"How to Prove a Point"
submitted by Snooky
Hogan and Commander Riker thought it best to discuss prosecution strategy back at Stalag 13. It was quieter than the courtroom and was, for now, devoid of defendants, the press, and other unwelcome characters. The two military men sat around Hogan's table in his office, while extras from the upper bunks, as usual, kept watch at the door. Newkirk, LeBeau, Carter, Kinch, and Baker used the opportunity to catch up on their duties, while Wilson waited impatiently in the common room.
Riker laid it out straight. "Colonel, we could have a problem. If anything this scientist said is correct, you and your men are at the mercy of these writers whether you like it or not."
"I'd still like the case to go to the jury." Hogan was still trying to grasp the concepts divulged in Brown's testimony and he was, as expected, having a hard time. "You know, Riker, being told you don't exist, aren't real, did exist, came into existence, could be erased, are real, may be a new life form...It's a lot to handle in one day. Frankly, I'm finding it all a little too much to swallow."
"I understand that, Colonel. But, where I come from, what they've been saying seems plausible. Look, don't you find it a little odd that we are having a trial in 21st century New York City? We've got a judge from a 1980's TV sitcom. I'm from the 24th century, Perry is from a TV show that ran from 1957-1966 and then branched into TV movies. Kuzak is from a 1980's drama. We've had a dog as a witness and a scientist from a movie trilogy. You came up to my ship and got restored. And the defendants? How did they get here? Have you questioned that? They didn't take the A train, that's for sure. Our technology got them here. And they're from all over the place. The States, Canada, Sweden. And how are you guys able to get from the Stalag to here and back again? I know you've had men sneaking out. Well?" Riker stopped talking and looked at Hogan.
"I'd still like the case to go to the jury." Hogan was being stubborn. He felt so abused, that he was almost ready to throw in the towel. But he wasn't a quitter. He knew he had a case. He knew he and his men existed. "I don't care how weird this is, I'm here, you're here and I don't feel well, and I hurt and I'm really getting sick of this." He took off his cap and threw it on the table. "I want compensation and I want a cease and desist order!"
Riker tried to be patient. "We can go to the jury. I think we have a good shot at them finding for the prosecution. There's no doubt you've been abused, and none of these writers, with one exception, have shown any remorse for what they've done. But then what? If they order compensation, what are you going to do with 21st century currency? Besides, they're in the middle of a bad recession. They've all probably lost their shirts anyway. So, it will take years to get the money and you'll all be dead, for real."
"Lovely sentiment," Hogan said sarcastically.
"And," Riker continued. "If it's just compensation, they'll still keep writing. More abuse!"
"Just ducky," Hogan replied. "Cease and desist, then. Make 'em stop. We're not interested in the money anyway."
"Okay, then," Riker countered. "The jury finds in our favor and they issue a cease and desist order. How will we enforce it? They are obviously in a different universe. And then if that's figured out, what if Brown's right? Once all the stories are played out, then what? What if poof is really poof?"
"And if they don't stop writing, what, Riker? More torture, more injuries?" Hogan was trying not to panic. "Riker, is there some way we can test Brown's theory without hurting any of us?"
"I suppose I can go up to the ship. Discuss it with Data, other people. Maybe run a simulation."
"I'm not ready to give up yet. The men are counting on me."
"All right, Colonel. Give me some time. I'll discuss it with our scientists and see what we can come up with. We can keep the trial going." Riker stood up and got ready to call for the transporter.
Hogan looked up and watched Riker shimmer out of existence. He wished he had that technology available. It would have made it a hell of a lot easier to transport escapees back to England. He then swallowed his pride and called for Wilson.
Riker beamed up to the Enterprise and ran the theories past Data and Geordi. They in turn took off for the holodeck and began to program scenarios into the computer. Meanwhile, Riker had a meeting scheduled with Captain Picard regarding his violation of the temporal Prime Directive. He was not looking forward to this.
"Tea, Earl Grey, hot." Picard issued his order and removed the beverage from the replicator. A bell rang, signaling the presence of a visitor. "Come."
Riker entered Picard's ready room. "Captain?"
Picard motioned for Riker to sit down. He then took his seat, had a sip of tea, placed the mug on the table and looked sternly at his first officer. "I'm waiting for an explanation, Will."
"I don't know how the defendants found out, Sir."
"That's immaterial at this point. Whether they guessed, or were told, the cat is now out of the bag and I now have temporal police breathing down my neck. Whatever prompted you to give that Colonel the information?"
"Wait, that's not all. What prompted you to ask Mr. Data to retrieve that information in the first place? It was a violation of privacy laws from both of our centuries. Was there a subpoena issued allowing for the release of the passwords?"
"No, Sir, but in all fairness, no harm was done. I guarantee the defendants have changed their passwords by now, and Hogan doesn't have the technology to retrieve them on his own."
Picard took another sip. "No harm was done? I understand the soldiers were able to shut down the fiction site for several days?"
"Actually, there's no proof that they had anything to do with that. I think it was actually a server problem."
Picard continued. "And they hacked into someone's own personal site, a Miss Snooky, I believe."
"Yes, they did do that, but she's okay with it now. In fact, I still think she could turn."
"Will, answer my first question."
"At the hearings, Mason got everyone's emotions going when he brought up the character development. I wasn't confident we would be continuing. I needed to help these guys. They were in such bad shape. I'm sorry, Sir. It was a lapse of judgment on my part. I'll take the fall."
"Yes, Commander, I'm afraid you will. You'll be answering to the temporal police after the trial."
"Now, bring me up to date on how the trial is going."
"No, Sir, I won't let you do it."
"Wilson, these defendants have never actually seen the full consequences of their writing. They've only seen the aftermath and side-effects." Hogan was pacing back and forth in his office. Wilson had come in to check on the Colonel, and decided that for now, stress was as much of a problem as the possible flu-like symptoms that had been plaguing the officer recently.
"Colonel, if you go through with this, how do you know you'll bounce back?"
"We've bounced back every time. Can't think of why that would change. Wilson, tell the men to come in." Hogan motioned for the door and waited impatiently for the rest of his staff to gather round.
"He's gone off the deep end." Wilson whispered to Kinch.
"What's going on, Sir?"
"Kinch, remember the hearings, how bad I was before Riker had me fixed up?"
"Yes, Sir. You could barely walk."
"The defendants weren't there. They didn't see Carter unconscious on the bench. They didn't see me pass out in the witness chair."
"My appendix attack," LeBeau reminded everyone.
"That's right." Hogan said. "Sure, they're seeing stuff now, but it was a lot worse then. This trial has slowed things down."
"Except for poor Olsen, Sir." Carter glanced towards the common room.
"Yeah, right. Well he's an exception. Can't blame him." Hogan made a mental note to talk to the Sergeant after the meeting. "We've got to get him some help."
"What are you getting at, Colonel?" Newkirk asked. "Give them a taste of their own medicine?"
"I wouldn't do that, not yet. Two wrongs don't make a right." I'm not an eye-for-eye kind of guy, Hogan thought, especially when it comes to women.
"No, I'm willing to sacrifice myself to prove a point." Hogan waited for the cacophony of protests.
"I'm not getting what you mean, Colonel," Carter was confused.
Wilson replied to the men directly. "I do and I definitely don't like it. Go on, tell them, Colonel. I'll bet they'll agree with me."
The four other men quieted down and looked at the Colonel.
"I want the defendants and the jury to see the real effects of the writing. And I propose to do that by initiating a story that will take place in the courtroom. Something dramatic that will get their attention. Something that shows the actual incident, not just side effects."
"But, sacrifice yourself, Colonel? With what? An illness, a gunshot?" LeBeau was ready to volunteer. "I'll be the guinea pig, if it means we can stop this once and for all."
"No," Wilson interjected. "Like I said, he doesn't mean that. He means something worse."
"Absolutely not." Kinch protested. "This is nuts, sorry, Sir. But it's nuts. How can you be sure it wouldn't be permanent?"
"I can't." Hogan went over to his desk and removed some pads of paper. He started handing them out, along with some pencils, to his men. "But, so far, we've always come back to life. I'm willing to bet it will happen again. Here, we need to put our heads together and come up with a plausible story line."
The men still weren't buying it and they continued to argue. Next it was Newkirk to volunteer. "I'll do it, Sir. You've been through enough." The rest of the crew murmured in agreement, all save Wilson, who was still adamantly against anything even approaching a sacrifice.
The medic continued to argue. "I don't want you or anyone else writing in even a hangnail. I don't trust this system and I'm not going to be the one to declare someone dead!"
"Sorry, Wilson." Hogan had made his decision and he was sticking by it. "The mission's a go and I'm the guinea pig." The men protested again. "That's an order. Start writing!"
"How do you plan on getting this story into the system, and how can we be sure it will show up in the courtroom, Colonel?"
"We'll do what we did before, Kinch." Hogan pulled down a map of the courtroom. "We'll sneak out of here tonight, break into the courthouse, then break into the library and use one of their computers. We saw how to get on the site when we had Snooky's computer. In fact, we can even set up our own password and screen name. We'll type in and load up the story, and then, if I've figured this thing out right, when court resumes tomorrow, hopefully, it will hit."
"And then the authors will see what they have wrought for real," Carter whispered.
"I still think it would be better to do it to them," LeBeau muttered.
"Let me see your ideas. What have we got?" Hogan took the men's pads. "Oh, come on. A heart attack? That's not very dramatic. Besides, that would hurt. SS comes in to arrest everyone and starts shooting when I protest. Not bad, but someone else could get hit. Deadly disease? Yeech. Wild bear attack? Carter!" He threw the paper back. "Here, try again. Not good enough."
Wilson initially refused to participate. He sat there positively steaming, watching the oncoming disaster take shape. However, he finally realized he would not be able to talk the Colonel out of taking part in this insanity. "Here, give me that." He grabbed a pad and started writing. "If you insist on going through with this, this is the way to make it easier for you. You want to drag it out to get more sympathy. You don't need smoke and mirrors, either. That will only take attention away from you." He jotted down a few more sentences and handed the pad to the Colonel.
Hogan glanced at the medic's notes. "Yes, Wilson, you're a genius. This is perfect. All right. Let's make this into a story and get this operation started."