women

Fic: Every Good Villain (Valeris, gen)

Title: Every Good Villain
Character: Valeris
Rating: PG
Summary: Every good villain is the hero of her own story. On trial for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon, Valeris tells hers.
Notes: for yeomanrand's prompt at the Awesome Ladies ficathon.
Word Count: 2291



One look at the courtroom tells Valeris that her sentence will be determined by emotion, not logic. The ceilings are excessively high, the room far larger than necessary to accommodate the limited audience of Starfleet officers and media personnel allowed at her trial. The judge sits on a dais at the center of the room, raising him above everyone else. Everything is designed to make the accused feel small in comparison to the law. It flies in the face of all of Surak's teachings, which prescribe a room no larger than necessary, wherein all parties may discuss the facts of a case and the rectitude of the law as equals. But she had chosen to live among emotional races; now her fate will be decided by them. To complain would be illogical.

The sound of the judge's gavel echoes in the large room.

"The general court martial of Valeris will now convene."

She is unaccustomed to hearing her name without its rank, and for a moment, she experiences a sensation she believes humans describe as "feeling naked," which is quite illogical as the orange prison jumpsuit clothes her quite adequately. However, her Vulcan training is superior, and no trace of her emotion appears on her face.

She mounts the witness stand impassively when she is called and studies the prosecutor while the bailiff swears her in. The prosecutor's uniform is predictably crisply ironed, and the medals pinned to her chest clink together faintly when she walks. Her hair is braided so tightly that it seems to tug on the skin of her face, which so calm it appears almost Vulcan. Except for her eyes. They snap like the eyes of a Klingon preparing for battle.

"Valeris, did you orchestrate the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon and frame Captain Kirk for his death?" the prosecutor begins.

"Yes."

Gasps and whispers erupt among the small audience and even the prosecutor looks faintly startled. They had expected her to invoke her right against self-incrimination; when she had agreed to testify, they had assumed that she would save herself, but she will do no such thing. She had failed in her duty to protect the Federation from this misguided peace with the Klingon Empire; now, she must be punished, quickly and harshly, to sate the Klingons' bloodlust and preserve the safety of the Federation. Therefore she will not lie. She merely desires to explain her motives before the sentencing.

Regrettably, her public defender has other plans.

"Your Honor, I request a recess to speak with the defendant."

The judge looks from her to her defender, who is thirty-two years old but looks twenty-one. She had chosen him because his lack of experience would allow her to dominate him thoroughly.

"Your client choosing to hang herself is hardly reason for a recess, but if the prosecution agrees..."

The prosecutor looks toward her team at the table and nods imperceptibly. She is as unprepared for Valeris' sudden admission of guilt as everyone else and doubtless needs time to prepare new questions.

"Very well," the judge announces. "The court will reconvene in half an hour."

***


She meets with her attorney in a small, windowless office where the aroma of dust mingles with the scent of their fresh coffee. She does not care for caffeinated beverages but had insisted upon buying one in order to waste time. Their meeting is pointless, and she has no wish to prolong it.

Her attorney stares at her with intense eyes that remind of her holos of a young James T. Kirk. He leans toward her across the dusty table, gesticulating emphatically to illustrate his point.

"Valeris, this is not what we talked about. The evidence against you was obtained illegally -- "

"Which has no bearing on my guilt or innocence. It proves only that Captain Spock ought to be punished."

"Look, if you're determined to confess, do what we talked about. Pin this on Admiral Cartwright. He's the superior officer, they'll buy that you had to obey his orders."

"Your statement is factually untrue. I acted by my own free will, and I will not compromise myself by lying."

"You murdered two people," he says, speaking slowly and clearly as if Valeris had forgotten what she had done. She has not; she has in fact completed the prescribed Vulcan rituals of mourning and remembrance for each of the lives she had taken. Naturally, her attorney is unaware of this.

"You framed two highly respected officers," he continues. "You orchestrated the death of the Klingon Chancellor, and you tried to have the President of the Federation assassinated. And you won't bend the truth to protect yourself? Come on, Valeris, this is how the system works."

His eyes are pleading, and she allows herself a small moment of sympathy for her young, naive defender who is clearly distressed by his inability to do his job. Patiently, she explains her logic once again, though she doubts he will understand it any better this time.

"The deaths, while regrettable, were necessary to protect the Federation. Lying serves no ends but my own. In any case, a criminal who can demonstrate the logic of her thought process typically receives a less severe sentence than one who cannot."

"That might be how it works on Vulcan, but that's not the case here. You're making yourself look like a criminal mastermind who feels no remorse. They're not going to have mercy on that."

"Neither mercy nor remorse have any place in a justice system. I will not corrupt myself in order to accommodate your species' flaws."

She stands, tossing her cold cup of coffee in the trash.

"I believe it is time to return to the court."

***


The judge bangs his gavel, and Valeris returns obediently to the stand so that the prosecutor may continue.

"Do you regret your actions?" she asks, voice filled with fresh confidence now that the witness has confessed. She believes -- falsely -- that the difficult part of her job has finished.

"No."

She pauses to allow the human prosecutor a moment to consider the flaw in this line of questioning. When she does not rephrase, Valeris explains herself further.

"Regret is a human emotion. I do not feel it."

The prosecutor purses her carefully lined red lips in a human gesture of irritation.

"Pardon my human parlance. I'll rephrase. If you were given the opportunity to relive the last six weeks, would you still choose to participate in the Khitomer Conspiracy?"

Valeris knows the cameras in the courtroom have all zoomed in on her face. She refuses to look at them; they are irrelevant.

"I would."

The prosecutor pauses briefly, allowing the audience to absorb her answer. Apparently, she cannot rid herself of the reflex to grandstand for a jury, even though there is no jury here. Valeris had not requested one; she trusted the judge's logic far more than a panel of her so-called peers.

The prosecutor turns back to her.

"Allow me to clarify for the benefit of the court. Given the opportunity, you would again choose to orchestrate the assassination of the Klingon chancellor, execute his assassins, frame Captain Kirk, and attempt to assassinate the president of the Federation? Thereby destroying our only hope for lasting peace with the Klingon Empire?"

The question clarifies nothing; it is merely an emotional appeal intended to vilify her before the court. They cannot beat her by logic alone, then. Even they think what she did was right.

"Yes," she answers simply.

The prosecutor looks triumphant, as if she had won a startling admission.

"Tell us, Valeris, exactly how long you planned this crime."

"One year, six months, and three days ago, I was a member of an away team that rescued six stranded crew from Klingon attack. While conducting surveillance, I witnessed a Klingon officer summarily execute a subordinate for disagreeing with him. In addition, on my second surveillance pass -- "

"Your Honor, this is irrelevant."

It is not, and she has no intention of limiting her answer, however, she pauses politely to allow the judge to reprimand her.

"Witness," he says in a voice of long suffering, "please answer the question."

She will. In her own time. She picks up where she left off.

"In addition, on my second surveillance pass, two opposing Klingon factions instigated a drunken brawl during which one individual was killed and another severely wounded. Such a loss of life is illogical and morally abhorrent, yet each party claimed to fight for honor, and their commander absolved them of wrong-doing simply because all participants were equally well-armed."

"Witness," the judge booms, "this is not an opportunity for you to vent your private prejudice against Klingon culture. Please answer the question."

She is not certain why the judge thinks he can cow her into submission. She can be ruled in contempt of court, but the resultant punishment will be negligible in light of her forthcoming sentence for treason. Moreover, since she is the star witness, they can hardly remove her from the stand for a single circuitous answer. In this instance, the power belongs to her, and she will use it.

"As a result, I undertook a detailed analysis of Klingon culture, focusing on primary sources, and beginning with the writings of Kahless himself. After this study, I concluded that the Klingon conception of honor is emotionally driven and inherently requires violence and bloodshed. To make peace with such a race is logically contradictory. When I first heard rumors of a peace treaty, the only logical course of action was to find allies in opposing it."

The prosecutor turns to the audience, making a small show of her annoyance.

"And when was that?"

"Three months and four days ago."

"Thank you, Valeris, for finally answering the question."

The repeated use of her first name is intended to annoy her. It does not.

"Do you maintain that your opposition to the peace treaty was exclusively logical? Completely uninfluenced by emotion?"

"I do."

The prosecutor pauses again, and even Valeris can feel the charge building in the room as she prepares the next question.

"Valeris."

The prosecutor's voice is slow and heavy.

"Weren't your parents killed by Klingon raiders when you were ten years old?"

The courtroom goes still and silent. Valeris can feel them counting the seconds before her answer. She hesitates only to check her Vulcan reflex to respond to the exact question that has been asked. If she says yes, they will use it against her because they will assume she is filled with the same base emotions as humans. She will not deny her guilt, but she will not allow them to assume her decision was born of some primitive longing for revenge.

"Personal experience with an issue does not make one's decisions inherently emotional. My parents' death was one among many pieces of evidence which logically corroborated Klingons' propensity toward violence."

"And you find no logical contradiction in preventing violence by inflicting violence yourself?"

If she were human, she would smile. The prosecutor, determined to prove the full extent of her hubris and guilt, is allowing her to state all the evidence that justifies her so-called crime. She glances at the audience for the first time. Some are staring at her with disgust, but others with interest. They are willing to be convinced.

"Not when it will avert a greater loss of life. Starfleet itself has destroyed sixty-seven Klingon ships when they threatened Federation security."

"And when the Federation determined that the Klingon Empire posed no threat, you felt that you, an inexperienced lieutenant, and a handful of other individuals knew better?"

"Indeed. Two thousand one hundred and sixty three Starfleet officers and Federation citizens have been killed in altercations instigated by Klingons in the last fifty years. I can only conclude that the Federation officials who arranged the treaty have never experienced Klingon blood lust and subterfuge firsthand. My colleagues and I were the only ones to take action, but we acted from a widespread concern for the safety our civilizations."

She sees one man in the audience nod slowly. Admiral's stripes glisten on his sleeves. The prosecutor does not notice.

"You state that you acted in order to protect the Federation," she says with the air of a predator stepping in for the kill. "But did you not endanger the Federation further by potentially provoking a war with the Klingon Empire?"

"No. Admiral Cartwright and I discussed this matter extensively before acting. With Gorkon dead and no clear successor to follow him, the Klingon Empire would have lacked the strength and unity necessary to fight a war with the Federation. Our greatest enemy would have been destabilized, further protecting our interests in the galaxy."

A gray-haired woman, a captain Valeris knows as a veteran of many battles, nods almost imperceptibly. Emboldened by this small token of agreement, she asks the question that has been burning in her mind since the trial began.

"Prosecutor, I challenge you to name a single incident that demonstrates the Klingons' sincere desire for peace."

She addressed the prosecutor, but in truth, it is a challenge to everyone in the room, and she sees them asking themselves whether they can meet it. She knows they cannot, and they will remember it long after the judge orders her words stricken from the record. Her conviction is unavoidable, and she will spend the rest of her life in prison. But the people who have seen her here today will not forget her calm, her certainty, and above all, her logic. One of them, maybe even more, will turn to fight against the Klingons for the safety of the Federation. In that way, victory will be hers.
Yes! This is the stuff that didn't make it into the movie. I love your window into her thought processes.
Oh, awesomely done, and not just in the slang sense. I shivered upon reading this.
Brilliantly conceived and executed! I love getting a glimpse into Valeris' mind and her logical thought processes, how the foregone conclusion of her guilt freed her from doing anything but sow the seeds of doubt.

Wonderful!
Thank you so much! I really enjoyed writing this, so it means a lot that you enjoyed it so much :)
That was wonderful. You got Valeris's character down pat. I...I don't even have words. This was excellent.
This is such a strong and thoughtful story, and I love it dearly.
I wanted to ask your permission to translate it into Russian, so that our fandom can also benefit from with wonderful outlook at Valeris :D
Man, I've had this bookmarked for so long and re-read at least two times and still can't come up with a more coherent response than: wow, what a debate, scarily realistic look into her head. Thank you for sharing.