least the Doctor made a difference," the words slipped out unbidden. "I mean," he added, backpeddling, "Doctor Who… the character… the way he was written, he never stopped moving, never stopped fighting the good fight… not even the entire Dalek race could keep that guy down. Especially not after he killed them all off… "

"He killed them all off?" Nils asked momentarily giving full attention to Finn. He was vaguely familiar with Finn's encounter with the fictional 'Doctor,' but they'd never really discussed their respective adventures into Camael's land of personal introspection. "Genocide is a little over kill don't you think," he said with a tight smile, then went back to reviewing cargo transport manifests.

"No, I think it was just enough kill," Harry replied, sounding a touch defensive. "The Dalek race as a whole was pathologically xenophobic. They'd already destroyed Galiffrey… the Doctor's homeworld… and all his people. The guy did the galaxy a favor when he took them out."

The young CO looked up and frowned. He took a moment and considered Harry's position. Despite the 'fiction' of the subject matter, he found the system of values behind it troubling and he said as much. "Extinction is never an acceptable option when doling out justice. Principles keep the good guys separate from the bad guys. There are lines that shouldn't be crossed." He paused and thought back to his own adventure in Camael's nebula. "Batman dealt with some heinous enemies during the course of his crusade. Their deeds were dark and often terrifying. But his guiding principles always kept him from taking a life. It was a line he never crossed…to his credit."

"Now, you see," Harry turned back towards the center of the bridge, "I never got that about Batman. Sure, he did his bit for the cause but, come on… do you for one second believe he should have let… say… the Joker… live? That guy was a freak… he was unfixable. No court, no rehab, no shrinks… no one could ever stop him, so how is it a good thing that the Caped Crusader's principles didn't let him end that nightmare?"

Nils turned in his seat, angling his body towards Hawking's First Officer. "That's exactly the point… The worse evil is, the better good has to be in order to bring…balance! Had Batman allowed the Joker's darkness to draw him down a path of moral ambiguity then everything else the Dark Knight did would have been called into question. Hard boundaries of right and wrong always have to be respected or there is no real difference between the 'right' and 'wrong'."

"Which," Harry countered, striding towards the other man, "if you live in a comic book, where no one ever bleeds, is probably true. But in reality, when a man chooses his principles over the lives of innocents than how does that make him any better than the man who has no principles and is left free to destroy whoever he wants?"

"It's different because a man is only responsible for his own choices, which are guided by his principles. And Batman never chose his principles over innocent lives. In fact, he chose all lives, including that of the Joker." Nils shook his head and his brow fell low over his eyes. "He couldn't subvert what he believed to be right in favor of what might have been. That's a gamble that could have left him on a very slippery slope. And where does it stop? Would it be 'right' to go back in time and wipe out the Cardassian race before they invaded Bajor? Or to kill Adolf Hitler's mother before he was born? These actions would have preserved life, but at what cost? They are inherently evil actions. No," he said shaking his head. "Batman makes choices in the 'now'. And now is all we have in which to choose."

"Yes, and in the dozens of 'now's' Batman had a chance to choose, he never… look," unaware of the quiet attention being paid by the rest of the bridge crew, Harry, terrier-like, refused to drop the subject, "… look, a person can have ideals, sure. Most of us do but there comes a time in some lives when that ideal has to be measured against the needs of others. I'm not talking going back and preventing Hitler's birth, here. I'm talking, if I'd had a shot at Hitler after he'd instituted the final solution, my choice would have been to take that shot."

"Justice doesn't always mean death, Harry," said the Captain seriously. "There are other means… Less drastic means… Batman always used the less drastic solution."

"And a lot of people died," the older man asserted. "Because Justice, however much we want to believe in it, is still blind. Sometimes Justice needs… a little less principle and a little more muscle."

"Without principle, Justice just becomes 'strongest-man-wins'. Or…'Might is Right.' And might isn't always right. Just because someone is the last man standing doesn't mean he should have won. And if he's let go of that which made him good in the first place then perhaps he shouldn't have won." Nils took another deep breath and turned his head to watch DS9 drift slowly closer. "The question we should always ask is not how we can win, but if we should win. Do we deserve to be the victor? There is a limit to how many lines can be crossed before we become what we fight against."

There was a moment of crowded silence as Finn stood quite… still. "Point taken," he finally said, almost easily. Another moment passed before Harry, also, turned to face their destination, "I just hope you never come up against any of those lines."

"I hope I do," Nils said with a smile, simply oblivious to his crewmate's inner turmoil. "Without the testing, the principles are nothing more than the theories of an idealistic young Captain." He turned to Harry and let his smile broaden. "And you know how I like to test a theory."

Hardened eyes slid sideways, "The problem, Sir, is when the theory becomes a proof."

"Proofs only exist in math and science, Commander," jibed Nils as he leaned into the XO. "And even then they are subject to our current catalogue of knowledge, which makes them shaky at best."

Which, to Harry's frame of mind, had sort of been the point but, before he could mention that, something onscreen caught the corner of his eye and the muck of their moral debate was shed in the light of history, "The Chimera," he said, in a voice laden with memories. "Wonder what she's doing here?"

At first, Finn's mention of the ship's name brought an unwelcome memory from Holodeck 2 and he resisted a sudden urge to pinch himself to make sure this was no illusion. Then he noticed the Prometheus class vessel docked at one of DS9 pylons. "I don't know," answered Nils, his concern obvious. "Hopefully she's just passing through," he added, hoping the situation in his home system hadn't deteriorated somehow to necessitate the presence of one of Starfleet's more 'tactically' designed starships. "You were stationed on the Chimera, right?"

"For almost a year," Finn replied. A very eventful year at that. He'd spent the last dregs of the Dominion War on the Chimera… the Battle of Cardassia alone had been… "She's a good ship," he added, cutting off his own reminiscences.

"Captain, we are receiving another com from the station," T'Preen's voice betrayed no interest in her superiors' strange discussion, "From a Commander S'Van," there was a slight hitch before she read the rest of the communication, "he requests a meeting upon our arrival."

This exercise in debate brought to you by Harry and Nils

Still Waters

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