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Part of USS Sacramento: All Tomorrow’s Yesterdays

A City on a Hill

USS Sacramento / Cargo Bay #1 / En – Route to Starbase 72
Stardate: 2401.6.19 / 07.30hrs (Shipboard Time)
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Commander Nathan Allen stood, ramrod straight, before the assembled ship’s company of the USS Sacramento.

Resplendent in his Starfleet Dress Uniform, the Captain surveyed the faces of his crew with a mixture of pride and regret, a regret most deeply felt as the CO considered the twin, highly-polished Torpedo casings arrayed before him – both draped in the flag of the United Federation of Planets and bracketed by an honor guard.

A row of Holograms flanked the small stage that had been erected for the ceremony, each showing the likeness of a member of the Federation Science Team that had perished during the incident on Primar – Majoris #7 – when the Crystaline Entity known as “The Emissary” had been awakened and subsequently destroyed the ancient Reliquary in the Great Ost desert.

Taking the father of Lieutenant Commander Hyland with it on its long journey through the stars, towards its own parent, beyond the furthest reaches of the distant Gamma Quadrant.

Nate’s gaze strayed towards Samantha Hyland, standing to attention with the rest of the crew, in her own Dress – uniform. Her face was unreadable as she stood, eye’s – forward, but Commander Allen had seen the report prepared by the Ship’s Councilor and knew that his Comms Officer was struggling to deal with the ‘demise’ of her father – even though the consciousness of the brilliant Exo-Archaeologist Jonas Hyland was thought to have been preserved in some way within the substrate of the strange alien life-form. Loss was loss from any perspective.

~ Cold comfort in any case ~ Nathan reflected and cleared his throat to begin his address to his crew.

“We come together at this hour to honor our dead.” Nathan’s voice was clarid and purposeful. “We come together in this place to cherish the living.”

The Commander paused momentarily, to let his words sink in and then looked down at the Data – Pad that contained the speech he had so carefully constructed over the last couple of days – as the crew of the USS Sacramento dealt with the aftermath of the Incident at Primar – Majoris #7 and the subsequent political shockwaves that had emanated throughout the Primarion system and seen (in three short days) the downfall of the ruling Primarion Gerontocracy.

His carefully contrived words seemed so empty to him now.

When your God finally ups & speaks to you and tells you that your centuries of enslavement have all been the product of manipulation by an Elite Minority, civil unrest is all but inevitable. Surprisingly the instances of bloodshed had been relatively minor and the Primarion Armed Forces (mostly populated by the V’Saal) had quickly restored order and a state of Martial Law declared throughout Primarion space.

Unsurprisingly, the USS Sacramento had been asked, in no uncertain terms, to exit Primarion Space with all haste and Commander Nathan Allen decided that this course of action was the most jurisprudent, hence the California – Class Utility Cruiser was making best speed for home – space.

Nate turned off the device and his prepared words faded away.

“I was going to speak to you all about the events of the past few days.” Nathan sighed heavily, turning to look each crew member in the eye, “I tried to find words that would bring some meaning to what we have lost. But I cannot.”

He looked down at one of the flag draped coffins.

“How can I summarize the sacrifice of Crewman Jacinta Lawrence, cut down as she served as an Honour – Guard, representing the ideals of the Federation that she loved? Falling to protect her commanding officer. Never again to return to her loved ones?”

Nate felt tears welling up in his eyes, but his voice remained strong.

“I cannot.”

He turned then to look at the casket on his right, then to face Dr Abaywe Eboneke – the recently widowed Chief Medical Officer.

“What words could give credence to the ultimate sacrifice made by Ensign Jan De Vries, friend, husband and our protector? A young man that, without his courage and selflessness – no member of this ship would be alive today?”

“There are no words.” The CO of the USS Sacramento dipped his head somberly.

When he raised them again, his eyes were shining and there was a waver in his voice.

“Yet speak we must because their sacrifice is not in vain. Speak we will as we are the ones with the responsibility to remember and in that remembrance lend their sacrifice a greater meaning. Speak we do – because they are our family, now and always.”

Commander Allen turned to indicate the row of shimmering Holograms – remembering those that also fell during the destruction of the Reliquary.

“A family who embodies the best, most noble ideas of our Federation. A family who extends their love and protection to others – no matter the personal cost – as those ideals are at the heart of who we are and what we stand for.”

Nathan took a step down from the dais and went to stand between both caskets, placing a hand on each shining torpedo case.

 “My own words are inadequate to frame such a tribute to the fallen.” Nate nodded with finality, “So – I look to the words once spoken by another leader from Earth’s past. A leader that stood as a beacon of hope and duty to his people and also paid the ultimate price for daring to champion those ideals.”

Nathan recited.

“For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us–recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state – our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: “

“First, are we truly persons of courage–with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies–and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates–the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?”

Given the societal – shift that their intervention with the Primarion Gerontocracy had instigated, Nathan Allen was given to draw a parallel between these words and the fall of the B’Queth hegemony over the V’Saal that their creator had originally intended them to protect and nurture.

“Secondly, are we truly persons of judgment–with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past–of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others–with enough wisdom to know that we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?”

The activation of the sub-space network and the awakening of the Crystal Entity had been an eventuality that none could have predicted, but Nathan was painfully aware that this single act had become the catalyst for the devastating chain of events that followed, and he could not help but feel responsible for his part in this – at whatever remove.

“Third, are we truly persons of integrity–people who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them—people who believed in us– persons whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?”

At this his eyes met with those of Lieutenant Sorvak, remembering the moral anguish that the late Jan De Vries had felt regarding the B’Queth’s treatment of Representative Fur’an & his peers and the ethical quandary that had led to the taciturn Vulcan representing the accused the V’Saal’s rights in the face of the biased Judiciary in widely – broadcast court proceedings.

“Finally, that we are truly persons of dedication–with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the wider interest.”

Images of the Type – 9 Shuttle “Maidu” flashing heroically in the direct path of the approaching Primarion Torpedo’s and the brave young South African’s selfless sacrifice – framed by his final, defiant, Zulu War – cry.

“We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill – the eyes of all people are upon us.”

Commander Nathan Allen looked at his crew, so very proud of them all and concluded his eulogy.

“Today the eyes of all peoples are truly upon us – and Starfleet, in every branch, at every level, and in every jurisdiction, must be as a city upon a hill – constructed and inhabited by persons aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.”

“Thank you all.”

With that he bowed his head as the piper took up his bagpipes and commenced to play “Amazing Grace.”

https://youtu.be/gosw3PodEwA

 

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USS Sacramento

Bridge

En – Route to Starbase 72

Stardate: 2401.6.19

10.21hrs (Shipboard Time)

“Have I done the world good, or have I added a menace?”  Commander Nathan Allen found himself again drawn back to his musings on those famous words by the noted 20th Century Terran Inventor of Radio – Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi , some 18 days earlier – when the crew of the USS Sacramento had commenced the deployment of the first component of the Subspace Communications Net and had unwittingly set in motion the chain of events that had culminated in a veritable God rising from its desert slumber & angry mobs of furious V’Saal storming the Palace of the Grand Gentarch – intent on meting out summary revenge for centuries of subterfuge and subjugation.

From the reports that Nathan had been privy to, this had not ended well for the Grand Gentarch Verlan and certain key high – ranking members of the Gerontocracy, who allegedly had perished at the vengeful hands of the mob, before order was finally restored.

A tenuous peace now held sway amongst the Primarion people that the Federation had originally directed Nate & his crew to help, as the more numerous V’Saal and surviving B’Queth struggled with the implications of the shared visions that had been visited upon them all by “The Emissary” and took the first tentative steps away from that betrayal of centuries past & onwards towards a new societal model that favored Democracy over Autocracy.

Lieutenant Commander Hyland broke his reverie by reporting. “Captain, Incoming priority message from Task Force 72 Command. Flagged – “Eyes Only” Sir.” Sam relayed.

Nate thought that she looked tired, her fine features pinched and worn by the tribulation of losing her father and her shipmates.

“Thank you, COMMS.”, Nathan confirmed and rose from his command chair. “I’ll take it in my Ready – room.

As Nathan made his way to his inner sanctum, he prepared himself mentally. He had been expecting this communique – this close to Federation-space the conversation would be taking place in real – time – and was not looking forward to it.

As he sat behind his desk and looked around the space – Nate wondered if he would still be in command of the venerable old – California Class ship, at the end of the exchange.

 “Well, it’s better to do the thing you fear, than live in fear of it.” Nate reasoned and activated his desk monitor.

The holding screen was replaced with the face of Captain Edward O’Gallagher – Commander of Task Force 72 and Nate’s immediate report in the Chain of Command.

“Ed, I’d say I’m glad to see you – but under the circumstances – I’d say that’s probably premature?” Commander Allen greeted cautiously as he sat forward in his chair.

“Indeed, Commander, I have received news about the mission going southwards. I trust you know that your priority was to support diplomatic relations—might I add stable diplomatic relations? So sitrep, Commander, and you better have a goddamn good explanation!” exclaimed O’Gallagher.

Nate steepled his brow in his fingers momentarily – exactly what would constitute a “good” explanation for the conflagration of events that had spiraled out of control over the last few weeks?

“I’ll start by stating that, as the Captain of the USS Sacramento, I acknowledge that the responsibility for the mission outcomes and resultant casualties amongst my command, sits squarely with me Captain.” (Nate could see that O’Gallagher was in no mood for first – name niceties presently).

“I would however like to point out the exemplary performance of Lieutenant Commander Hyland and Lieutenant Sorvak for their extreme bravery in confronting and negating the Crystal Entity at great personal risk & loss – without those actions I believe that countless Primarion lives would have been compromised.”

Nate looked pained as he continued.

“I’d also like to recommend the posthumous award of the Starfleet Medal of Honor to Ensign Jan De Vries – for actions under – fire that ultimately saved the crew of the USS Sacramento at the cost to his own life. I would also like to recommend the posthumous award of the Starfleet Award of Valor to Crewman Jacinta Lawrence – who also fell in the line of duty, due to hostile action.”

“My apologies, Commander. Your crew’s sacrifice is greatly appreciated, and it will not be forgotten. Recommendations are currently in the process, to be presented by the Board of Admiralty themselves to the immediate family of the deceased,” said O’Gallagher with a solemn voice. Loosing members of your crew was something almost every captain experienced and went through, but it never gets easier.

“Secondly, I know you are taking responsibility for the mission outcomes, but I need some more specific answers than what you have given in your mission report, and you haven’t answered my question. Was there no other possible outcome for the scientists? Also, any updates on Dr. Jonas Hyland?”

“Away Teams dispatched to the Great Ost Desert, in the aftermath of the event, confirm the deaths of all of the Federation Science Mission during the destruction of the Reliquary by the Entity, Captain.” Nate confirmed with some regret. “A small number of B’Queth and V’Saal that were stationed at the site also perished I am afraid Sir.”

“On the subject of Dr Jonas Hyland, well that’s a more delicate prospect to unravel I’m afraid.” Nate shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “The after-action report submitted by his daughter and Lieutenant Sorvak confirm that, when the Away Team encountered the entity – the body of Dr Hyland had been all but partially subsumed. Scans revealed that the Crystaline structure had permeated through his body to a cellular level. However, it seems that Dr Hyland’s consciousness somehow was merged with that of the Entity, forming a hybrid consciousness. From what we gather Dr Jonas Hyland ceased to exist as a singular biological entity and now forms part of a group collective consciousness with “The Emissary”, Sir.”

“Extend my heartfelt condolences to the Hyland family. On the other hand, thank you, Commander. Your report has been received, but it will still be investigated by the committee, as all cases are,” said O’Gallagher.

 “I understand that the Sacramento has also destroyed the subspace communications array from your report. How was the news of the death of the Primarion citizens received by the governing body and its citizens? Has subspace communications been restored?” inquired O’Gallagher.

“Subspace communications are back to be limited to in-system traffic only Captain; if we are to link the Primarion to the Federation – then the entire in-system network will have to be re-instigated from scratch. That the last array was subsumed by the entity to propagate its signal and was indirectly the cause of many deaths – has left the interim forces in control of the Primarion system somewhere between suspicious to outright hostile towards the Federation I’m afraid.”

 “There’s still a job of work to be done to convince the Primarion that the ‘attack’ was not part of a Starfleet Black Op – which is one of the more prurient theories being circulated on Primarion Prime by the remaining B’Queth.” Nate looked tired beyond belief.

“As for the Hyland clan Captain, I’m afraid to relay that Samantha now represents the entirety of the Hyland Family – but I’m sure that your condolences will be of great comfort to Sam at this difficult time Sir.” Nate allowed genuinely.

“As it happens, Lt Commander Hyland has put in for a transfer to another command. Given what has transpired and the associations that must come from remaining aboard the USS Sacramento, I must say that I sympathize – to be honest.” Commander Allen allowed levelly.

“Sam’s a damn fine Officer and I’ll be sad to lose her – but she recently made Lieutenant Commander and quite frankly is wasted as a Comms Officer Sir.” 

“I’ll have a look into it, Commander, I’ll put in a good word for Lt. Cmdr. Hyland if I can. Another ship will be dispatched to deal with the matter, so it’s out of your hands. We can’t risk further decaying relations with the Primarion,” replied O’Gallagher. “On another matter, how did you deal with the media? And how is your crew holding up? Condolences, Commander.”

Nate nodded his assent with relief, given the negative outcomes of his mission – it gave him some small comfort that, at least, one person’s life could be improved from this ‘Hesperian’ mission.

 Nate admitted, “God knows, since Frontier Day – I guess the Fleet needs all the help it can get.”

Nates thoughts went back to his own native Mars and the Martian – born and bred Officer reflected on his own personal loss, encompassed by the near – destruction of his Homeworld.

“We’re glad to be headed home, to be frank, Captain.” Nathan allowed – obviously so very exhausted by the combined trials and challenges of the last few weeks.

“Somehow, I think it will be a while before the Primarion forgive the damage done and open their arms to the Federation once more. We came in peace, but somehow, we seemed to leave with everything in pieces.”

Commander Nathan Allen considered his clasped hands – at a point like this, what else was there to really say beyond such verisimilitude?

“Nothing really does go our way. Speaking of, meet me at my office the moment the Sacramento arrives at Spacedock. The committee board and I will be reviewing your actions during this mission; the worst they can do is give you a reprimand, but do not worry. The Sacramento will be still yours to command,” said O’Gallagher.

“The XO will be meeting you at Spacedock. Captain Williams will be there to assist you to my office. I’m sorry, Nathan,” said O’Gallagher, with a solemn voice.

Commander Allen grimaced, if the Task Fleet CO thought that Nathan was truly sunk, he’d come to escort him in person. That he was dispatching Captain Williams instead, Nate took that as a sign that his ultimate fate would not be, in fact, career ending.

“I appreciate that Ed.” Nathan nodded to the Task Force CO. “With the damage sustained, we are making best speed and should make Spacedock in another 2 days – I’ll be sure to keep Captain Williams appraised of our progress and meet him when we disembark. Allen out.”

Commander Nathan Allen closed the link and the face of Captain O’Gallagher faded from view.

Nate drew a long breath and then reached down to retrieve a half – full bottle of fine Kentucky Mash, from the drawer in his desk. He poured himself three – fingers and went to stand at the small viewport that accompanied his office.

The starfield streamed aft – the light of the stars elongated to vivid tendrils of brilliance as the USS Sacramento made its way homeward at Warp.

 Nathan took a sip of the whisky, savoring its rich, slow burn in his throat as he reflected on this recent exchange with Command, the chaos of the last few weeks and of all that had been lost.

He looked to the stars and wondered where the Entity, carrying with it the memories and consciousness of Dr Jonas Hyland, was right now – as it made its lonely progress through the frozen void?

Commander Nathan Allen sighed deeply, reaching out to pat the superstructure of his tough, old ship fondly and raised his glass to the USS Sacramento in a wry toast.

“Well, here’s to you – old girl.” Nate tossed back the contents of the glass. “You brought us through it all, once again.”

Nathan rolled the empty glass between his strong hands and added levelly with a small smile on his lips.

“Something tells me that we’re going to be continuing our voyages together for quite some time to come.”