Literary Challenge #56 : Academy Teachings
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the fifty-sixth Literary Challenge: Academy Teachings
You've been called upon by your superiors to return to the Academy to provide a lecture to the next class of graduates on a topic of your choice.This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
I'm going to extend and refine this as I go. Because perfectionism. Also, I want to do this from my Romulan's perspective.
UPDATE: Added a third piece after an idea from marcusdkane.
What were you thinking, Contract-holder Quinn? I think. More importantly, what the everloving **** were you smoking? I need to get me some of that.
So yeah, here I am sitting at this little podium in 'Frisco. I don't know what the hell I'm doing here.
Seriously. This time yesterday, I was on Risa with the Klingon ambassador (he was quite fun, by the way), getting some well-earned...well, neither rest nor relaxation, but definitely vacation. Klingons are fun. The week before, I was getting the living daylights kicked out of me by sentient ooze, which was less fun.
And so I got the call from Contract-holder Quinn this morning on Risa, saying that I have to give a lecture on a subject of my choice here at the Academy.
Which I have never been to before, being a genetically-altered living superweapon from another universe. So I have absolutely no clue what I should be talking about.
I've been sitting here--standing, technically--for about ten minutes now. The cadets seem to be rather bored.
I clear my throat.
"Right. So. I'm Captain Nemesis unit designation Three. Commanding officer, USS George Takei. I'm here to talk about the many applications of genre savvy."
The cadets look politely confused.
"Ahem. So. Rule number one of genre savvy is to NEVER, under any circumstances, wear red clothing at any time, but ESPECIALLY not on duty or on an away mission. Rule number two is to wear Lieutenant or better pips at all times, no matter what. Rule number three is to be CERTAIN that you can be described with a minimum of three distinct adjectives in five seconds at any particular point in time. Rule number four is, if think you're having great luck with someone you are attracted to, he, she or it is a spy for some rival faction. Rule number five is to put some surge dampeners or something on every single bridge console on your ship, so that there is absolutely zero chance that a random EPS conduit blowing out on deck 12 or something can blow out a bridge console."
They're looking at me like I just crawled out of a Vorta cloning pod or something. Ah, well. In for a penny...
"Rule six. Reinforce decks six through twelve on your ship. In a fight, those will take the hardest hits. Trust me. Rule seven. If you follow these rules, you WILL run into crazy stuff. However, these rules will keep you and your crew safe--if you're just the nameless NPC starships, you're basically screwed, so it's really better this way. Rule eight. In order to minimize risk, never allow any sophont of any species who has had any sort of irregular spatiotemporal...things happen to them onto your ship. This does not hold for anything that happens on a crewman's career on your ship. Also, refugees from spatiotemporal phenomena do not qualify under this rule, so they're fine to bring onto the ship."
Some of the nerdier-looking cadets have gotten looks of dawning comprehension and are writing frantically. I see a man with a set of fancy veterans' medals looking sick over by the main building. Huh, he sure looks like Barclay. Like Barclay on a transporter pad.
"Rule nine. If you wish to engage in rank-inappropriate fraternization, there are two essential guidelines: Keep your official rank out of the bedroom, and make up some drek about alien mind control to cover it up. Hell, the old alien mind control excuse works like a charm for me."
Admiral Janeway is giving me a death glare. Heh. Fortunately for her, Contract-holder Quinn has informed Command of my physical abilities. Fighting me on the ground is suicide for a baseline.
"Rule ten. And this is critical. Unless your first officer is a Vulcan or Vulcan hybrid, never leave him or her in charge of the ship. NEVER. For any reason. Rule eleven. You can never have enough geeks. Hire as many geeks as you can. If you have a choice between a geeky Tellarite and a steroid-pumped Gorn, pick the Tellarite. In the same vein, if you have a choice of computer techs between the brilliant and erudite head of the universe's largest computer conglomerate and a teenage hacker dweeb who's trying to impress his subject of romantic attention, pick the nerd and leave your worst enemy with the genius. Rule Twelve. Klingons make the best security chiefs. Any questions?"
About twenty hands go up instantly. The rest of the cadets look lost. I hear Admiral Janeway growl quietly to herself from across the crowd. The guy who looks like Barclay is whimpering quietly and checking something on his PADD.
"You, in the back. What's your name?"
"Edwin Anderson, sir. Sir, I was just thinking, you make the universe sound like a Captain Proton holonovel, sir."
The guy who looks like Barclay looks up from his PADD, white as a sheet, and faints dead away. Admiral Janeway is glaring lasers at me. Admiral Riker is whispering something to a woman who looks like Troi. It sounds like "So THAT's why the Enterprise kept getting taken over by complete idiots! I WAS bad karma as a first officer!"
"Yeah, that's the point, although it's neither a holonovel nor a poorly-scripted sci-fi franchise. Well, except for Star Trek 5 and that one Voyager episode, at least. Anyway. Sorry, off topic. Now, where I come from, we have this thing called Star Trek..."
Rihannsu (Romulan) Republic Officer Training facility. Mol'Rihan planet surface.
I can see the fire in the Reman's eyes.
There's only one Reman in the first officer corps, but her eyes burn, the same way mine do. The rest of the cadets are Romulan and Acamarian, with a few Suliban refugees who joined up after the Helix incident. They are young, green, and idealistic for the most part, but I can see the fires of loss in some of them.
The Reman has it worst, though. I see myself in those hard, hating eyes.
Well, I'd better get started with this "motivational speech". Proconsul D'tan and his crazy ideas. He spends too much time around humans. Then again, some say that I spend too much time with Klingons, Breen, and Jem'Hadar.
"I'm going to be honest with all of you, and I'm not going to waste your time. You all know who I am and what I've done. I know that many of you--hell, I can pick which ones out of this crowd--lost something or someone special. Like I did."
I have their attention. Good.
"We're in a tough spot, and I'm not going to lie to you. Our two strongest allies are still in a cold war, and there are about a dozen major powers committed to wiping us all out. I know that you lost someone, or something. I know that you still love what you miss, and I know that you hate. I know that hate. I have known that hate for fifty Terran years, and I have known that love for the same time."
I pause for a breath.
"She was everything to me. And that monster Hakeev took her from me. I was young, idealistic. I broke. I couldn't take the hate. I left ch'Rihan the next week, stowed away on a warbird and left for good. I was useless for so long. The captain took pity on me; we were a scout ship, T'liss-class, full of dissidents, malcontents, and other military personnel who had pissed off the Empire and the Tal Shiar, but not enough to warrant more permanent punishment. A good ship. The captain gave me a bunk and a cut of the rations."
The Reman has a look in her eyes. She's been through this, too.
"We were about two weeks out from ch'Rihan when I figured out how to cope. At first, I just embraced the hate. Let it fuel me. It was tiring; I spent every night crying myself to sleep, and I kept getting stiff from the exhaustion, but it was fuel. Like oil for a fire. I lived like that for twenty years, made lieutenant, killed hundreds; mostly Nausicaan and Breen pirates. I had a weapons console, a disruptor, and my hate.
"It all changed on a little dung-heap mudball world in the Psi Velorum sector. We had an away mission. There were Tal Shiar there, a crashed ship. I was used to the hate being cold, dispassionate. Something that I used as a tool to power myself, to kill pirates and other random space scum. This time, it was hot. Passionate. And it used me.
"There were five survivors, all injured. I found them huddled in a mostly-intact piece of the ship, in their Tal Shiar uniforms. One looked so much like him. And I felt it rise and control me.
"The captain found me from the shots and screams. They beamed me back to the ship and I spent two weeks in the brig, and a month in therapy. To this day, I don't know why they let me live, and why they didn't tell the Imperial authorities, although I can hazard a few guesses. Sometime in there, I decided that I needed to control it somehow. So I made myself rules. A personal code of conduct. Every time I went into battle, I would ask myself, "Is this what she would have wanted? Would she have wanted me to do this?" And it worked."
The Reman is staring at me with rapt attention, as are two of the Suliban and five Rihannsu. The others look somewhat nervous. Obisek and the Admiral are having a frantic, whispered discussion with Proconsul D'tan.
"So I harnessed my love for her to hold back the hate. And I spent some time thinking. After the Hobus event, we ended up at this little colony world, Virinat. It's gone now. The captain decided to help them thrive while staying out of the way of major powers. That day, I remembered the last thing she said to me before she tripped me down the escape hatch and told me to run. She said "Whatever happens, find something to care for. Find something to love. Hate is destruction. Love is construction." And so I lived like that.
"We had a good, simple life. Then the Elachi came. They annihilated the colony, kidnapped about half of the colony for subsumption, and killed almost all the rest. And in space, at the bridge of my first ship, I saw him. And I felt it rule me again.
"I made quite a few mistakes. I assumed the Elachi were working for that monster. That killing him would be enough. I was wrong. The Iconians are behind that entire mess, and they want nothing less than our extinction. And I was ruled by my hatred. I killed so many people."
I'm clutching the lectern now, crying to myself. The Reman and one of the Romulans are both crying.
"I had peace, after I killed him. The hate was still there, but it was lower, sated. Simmering, not boiling. Then we went through the gate, and I found that Iconian console. And it returned even stronger.
"This time, though, I'm ready. I will chain it. It is always there, it will never really leave--for it is rooted in my love for her, and her loss. But I will chain it, and I will make it come to heel. For hate is a monster, a beast in your heart. And if you unleash it, you will burn as it kills.
"The take-home point is to never let yourself be ruled by your hate. Don't use it. Restrain it. Think of that person you lost, or someone you love. Think of the most wonderful person you know. And ask yourself, every time, "Would he/she/it be happy with what I am about to do?" Always remember that, no matter how bleak the situation, no matter how many species wish for our extinction, no matter how many forces are arrayed against us. For if you let it out, it may not come back."
I step back, tears flowing down my face. The Reman, the two Suliban, five Romulans, and a trio of Acamarians all stand and clap, grimly and forcefully. The others follow, somewhat more hesitantly. The higher-ups are still in conversation. Kererek makes a suggestion, but Obisek cuts him off forcefully.
I step off of the stage, behind the curtain, and Omek'ti'kallan grabs my shoulder with a respectful but iron grip.
"Alright, sir, time for your appointment," says Daysnur. "I have some new ideas for combating your depression, and I want to try a few before your meeting with D'tan later. IRW Vengeance, three to beam up to my counselor's office."
Starfleet Academy. San Francisco, Earth.
Well, this is a new one. Giving a lecture while drunk. Maybe those experimental meds of D'vek's weren't a good idea. Normally, I can hold my ale, but today I'm boozed up on what normally would be a light breakfast drink. Unfortunately, the part of my brain in charge of rational thought is no longer in charge.
My name is Azip Shran. First officer, USS George Takei. I'm giving a guest lecture to fill time while Professor Barclay is revived after fainting during my Three's--I mean, my captain's--speech.
Need to stay professional. Don't show the Romulan ale that I've been hooked on ever since we got sucked back in time and Three predicted EVERY SINGLE THING that happened to us.
That was when I first got hooked on her, too. But that's another story.
"Oo-k, class," I drawl, slurring my words a little. "Let's forget about what my sweetcheeks--I mean, the captain--just said; it'sh perfectly fine, we'sh all real. Real enough. Something. So I'm gonna tell you 'bout...the...the whatsit, the thing that happened to ush lasht week. That thing, with the thing, and that other thing, and that big thing, and the exploshion, and the things, with those other things, using thoshe things, to shoot at ush, and that guy, with that thing, and hish evil plan, and--" I take a drink from my bottle. "that thing, that he wash gonna use, and that other thing, and that thing, that we ushed to shtop him, and that other thing, with the pewpew gunsh..."
I try to remember exactly what happened. Admiral Janeway is heading for the podium with some hulking Benzite MACOs.
"Right, we took the ship, and we were on this planet, see, and there was this guy, see, who was this mad scientist, and wanted to ushe this thing, see, to make this slime sentinet...seintinelt...think, see, and so we had to stop him, see."
Three is with Professor Barclay, who demanded her assistance the moment he woke up. Perhaps unfortunately, the infirmary where they are located is on the other side of the academy. Elements, but this Romulan ale is good.
Part of my brain watches this train wreck with a feeling of mounting horror.
"And sho, see, we had to shtop him, b'cuz Three shaid that thinky-slime was bad, so we shot him, see, with out phasers, like this, see," and here I pull out my phaser and shoot it in a random direction, blowing up an empty chair. There is much screaming.
"Jusht like that, see, so then his thing, his pewpew, his gun with the DNA stuff innit, shot th' mud, and the slime became thinky, so it tried to kill ush."
One of the MACOs grabs my shoulder.
"Hey, 'm not done yet! Hey, gimme m' phaser! Gimme!"
The other MACO pulls out his own phaser and shoots at me, but I trip over the other guy's foot as I bend over and retch on Admiral Janeway's boots.
Oops, thinks the part of me in charge of logic and reasoning.
Two hours later
"Well, no physical harm done, lesson learned, Admiral Janeway pissed off. All in all, a good day!"
D'vek is cheerful and happy, which is a not uncommon sight with the Romulan chief science officer and part-time doctor. Three is carefully inspecting every inch of me for damage. It's kind of hot, to be honest.
"Yeah, except the part where your so-called wakey-wakey meds made me drunk. And I'm being court-martialed for vomiting on Admiral Janeway."
"Heh, the captain'll get you off that in a minute. Right, sir?"
"Yeah, shouldn't be too much trouble," says Three. "The blame's spread widely enough, and it was Admiral Janeway herself who told you to get up there and say something while they double-checked Barclay. I figure if you gimme three minutes and a decent lawyer I can pin it all on her."
"Apportioning of blame--the most important function of Starfleet," I mutter. "Do you guys remember when we got to explore cool planets and didn't have to give lectures?"
"Yeah," says D'vek. "I got to try all kinds of weird meds back in the day."
"Well," says Three, sweeping me up into her arms...mmm, those strong arms...as I yelp in exaggerated shock. "I can pull a favor or two. Admiral Riker owes me some latinum, and Admiral Quinn owes me a favor or seven for services rendered out of Contract. I can get us a six-month exploration posting in the Delta Volanis cluster, if it helps."
I lean in close to her ear and kiss the lobe. "Sounds great, honey. Now, let's get out of Earth space before Admiral Janeway comes after us."
Transcript of lecture to Starfleet Academy junior class (2415), from guest lecturer Captain Grunt, UFP Starfleet. Topic: multicultural acceptance.
GRUNT: Good afternoon, Cadets. I am Captain Grunt, commander of the starship Bedford. Professor Zdarsky has requested my presence today to speak to you on a topic that's probably going to bore you to tears, because of course there's no discrimination in Starfleet. All personnel are accepted as they are, and no one is ever judged because of their species or planet of origin.
Certainly, things seem decorous enough on the bridge of a starship; no one is going to make jokes about my chief engineer, even though he is a Pakled. [pause] Ah, that's what I thought. A small bit of laughter, there in the upper left quadrant of the audience. [Grunt taps one ear] These things aren't just for show, you know. There's no shame in acknowledging differences in physical abilities, and Ferengi tend to have quite good hearing. However, those of you on the Engineering track may be familiar with the name of Commander Vovonek. You, there. I saw your expression change. You've heard of Vovonek? [Grunt points at Cadet Terence McCreary. McCreary stands.]
MCCREARY: Aye, sir. Commander Vovonek was responsible for the integration of major systems from three different classes of starship to build a rescue craft when you were adrift in the Gamma Quadrant. Our instructor in field repairs had us study his work.
GRUNT: Well done, mister. Except it was four classes - I don't know if your instructor forgot about the computer system from the 29th-century timeship we found, or the parts we had to cannibalize from what was left of the Bastogne. Suffice it to say, without Vovonek, there's a fair chance we'd never have made it back from there. Of course, given the quality of the Bastogne, there's a fair chance we'd never have made it more than a few weeks out of Spacedock, so there's that. Some of you are going to be assigned to ships that aren't exactly top line - we need every ship we can fly out there, even those antique Mirandas. And you can't dismiss good officers just because everyone assumes that, say, Pakled aren't smart, or Vulcans are passive, or my personal favorite, Ferengi are cowards. It's a problem that exists in a number of species. An ancient Terran philosopher called it the "planet of hats" syndrome - a tendency to assume that everyone from a given world acts exactly the same. He called it "wearing the same hat". A Pakled's hat is being slow and clumsy - an image they cultivate, because it's easier to take advantage of someone who's underestimating you. Vovonek plays with the image sometimes, but the hat doesn't fit him well. For another example, Klingons are all bloodthirsty but honorable warriors; no scientists, no poets, no artists, just fighters. Except that if this were true, there wouldn't be Klingon cruisers flying through two quadrants of this galaxy, and controlling almost as much space as the Federation. My science officer is a Klingon, and if there's anything about his discipline he doesn't know, I haven't caught him out yet. As for their poetry, I know Klingon opera can sound like two Ferasans in a fight to the death, but get a translation of the lyrics - say, The Song of Kahless and Lukara, from the Fek'lhiri Cycle. Then try to tell me there aren't any Klingon poets. They may not get the press, but they're there.
And it's a problem that persists today. Anybody here from Risa? No? Then you probably think of Risa as a resort planet, inhabited exclusively by sybarites who are only there to make your stay more pleasant. And there are a lot of people working their butts off every day to keep you thinking that, because luxury is their world's sole export. Before the locals perfected weather and seismic control, and someone started a resort on their smaller continent, Risa was primarily known as a massive swamp with a good supply of dilithium. And if their control systems were turned off for more than a local day, which actually happened about forty years ago or so, the world would barely be class-M. If you get a Risan engineer on your crew, you do what you can to keep them there - their children are raised knowing how to repair almost anything. But if you just go by what "everyone knows", you'd never guess they had such depths.
And then there are my own people. Yes, I know the stereotypes. We're cheap, greedy, cowardly, and cruel, and we run everything like the most cutthroat business ever. And yes, there's quite a lot of that in our society, especially the cheap and greedy parts. But not every Ferengi you meet is going to fit that template. There are a lot of us who just don't fit in at home, because we're the engineers, the builders, the artists, the mathematicians, the underpinning every society needs to exist but sometimes don't want to acknowledge. Some of us come to Starfleet because since the dual-citizenship program began, we can find a new home here. Only we often find that new home rejects us just as much as the old one did, although for the opposite reason - here, we're rejected because we're expected to act like the "hat" we've been given. And you'll find that even the most supposedly "venal" of Ferengi, once he's given his word, will stick to at least the letter of it - after all, as the Rules of Acquisition say, "If that's what's written, then that's what's written."
For that matter, let's look at the dominant culture of the Federation, the one that forms most Starfleet traditions - the Humans. Human society is, of course, free of greed or want; people no longer desire material possessions; and you've evolved beyond the need for religion or the use of violence.
You're here, you're in Starfleet, and you've been at this academy for three years, so you know that's bat puckey too. If you were "beyond the use of violence", your starships wouldn't be heavily-armed enough to face off against a Klingon Mogh or a Romulan Scimitar. You've evolved beyond the tendency your people used to have of resorting to violence first, and that's commendable, but sometimes the need to be violent is still there. You've mostly channeled it into more productive ways than war, that's all. As for the greed and possessions issue, well, again, if this were true our jobs would be a lot simpler. If only Orions were the only pirates, Nausicaans the only thieves, how much simpler things would be! But then you run across the privateer, bought or stolen from the Klingons, with a Human crew, who rob Orions and feel justified because everyone knows all Orions are really pirates anyway. And they don't even see the contradiction in their own statement as you're hauling them off to face a court at the nearest starbase. Here on Earth, of course, there's no want, because replicators are everywhere and cheap fusion and solar power mean that it's not even worth it to monitor their use. There are a few other worlds of the Federation like that - Vulcan, say, or Deneva. But you get out toward the fringes, out by the Cardassian border or the far end of Eta Eridani sector, and it's not always so easy and clear-cut. That's why Federation credits exist, because there are still a lot of worlds that need to use trade to survive.
So you see, even you Humans, or "Hew-mons" as some of you probably expected me to say, have your "hat" that you've been assigned. And a lot of you are from out there, and know how poorly the hat fits you. I just want you to remember, as you go through your careers, to look at the people under your command - not the Pakleds, or the Caitians, or the Vulcans, or the Humans, or the Bolians, or even the Ferengi, but the individual Starfleet officers you're serving with. Don't assume they're all going to be exactly the same, and don't assume they're going to be even vaguely like whatever preconception you have floating around in your head. Treat them like individuals, learn from them like individuals, and you'll be able to succeed - as a group of individuals.
Oh, there is precisely one group you can treat as a single monolithic entity - because the Borg are a single monolithic entity. Hive-minds with FTL connections are the exception to the rule.
Thank you for your time, and I'll see some of you - out there. [gestures toward sky]
Captains Personal Log:
The U.S.S. Chimera is on course for Earth, for much needed R&R from the frontlines? and my next assignment. I have been ordered by my superiors to give a lecture on, "The Effects of War on the crew and its captain," at the Academy in San Francisco. But who am I to give a lecture to these students? I never went to the Academy; I was just a farm boy when I was assimilated by the Borg. So what if I have the collective knowledge of all those who did go to the Academy that never returned, it's only thanks to this knowledge that I am an Officer in Starfleet and command of a ship.
The effects of war, eh... Is that really something that can be analyzed and taught? War is something that affects everyone differently and none are the same. No matter how we try to organize and group people together, no matter the names and "side effects" we label, it will never be the same from one person to another.
Take my first officer, Commander Evans, every death on the Chimera and battle lose affects her greatly. She gets to know most of the crew on a personal level, and when one is killed her heart sinks. She tries to hide it with anger and the crew respects her because she expresses an emotion they all feel but do not want to show.
I have the crews respect as a captain, but not as a being. They don't know that I know about the names and whispers, "The Borg" they call me. Oddly enough this name I was given by the crew is not because I was once assimilated by the Borg, but because I show no emotion for the dead. I have become numb since... since... wow, I can't remember when it began. I remember when I use to know ever little detail about my crew, no matter how personnel, but now I cannot tell you half their names. I use to personally right every letter of remorse to the families of the fallen, now I have a letter where I just change the name and job title and send it to the families.
War has changed since the time humans first fought with swords and spears. The medical know how is advanced so much that a lot of the wounded that would have died in wars past are now up and sent back to the lines. But so has the means of death, in times of old it use to take hundreds of men to kill hundreds of me, but today all it takes is the push of a button. But what hasn't changed is the true victims of war.
That's it, the topic is all wrong. I guess I have no choice but to change the topic of my lecture. I might get punished for it, but it is something that I believe these cadets need to know. They joined Starfleet during a time of war, so they knew that by signing up that they would go to combat and may even die. Anyone who goes into battle knows this to be true. What they don't know but should is about the true victims of war.
The true victims are the families, one may know that they might die in battle during a time of war and may be willing to give their lives, but its families that are affected. They stay safe in their homes waiting for their loved ones to return, they are the ones who must live with the pain of the death of their father, sister, lover. Medical technology may have advanced a lot, but there are things that they can't heal nor fix, and it's the families who have to care for their wounded.
I wonder if there are programs for the families. I guess I should research that and write my notes for my lecture. Computer, close log.
Vice Admiral Jauhn Chinera
Captain's log. The DarkFyre is patrolling near Starbase 39 on a routine assignment. So far, everything has been normal.
Bennet looked at his command crew. Though they were all young, they all seemed to be handling their first assignment well. Taumer worked his console, scanning the sector as they entered it. "Captain, I'm picking up a distress call from a civillian freighter."
Bennet set his jaw line. This was it. Time to be heroes. "On screen."
"This is the..... ter Oscorp. We......ck by....rates. Need hel"
Taumer shook his head. "That's all there is." Bennet turned to Verity at communications. "How many people on the Oscorp?" The young woman brought up the ship information on the main screen. "She's a T-60 class freighter. Crew of One hundred twenty. Her distress call is coming from an area of heavy plasma storms." Bennet nodded. "Then it's probably a trap. Red Alert. Deflectors and shields to maximum. Froda, intercept course."
The Bolian woman plotted the course and guided the old constitution class refit towards the destination. As they approached, Bennet called for everyone to keep alert. Taumer's console started beeping. "Captain! Garidian ships decloaking!"
The ship rocked as it was hit by weapons fire. "Shields down to 72%."
Bennet looked at the screen. A pack of seven Garidian D'deridex warbirds had decloaked and were circling the disabled freighter, predators on the hunt. They all turned towards the DarkFyre and fired another volley. Again, the ship rocked, shields dropping down to 60%. Bennet paused, trying to think of the next move. The DarkFyre began listing to the side without commands. Dammit, he was the Captain. He needed to make a decision. "Ok, we're not going to abandon that ship. Helm, get us around behind the warbirds. We can focus all of our firepower onto their blind spots. That should make them think twice."
"Aye Sir." Froda moved the DarkFyre around, much smaller and more agile the the Garidian ships. They came about behind the rear Warbird and opened fire, pouring phaser blasts and photon torpedos at the ship. Shields flashed green, protecting the pirates from harm as the firing cycle finished. Taumer reported. "Their shields took damage, but otherwise no effect."
"What? That can't be." Bennet was aghast. All the firepower of this ship, and they were nothing. The warbird fired rear disruptors, smashing the DarkFyre sideways. Consoles on the bridge exploded as the shields failed. Over the noise, he heard Verity shouting a panicked report. "Boarding parties are beaming on."
"Security teams to all decks. Fight them off! Keep firing at the warbird. Their shields can't last forever!"
The DarkFyre shot again, proving just as ineffective. The other warbirds had swooped around and were giving chase behind the Federation ship. Volley after volley struck the ship, each one knocking out more systems. And still Bennet demanded they keep firing everything they had, while trying evasive manouvers.But it was no good. The warbirds grouped together into a tight formation and unleashed another wave of torpedos. The ship screamed as it was battered mercilessly, before the world went white, indicating the warp core had breached.
When the lights came back on, Talaina moved her hover chair away from the observation position towards the Captain's Chair. Bennet stood at attention as she approached, as the other cadets got to their feet, the fires extinguishing themselves. The battle simulation was over. Talaina, still hurt from the Gorn ambush a few weeks ago, moved infront of the human. "Cadet Bennet. Congratulations. You just killed your entire crew, and got the crew of the Oscorp captured. Who knows what will happen to them."
"Oh don't apologise. You're the first ones to take this particular test. Though I don't appreciate seeing my old ship getting destroyed like this. I'll have to have words with the Academy."
Talaina stopped looking around the Bridge that she had spent many years on and focused on the young man before her. "Let me ask you something. Where did you think you went wrong?"
"Sir. The DarkFyre's weapons were not powerful enough to defeat the Garidians. The ship is too old. Too weak. Sir." Talaina frowned. "They were only simulations. I remember once this ship successfully defended the Alhena Deuterium Station from rogue Cardassians. And their ships are just as powerful as those you faced. Outnumbered. Outgunned. And yet, we succeeded. Do you know where the basis of this simulation came from?"
"Recently, the Sentinel was ambushed in much the same way. Ten Gorn battlecruisers used a civillian freighter to lure us in and battered the ship. We lost many good people that day. Alot of them captured. But the majority of the crew, and the ship, survived. And it was for the same reason as the Alhena situation. Something you should have seen here. Something that you cadets..." Talaina looked around at all of the cadets on the Bridge. "All of you cadets need to learn before you can become Command Officers. Flying around and shooting everything is all fine and good for one on one ship fights of equal footing. But when the numbers are against you, when you are against an opponent that clearly outclasses yourself, that is when you need to think. Use your brains and be smart. The Sentinel got out of this trap by routing the Transwarp drive through the Deflector and opening an unstable Transwarp gate in the centre of the Gorn ships, catapulting them to unknown parts. The ship survived because we used our ingenuity. What tools we had at our disposal. That will save the day nine times out of ten. Going in all guns blazing will only do so that one time. Do you understand?"
"Yes Sir. But... this class of vessel was made before Transwarp."
"This ship was made for the centennial celebrations of the iconic design. One of a few that were. As such, it has many of the modern features, such as a Transwarp drive. If you had done your homework, you would have read that in the ship's profile for the mission briefing. That's another lesson. Always make sure you are familiar with what your ship can and can't do. A good engineer will always find ways to do what can't with what can. Think about what I said cadet. I hope you take heed of my words. Because you won't get any second chances when you're out here for real."
"Yes Sir. You've given me much to think about."
As the cadets filtered out towards the lower decks, Talaina watched the rest of the teachers clearing the simulation from the consoles and patching up explosion damage. The test seemed to work. A varient of the Kobyashi Maru. But being done with a real starship, it helped give the cadets a greater sense of what it's like out here. As the DarkFyre went to warp to it's next teaching location, Talaina was glad she wasn't assigned to the Academy full time. They had requested her presence for the first test, since it was based on what she had gone through. They had done a good job. A good job indeed.
Admiral Brendan T. Stevens
Captain's Log, Stardate: 87114.15
The U.S.S. Rhea has done well in the last few months. Being on the frontline against the Voth threat has been very hard on the crew and some shore leave is definitely needed. And fortunately, Starfleet agrees. Commander Miyazaki and I have made plans to revisit our families in Kyoto and the one month layover will give the Corps of Engineers time to refit the Rhea. She's an old ship, but I wouldn't fly anything else.
In addition, Starfleet Academy contacted me as we passed through the Regulus Sector. Apparently they would like me to give a lecture on the Prime Directive to the student body. They feel someone who is dealing with grey moral grounds on a daily basis might be just the person to discuss this with our upcoming officers. Still, it has been nearly a year since I taught anything at the Academy. It's exciting to have the opportunity to come back and shape more young minds.
--- STARDATE: 87121.86 ---
--- EARTH DATE: FEBRUARY 14, 2410, 11:30 AM PST ---
Admiral Stevens: Good morning class.
Class: Good Morning!
Stevens: Nice to see most of you made it on time today. I know its Valentine's Day and those of you with romantic partners want to cut class and spend it with them. Well, don't worry. I'm about to give you a speech that will put you right back into your student coma on the desk.
Class: <Bemused Chuckles>
Stevens: All right, I suppose Professor Mendez mentioned that I would be discussing practical application of the Prime Directive today. That's not quite right. Today we will be discussing ethics of the Prime Directive and the importance of knowing when to violate orders.
A hand rose from the front row of the class: a young, 20 year old human woman, brown hair and green eyes with a look of skepticism on her face.
Stevens: Yes, Cadet...?
Cadet: Cadet Johannson, sir. Sir, the Prime Directive is Starfleet General Order Number One. Are you saying there are times we should violate it?
Stevens: Cadet, the Prime Directive is a guideline, just like every other orders and regulations you will have to work within your career with Starfleet. We're not looking for yes men who follows all orders. We are looking for officers who are here to make well informed decisions. Cadet, do they still run the Huron Simulation?
Johannson: Yes, sir.
Stevens: And based on the color of your uniform I'm assuming you were either in Communications, Helm, Security or Command for that mission.
Johannson: Command, sir.
Stevens: And during that simulation, did you destroy the alien artifact as per Starfleet's orders?
Johannson: No, sir.
Stevens: And why not?
Johannson: Because Starfleet's orders were to destroy an irreplaceable alien artifact. That would have been a loss of irreplaceable history of that race as well as a violation of Starfleet's mandate of research.
Stevens: You still violated orders. By your own argument, you should have destroyed the artifact.
Johannson: I... believed it was the right decision to make. The artifact was returned to its field and no harm befell the planet, preserving the planet down there and the artifact's historical value.
Stevens: So you violated orders to uphold the spirit of the orders?
Johannson: Yes sir.
Stevens: So do you think that there would ever be a situation in which violating the Prime Directive might be the right decision?
Johannson: I... I... I don't think so sir. Non-interference is a major part of Starfleet?s principles.
Stevens: <Chuckles> Perhaps, but there are always better options. How many of you know of Admiral Archer's encounter with the Valakians during his command of the NX-01?
The entire room raises its hands.
Stevens: How many of you agree with Archer's decision?
Roughly 90% of the hands in the room dropped.
Stevens: Ah, now that's where this gets interesting. Under the letter of the law of the Prime Directive, Archer did the right thing, but most people find letting a race die to be uncouth. And yet he is not the only CO in Starfleet to make this order. So let?s go the other way now. A Captain with more PD violations on record than any other Captain. Anyone want to take a guess? Um... You there, Cadet...?
Cadet: Cadet Matthews, sir. Are you speaking of Admiral Janeway?
Stevens: Definitely not. The Admiral invokes the PD for breakfast. Anyone else? You, Cadet.
Cadet: Cadet Stewart. Are you speaking of Captain Kirk?
Stevens: Yes, I am. Very good, Cadet. Captain James T. Kirk. Probably the single most famous Starfleet Captain in history. Captain Kirk violated the Prime Directive 47 times in his career. In fact, one of them got him promoted to Admiral. Now you're wondering how someone could violate a directive that's said to have Captains take their own lives rather violate it become an Admiral for violating said directive. I will cite an incident that occurred during the third year of Kirk's first five year mission involving the people of the asteroid ship Yonada. Yonada was a ship on a collision course with a nearby inhabited world at an angle that likely would have killed the people of Yonada and decimated the planet they planned to land on.
Commander Spock: "Sir, informing these people they are on a spaceship may violate the Prime Directive."
Captain Kirk: "Perhaps. But anything has got to be better than the entire destruction of these people."
Commander Spock: "Logical, Captain. Flawlessly Logical."
How many of you know why Commander Spock sided with Captain Kirk?
A cadet raises her hand.
Stevens: Yes, Cadet?
Cadet: Cadet T'leris, sir. Commander Spock agreed that their lives were worth saving over letting the PD lead to their deaths. But, sir. That's a risky option. Couldn't allowing them to live lead to-
Stevens: Lead to them having a Hitler or a Khan Noonien Singh? I've heard that argument so many times, I've stop counting. Play the odds, Cadet. What is more likely, these people will create a Hitler or simply live out their lives in peace? Just because we don't know if we'll win the game doesn't mean we choose not to play it. The PD has been used too many times to justify the death of races. And the sad part is the law will back those COs up. It is just as likely you could allow a race to die that may one day join the Federation and revolutionize our theories on Warp Drive or medicine. The PD is never certain about the future of races, only that we need to be careful in how we deal with them. Cadet Matthews, I see your hand raised.
Matthews: Sir, it sounds like you're completely opposed to the Prime Directive.
Stevens: Far from it. The PD has its purpose. It's just overreached a lot of the time, like many laws and regulations. I can cite two instances from the Enterprise-D'?s journeys that were good uses of the PD. The first is their encounter with the Mintakans. Captain Picard did expose himself to prevent the creation of a religion worshipping him. That was based on a lie and frankly the incident has lead to constant review of Starfleet's use of Duckblinds on primitive worlds for study. The second incident was the Klingon Civil War. The Federation had no right to be involved in what was purely an internal matter of the Klingon Empire. However, we did stretch the PD and made sure the Romulans were not getting involved either. And that's just as important.
At the end of the day the Prime Directive is there to prevent us from playing God or conquering civilizations. One of the threats you will face out there when you leave this academy is a race that does just that. And, no, I don?t mean the Klingons. But the part of the Prime Directive that is unwritten is that you must do what you feel is ethically right. The Directive is there to make you stop and think "Is this the right choice." Follow your morals and principles and you will find the correct answer. Starfleet needs flexible officers who will do the right thing, regardless of regulations. If you want to be purely held to the rules, I suggest you transfer to the legal division. Commander Timison could always use more Paralegals.
Starfleet is not an easy career. You have to be use every bit of knowledge, ethics, morality and most importantly compassion to make good decisions. But you also cannot be soft when a threat comes along. Every choice you make will have consequences and it will be you not Starfleet Command who makes them. You will lose officers, you will lose friends, you may even lose your life. But as long as you do what you believe is right and in the best traditions of Starfleet, you will succeed. This the road less travelled and you will have the hardest choices of your life ahead. But, you wear that uniform and are beholden to the truth. And the truth is this: nothing is written in stone and nothing so sacra saint as to not be questioned.
Stevens looked around at the young faces before him. Whereas before they had the look of promising officers who looked forward to their careers, many now had solemn faces of concern on.
Stevens: Now don't give me those faces. Starfleet is an amazing career and nine times out of ten you won?t have to deal with an ethical dilemma like the ones we?re discussing today. You will have to face these choices at some point, but let me tell you: you always know what?s the right decision to make. I think I'm out of time today, class. Have a Happy Valentine's Day and hopefully I'll get to see you all soon. Class dismissed!
Author's Note: This entry is a direct continuation of the plot begun in Part VIII of Echoes Upon Distant Shores
The Opposites of Attraction
2412.7.15, 1700 hours
Captain Ael t'Kazanak turned from the replicator as the doors to her readyroom hissed open to admit Ahd'r I'sH'd. Lowering herself into the chair behind her desk, Ael noted the scowl which turned the Pentaxian's handsome visage into a mask of rage.
"Osol twist?" she enquired, raising the small plate.
I'sH'd shook his head.
Popping the sour confectionary in her mouth, Ael sighed.
"What can you tell me? Did you find her?" she enquired.
"Nothing," I'sH'd replied. "It's as if she vanished after her meeting. I conducted some interviews, and no one had seen anything unusual."
Ael raised an eyebrow and her lips quirked.
"'Interviews'," she repeated. "I think our people share a mutual understanding of that euphemism, surely someone knows something."
"So one would think," I'sH'd replied. "I beat that boy Lucas within an inch of his life, but he maintained that the ambassador left the building unharmed. If he had been lying, I would have found out. If she was taken, no one saw anything."
"Do you think-" Ael began, but I'sH'd cut her off, intuiting her concern.
"It has happened before," he admitted "After what happened at the Khitomer conference, I can't believe Section 31 would try something like this again, but it's the only thing that makes sense. How do you suggest we proceed?"
Ael picked up a PADD from her desk and waggled it.
"Well, I've been invited to give a commencement speech for the Academy's graduating class," she said, before tossing the PADD back down. "Refusal is not an option."
Seeing I'sH'd stiffen, Ael raised her hand.
"Let me finish. You know that Siri and I have been friends since we were cadets, her disappearance disturbs me as much as it does you -- probably more so. So here's my proposal: I take a shuttle to Earth, and leave the Vanguard here to investigate her disappearance. I won't need to order Commander Mayer to assist you, he'll want to know what's happened to Siri as much as I do."
"That would be acceptable," I'sH'd said. "Do you know what you will lecture the cadets on?"
"Tolerance is always a good theme," Ael pondered. "At my commencement, Admiral Janeway delivered a speech on the morality and applications of the Prime Directive. I'm sure I'll think of something before I get to Earth."
Literary Challenge: Space Worm
He sat off to the side of the podium, his Starfleet Uniform crisp and sharp. His handsome features made more distinguished just by wearing the honored uniform.
As the introduction to his speech is finished up, Jim looks around at all of the young faces gathered for this Cadet Symposium. He wonders how different his life would be if he had paid more attention to the speaker when he was a cadet.
To a round of thunderous applause, Kirk rises and stands before the podium, waving to a few familiar faces.
"Cadets. Thank you for your honoring me. Today...I am here to speak to you about the dangers that you will face now that you have donned the...Starfleet uniform," Kirk intones.
"I want to...share with you, my mistakes, the issues I faced as a new cadet. I am sure most of you will face the same issues at some point in your career."
Kirk shuffles his papers, trying to gather his thoughts?and notices a beautiful Bajoran cadet as she stares at him at the podium.
"When I was a cadet, we weren't taught anything about what the galaxy would offer us because we had no clue. It wasn't until I was informed that I had fathered children on 3 worlds that I couldn't pronounce that I realized I might be in big trouble."
"You see, as a member of Starfleet, you will exude confidence and capability when you wear your uniform. Members of the opposite sex will LITERALLY throw themselves into your embrace."
"But you are young, you have your whole lives ahead of you. Don't make yourself the subject of news stories and scandals by not controlling your urges. There are many species, including human, who would share a night with you in hopes of claiming a part of your Fleet earnings to make their lives easier."
"People will come out of the ship's hull to make "offers of a lifetime", "galactic opportunities" that won't miss. But all they want is a piece of your present and future successes."
"When you leave this symposium today, I want you to have a clear idea of the perils and pitfalls that face you. I want you to remember who helped you to get where you are today and to remember to lean on them for support and advice. None of us got to this point alone, we all owe someone else in part for our success."
"My Ship's Doctor, Leonard McCoy, sat me down the day he diagnosed me with a venereal disease I had acquired from a so called pleasure planet, and he told me how my behavior was being imitated by younger officers and recruits. That I was a role model for not only civilians and other species, but for our own members of Starfleet."
"That solar day, I went through my crew's pay chits to find that over a dozen cadets on my ship had children on planets we visited. They were paying to support children that they would likely never see again. Their own lives, like my own, had become more difficult due to my indescretions."
"I implore you, be responsible, be safe. And don?t do like I have and scatter children all over the galaxy. If anyone has any questions or would like to discuss this symposium, please feel free to see me in my Academy Suite and bring some Saurian Brandy."
Bryan sat down in his quarters on the Athena as the ship slid smoothly into orbit of Earth. He had been called back to Starfleet Academy to give a lecture to the most recent class of graduates. Shaking his head slightly, he sat down in his chair as he began to compose his thoughts.
What should I even talk about? he thought to himself.
He looked down at the blank console in front of him and pondered for a few minutes, thinking back to what many of the cadets in his graduating class were thinking. It was then that he realized what he needed to tell them. Something he wished he had learned in the academy.
Bryan walked to the center of the stage in the auditorium, and stood there for a moment looking around at the cadets, who were still chatting amongst themselves. Eventually, once all of the talking died down, Admiral Valot finally spoke up.
"Well, I've seen worse, but not by much," The Admiral said into the microphone, eliciting a chuckle here and there from the eager young recruits.
"At any rate, I've been asked to deliver a lecture to you all, and I've chosen to talk to you about trust. Now, to begin with, when you're assigned to a ship, as an office, of any rank, can you tell me who it is you should trust?"
A few hands raised. Bryan motioned to a young Andorian woman to stand. "You there, what's your name?"
"Cadet Nylsha Ivori, sir." She replied.
"And whom, Cadet Ivori, should you trust?"
"Those below me in rank to do their duty and those above me to not be careless with the lives of myself and the crew I serve with."
"Is there any point where your trust should stop?"
That gave the Cadet pause. She sat there for a moment, thinking. Finally, she spoke up, saying, "No sir, we should trust all of our superiors and subordinates."
"Incorrect," Bryan replied simply.
That got a lot of cadets murmuring.
"Who here thinks they know how far your trust should extend," he asked.
No hands raised.
"Your trust should go no further than the airlock of your ship. The captain is the highest authority that you can put your trust in. You should not trust your flag officers, at least not as easily as you might trust in crewman you serve with. It is your captain's job to get you home safely, not the flag officers. This is not to say that the rest of the Starfleet Admiralty are not excellent officers. They are. It's just difficult trust them the know what's best for you and the ship you serve on. That is why the captain is the highest authority you should trust. The crew of the Athena trusts me completely, and I trust them. They trust me because I see them on a daily basis. The Athena is as much my home as it is theirs. But nobody else in my fleet should trust me. Why? I rarely see them beyond when we are involved in a fleet action. Even then, I don't know each of the officers personally. The Captains, yes. But the rest? I am simply unable to remember who each and every one of them is. Regardless of that, I have to trust them to do their jobs. But they shouldn't trust me because I can't know them as people. It is impossible for me to learn of their strengths and weaknesses."
"It's your Captain's job to trust me," Bryan continued. "They are the ones that I communicate with on a regular basis. The Captian is who I communicate the orders to. The Captain is the one who tells me if his or her crew can or cannot get the job done. That is why you should trust your Captain over anyone else. They tell me what you and your ship can and cannot do. If any of you become Captains, your burden of trust becomes much more difficult, as you must trust, not only your crew to do their jobs, but you must also trust the Admirals to know when they are pushing your crew beyond their limits. We, the Admirals have to trust you all, but you cannot trust us, simply because we don't know you. That is not to say that we cannot earn your trust. It should not, however, be easy. Trust is, in summary, a one way street. No matter what, we have to trust those below our rank to do their duty. You must trust your Captain know what is best for you and the rest of your crew. Captains need to trust the Admirals to know what is right and wrong and they must trust their crew to preform at their absolute best. Any questions?"
No one raised their hands. Many of them now had somber looks on their faces, and a few were visibly shaken by what he had said.
"With all of that said, I want to wish you all good luck in your Starfleet careers. I know that I can trust you all to do your duties, and to do them admirably. You all are going to be a part of one of the greatest orginizations ever created, and I know for a fact that you all will exceed the expectations given too you. Good luck in your journeys, and remeber: you all are the heroes now. Thank you."
With that, Bryan stepped away from the podium, and left the stage, smiling a little as he heard the applause fade away behind him. They were going to be very good officers.
Reflections on a Mid-career Vulcan
She came in, she was dressed in her brown, tan and white robes. One of the foremost scientists of Vulcan, now a pagan priestess of a very high order, I had invited her for chess. My futility was known to her, I could not imagine any other way to create a device in which to allow for her visit. I knew she would stay for at least a few if not several moons. She would of course realize that I was interested in children and family.
I was researching the latest scientific data while my proposal to Starfleet was being examined. I had already been informed that my proposal had been sent to Earth for further scrutiny. The bottom line was that neither my wife nor I wanted to spend any more time teaching at the Vulcan Science Academy. I was willing to entertain teaching at Starfleet Academy on Earth while my transfer orders were being considered. I also had requested command befitting my rank. I had passed the 'post-graduate' Vulcan Science Academy tests, some of them they had said. The directors were not certain that any further testing would prove to be relevant to my credentials, is what had been said.
"Don't worry about your proposal results, that can just mean anything, they could have been rude due to your prowess, or likely enough, there would be no logical point in further embellishing your pride or ego." My wife had said."?Ta'an, really, I myself am stuck between a multi-faceted multi-cultural paganism and a reactionary scientific community, what should I do? Well, I want to stay with you and find out my solution, I want your company, I want to examine your meta-data."
"How alarming," I conceded. This comment was indicative of my arousal at her finalization. I was transfixed upon how much further than a simple game of chess that this event had become and I no longer had intellectual appetite, as I had discovered, my other yearnings. Perusing meta-data is what we pretended to do at the Starfleet Academy on Earth for many reasons, the humans however would generally conclude that only one outcome could be possible, who were we to disagree? It however was a childless marriage, and our Starfleet careers were largely responsible for our frustration. At times we were assigned to the same ship, on two occasions. As joyous as those instances were, they were odious reflections of a stagnant Starfleet career, each occasion in fact in which I needed to once again return to the examination of meta-data, rote officer tasks and training notwithstanding.
"For someone who hated gaining rank in the fleet, you did well, and always satisfied me when you were aboard and not on some damn fool mission." She smiled sweetly at this. I had a cold meal being stored.
"Permission to board granted lieutenant-commander?" I wasn't exactly saluting.
. . .
After reminiscing on quaint colloquialisms that we remembered from our time with humans, I reheated my soup, and then went back to a relaxed position. Although I liked her cooking better, there wasn't anything wrong with my technique, if anything I was methodical. There was further reflection however.
The meta-physical and spiritual often exchange in moments of passion and love. Love for Vulcans is a difficult and complicated ritual. We found that the humans had liberated us somewhat, we embellished and relished this, yet with such profound understanding came responsibility. Her fundamental understanding of complex spiritual and metaphysical concepts, and my own had been impacted greatly by our free expression of love. She had decided that the best thing to do would be to become something akin to a Terran druid, except the Vulcan variety, which was literally a priestess. This had interfered with her Starfleet career. For a time she had been assigned to DS9 and was promoted to on-planet duties on Bajor. Her spiritual link was appreciated by Bajorans and Starfleet members alike. All could find comfort on her variations of comparative theology. For some reason it seemed remarkably humanizing.
Even Klingons would rather at times pray at a Vulcan pagan alter than a Bajoran one. Tal'aan even helped the staff of a prominent Klingon Captain, a 'Mong-Dech,' in officiating a prayer sight on Bajor for Klingons. Captain Mong-Dech had cited that although he did not mind praying with other species, it is a very personal experience for Klingons, and frankly he was not a member of the monotheism in the Empire. Tal'aan had taken initiative and even went to lengths to find orange, green and red candles for the Captain to light. She even went so far as to find a brimstone pyre and a sage variety that smelled like a war or an enormous festival frankly, and this comforted Mong-Dech greatly. He himself funded the Klingon pagan worship site on Bajor. Tal?aan, a handful of Klingons, and her Bajoran counterparts worked together to create a structure that could honor the old gods. Amusingly enough when Vulcans mistook it for their Vulcan site, Mong-Dech, who was present during its coronation, found Vulcan candles and incense and created a unique section for guests in an impromptu manner, knowing both the names of Vulcan and Klingon gods he guided the Vulcan to the proper representation, and then had Tal'aan address them to the location of the Vulcan pagan place. Other than complete her command training, she also was commended for diplomacy, as Mong-Dech had, on the Klingon pagan site?s coronation, had introduced her to Galron, and his wife, who were speech-less at the selflessness on the behalf of the Federation and Bajorans.
Galron's wife had commented on the authenticity, as it was a very accurate megalith, and Galron himself had said that Mong-Dech had spoken highly of her, and to his comfort amongst the brimstone pyres and smell of vanquish-he had to say he even felt nostalgia! This was an unfounded compliment, and Mong-Dech and his wife began the busy task of pouring ever one in attendance bloodwine. This was some time after the war with the Dominion, and publicly it was known that Galron had no wish to revisit this place. He was proven wrong, and his speech reflected well on everyone involved in the project. Mong-Dech had later suggested to Tal'aan that certain combat trophies from the Dominion conflict could be used to embellish the Klingon god of war?s structural depiction. Galron had then noted that it was in the old style, ancient, no modern embellishments, the sculptural representations barely looked Klingon! Of course his wife had studied ancient formations and was quick to note on the accuracy to that point also. Galron and Mong-Dech had their metallurgical fragments and electronic fragments beamed down to the megalith, and they were placed as honor trophies indicating the struggles that had been had in that vicinity of space. Galron and his wife as well as Tal'ann had complimented Mong-Dech on his creativity.
I recalled arriving late to the event, having to accomplish duty transfer protocols in another location nearby in the Bajoran capital. We were to serve on DS9 together, and it was our second time working together in the fleet. The Klingons were handsome, drunk and extremely grateful to be acknowledged and honored for their troubles. Martok had arrived early and had left early also, he was due to patrol, and said nothing further. Galron had acknowledged that unfortunately the honor of protecting the planet remained in the general's hands as long as the chancellor was deemed to visit. Surprisingly Martok had worked something out with his command structure and arrived later than I. He was the first Klingon to stare at me and then suddenly give me a large hug. He had appeared out of nowhere to do so. He then slapped my shoulder, almost knocking me down while exclaiming, "Qapla!" I had been introduced to everyone other than he, and it seemed this sudden outburst had divided my wife's attention somehow. The general made grandiose, and general statements about the relevance of the megalith, I didn't find it too hard to follow, and it seemed to make sense. Galron, on the other hand squinted as if he need eyeglasses to hear better, I thought immediately not to mention. Remembering so much amused Tal'aan and I finished my soup in light of her brevity.
"You don't remember, I said, 'How did you know this is my husband,' and he laughed the way old men sometimes do when it isn't worth the explanation." I conceded to the accuracy of her account. I remember having pointed out to him Galron and Mong-Dech's contributions to the war god alter. Galron had crossed his arms and Mong-Dech was surprised that Galron would so rudely challenge the general in such a display of expectancy.
Mong-Dech had mentioned, "Did you save those spent energy-coil conductors?" Galron had indeed had, and every public place aboard his ship had one on display with a plaque and specific dates and other relevant historic information. The conflict with the Dominion had worn out the Klingon fleet extensively.
"I have three of such in my special on-board quarters, and another three in my captain's office, also aboard, I will have four beamed directly here, and have plagues manufactured for all of the relics!" I recalled that the General would not be outdone, and I had complimented him, on his addition to the megalith, insisting on shaking his hand, with both of my own. He was genuinely pleased with himself from that point onward and the Klingons carried the evening to a renewed measure of amicability.
"The Klingons are always interesting, especially when they aren't completely terrifying, the humans however are more fascinating in that they are continuously profoundly weird." This won me a chorus of Tal'aan's laughter.
"We had spent time with Captain Mong-Dech comparing his eccentricities to that of normative human behavior." She had added.
"Galron had said that he was even weird by human standards, and that had been embarrassing to him-until he realized that it was apparently true." I added.
"'Truth is stranger than fiction,' his wife liked that comment." Tal'ann embellished.
"I think Galron was drunk. He said that humans had to act out because they were so plain otherwise, at least in appearance. Although it is true, compared to Bejorans and Vulcans," I mused.
"Indeed. They must make up for it by being so inventive."
We had for a time been aboard a ship, the Incessant. We were to make the DS9 and Bajoran Fleet members and civilians comfortable, and find ways to make them able to adapt to the incoming deluge of Gamma Quadrant refugees. We had finished very far ahead of schedule, mostly due to Tal'aan's guidance with networking. With Klingons, when one project is done, another begins. The Empire, like Starfleet, wanted to have stations on DS9 as well as Bajor, so the Megalith was a beginning of diplomacy for them. The Bajoran had to be constantly cajoled and prodded by Tal'aan and myself, they saw the Klingons as invaders like the Cardasians. We repeatedly assured them of Klingon philosophy, the enemy of my enemy, is my friend! And the like, the General, the Captain, even the Chancellor, had repeatedly confirmed this at the coronation. I'm afraid the Bajoran Ambassador was a little too retroactive, however everything would work out for the best. Bajorans don't like having to concede out of their comfort zones, they would prefer neutrality in all things, this is not at all possible in stellar politics.
The consequence of these Klingon posts would ultimately be that a join Fleet / Empirical task force would be needed to build a Gamma colony and transfer place, in order to make them feel at home, and to help expedite them to the Alpha Quadrant. As it turned out however, they were generally highly adaptive and many only needed minor transference. This did not reflect poorly on the Gamma colony on Bajor however, it never filled to capacity-in such a regard that a secondary colony was ever built. Regular traffic through the wormhole, now guarded by Klingons and Starfleet alike continued.
Working with the Starfleet embassy wasn't my primary concern, and Talaan's neither. We were working on adapting technological knowledge from all primary sources. Galron and the Klingons had promised some leeway, and we sent an official inquisition form to his office. We were quite surprised by his reply. He gave us all data on almost everything Klingon up until the second decade of the 23rd century. This was extremely much more than we had bargained for. The Klingons were obviously secure in their information network. Comparative technological improvements from Gamma quadrant sources however, were very hard to come by, this was a much slower process. We interviewed every Gamma quadrant scientist and engineer that came through the worm hole. When aboard the Incessant we toured secured areas of the Gamma Quadrant, mostly trade networks, and continued our research. Trade and diplomacy had made this possible, yet there were constant tensions with the Dominion. The Incessant, was primarily a military vessel, it was a large D class vessel, Daedalus designation. My wife and I had the luxury of maintaining the areas of science aboard ship that crossed over into foreign engineering. It's called developmental and/or proto-sociological mechanics. We wanted to find rational conclusions to the study in order to be able to tie more leads into the comprehension of Borg technology. Teams of scientists and engineers from all over the Federation were pouring over the Klingon data that we had managed to secure. The thinking is that universal understanding of the general polemics of engineering should help us to logically rationalize the Borg technological construct. Klingons and Fleet vessels would often negotiate the Gamma quadrant together. Safety in numbers, security in the diversity of discovery, this is what Martok had told Galron at the Klingon megalith, their gateway to Sto'Vo'Kor. Mong-Dech had described a correlation between the wormhole as a star-gate and the qa'lojmIt on Bajor, and had further predicted a great understanding between the two factions that would lead us into victory against the enslavement of the Borg. I stupidly chose to question his experience against slavery. I was instructed by both the Chancellor and the General that this Klingon Captain was pro-equality, and pro-civil labor union, and had before joining with the KDF as a commander, completed major grassroots community civic efforts that helped to maintain and stabilize the sanctity of the urban on Qo'Nos. I merely at the time imagined that I could research these facts, as I knew not of such records. This was good enough for the Klingons to dismiss what might have been mistaken as an insult, my own admittance of ignorance to the matter. That conversation ended on a positive note as my wife and I, and the Mong-Dech couple discussed comparative systemic civics in our respected fields. The other Klingons listened intently with Martok and Galron occasionally nodding towards one another. Towards the end of this discussion Mong-Dech explained that there is no shame or dishonor in discovering comparative civics. All could readily agree. My wife and I lamented time apart and the frustrations of continuing research, which was greeted with a general sense of sympathy from the Klingons. The Mong-Dech couple had similar difficulties, however civil engineering had to him been replaced by command some decades prior in his career, and he found it difficult to reinvent or restage further development at times on older projects that would require review, yet he did, and also would follow up research on such projects with continuous new proposals for civic renewal. Martok and his wife had no such previous experience of civics before his glory had been achieved as a Captain, he would build something near the House of his family for the benefit of the community, a library, a replication station, a new aqueduct, things that were needed that only successful generals before him had implemented. Galron was very quick to point out that many Captains followed this example thereafter, and that it quickly became a noteworthy chapter in the legacy of K'mpec. The Klingons could smile at this and Mong-Dech recited memories of such examples that lead to his volunteer efforts as early as before he had even joined with Klingon Academy. I found that such fascination conversation had given me time to appreciate bloodwine. This fact was met with grins of satisfaction by the Klingons. My wife did not hate the wine.
"This is still something I will not drink away from diplomacy." Tal'aan added.
"Last month the lecture I gave in San Francisco was much more formal of course, however I did mention that you will not otherwise drink bloodwine." I waited for it, humans would savor the pause in the moment, expecting an outrageous response-I savored the comfort of being with someone I consider to be a crucial part of my existence.
"Well I was on my last pilgrimage with a mixed group of Romulans and Vulcans, there was nothing I could do." Ouch, the telling pained us both.
"I did note that your faith largely puts diplomacy in a position of primacy to most other regards." She smiled. I was 'off the hook.'
"Captain B'Elanna told me as much, she is still doing xeno-cultural diplomacy as a neutral third party advisor for the Marquee. She wants my students to teach on Bajor for the betterment of all species involved in theology there. Starfleet was against it until B'Elanna expressed interest."
"She interrupted my lecture twice to give current updates actually. She is still a Federation Captain, and a Klingon Captain, so she kind of has respect everywhere at once, in most to all quadrants also." It is considered dry humor to humans, although it is when I am performing comedy at my best, I decided to remind Tal'aan that I was only Vulcan after all.
"Yes she does." She replied with some wit to her tone.
"I didn't know, and in fact was rather shocked when a half-Klingon / Human academy student asked me what I thought of the fact that Klingons used the megalith on Bajor as a mecca for pilgrimage, as well as a tourist attraction for off duty officers. I hadn't known it had grown to such use, I merely replied that I would be interested in a more detailed report on those circumstances and that naturally that cross cultural miscegenation was indeed the purpose of its existence. Although before approving my lecture outline Belanna had informed me that Klingon Captains had begun to visit the megalith regularly."
"I was unaware that it had gotten to be such a center for heroic acknowledgement, warriors face the reliquary there in hopes to someday add their own to their god of war. The Romulans seemed to have heard some of it, I thought perhaps it was their close proximity to Khittomer and normative Klingon trading routes."
"Perhaps polytheism will make peace in the local stellar neighborhood."
"Perhaps." Tal'ann had noted.
"A cadet also had an engineering question regarding Borg data compilation, and I was forced to concede that 'only standard research practices' would be necessary to make the appropriate analysis's necessary to examine new technologies to such a degree. I wish one of the Klingons were there from the megalith coronation actually. I told B'Elanna so much and she said, "I swear I won't be so staunch." Her explanation was that unfortunately due to the covert nature of such analysis trans-mechanical currency was the best hope for a design philosophy miscegenation that was universal enough to begin to understand Borg comparative structuring. I liked her answer better."
"Again, I concede to her wisdom on such matters."
"The cadet looked somewhat frustrated by her response, it sounded better, however it was not much different in all actuality."
"I hate to think of the tribunals that we suffered in Academy, but I do remember the Redwood trees." She had a certain look in her eyes as she finished her plomeek.
"I remember surfing and camping with you. I will never ever in my life forget the times we had on that planet. Honestly B'Elanna had asked what was my best memory from our Academy years, in front of all of the cadets so even the officers sitting in could hear in the side front and top rows."
"So you told them that. What did she say?"
"Well my husband was in a penal colony after I was in Academy, so I transferred to become a marquee hoping that I could save him, although in all honesty we had not really met."
"I then asked, 'It is difficult to save the mating bonds of an interdisciplinary couple, is it not Captain?' She of course just smiled and said, 'We at least know how to make it work do we not?' At least we do I replied, hoping that some idiot officer was in attendance that could understand how frustrating it was to have two masters as we do."
"No she told me of this actually, and there was a Captain Paris, her husband was there, B'Elanna told me they were accommodating to your blight of my absence. Well, they cannot get assigned to the same ship because no Admiral wants both a former Marquee member and an anarchist / cavalier pilot hooligan to lead them against foes and keep diplomacy in the Delta quadrant, although they still are occasionally assigned to help Admiral Janeway, which is no small favor to them."
"It was all I could do to ask them to give the Admiral my regards, I felt defiant in their confidence and all of the damn bureaucracy that keeps us apart at times. Cadet members in trans-xeno relationships had many questions, 'Is your wife going to become the new Ambassador to DS9?' 'Will you return to New Vulcan should you develop progeny?' The most unique question was, 'Will deborgified people find the unborgified attractive, and if so will the opposite be true?
"That had to have been an above board hit with the Captains." Commented Tal'aan.
"It was, but following the path of our personal development as a couple in Starfleet the questions were then from the Captains themselves to steer us back to my lecture, because I was more than happy to accommodate the cadets inquiries, and eventually did. 'Is Ambassador Tal'aan more attracted to Romulans or Klingons,' is what B'Elanna had asked." This comment received a chorus of laughter from Tal'aan.
"No more than I am was my answer." She kept laughing of course. "Indeed the Cadets found it amusing also. Lots of genuine smiles there, it was nice to be surrounded by so many interesting people, and I naturally said so also. Paris, his question was different, serious. "If you are on a ship and making formal technical corrections in compliance to the Federations New Borg Initiative Protocol Standardizations and you come across a higher ranked officer, such as myself, who is either too inquisitive or who is adamantly opposed to your work, what do you do?"
"I have met them both personally, that is just like Paris to give credence to the highest formation of consternation." Tal'aan said.
"I admited that I have had to relieve a Lieutenant-Commander, and on another occasion a Lieutenant for similar reasons, which I couldn't specify. In these cases there is usually a team of engineers there to assist, so they would be learning something new, Captains are free to watch as often as they like, as long as they aren't in the way. Usually an engineering chief accommodates these procedures. They cannot actually know exactly what I'm doing or how, they can see what they can for themselves, they might not know all of the specifics, such as the physical properties of specific formations of augmentation, or in some cases how circuitry is being re-routed. There are insignias in place so if certain areas that I had been working on should for some reason come in to scrutiny, at the least engineers can determine easily enough that whatever the work was that was done was my doing. At the worst there are standardized A.I. holograms that instruct engineers what to do should these insignias not be properly recognized. 'Its' okay if you don't get it, Scotty will help you, although he will likely drink your scotch and whiskey also.' No cadet could give an answer like this to a Captain however. Paris looked me dead in the eye, and addressed the crowd."
"That's right, that might be exactly who, and don't sweat that, by the time you are a lieutenant you'll be correcting the A.I. because you'll know that much more about it by that time."
"Actually that's likely correct, remember to depict exactly what transpires should the A.I. direct your technical applications in the future into your own personal logs and situation reports to your commanding officers." I was actually kind of impressed with how Paris didn't undermine the relevance of my duties, and I related as much to Tal'aan, as I had previously done with both Captains in question.
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