30 Here Be Dragons
The map shone on the display, a complex grid intersecting star systems across sectors spanning the entire wheel of the galaxy. Federation callouts interwove the galaxy with the claim of history's greatest known civilization; and her search for self-knowledge, just beginning.
It had all changed after the Beta War. The victorious Federation had equipped its fleets with quantum slipstream technology, and had defeated its enemies with swift and final justice. Applied with Federation governance, the heady mixture of technology and enlightened civilization absorbed empires, suns and hearts like nothing the galaxy had ever known before – nor would likely ever know again.
Admiral Harry S.L. Kim of United Galactic Federation Starfleet Command Security turned his attention from the great map to his high view overlooking San Francisco Bay, swathed in an unexpected late afternoon fog. On his desk, a single PADD, the weight of its secured data heavy on his shoulders. To Harry, the small device signaled the Federation's most destructive, most insidious security threat in its history:
Overt Federation dominance in space and on the ground had long converted its enemies to strategies of undermining from within; silently striking through proxy, stealth propaganda, espionage, and terror. Ferreting them out proved an endless task; in the free society of the United Galactic Federation, some were always free to identify with resistance to convention; how far they took it, impossible to predetermine, was only identifiable after the fact.
In Harry's view of the Federation, freedom relied on diverse community; empowered individuality; and voluntary
responsibility to the greater good. This would always exclude certain individuals, who resisted such as an external imposition of authority; and who, for whatever reason, felt they had no power of choice; or who self-destructed as their only expression of power. And sometimes they just needed to serve their self-interests through the ruthless destruction of others. Militaries, races, politics, economies, laws, lanes, cultures, customs - only the gamepieces changed.
These threats continued to harass and undermine Federation integrity; yet of course rooting them out before they acted had always proven beyond the purview of the Federation Charter, and Starfleet Security. A catch-22 and inherent flaw in Federation policy – yet one which preserved the very freedom afforded by the Charter. The weakness inherent in every strength. Despite this, Harry continued to believe weakness that erred on the side of freedom was far preferable to one which erred on the side of authoritarian rationale, illusory conformity and the trappings of state.
He took his cane so he could stand a little longer looking at the familiar view of the bay. While he ordinarily didn't indulge in sentimentality, he found it creeping in for a moment now. He could have used someone to talk to; but all his real friends had passed on over the decades. Despite the technology filtering through his battle-scarred, timeworn musculature, and the authority of his stately gold-piped admiral's uniform, age continued to take its toll. A small price to pay, for his part in making that map.
“Hero of the United Galactic Federation”
. If only people knew him; if only they really
He had sent his staff home. Today was Founder's Day. A day of celebration throughout the galaxy. But Harry had no time for statesmanship today. No time for the hero's honor awaiting him on this day. He wanted to think in quiet. The greatest challenge of his long-spanning career lay upon his desk.
A single directive and authorization seal from UGF President Hov'Ett Iura. A single, unspecified, ordinary delivery manifest, for a cargo referred to only as S-22.
Harry wasn't supposed to know. But he had fought, as he had always fought. And he had won, as he had often won. The truth is, they needed him. They needed his security fleet.
So they included him. And the President promised him the fate of a traitor and enemy of the state, if he violated the trust. A fate, Harry knew, Iura was fully capable of delivering. Harry had learned too much about the lionized politico's climb to power to ever believe otherwise. And in the end, Harry would uphold his own values, his own oath to Starfleet, as he always had. The president knew this all too well; he could rely on the heroic Harry Kim to do his duty. All Harry had to do, was nothing. Do nothing, and uphold his oath. Do nothing, and preserve his honor, his position, his family and legacy. Do nothing, and preserve peace throughout the entire galaxy. Do nothing, and preserve his life's work and place in history.
As the worlds celebrated the greatest civilization in history, in a galaxy of his making, Starfleet Admiral Harry S.L. Kim looked out his solitary window at the mist, and leaned on his cane.
He had one thing more to face before the end of his tour.
President Iura had made the directive clear.
In this, our authority must needs exceed that of office and rank.
From orbit, we activate the unnamed device. Our targets, those who most threaten the Federation from within.
Their minds are wiped without their knowledge. All knowledge of the device remains nonexistent. As ordered.
The technique had been developed in secret, utilizing programming gleaned from a recovered Borg data nodule. Harry had learned it had been retrieved from drones of former J'naii, a species who first introduced the concept of psychotectic therapy to Starfleet. While the Borg had never successfully developed it as a weapon, Section 13 had recovered the data and innovated the technique for use against the ever-evolving terrorism threat.
Harry had studied the specifications. The technology utilized a mind-altering technique called 'remote psychotectesis'. With it, one could conduct a range of procedures; from minor neuro-associative restructuring, to selective engrammatic purges, to wholesale memory wipes – and do so from transporter range.
According to the directive from the President, Harry was to facilitate the secure transport of the technology to each and every Federation world; his purview lay solely in the logistics, and none of the implementation – or otherwise.
This would require the security resources of dozens, hundreds of Milky Way Class starships. And one hell of a cover. Provided, of course, by Section 13, the unofficial, unaccountable, untraceable rogue arm calling itself a Starfleet Security agency.
Harry considered the technology that could wipe out Federation and political enemies by remote; affording the operator complete plausible deniability. What could be done with such power? What should be done?
For the Federation, it would signify nothing short of violation of one of its principle tenets: the integrity of the individual. Not even the individual would be aware of the procedure.
So the question was – would the Federation apply its ideals when the going got tough? Or more to the point, would he?
Harry couldn't speak for the Federation; but on this day, he found himself alone, quietly weighing this decision that would determine the course of the future of the entire Galactic Federation. A responsibility borne by each and every individual involved in this directive. Harry, it would seem, represented the final person in the chain able to question the “Solution”.
In his heart he knew, that if their leadership defied the most fundamental tenet of the Federation Charter, then regardless of the consequences, or public ignorance, these powers-that-be will have violated – and forfeited - their mandate; they will have become hypocrites; and in the actuality of his knowledge, unauthorized and unfit for leadership. The Federation would become a lie; and the lie, the first harbinger of self-destruction. Being aware or unaware of the situation made no difference. Accepting it or denying it made no difference. This was simply the reality.
He wondered whether he would choose idealism or pragmatism. Yet he felt they no longer represented mutually-exclusive domains; but part of the same construct. Should I violate those principles
, he asked himself, even in order to preserve the body that holds them? Or allow the body to sicken at the cost of cold, philosophical ideals? If the enemy wins, who remains to bear those ideals?
Harry felt that reality was neither ideal nor separate from ideal. But in the question of whether civilization's ultimate authority was borne by artificial political constructs, or whether this leadership acknowledged its place in a greater cosmos, the universe in which Man still had no power over life and death? Then Man was no master, even of himself – and his authority, a lie. Even if there were no greater authority in the universe than Man; for Man to assume absolute authority would be a different proposition altogether – and one not likely to ultimately succeed, except in his own myopic, encapsulated worldview.
He would exist separate from the cosmos; and separated from that which gave him life, he would, in time, wither and die. In dignified finery, no doubt. Or perhaps in a glorious, violent self-destruction.
Harry had seen too much out there, outside of Man's domain, to call himself the ultimate authority of the galaxy. Which was precisely the difference between him, and the power-seeking politician in Iura.
As he watched droplets of the fog obscuring San Francisco Bay track down his window, Harry regarded the twin red crowns of the stately Golden Gate Bridge breaking through the mist, a sight he once worried he would never see again; and heard a voice from his distant past. The words came from his first captain to an eager young Ensign on a ship lost on the other side of the galaxy: Here be dragons, Harry. We can either fall off the edge of the map, or cry damn the photon torpedoes and full speed ahead.
Harry commands the Milky Way starship himself. But in this, his authority today will exceed that of his office and rank.
From Earth's orbit, Harry activates the unnamed device. His targets, those who most threaten the Federation from within:
Those in his own circle of conspiracy.
Their minds are wiped without their knowledge. All knowledge of the device remains nonexistent. As ordered.
After programming the transporter, he targets the final threat to the United Galactic Federation:
Admiral Harry S.L. Kim of Starfleet Command Security.
Harry drifts to his final sleep. The last thing he sees is an indicator, reading that a cargo shipment transport pattern has been coded to wide field dispersal with no rematerialization sequence. Item: S-22. Reason for disposal: Containment failure.
He utters his last command:
“Damn the photon torpedoes and full speed ahead.”