From the Ashes
In Ops-15 the group of more than twenty Starfleet hostages, having been cooped into a tight corner for more than a day now without food or water, were beginning to show signs of discomfort and exhaustion. With the other officers looking up to her, Gracie Jones was doing her best to reassure the others and to appear unfazed by the situation.
Deimos, the attackers deputy leader, approached the group and on his signal a portion of the force field holding the hostages dropped. He stepped next to Jones, jerked her up and told her:
“My brother wants to talk to you!”
He ushered her into the adjoining office room where Phobos had set up court.
“Welcome Ms Jones. Please have a seat. Would you like a beverage?”, Phobos inquired with impeccable charm.
Jones shook her head and replied:
“I’ll pass. The other people over there could use it more. If you intend to keep us alive until your ultimatum expires, you need to feed your prisoners.”
“You are right, of course. I will make the necessary arrangements. I apologize for this oversight. My species has different nutritional requirements than most other humanoids.”
“I’ve seen Nausicaans eating a full table of servings”, Jones commented.
“I meant we can endure many days without sustenance. When eating however, our appetites can be quite enormous, as you have witnessed”, Phobos explained to her.
“Do you really believe that the Federation will yield to your threat?”, she asked the terrorist leader.
The Nausicaan studied her face for a moment before he stated:
“Come, walk with me, Commander.”
He rose from his chair and led her out of the office, passed the operations room and through another door into the large engineering bay.
Arranged in two rows along the cavernous room were a dozen spherical fusion generators, each more than four meters in diameter, resting on massive supporting beams. Large conduits were leading away from them, carrying highly energized plasma. The generators were each surrounded by a latticework and catwalks with computer consoles. They were giving off a low humming sound. Three terrorists were standing guard in different corners of the large room.
Phobos looked around, taking in the surroundings.
“Commander, what is this station’s compliment?”, he knowingly asked.
Jones, not wanting to play his game, replied:
“You seemed to be well informed. I think you know.”
“If you please?”
“About eight thousand”, she reluctantly admitted.
“Spacefaring people have learned to respect the dangers of warp technology. The intricacies of generating almost unimaginable amounts of energy out of a controlled matter-antimatter reaction. Curious, don’t you think. The idea that you could control one of the most violent effects in the universe and put it to good use. The idea that one can exert influence on nature without consequence. And yet the slightest oversight, the smallest miscalculation, the most minor flaw in design can turn out catastrophic. A failure of magnetic constriction, a misaligned dilithium matrix, a miniature coolant leak and one is done for. Countless people from countless worlds have paid the highest price for their quest to travel among the stars. If one bothers to look at the statistics you wonder why people set foot on board starships in the first place”, Phobos tediously explained while making grand gestures.
Then he pointed at the fusion reactors.
“But this, this is what nobody ever talks about. Fusion reactors. Although they are everywhere, powering homes, colonial facilities, even starbases such as this one. People consider them much more primitive, safe, docile. But if even one of these would overload, the resulting explosion would engulf everything within kilometers. Ms Jones, my engineer can trigger such an overload in all of them within a few seconds. Your people have no way of getting anyone off nor removing us by force, I am here to make sure of that. The loss of this station would be an even stronger blow to your people’s morale than the loss at Khefka IV. And I know how much you value the saving of lives. I think they will yield”, he contentedly said.
Jones mustered him for a few seconds before inquiring:
“What is your interest in this? Why are you here, you are a career pirate, aren’t you?”
“Is that an assumption based on prejudice, Commander? If some Nausicaans are pirates then all must be?”, Phobos countered, while beginning to walk on.
Jones ran after him.
“No, I remember you. From an intelligence briefing some time ago. Your name came up.”
“Touché, Commander. I am a pirate. I have been for thirty years. There is no more noble profession amongst Nausicaans than piracy”, he said.
“I don’t think that there is anything noble about it”, Gracie Jones responded cynically.
“How much do you know about my people, Ms Jones?”, Phobos asked her.
“I know that your government has long been in a constant mode of transition, that many of you live nomadic, working as bodyguards, enforcers, mercenaries. You are thugs, goons in the service of questionable characters. And those of you who sought a more ambitious career became pirates, ambushing freighters, raiding outposts and stealing whatever you could get your hands on”, she referred.
“Factually correct, Commander. But clearly you don’t understand our way of life”, Phobos commented.
“Please indulge me!”, Jones challenged him.
“The Nausicaans are a proud people, Ms Jones. We cherish our freedom over everything else, the liberty of doing whatever we want to do, going wherever we like, taking whatever we can take.
For people of the Federation, it is an achievement to excel in studies, to develop new technologies, to cure a disease. For us the greatest achievements are to live that freedom and take from others. You send your children to schools so they can be taught the laws of the universe. We teach them how to survive. The only law which applies is the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest. We take from others because we are stronger”, Phobos proudly explained.
“I think you are confusing freedom with anarchy”, Jones answered sharply.
“It is the way of my people. The Hirogen thrive on the hunt, the careful study of their prey, devising the most effective way to pursue it and eventually going in for the kill. The Klingons place great emphasis on the glory of battle, defeating enemies and dying for the Empire to honor their families’ name and to earn their place among the honored dead in Stovokor. We are not different, just our ways of leading a noble life are.”
“You can’t deny that your ‘noble’ life comes to the detriment of your victims”, Gracie Jones reminded him with bitter amusement.
“Like I said, only the strongest will prevail.”
“That is all nice and well, I thank you for the enlightening lesson, but it doesn’t explain your attack on this station, your demands are political”, she stated.
“The Gorn asked for our assistance when the Klingons attacked them, we agreed to help, but when the Hegemony fell many of our tribes lost their nerves. The chieftains thought it was meant to be a new path, allying ourselves with a strong power like the Klingons. But they deceived themselves. The Klingons outlawed our piracy operations, just as they did with the Orion slave trade and those of us who were still pursuing the ‘old’ ways were sent to penal colonies. Your people may not see the value of our traditions because you disapprove of them. But I can not stand idle and let them destroy what I am living for”, the Nausicaan replied.
“You want to fight the Klingons and gain your freedom, fine, be my guest and get off my station, because you aren’t going to accomplish anything here. The Federation is not your enemy”, Jones said angrily.
“The Federation did nothing while the Klingons forced the Orions, the Gorn and the Nausicaans into submission and became their loyal ally once again”, Phobos yelled back at her.
“We tried to get them to the negotiating table, get them to sign a peace treaty, but it failed and for our efforts we were rewarded with having to fight our own bloody war against the Empire. It only ended with the emergence of the Iconian threat. An alliance was inevitable”, Jones tried to reason.
Phobos sighed and gave her a weak smile while saying:
“It is regrettable that your opinion is clouded by the idea of the greater good. You must have Vulcan ancestors.”