Literary Challenges : The Library Computer
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Join Date: Dec 2007
05-13-2011, 02:36 PM
From the journals of Grbl3dor
Stardate 157463.06 -- June 18, 2480
I first met Fleet Admiral Hastings over 70 years ago, before I'd left Starfleet to become a full-time writer. In fact, I served under him when he first joined the Admiralty and I was a green officer with my first command.
Admiral Hastings was awfully young for an Admiral, but then in those dark days, they all were. Everyone was young -- too young. The saying at Starfleet Academy was that when you graduated, you got a plaque with your hardcopy diploma, a pin for your dress whites, and the command codes to a cruiser. Like any truly good joke, that wasn't far from the truth; my first command came with my promotion to Lieutenant.
And the Admiral knew this. He didn't have a crew of season veterans; his ship commanders often didn't know the difference between warp coils and entertainment provisions, but we were all eager and ready to fight in the wars. The Admiral gave us the support we needed to become better commanders, and really, what more can you ask?
But as I said, that was a long time ago. Starfleet is a distant memory for me, and Fleet Admiral Starlin Jeffrey Hastings, retired, is dying.
I've arrived at his home near San Jose, California. Naturally he never left the Bay Area; you can take the Admiral out of Starfleet, etc. etc.
My original plan was to conduct an interview with him, but he's unconscious and not expected to wake.
Admiral Hastings died a few moments ago at the age of 106.
Stardate 157465.51 -- June 19, 2480
Evidently there is a small ceremony called a "Will Reading" this afternoon that I have been asked to attend. As I understand it, humans have a custom of "passing on" certain possessions or objects to friends and family. Often these items have sentimental or symbolic meaning. It's only done for a few possessions; the majority of items are simply recycled. And although he wasn't human, he was raised as one and lived his life as one.
I have been asked to attend because, evidently, I have been named in this "will." I confess I am surprised: I knew the Admiral (never "Jeff" -- I could never call him that) well enough to share an occasional dinner with, but we were hardly the best of friends.
Several others have arrived for the ceremony. Most I don't know. The Admiral's daughter, Ashley, I've met. She's about as unlike the Admiral as anyone I've seen: she never went near Starfleet and became an artist instead. Yet they were very close. Who knows, perhaps they liked the same holovids, but it's hard for me to see what they had in common.
Admiral Khaotik, of course, will not be attending, and I don't think we need to rehash that old story.
Fleet Admiral Amara has arrived. If you've never met her, you cannot possibly be prepared for her. You expect a senior Vulcan Admiral to be a certain way, have a certain personality...but Admiral Amara is nothing like those expectations. Most Vulcans seem to exude an intimidating calm. Not her. "The Hormonal Vulcan," I've heard her called (though never to her face!). Raised by humans, she's emotional, but like anything Vulcans attempt, she's very good at it. Hyper-emotional, you might say.
She and Admiral Hastings worked side by side since their early careers, and while they were never romantic (so far as I know, anyway) they were close indeed. You can see it now on Admiral Amara's face: pain, sadness, tears. She just went around the room and hugged everyone, including people she'd never met. Then she started crying again.
The Estate Administrator just came out to begin the ceremony. It's not much of a ceremony, frankly; he just walks around the room, handing each person his/her/its item. He just now handed me mine: a plaque with hardcopies of my first command assignment announcement and my first mission report affixed. I had no idea he even had such a thing. I guess I made more of an impression than I realized.
Now he just walked over to Admiral Amara and handed her...a pebble. A very plain, unremarkable pebble. And Admiral Amara broke down completely, sobbing and wailing so loudly I had to cover my ears.
What could the significance of that pebble possibly be?
Stardate 157470.97 -- June 21, 2480
I'm on my way to see another retired Admiral: Fleet Admiral Jeffrey Davison. He's nearly 130 now, I think, but as a young Rear Admiral he first recruited then-Commander Hastings, then-Commander Amara and then-Commander Khaotik to form a "strike team" of ship commanders who could work independently, short-circuit the fleet bureaucracy and "get the job done."
I land my skimmer right next to Admiral Davison's house on the beach. It's a gorgeous San Diego morning (but aren't they all?). I knock on his door, and after a few minutes he answers, and grins. He advises me to get used to stooping, as his house wasn't built for people my size (I'm nearly 8 feet tall).
I follow him into a large room with a huge picture window that overlooks the ocean. We sit down, exchange pleasantries, and then get down to it.
Me: I assume you heard about Admiral Hastings.
Davison: Yep. Wished I could've attended, but at my age, traveling is risky.
Me: Did you know the Admiral well?
Davison: Hell, I knew Jeff as a green Ensign. Always Jeff – nobody called him “Starlin.” We spent enough time together that people would get confused -- since we were both "Jeff" -- so people started calling me "Proper Jeff" -- because I was senior -- and him "Other Jeff" for clarity.
Me: And of course, you know Admiral Amara.
Davison: Yep, though I didn't meet her until after she had her command. In fact, I met her because of Jeff: if you follow his career, you pretty much have to follow hers. They were quite the team.
Me: And Admiral Khaotik?
(Now the grin fades for the first time.)
Davison: Yes. Him too.
Me: At the Will Reading, the administrator gave Admiral Amara a pebble. She took one look at it and collapsed in grief. Any idea what the significance of that pebble is?
Davison: No idea. Have you asked Amara?
Me: Not yet. She was pretty upset, and I figured she'd need a bit of time.
Davison: Probably, yeah. But I don't know what the pebble is about. I wonder if it's related to their first mission together? I don't remember all the details, but I think I have the ID somewhere.
(Admiral Davison slowly rises, then shuffles over to a bookcase and pulls down a box full of data solids. He rummages through them, then apparently finds the one he's looking for. He slides it into a reader, then scrolls through the data on the viewscreen.)
Davison: Here it is.
(He pops a blank solid into a slot, hits a key, then ejects the solid and tosses it to me.)
Davison: That's the mission ID. You can apply for access to the logs; I doubt much of the mission is classified anymore.
(We continue chatting for a while, and then make our farewells.)
After the interview this morning, I did apply to the Starfleet Press Office for access to the mission logs. SPO said they would get back to me "soon."
Meanwhile, I'm en route to Memory Alpha. I've got an interview set up with Vice Admiral Stike in the morning. Stike worked under Admiral Davison, and provided scientific and technological support to his strike team. I figure he's probably got some insight into the team that might prove illuminating.
Stardate 157473.70 -- June 22, 2480
Vice Admiral Stike has been working at Memory Alpha for over sixty years. Legend has it that he and his team figured out a way to create warp-14 engines out of a kettle and some string, and while that's obviously apocryphal, it's not by much. Like most Vulcans, he has no use for pleasantries, so we exchange none.
Me: How well did you know Admiral Hastings?
Stike: The question is not logical. There's no scale or measurement on which to base a response. How do you quantify, "well?"
Me: Let me rephrase. Are you familiar with the details of most of his missions for Admiral Davison?
Stike: My familiarity varies with each individual mission, depending on the level of support I was required to provide.
(This is the problem with interviewing Vulcans. You have to phrase things very carefully if you have any hope of learning anything at all.)
Me: Are you specifically familiar with all of the details of the first mission that Admiral Hastings and Admiral Amara worked together?
Stike: No. However, I am familiar with many of the details. Would you like me to list them for you?
Stike: Stardate 86363.13. Hastings and Amara are ordered to Regulus IV, where the Klingons are supposed to be meeting with Miral Paris. Upon arriving they meet with armed resistance -- both in space and on the planet's surface. The Klingons had planted spatial charges on a number of facilities on the planet, including the Federation Embassy. Hastings and Amara defuse the charges, and survive an attack by Klingon Ambassador B'Vat, who then escaped.
Me: What support were you required to provide?
Stike: I was not required to provide any support, which is why I do not know all of the details of the mission.
Me (nonplussed): Um, OK. If I were to tell you that Admiral Hastings had a pebble given to Admiral Amara at his Will Reading ceremony, and that Admiral Amara had an emotional reaction to this gesture, would you have any idea as to why?
Stike: Unknown. It would depend on when you told me such a thing. Do you think it is likely you will tell me such a thing in the near future?
(If he was not Vulcan, I would accuse him of teasing me right about now.)
Me: Admiral Hastings had a pebble given to Admiral Amara at his Will Reading ceremony. Admiral Amara had an emotional reaction to this gesture; would you have any idea as to why?
Stike: No. Emotional reactions are never logical, so it is pointless to try to determine what causes them using reason. Furthermore, I have no knowledge of any pebble that might have any significance, real or perceived, on the part of either Admiral Hastings or Admiral Amara.
(I ask a few more perfunctory questions and then end the interview.)
SPO has responded to my request for the mission logs. There's not much of interest in the logs beyond what Admiral Stike had already related. There is, however, a small note that then-Lieutenant Amara's life was saved by then-Lieutenant Hastings. This isn't unusual; I'm sure Starfleet Officers save each other's lives all the time. But it's a new data point, anyway.
I think I'm going to have to talk to Admiral Amara.
<end of part 1>