A SEED TO START FROM
Previously: Episode Five
JUMPER’s LOG, Star Date 2268, February 4th (2 Years, 6 Months, 4 Days)
Sometimes the Universe sucks. Sometimes death isn’t the result of bad writing or evil. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. And often, it’s not alone. The Ultarian Hegemony was, at this time, a thriving, cosmopolitan unit that shared long borders with both the Romulans and the Klingons, as well as a small border with the Federation (Space is, after all, 3 dimensional… well, more so, but for this purpose, imagine two blobs marked Klingon and Romulan. Now put another blob on top of those two to form a somewhat amorphous pyramid. That top blob would be the Ultarians.) They were an old polity, having been in warp capable when the Vulcans first stepped into space. They controlled a hundred and twenty six systems, and had, at this time, a population of a quarter trillion. And the Hegemony, which had ruled (if neither wisely nor well) for millennia, was slowly falling apart.
The Process, known to Humans as “Balkanization”, is not traditionally a peaceful one. Rather than a single massive civil war or an amicable parting of ways, Balkanization involved a state fracturing into many smaller… and mutually hostile… successor states. The results can be and, almost invariably, are bloody. The Ultarians, who were distant cousins of the Klingons, much in the way Romulans and Vulcans are related, but less so, were fiercely territorial and clannish, but their technology had long ago stagnated and by this time they were lagging behind the Romulans and Federation and their military was spread thin policing internal regional disputes.
There were many competing factions, far more than any simple log can hope to detail, and in fact I am certain there will be many books written in the coming decades about what happened, but the factions essentially could be divided into four camps; Traditionalists, Isolationists, Pro-Klingon, and Pro-Romulan. The Traditionalists believed in the unity of the state and steadfastly refused to acknowledge the problems perceived by the others. Each group of Isolationists wanted their own system or group of systems to break away from the Hegemony and establish independent states… though there were often multiple Isolationist groups claiming the same worlds or overlapping sets of worlds. The other two groups were pushing for either partial or complete annexation by their favored political ally. There was, you will notice, an almost complete lack of Reformers, something the Hegemony drastically needed.
The Commissariat of Ultar, the supreme power in the Hegemony had sent a carefully worded and highly confidential letter to the Federation, in which they claimed to be interested in discussing joining the Federation, in whole or or in part. To that end, The Potemkin was dispatched with her sister ship the Lexington, under the command of Captain Robert Wesley, to Ultar Prime, with instructions to help, and if possible determine of Romulan Agents were behind the destabilization of the Hegemony. We arrived 7 days before everything went to hell.
Nuclear weapons are, in the grand scheme of things, fairly lightweight when it comes to starship weapons. They are the lasers of explosive weapons. They don’t really hold a candle to photonic, antimatter, or quantum weapons. For all that, however, they are frightfully destructive when used on civilian targets that haven’t been hardened against them. Space Age buildings are incredibly strong. They are built of the same hyper-tensile substances that space-stations are made from and built to withstand the worst most planetary environments can throw at them. Even force 9 earthquakes can seldom do more than shake them, and cyclones up to F6 have been known to do little to damage most of them, even on planets that lack weather control. But Nukes are not earthquakes, nor are they cyclones. The sight of mile high skyscrapers burning will haunt my memories for decades to come.
For most of the crew, Ultar Prime was a shoreleave. The issues the Senior Staff were dealing with were way above our paygrades and the planet was, despite the troubles, at peace, the center of an unstable but ancient polity. That ended on the 7th day when sixty seven nukes were detonate all across the capital city. 27 million people died in the ensuing catastrophy. I was 15 feet away from Kermit Trexler, my friend… when the first bomb went off. I heard the boom, jerking my head around. The second blast I didn’t hear before the wall of free electrons slammed into my friend, vaporizing him in an eyebright instant of time. Had I been closer, I’d have been dead too. Only the massive bulk of the building whose shadow I was in saved me. The heat was… impossible, the overpressure slammed into the building as I dropped to the ground, too stunned, deafened, blinded, to think about entering my warehouse.
For 18 days I worked, night and day, keeping myself going with more drugs than I want to think about, struggling to keep the wounded and irradiated and shellshocked from dying or giving up. I shuttled children in and out of my warehouse’s medbay as fast as I could, but there were always more, so many more. There wasn’t any heroism. There wasn’t a good outcome. Two thirds of the dead had just… vanished in atomic fire… and yet the dead that remained could have been used to build a mountain. I saved so many many lives, both through my skill and through dint of all the technological and magical wonders at my disposal. I didn’t hold anything back, not caring for a moment if anyone noticed… and yet, for every life I saved, I failed again and again and again. By the end of the first hour I was out of tears. By the end of the first day, I was out of anger. By the end of the first week, even despair had fled. I was a machine, the perfect Vulcan Logical Paragon.
My companions, four of whom had been vaporized or crushed or burned only to be restored to life by the strange magic of Pokemon logic and the Warehouse, scoured the area of the city looking for survivors, bringing them to my aidstation or one of the others as fast as they could. But it was never going to be enough. Every Hospital in the city had been hit. Every, single, one. The seats of power were untouched. Every University, Museum, and Hospital… Public Parks, Stadiums, Malls…
I understand war. I’ve lived and fought it twice on both a personal and widespread scale. I’ve killed people and never looked back. But this wasn’t war. This was terrorism. This was the casual, brutal, and utterly callous taking of life. Nothing could justify what happened on Ultar Prime.
A day after we left the Ultar system, the humanitarian aid pouring in as medical ships arrived from all quarters, even the Romulans and Cardassians, I knocked at the door of our ship’s counselor. “I… I think I need to talk.”
Next: Episode Seven
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