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J/A Runner-up: Resignation


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From: Commander Sean Gardner, Commanding Officer, Bernard IV Duckblind Research Facility

Sent: 239008.07

To: Captain Elizabeth Zaks, Commanding Officer, USS Intrepid

Subject: Resignation from Starfleet

Dear Captain Zaks,

I regret the need to write this letter; however, after much reflection, I’ve concluded that I cannot return to Starfleet in good conscience. I can’t turn my back on this world. Not while I know what’s happening here. As a Starfleet officer, and as a scientist, I have dedicated my career to the ideal of non-interference as enshrined in Starfleet’s General Order 1—the so-called “Prime Directive.” I now intend to violate that directive. As such, I offer you this letter tendering the resignation of my commission, and hereby renounce my citizenship within the United Federation of Planets, effective immediately.

Due to the nature of what I must do, I haven’t informed my senior officers or anyone else under my command. Dr. Lysander, Lieutenant Gale, and Ensign Tralen and their staffs have all performed admirably. They deserve commendations. The last 18 months have been difficult, and they faced the daily horrors and despair as well as anyone could have. I have never worked with a more talented research team, and Gale and her security forces have run a tight ship. I’m afraid my plan takes advantage of weaknesses in our security systems I only know about thanks to her reports.What I do today is done of my own volition and without their knowledge. Please, do not punish them for my choices.

Captain, I know you’ve never thought highly of me or my research into the people of Bernard IV. From your perspective, it will appear that I’ve simply lost perspective and allowed these people to get under my skin. At best, I’ll be seen as a misguided academic. That doesn’t matter. I need to document the decisions that led me to this point, at least as much as I can in this letter. I don’t expect you or anyone else to agree with my decision, but my story should be written somewhere. It’s unlikely I’ll have another chance.

My career has been built on the study of the inhabitants of Bernard IV—The Paragons.I was a Lieutenant Junior Grade aboard the USS Turing when Starfleet first discovered an intelligent civilization in this system 20 years ago. I was arbitrarily assigned to oversee the deployment of the probe the Turing left behind, but over the months and years following, I published analyses of planetary communication and made a name for myself in many Starfleet journals. I eventually argued that the Paragons were on the verge of reaching planetary unity and discovering warp travel and that within a generation, they would make ideal candidates for first contact, and even for entry into the Federation.

Within a year, I accepted transfer to a listening post in the sector in order to dedicate myself to a full-time study of the Paragons and their development. As an anthropologist, I have studied dozens of near-warp worlds, but the Paragons seemed to be living up to their chosen name. While nearly every other race in the quadrant has managed to unite after centuries of bloody war and apocalyptic scenarios involving weapons of mass destruction and genetic manipulation, the Paragons had enjoyed nearly a century of relative peace. The upper class Perfects, which had been dominant through most of the race’s history, had in the last few generations, intentionally redistributed wealth and power to the lower classes. While religious and cultural discrimination was still prominent in many parts of the world, wars were rare, and conflict brief. Even criminals seemed slow to resort to violence.

I spent years lobbying Starfleet to set up a duckblind facility on the planet, but after the incident in the Briar Patch, that kind of study became anathema to the eyes of the Admiralty Board and the Xeno-Anthropology Department at Starfleet Academy. Perhaps out of habit, I continued to periodically submit requests, but they never really succeeded. You can only imagine my surprise when, years after I had given up, I received word from Starfleet that they had reconsidered my latest proposal—sent almost three years earlier— after the publication of a report on the development of the southern continent’s space program confirmed that the Paragons were less than 10 years away from breaking the warp barrier.

I was promoted to commander and assigned a small team of researchers and other support officers to make my dream a reality. That would be when we first met. They say you can never make up for a bad first impression, and I suppose that trip to the Bernard system was proof of that. For what it’s worth, I offer a final apology for not coming to see you when I first came on board, or for not recognizing you as the captain when you came to my quarters. It was rude of me to treat anyone as poorly as I did you. I’ve always been too engrossed in my work, and at the time, I felt like I simply had too much to do to bother with “trivialities” like starship protocol. It had been over a decade since I’d been aboard a real starship, and had long forgotten most of the discipline my Academy instructors tried to drill into my head. After experiencing the burden of command on a much smaller scale, I fully understand why my behavior was so disrespectful.

Following the military coup that removed the Planet’s General Assembly from power roughly 18 months ago, the beautiful, peaceful world and its people I had come to love all came to a violent end as a no-holds-bar civil war erupted between the Perfects and the Paragons. If you haven’t read any of my reports, I’ll simply remind you that the Perfects represent a kind of spiritual caste among the Paragons who can be identified by the curve of their horns. While most Paragons have a set of four pointed horns which range from roughly 12 to 15 cm in length, the Perfects’ have two horns which are considerably thicker, and which curl around the sides of the head similar to those of the ram on Earth. In addition, Perfects tend to be taller and, physically, more imposing. These are all the product of centuries of arranged marriages effectively reflecting a kind of cultural selective breeding.

The Perfects are the ruling class of Bernard IV, but following a series of globalization-based reforms in the later part of the 23rd Century, most of the privileges assigned to them were removed from law. They continued to enjoy less formalized advantages over the rest of their species, but the formalized caste system was almost exclusively reserved for military service and spiritual worship. And even that was becoming less common.

Two years into our study, our monitoring algorithms began to notice encrypted communiques between Perfect military units in cities all over the world. It took us time to decipher and translate, but we eventually learned that the planetary General Assembly was on the verge of passing legislation that would remove military privilege based on caste; effectively a formal removal of the last great power the Perfects held.

For months, we watched with a sense of impending dread as the Assembly debate became public. Public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, but as each district voted in turn to adopt it, the Perfects planned a surprise attack. Bound by the Prime Directive, we were helpless to do anything to prevent the massacre that eventually ensued. Each of the planet’s five hundred general authorities were murdered. The few that survived the initial attack were forced, at the point of a rifle, to sign a referendum of martial law. They were never seen again, but we saw the Perfects’ internal documentation that confirmed their executions.

Within days, every major city on the planet was under the strict control of the military. Protestors were shot or arrested as instigators, but in the shadows, a large resistance movement formed and a bloody, one-sided war commenced to tear the planet apart. For a time, it looked like the resistance fighters had a chance. They had several major victories and, six months ago, managed to consolidate a large portion of their resources in order to liberate one of the largest cities from Perfect control. Rather than negotiate for some kind of peace, the Perfects used a series of nuclear charges to destroy the city, and to cripple the resistance.

We endured this all with the smug, self-assurance that that the Prime Directive was infallible, and that we, as Starfleet Officers, were bound to a higher set of principles than most. The Klingons or the Romulans or the Cardassians might have interfered, but not the Federation. We were scientists. We were sworn to observe and report, and never to interfere.

When the orders finally came to prepare for extraction several weeks ago, I wasn’t surprised. My last report had indicated that the last major pocket of resistance fighters had been captured in the southern continent, and that the new Perfect government showed no interest in continuing the development of the Space Program. If the planet and its people ever recovered from this war, it would be another century or more before they could muster the resources required to break the warp barrier. I had been wrong.

Worse, we had only days before learned that, after reinstating an antiquated, extremely strict version of the caste system, that more than 27 million Paragons—members of the lowest caste—had been summarily rounded up and shipped to death camps more efficient than anything I had ever read about. By last count, four cities have been converted for this purpose, and more than 40 million people have been summarily executed and burned in crematoriums that would make Earth’s worst genocides seem modest. Even now, I can see the distant plume of smoke coming over the horizon. Thinking about what it is turns my stomach. The world that once enthralled me is now an appalling nightmare. Instead of being known for peace, it will forever be known for this heinous, unparalleled crime against life, against the very universe itself.

After I gave the orders to prepare for evacuation, days seemed to pass by in a blur. We retrieved probes and scanners and other listening devices we’d distributed throughout the planet. It wasn’t until I authorized Lieutenant Gale’s request to replicate additional power packs for our limited supply of phaser rifles—just in case the Perfects somehow found out about us—that I first thought about breaking the Prime Directive. It was late into the night when I ventured into the subbasement and idly looked through the objects in our industrial replicators’ database. Medicines. Weapons. Vehicles. Batteries. Rare minerals and metals. With even one replicator, the remnant resistance forces might actually have a chance against the Perfects.

I tried, desperately, to dismiss the idea. It was treasonous. Blasphemous, even. The antithesis of everything I’d been trained to believe and uphold. But as the remaining days passed and we waited for your ship’s arrival, I was haunted by thoughts of the millions of dead Paragons who I could have saved. Worse, I was tormented by the ubiquitous understanding that I could make it stop if I would simply deign to step down from the pedestal I’d been standing on my whole life. After that, it was only a matter of time until I realized I had already made my decision.

So, as I sit here writing this letter in the middle of the night, I’ve already located a small cave in the mountains of the planet’s polar continent. I’ve already replicated and transported enough components to create a few site-to-site transporters and a dozen or so replicators. I’ve also beamed most of the duckblind’s emergency rations of food and medicine, several crates of phasers, tricorders, and 40 terabytes of scientific, medical, and technological information that can turn the tide of this war. I’ve also made arrangements for some of that data to find its way into the hands of one of the few surviving leaders of the resistance.

I understand that you may need to find me, and I won’t hold it against you if you try. You might even succeed. I’ve done what I can to mask my biosignature and those of the more unique alloys used in starfleet technology. I’m hoping that the interference from the magnetic disruptions at the poles will limit your sensors abilities to make detailed scans and the terrain will dissuade you from wasting too much effort on a manned search. And, of course, you’ll already be considering whether I’ve been misleading you with some of the details in this letter.

It’s my hope that this war can be resolved within a few more years. I don’t expect to survive, but I believe the world that comes out of it will be close to the one I fell in love with all those years ago.

It has been my great honor and privilege to serve the Federation and to wear the uniform I now leave behind. If I ever see you again, I sincerely hope it is a long time from now. Please thank my officers for their loyalty and service. I wish all of them the best in their new assignments.

Sincerely,

Commander Sean Gardner
Commanding Officer

Bernard IV Duckblind Facility




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