Commander William Thomas Riker was sworn in as a witness according to law to testify as follows:
Will Riker stood stiffly to attention, his head held high, staring intently at the centre Admiral. Nothing was said but he felt a definite air of disapproval. They knew each other from the Jellico incident.
Question by Judge Advocate: What is your name and rank?
Answer: William Thomas Riker. Captain, Starfleet
Q: State what you know in regard to the loss of the USS Enterprise-D.
A: On Stardate 48632 a Klingon Bird of Prey, afterwards identified as belonging to the Duras sisters, decloaked off our bows as per the tendered Logs. In a message they admitted that they had our chief engineer, Geordie la Forge, prisoner. It was obvious that an illicit business transaction had taken place between themselves and Doctor Soren. We had two overriding objectives – to stop doctor Soren from destroying the star of the Veridian system and to rescue our chief engineer.
Responding to Hails, the Klingon Commanders Lursa and B’Tor showed no interest in our attempts to retrieve La Forge until Captain Jean Luc Picard offered himself as a prisoner exchange.
Q; Captain Riker, considering General Order 15, why did you allow your commanding officer to place himself in what was obviously a hazardous situation without an armed escort?
Will knew that his whole career rested on his next answer because strictly speaking he knew he had been in the wrong. The safety of his captain was one of his responsibilities and over the years there had been many times when it had come down to a contest of willpower between them over this particular issue.
From their very first confrontation when he had just joined the Enterprise-D at Farpoint station he had known that this would be a bone of contention between them. Finally they had come to terms with the fact that although Will could not stop his captain from putting his life on the line alongside his crew he would not let him do so alone.
A: [Riker] Over the seven years that I have served under Captain Picard I have gained the utmost respect for his judgement in combat situations and have come to realise that although I might not always have been able to see the logic of his commands, they have invariably been sound.
Our discussions had conceded that the captain was the best person to handle Dr Soran although originally we had planned on fielding a full away team. The situation with the Klingon Bird of Prey and our lack of time made the only option a one-on-one prisoner exchange. The lives of millions of people hinged on this and the captain had quite simply no other option.
If I thought that Captain Picard was under the strain of fatigue, psychological, emotional or any other kind of influence I would have over-ridden his decision without a moment’s hesitation. As it was, my faith in my commanding officer superceded any questions I had about the logic of his decisions.
It was a gamble, but in this case he felt that the truth was his best defence. The fact of the matter was that in the constantly changing situations they found themselves -usually one emergency after another - they could not afford to react by simply following orders. Riker had delivered his answer with as little emotion as possible, but his body language betrayed him. Chin out, head back, frowning, almost glaring: daring them to comment on the statement.
Slow seconds passed and the tension grew as he swivelled his gun-barrel gaze from one to another, daring them to make the next move.
It was going to be a long day ...