::A pale white light appears through the darkness in the distance. Gentle sounds of low-pitched chimes and haunting plucked strings echo softly. The camera slowly zooms in on a shadowy figure wearing black who is looking down at the ground. Percussion builds and in a dramatic wash of cymbals the man looks up to the camera. He keeps a stoic expression and speaks with a sense of urgency as he faces the camera head on..::
Jorey: No one, no matter how hard they try, can escape their past. ::The camera angle changes. We are above him. He looks up at the camera and continues.:: To understand our present and predict the future, we must first understand our history. ::Jorey looks down toward the ground at a floor camera and the angle changes once again.:: This rule applies to everyone – criminals, masterminds and even our most celebrated heroes. We are not born, we are made. ::The camera swings up and begins to move out as the music builds to a final climax. A blurry mess of gold lettering fills the screen and slowly comes into focus revealing a graphic of the show’s title.:: I am Brayden Jorey… ::He raises an eyebrow.:: and this… is Background Check.
::The screen snaps to black and the audio fades to silence. We transition to Jorey sitting comfortably in an oversized, ornate and plush chair. He is out of uniform and wearing a blue, green and white garment made to look as though fabric is draped over his body. A delicate circlet of white and blue gemstones softly shimmers across his forehead under the flattering warm lighting.::
Jorey: Good evening viewers. ::Jorey tilts his head slightly and offers a warm, welcoming smile.:: This is the very first instalment of Background Check and I couldn’t be more excited. My grandmother always said, “Whatever you do – do it right, do it well, and most importantly, do it big!” Applying her advice, we have an extraordinary show planned and will be speaking with an exceptional example of what it means to be a Starfleet Officer. He is the captain of one of the fleet’s most advanced starships, he’s a decorated hero, and, if I do say so myself, ::The devilish grin of a precocious child finds its way onto Jorey’s face.:: has the kinda looks the camera is going to just love! Rear Admiral Andrus Jaxx is here! ::Jorey brings his legs up and extends his appreciative arms toward Jaxx.:: Welcome!
::As Brayden makes his intro, Jaxx sits in the chair provided. Like most times, his mind began to wander as the man speaks to the various cameras. It was not important that he listen to his introduction, as the Betazoid already knew who he was. Instead, the thought monopolizing his mind was about the chair across from Brayden. It was quite comfortable and he wondered if that was by design. Making guests more comfortable would be a way to get them to open up a bit more. In Jaxx’s case, his mind shifts to getting something similar for his ready room. As the man mentioned his name, the dark haired man put on his trademark cocky grin and looks up. It was not the first interview he had given, but it was the first time anyone would look at the in depth life of the Rear Admiral.::
::Jorey gestures to the Captain of the USS Apollo as the camera zooms out to reveal Jaxx sitting in a similar chair. There is also a beautifully decorated table with a diverse range of drinks, snacks, and desserts.::
Jaxx: ::nodding:: Thank you. It is great to be joining you.
Jorey: I couldn’t more grateful to you for sharing your time with us to help make our series premiere so very special. ::Jorey paused for a moment and hoped that Jaxx could feel his sincerity. Then he turned his attention back to the camera.:: Tonight we will be looking back through time at the life of Rear Admiral Jaxx. We will learn about his struggles, triumphs, achievements and disappointments. We will explore the history that has made him into the man he is today.
::The cocky grin that sat on Jaxx’s face slowly developed into a modest one. While in his career he was a confident officer that had been successful thus far, in his personal life the man did not match the officer. Sitting in the seat, he feels himself adjusting as he glances toward the camera.::
::Jorey leans in toward the table between them and palms a small tea cup. He looks up at his guest and gestures toward the spread to let Jaxx know he is welcome to anything. Jorey leans back into his chair and gets comfortable.::
Jorey: Let’s start where it all began. ::To the camera.:: It is the bustling Betazoid capital city of Medera. It is the political, religious, and cultural center of Betazoid life throughout the galaxy. A child is born into the noble 8th House of Betazed – the House of Intuition. His parents Bjenta and Tylon Jaxx name him Andrus. ::Jorey and the camera look back to Jaxx.:: Tell us, Andrus, what are some of your first memories of Medera.
::The question brings Jaxx back to his childhood. There were so many thoughts that bombard him at once. Thinking about which one fit best, he started to pluck them from the abyss of his memory.::
Jaxx: People everywhere. It is easy to walk by someone and not notice them. But it was impossible for my parents to go anywhere and not know people. There were times that it felt as if we stopped every ten steps for them to speak to someone, even if it were not vocalized. Not many people know, but it is semi-rude to walk away as you are telepathically conversing with someone. ::reaching forward he takes a sip from the cup in front of him:: And it is very quiet. While on Earth, or when I commanded Starbase 118, you could hear a slight roar amongst the people moving to and fro. That roar is quite different on Betazed. Sure people vocally speak, but typically to non-Betazoids.
Jorey: Agreed. ::He smiles at Jaxx and then leans into the camera, dark eyes focused in on the lense.:: Those of you who are not telepathic can’t begin to imagine how disorienting the constant drone of vocalizations can be. ::He sits back in his chair and pulls his knees up to his chest.:: It took me months to acclimatize. ::He laughed at the thought of it.:: Anyway, where were we… ::A slight look of embarrassment as Jorey tries to retrace his thoughts.:: Ah, yes! ::His shoulders relax and he grins.:: You were just about to tell us about Medera.
Jaxx: As you said, it is the cultural center and the home to many political and religious locations. It often provided us with people to actually ‘talk’ to. Of course, because my parents were who they were, we got to entertain ambassadors, diplomats, and the like. ::snickering:: To be honest, I never really stuck around. When I had the chance to get away, I did. Their life was not one I wanted for my own. ::smiling:: Even the status of our noble house was something that I wanted to avoid.
Jorey: Oh! ::He mocked excruciating pain and grabbed his chest.:: I can hear the desperate cries of a thousand Betazoid mothers! ::He leaned back in his chair and smiled.:: That must have been difficult considering that your mother was a long time member of the Ruling Council. Then there was your father – two terms in the High Office of Defense and then elected to the Federation Council.
::Jaxx smiles at the man, and then to the camera. The energy he was giving off was something incredible. Jaxx did not think many people would even care about some Betazoid officer in Starfleet. His career was going quite well, but he was no hero of a great war and his name was probably not as recognized as others.::
Jaxx: I cannot speak more highly of my parents. They have both dedicated their life to serve the people of Betazed…only they did and continue to do it in different ways.
Jorey: There it is. ::The camera zooms in and Jorey’s profile fills the frame. He turns to face the camera and holds his right hand, palm up, in front of him..:: Two paths are in front of young Andrus. His father expects him to join the Betazoid Defence Force. ::He raises his left, palm up.:: His mother expects him to take his place among the ruling class and join the aristocracy. ::He raises an eyebrow with peaked interest and raises and lowers his hands like the scales of justice..:: So which path did young Andrus take? ::A dramatic pause before he continues and he clasps his hands together and slowly lowers them on his lap..:: For our answer, we must first take a few steps back. Back before Starfleet, before the Dominion invasion of Betazed, before… the choice. ::Jorey turns to back to face Jaxx.:: Andrus, I know it might be difficult, but I would like for us to talk about Saraa.
::The discussion takes Andrus back to when he was much younger. He could almost feel the pressure and expectations that were placed on him at such an early age. Service was one thing he learned from his parents, but it did not have to be restricted to Betazoids. Although, until Saraa’s death…he had not even planned on leaving Betazed. It was something from his past that he had not thought about in a long time. Now, here it is, sitting on his mind.::
Jaxx: ::shifting in his seat:: Okay…fire away.
Jorey: You are 16 years old. You’ve begun attending the Psychology program at the University of Betazed. The Dominion War still seems far from the peace and beauty of Betazed. ::To the camera.:: It is during this time that Andrus becomes engaged to Saraa. ::He focuses in on Jaxx with interest and empathy.:: Please, tell us about when you first met Saraa and then about the engagement.
Jaxx: It was not a traditional engagement, as we have come to see from many different cultures. In fact, it was an arranged marriage, one that was proclaimed while I was still a toddler. Yet, our families were very close and we did love each other. Both of us had agreed to accept the arrangement. ::pausing:: I honestly wish I could recollect the first time we met, but we were so young. I do have a vivid memory of her in a peach colored dress, maybe ten years old? Her smile was adorable then. It would eventually be the feature that won me over. ::smiling, Jaxx shifts in his seat once more:: Once we told our parents that we intended to go through with the betrothal…we all agreed that it would wait until after we were finished at the university.
Jorey: You had both waited your entire lives. What was a few more years? ::A somber expression overtook his face as he turned to look a at a different camera. It slowly zooms in as Jorey addresses the audience.:: In truth, the next few years would prove catastrophic, not only for Andrus and his young bride-to-be, but for every Betazoid across the galaxy. ::Jorey picks up a cup of warm tea as we return to the view of both men around the colourfully decorated table.:: Please, Andrus ::Bringing the delicate cup to his lips.:: continue.
::Shifting again, Jaxx looks to the floor for a split second. They were emotions that he had dealt with long ago, but they did not stop him from feeling the loss again. He looks back to Brayden and continues.::
Jaxx: Historians, Starfleet officers, and many others have learned many details of the war. When you face a galactic challenge, like the war, the amount of information is astronomical ::smiling:: no pun intended. The invasion of Betazed was something that was not supposed to happen. The tenth fleet, under the command of Admiral Masc, was there to ensure that it would not happen. ::pausing the Betazoid gets his emotions in check:: It is easy to judge events after they happened. I cannot begin to imagine the difficulty Admiral Masc faced that day, having his fleet caught out of position, losing the battle and planet within ten hours, and then ultimately calling for a retreat. ::he sighs:: But when the planet fell, it took no time for Cardassian and Jem’Hadar troops to fill the cities. Our first instinct was to fight. When your home is being attacked…you fight for it. But I was young. Instead, I tried to lead as many people as I could out of the city when it happened. While we were trying to get away we were stopped by a small Cardassian patrol. The instinct to fight finally set in, and that is exactly what we did. ::looks into the camera:: It was a sight to see, teenagers going toe to toe with hardened warriors. Our group quickly overtook the few Cardassians in our path. As a friend of mine and I charged one, he discharged his weapon. Once he was subdued we were amazed that neither one of us had been injured. But as I turned to find Saraa on the ground, I may as well have been killed that day.
::Allowing the emotions to surface, Jaxx faces them head on. Years ago those words would have likely been followed by tears. Now, after so much loss, he had numbed himself enough to keep a commanding presence. He lost Saraa, his children and Tressa, his ship, and most recently his best friend Kali. It was as if he had no tears left to share.::
Jorey: You must have been devastated. ::Jorey leans in with genuine concern.:: to be there to watch, to see the moment life ends.
Jaxx: It was quick, she suffered very little. But from there we retreated to the mountains, where the resistance formed and continued to fight. Her dream was to join Starfleet. Mine was to spend my days under the Betazoid sun. The short of it…the war taught me that the Federation was much bigger than Betazed, and if anyone suffered like we did, someone had to stop that suffering. To honor her memory, I applied to Starfleet Academy as soon as I completed school.
::Jorey sets down his tea and leans even more forward. He reaches over the table and set his hand lovingly on Jaxx’s knee. There is a pause. A moment of silence, reflection, and prayer. He offers a warm and comforting smile to Jaxx, then returns to his comfortable pose in his chair. Once again, the camera moves in close to Jorey with Jaxx out of the frame.::
Jorey: One major incident, a series of moments, and a lifetime of choices intertwine and implode to create a new path for our hero to follow. ::Even though Jorey is careful to maintain a certain level of decorum, his expression and tone lean toward a more entertaining delivery.:: The Battle of Betazed and the death of his betrothed rips him from his carefree adolescence. He is pushed into adulthood and forced to see a life beyond his own desires. He’s sees a path that would give Saraa’s death meaning and give his own life purpose – Starfleet. ::The camera moves back bring Jaxx back into frame.:: Tell us Andrus, what were your first impressions of Starfleet Academy?
::The word ‘hero’ catches him slightly off guard. It was a term that Jaxx never associated with himself. In his past, he had done what he needed to do. While in Starfleet, he did his duty. Hearing it now, it was something that made him think…he questions if it is an accurate depiction.::
Jaxx: ::He lets out a snicker:: Almost as disciplined as my household. ::pauses:: Actually, I did quite well at the academy. I fit in with pretty much everyone. I was adaptive to my surroundings and it was something I mastered. I learned a lot, and I like to think it gave me the foundation for the officer I am today.
Jorey: I’m curious… ::Jorey wore the kind of smirk that a man wears when he knows the answer.:: You resisted your titles and nobility growing up. Tell us. Did that continue on into adulthood?
Jaxx: If we are talking about the titles I hold on Betazed, yes. But it is a bit different. I am at the point now where I have acknowledged them. While I would never introduce myself using them, I no longer shudder when someone else does. ::pauses once more:: If we are talking about titles within Starfleet…I embrace these a bit more. I was born Son of the 8th House of Betazed and the Keeper of the Holy Seal of Polea, but I earned the rank of Rear Admiral…if that makes sense.
::Jaxx looks to Brayden. His questions were very insightful, and he was enjoying the interview very much. Moving his eyes from the man to the camera, he clears his expression. Each question brought back a flood of memories, and he did not want to emotionally dwell on them…in some cases to prevent Brayden from having to feel them.::
Jorey: Well, now. ::He speaks through a smile and raises his eyebrow.:: My grandmother wouldn’t want me to let that slip. She taught me our titles are the symbol of a sacred trust that others have placed in us and a path to be followed with love, grace and reverence. It is a title given at birth that is earned in death by how we have lived out our lives.
::Jaxx pauses and he pondered the words spoken by Brayden. In that moment, it is clear that the elder Betazoid could not argue with him. It takes a second, but Jaxx find the words to continue.::
Jaxx: Well, your grandmother is a very wise woman. And may I be bold enough to say, that is the generational difference a lot of Betazoids notice. My mother is much like your grandmother. Perhaps that is why she never approved of my path. I earn rank in service to the Federation, instead of my bestowed titles by serving Betazed. I think if I used them, or put too much stock in them…it would make me a hypocrite.
Jorey: Now, ::Brayden changes the tone of the conversation.:: you have graduated from Starfleet Academy and are immediately assigned to the USS Challenger under the Command of, then Fleet Captain, T’Pen. Please share with us those first experiences as ‘Ensign’ Andrus Jaxx.
Jaxx: They were productive experiences. The Challenger saw her fair share of action. From diplomacy to combat, we took part in every kind of mission you can think of. I think my education pre and post academy played a large part for my success.
::Not sure what Brayden was going for, Jaxx thinks of his time as an Ensign. The past was full of missions, situations, and decisions. In Starfleet, you did your job and followed orders. It was that simple.::
Jorey: Well, Andrus. I think it’s safe to say that you had one hell of a first year. You were promoted from Ensign to Lt. Commander and the Chief of your department. How significant were those achievements to you at the time and is there one thing you regret or wish you could have done differently in that first year on the Challenger?
Jaxx: With each promotion I felt better about my place in Starfleet. They were not handed to me, but earned. To me that made them very significant. As far as regrets…not so much. But I would love to have the knowledge I have today, back then. I could use it to save lives. But as far as a personal choice, if I had it to do all over again I would.
Jorey: You see? ::Jorey looks into the camera.:: Even though our guest is uncomfortable with being called a hero, his thoughts naturally seem to find their way to, perhaps, the most heroic notion – to help others. Like many Betazoids, Andrus began his Starfleet career in the medical department. For him, it was counselling. However, he would not remain there. ::Brayden looks back to Jaxx with an inquisitive expression.:: Tell us, Andrus, what was after counselling and why the career change?
Jaxx: I made the switch from Counselor to Strategic Operations Officer. I wanted to move, thinking I could put my academy training to better use. Everyone would benefit from me being able to analyze the enemy before they could strategize themselves. It then lead to my first posting as First Officer of the Resolution. It was a short posting, but we laid the groundwork for reestablishing the Embassy on Duronis II, a post that my former Commanding Officer now commands.
Jorey: Of course! I have recently found myself at the Embassy as the Chief of Intelligence and Second Officer to your former CO. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge her beautiful kindness in mentorship and incalculable contribution to the fleet. ::Jorey picks up an open bottle and pours a pinkish, bubbly drink into two champagne flutes. He slides one glass over to the Admiral and takes the other into his hand.:: Come on, Andrus… ::Jorey raises his glass into the air.:: To Fleet Captain Toni Turner!
::Jaxx smiles as he picks up the glass. As the beverage sits in his hand, he thinks of Toni. It had been quite some time since they had spoken. Even worse, Duronis II was not that far from his area of operation. On the other side of the expanse, he could be there in no time. He was prime to assist if the Embassy or Thunder needed it, but hoped they would never see a situation that required it.::
Jaxx: ::takes a drink:: She is a very special woman.
Jorey: Such a lovely woman and truly a fine example of a Starfleet Captain. But now, ::Brayden says taking one last sip of drink before setting it on the table.:: let’s get back to you. ::He smirks.:: There was a time for you when the Captain’s Chair didn’t seem like a place in your future. Tell us about that.
Jaxx: I moved back to Starfleet Command to work on some special strategic planning missions after a short tour on the USS Eagle. I was at a point in my career where I did not exactly know which way I wanted to go. Commanding a starship was always a goal, but being able to assist in the decision making process on Earth was also appealing. I knew I could have a great career in either path. Taking on a special mission to locate the USS Eagle and find the missing Rear Admiral Rocar Drawoh was what got me back out into space. I was given temporary command of the USS Victory and we tracked down Rocar and the USS Eagle. It had crash landed on a planet that had enough interference to prevent communications from getting out. Once we had located the ship, and got the Admiral aboard, I was asked to stay on as his first officer. At that point, I realized I could have a bigger and more immediate impact in command of a ship.
Jorey: And there it is again! ::Jorey addresses the audience and the camera zooms in to frame him.:: Another fork in the road. A choice: Starfleet Command or Commanding a starship. I wonder if it seems as obvious to you, as it is to me, which path he would choose? ::He smiles looking into the camera.:: A young man, fighting to honour the memory of his lost Saraa. Driven to make his own reputation and earn his place in life. ::The camera pulls back to bring Jaxx back into frame.:: I hope you don’t mind me saying, but a desk job at Starfleet Command doesn’t really suit you, Andrus. ::He smiles at the Admiral and tilts his head.:: So how did you move from first officer to a command of your own?
Jaxx: Rocar was a great leader, and soon fell ill with a nasty Ktarian virus. He had to return to Earth, and command of the Victory was given to me. My first command was a very solid one…we had some unique missions. Believe it or not we were departing Earth and detected a temporal anomaly. We were thrust back in time to Earth’s early history. We actually collided with the Apollo 11 spacecraft. We were able to beam the astronauts aboard just in time. My crew was able to use historical records to feed data back to Earth and mimic the signal the spacecraft should have sent back to Earth, while quickly reconstructing their ship. When it was all said and done, things seemed to work out fine. Needless to say I spent quite a bit of time being interviewed by the Department of Temporal Investigations when I got back.
Jorey: It sounds like you were having an exciting and wonderful time with the USS Victory. ::Jorey knew the Admiral must have had dozens of tall tales left untold from his career, but those were for another time.:: I wonder though, did things change when the Victory was assigned to Starbase 118 and you and your crew took command of the station?
Jaxx: Starbase 118 was a great command. It was like a city in space. My only issue with the place is that it does not orbit a planet. Just sitting stationary out in space was not my idea of a great location. Other space stations orbit a planet, so from time to time you can head down to the surface. I left that command in the hands of the late Fleet Captain Kali Nicholotti, to launch the USS Apollo. An advanced design of the Achilles Class. She served not nearly long enough and was destroyed by the Borg. Right after is when I was promoted to Rear Admiral and given the USS Apollo-A, an Odyssey Class starship. ::he pauses:: I would love to tell you about her, but we have not launched yet. She is sitting in dry dock and I am due to take her out in a couple weeks.
Jorey: The Odyssey Class is the biggest ship Starfleet has built to date. A ship designed to be an explorer and a battleship. ::Jorey’s eyes wide and bright.:: I must say I am a bit jealous. It all must seem like a wonderful dream. Or with you… ::Jorey’s expression changing to friendly sarcasm.:: I suppose it feels more like an achievement? Something you’ve earned?
Jaxx: ::smiles:: My experiences do make this command something of an earned achievement. However, it is also very dreamlike. This will make my second command that has come right out of Utopia Planitia. Stepping in the bridge for the first time, knowing no other captain had sat in the center chair…it is very humbling. The crew and ship size will be something I have to get used to, but I think it is similar to commanding Starbase 118. There were so many officers on that station, I could never remember half of their names. I foresee the same issues, honestly. I am just hopeful that I can serve them well, as captain, and that the Apollo-A will always bring us home. ::smiles::
Jorey: Of course! ::Jorey smiles back.:: If this small window into your past has revealed anything, it is that you are dedicated to serving others and the gods have favoured you with a talent for success. ::Jorey extends his open arms toward the Admiral in appreciation once more.:: Thank you, again, Rear Admiral Andrus Jaxx, Son of the 8th House of Betazed, Keeper of the Holy Seal of Polea.::Smirking as he looks back to the camera.:: And, whether you accept the title or not, I think any Betazoid would agree, that you’ve earned it.
::Stage hands and technical staff begin to enter the scene to remove microphones and check on the men. A soft, hollow version of the show’s theme music plays softly. We can hear voices, but not well enough to make out what they are saying. The scene fades to black and then an overhead spotlight finds Jorey in the darkness dressed in the same black uniform from the opening credits.::
Jorey: A child born into a life of privilege and influence. His parents set before him two different paths, both hoping their son would demonstrate the spirit of a leader. His mother wanting him to live the life of a diplomat. His father hoping he’ll follow the path of a soldier. ::The camera angle changes to above Jorey and he looks up.:: The child? He has little interest in either path. He would rather fade into the background and indulge in the simple pleasures that life has to offer. Then – the unthinkable. ::Jorey look away and then into the camera to his left.:: A terrible war rips through the Federation and Dominion forces take his world by force and occupy his homeland. His fiancé, a more altruistic person than he, is killed during their escape from the city. From here, everything changes. ::The angle changes once more as Jorey faces the camera directly in front of him.:: The horrors of war and the death of his loved one ignite his spirit and give the man new purpose. He joins Starfleet, the organization tasked with keeping his world and many others safe, to honour his fallen lover. In doing so, he honours all those lost in the Dominion War, his homeworld, and his parents. ::Jorey’s serious expression fades revealing a warmhearted smile.:: In the end, Rear Admiral Andrus Jaxx became the diplomat his mother wanted, the soldier his father had hoped, and a leader that all Betazoids can take pride in.
::The show’s theme music seems to get further and further away.::
Jorey: I’m your host, Brayden Jorey and this was ::dramatic pause.:: Background Check.
::The spotlight remains locked in position, even as Jorey turns his back to the camera and slowly walks off into the darkness. The light slowly fades to black and the show’s credits cap off the show.::