On the Enterprise
, Jenny and Trip stood by the transporter’s controls as Sam waited. “Now that I know what you’re going to do, I can’t help but be a bit nervous.”
“Maybe think of it like leaping,” she suggested.
“Ready?” asked Tucker.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Sam replied, shutting his eyes tight.
“All right; let’s energize this thing,” replied the Chief Engineer.
The process of being transported was strange. It was close to leaping, but not quite. Sam – when he opened his eyes again – was on board an odd ship with an even odder complement. He looked around at the strange aliens, who had forehead ridges and weird hairlines. One, who was darker-skinned, came over to him. “Captain Archer, why have you insisted on returning?”
“I think we’ve got unfinished business,” Sam said, still uncertain as to which of the people he was with was Degra. He had been shown an image, but the aliens were so … alien. He felt unsure.
“When we last spoke,” an alien man who had been standing in the back came forward, “you claimed that the initial attack on your planet was morally wrong. But you must understand something; I didn’t build that weapon for morality’s sake. I built it to save my people. And I’m sure you would do the same if the roles were reversed. You would save your own people and your own skins.”
“Degra,” Sam said, hoping that he had the right person, “yes, it’s true, I said that.” A time traveler says yes to everything.
“And I suppose I can see your point. But allow me to tell you a bit about one of the young victims. You know, of the seven million innocent men, women, and children who were killed when your initial weapon was deployed.”
“I don’t see what that has to do with anything,” interjected one of the other aliens.
“Oh, I’ll listen,” Degra seemed skeptical, “but I hardly see where it’ll prove anything. Children are innocent; we all know that.”
“I’m not talking about a child,” Sam pressed, “Her name was Elizabeth Tucker. She was twenty-four. She worked as an architect; all she wanted to do was build. She wanted to make sure that everyone on Earth had a good home. Because even now, even though everyone is sheltered, there are still, sometimes, people, who are in housing that is substandard. Elizabeth – Lizzie’s – job was to help design new living spaces for them. These would be homes which would conserve energy. They would be spacious, airy, and light-filled. They would mostly have beautiful views. They would be located on grounds where people could grow flowers or even vegetables and fruits, if they wanted to. These homes would be where you could see wildlife, or other beautiful buildings. They would be comfortable, too. People would live with their extended families, or by themselves, whatever they wished. They would be sheltered from rain and wind, snow, and excessive heat. They would live their lives in dignity, beauty, and comfort.”
“Let me tell you something about dignity, beauty, and comfort,” Degra countered, “when my world tore itself apart, we weren’t thinking about such luxuries. We were thinking about survival
. This young woman’s death, I will, I will admit that it is tragic but it is not my –”
“Yes, Degra, it is
your fault,” Sam interrupted. “And if you try to hide behind some old cock and bull story about only following orders, then I’ve got news for you.” Sam’s voice began to rise, “we had a horrible chapter in our history, and six million people died. People tried to absolve themselves from responsibility, claiming that they were only following orders. Well, immoral orders should be questioned! They shouldn’t be followed blindly!”
“What did your people do with these ones who claimed to be following their orders that resulted in so much death?”
Sam calmed himself down before he responded. “We imprisoned them. And with the worst of them, we hanged them.”
“See?” the darker alien said to Degra, “They are primitives!”
“That all happened fifty – I mean, a hundred and fifty – years ago,” Sam explained. “Our justice system has evolved. But what those people did, it never became acceptable. Those casualties weren’t acceptable, and neither are these
“I don’t –” Degra began.
“Don’t let Lizzie Tucker’s death be in vain,” Sam implored. “You can end this now. Because somewhere out there, either on Earth, or on your world, or on any of dozens or hundreds or maybe even thousands of inhabited planets, in this galaxy or in any other one that harbors life, there is or there will be another Lizzie Tucker. Sure, she doesn’t have that name. And she doesn’t have that look and she doesn’t speak that language. She might not even be what we would recognize as being female. But she – that alien Lizzie Tucker – she’s got dreams, too. She also dreams of the people of her world living in dignity, and in beauty and in comfort. But the Xindi will never know her if you wipe out the humans. Sure, you might spot her, somewhere out there. But you’ll hardly appreciate her if you treat the original Lizzie Tucker’s death so damned cavalierly.”
Degra looked rattled. “Send him back to his ship.” He addressed Sam directly, “Captain Archer, I have nothing more to say to you. Do you for once think that I don’t feel any guilt?”
“Well, you sure aren’t acting like it!” Sam found himself yelling, and he wondered for a split second if those feelings were his, or if they were Archer’s. “Those guilty feelings, I bet someone higher up is telling you to just forget about them, am I right? Well, you shouldn’t,” Sam said, starting to feel the effect of the transporter again. “You should feel that
. It’s more important than any orders you’re taking!”
He stumbled as he reappeared on the Enterprise
. “You should –!”
“We should what?” asked Jenny.
“You should maybe prepare for peace, but for more war, as well. I think he can be convinced. I’m just not so sure he will be in time,” Sam said.