If the Klingons or Romulans had implanted a device aboard the Enterprise meant to take over all ships functions in order to fatally compromise our recent war games, it would at least be understandable. After all, they are the enemy.
And if during such a takeover, the enemy leader had taunted Jim Kirk and called him useless, Im not even sure it would have been reported by the media. Certain behaviors are simply expected of ones enemies.
If that vicious plan were to reach its fullest fruition, and Enterprise were to become the instrument of another Federation starships destruction, then we would all be saddened and shocked, but not surprised. So much loss haunts Starfleet, even for our vaunted Constitution class. The loss would have been a great tragedy, but certainly not a great travesty.
Would anyone have even paid attention to the part of the report where Jim and his crew overcame the device and managed to regain control of their ship? I wouldnt have. I would have laughed and said thats just what Jim Kirk and his bunch do. So would most people. The captain and crew of the Enterprise didnt gain their reputations by having good press agents.
Now, lies the crux of the problem. No enemy, nor any subterfuge was involved in the events of the past few days. No vast conspiracy to topple Starfleet or one of its ship. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and Richard Daystroms road was well paved.
But the decision to implement the M-5 Project was mine alone. No politician sat over me, on behalf of some defense contractor. None of the brass expressed any interest in the project except to see how the M-5 performed during the war games situation. I approved this project, and it is I who bear the ultimate responsibility for its devastating failure, a failure beyond the abilities of God and Nogura to change.
I knew almost before he spoke. He doesnt merely hold me responsible for the M-5. Jim Kirk blames me. As though all the dead on his ship, mine, and the Excalibur were executed by my order, and by my very hand.
How dare he? Does he have any idea of how I felt, during that battle? I watched a ship of the line go rogue. I watched another die. The lines were flooded with calls begging for my command to terminate the rogue. I gambled everything on the thought that something other than Human malfeasance was behind Enterprises terrible actions. I won that bet, but the primary beneficiary of that wager seems to dismiss what I did, almost saying that I should be grateful only one ships blood is on my hull. Oh, Jim. What the hell was I supposed to have done to prevent all this?
In tests, M-5 checked out, so I have no fault there. As to Daystroms stability, well, geniuses run that way. Everyone knows that. As to picking Jim, I think anyone else would see the honor involved. I mean, if I had chosen a lesser captain or a lesser ship to run this test on, what would have been proven? M-5 needed to be as good or better than our very best. All right, so the Dunsel comment was unworthy, and probably poorly timed, to boot. But it was merely a joke, damn it, just a God damned joke. I know now that M-5 was a flawed machine, built by a brilliant but deeply flawed man. But knowing it now will not bring back the dead.
I know now what I must do.
I have learned what General Pyrrhus meant, after driving the Romans away from Dacia. The victory of gaining valuable information from this terrible tragedy seems no victory at all. Since there have been military leaders, only one civilized option is allowed to those leaders whose pursuit of goals ended in disastrous failure. It is with a heavy heart that I now choose this option.
Commodore Robert Wesley leaned back and rubbed his eyes. Then, picking up his stylus again, began drafting his letter of resignation.
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
2266-2270 The First Mission
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website