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History Repeating


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History Repeating

"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it"

Winston Churchill

Myra hefted her hoe at the frozen ground, trying to break it apart to get at the valuable roots beneath. It was hard work for a woman of her age, though. Last night had been the first frost of the year and the fields around their village glittered white under the weak sunlight. Winter’s Breath they called it. Pretty soon the snows would come and then the colony would have to rely on the food they’d had stored. At least until the supply ship arrived.

Myra shivered a little at the thought - space ships always brought back unpleasant thoughts, nightmares from her childhood, of that mad scramble from the sol system.

She tucked a lock of grey hair back behind her ear as she looked up into the bright sky and stretched her aching back - those memories were seventy years old now, and yet still they haunted her. With a sigh, she raised her tool without much enthusiasm.

* * *

Everything was red. That’s what she remembered most clearly, the red lights and the constant noise - of alarms, of machinery, of people. Of panic.

Her mother was terrified, crying almost, as they crammed into the shuttles to evacuate Jupiter Station. Myra couldn’t remember why they’d been there and not on Mars, some sort of conference her mother had been attending maybe. But she was glad they were - the view screens as they ran through the station were showing pictures of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars being ripped apart by the flames of Sol’s supernova. She hoped her father was alright.

They were flying now, out in space, she was pressed against a bulkhead in the cargo bay, so many people were packed in here it was hard to breathe. She could still see one of the screens, though, and the images of ships being engulfed by the expanding ball of fire as they tried to flee. And then it was their turn, the voices around her turning to shrill screams as the bulkheads melted away, Myra’s mother burned in front of her and she was torn between the incredible heat of the star and the deathly ice of vacuum. Everything was red…

Myra awoke, gasping. The old dream again. She wrapped a shawl around her thin shoulders and walked from her bed to the window. The landscape outside glowed under the light of the two moons. Snow had been falling for about a week now and the supply ship was already overdue, something which Isaac had been moaning about for days much to the annoyance of the rest of the colonists.

She poured herself a glass of cold water and sipped it as she returned to bed although she hoped she wouldn’t return to sleep after the nightmare. They’d survived, of course. Their shuttle and most of those who had evacuated at the same time had managed to get to warp before the supernova destroyed Jupiter. They’d never heard any news of her father, though - he’d been at Utopia Planetia, just one name amongst billions.

Myra lay down and pulled the covers up to fight off the chill. Seventy years. So much had changed. Slowly, reluctantly, she fell asleep.

* * *

“They’re not coming! They’ve left us all to starve to death, if we don’t freeze first.”

Isaac’s voice boomed around the little hall causing a flutter of murmured conversations to start up.

“Yes, thank you Isaac. I think we’re all aware of your view on the matter.” Ansell waved the younger man back to his seat. “The supply ship has been erratic these last few years, it’s true, but the Bolians have never let us down before. They always come through.”

“What if they can’t?” A voice from the gathered colonists asked. “What if those rumours of civil war were true?”

Myra turned to get a better look at the speaker and was surprised to see it was Ivy, the woodcutter’s daughter.

“You know what they said last year, Mr Ansell, we all do.” Ivy continued. “It’s chaos out there, the Federation barely exists any more. What little the Cardassians and Romulans haven’t taken is falling apart. I think Isaac could be right, I think they’ve forgotten about us. Maybe not just our colony, but maybe all the humans, everywhere.”

This time there were more mutterings of agreement as Ansell gestured for quiet.

“I know things have looked bad since Andor broke away, but the Federation is still strong. They wouldn’t deliberately abandon us, I’m sure.”

“Perhaps not.” Ivy conceded. “But what if it’s not deliberate? Maybe their resources have run low, too low to supply an isolated colony like ours. Or there’s another war, the Klingons trying to take back a star system or two. In any case, we can’t just assume they’re going to come eventually. We have to make alternate plans.”

“Aye,” grumbled Isaac. “I’ve been telling you straight for the past two years the same thing, Ansell. We need to move out, find one of the other settlements and group together. We can’t survive scattered like this.”

Ansell looked uncomfortable. He had never been keen on confrontation, Myra reflected.

“There’s no need to be hasty…”

“Hasty!?” Isaac’s thundered. “We’ve been here for thirty-odd years, man! Myra’s hair was red the last time we had any serious talk of moving the colony, and you want to talk about hasty?”

Ivy spoke up again, trying to disperse some of the hostility.

“We need time to plan and prepare, don’t we, Mr Isaac? It might be dangerous to move with the winter coming.”

Myra sighed. It was always the same, these meetings. Isaac would shout, Ansell would mutter and nothing would change. Although this time Ivy’s interjections were a new element. Perhaps the other members of their community were starting to take sides after all these years.

The meeting broke up a few minutes later, with Ansell’s ‘wait-and-see’ approach still in place, albeit hanging by a thread.

She let the people drift around her as she cast her thoughts back over the years to another meeting, similar to this one in so many ways. She’d been a teenager when those first cracks had appeared in the unity of the Federation. Her mother had been a diplomat, suddenly thrust up the ranks after the death of so many of her superiors. They’d travelled to Vulcan for the great debate on what should be done, the decision to found numerous small colonies on different planets rather than a new Earth.

But the Andorians and the Vulcans had been in conflict even then, the Vulcans content to pick up the pieces while the Andorians warned that their old enemies would take advantage of the Federation’s weakness.

It was obvious, in hindsight, but wasn’t everything? Myra sighed again and slowly rose to her feet, starting the slow, careful journey through the snow to her home.

* * *

Councillor Frith was grinding her teeth and Myra fancied she could hear it even from the viewing gallery. The place was familiar to Myra, as much a memory as it was a dream, but the faces of the various Councillors around the table were faded and indistinct, eroded by time. Only her mother’s features remained clear.

There were four figures around the central table and the Andorian woman, Frith, was clearly trying to keep her anger in check as T’vor droned on and on. Myra remembered her eyelids had begun to feel heavy before Frith had slammed her fist down on the table and brought the whole room to attention.

“We waste time here, Councillors.” She said. “Finding new homes for the surviving humans is important, yes, but if we do not look to defend our borders they might not have any planets left to house them.”

T’vor’s look was condescending.

“Do you want us to declare war on the Klingons because they might try to invade a few planets, Frith? It is illogical to assume so - the Klingon Empire has long been our ally and they would not wish to see another conflict. And we only have limited resources as it is.”

“I know just how limited they are, T’vor, so don’t try to lecture me. I know how many ships were lost in the Sol system. But those we have left should be guarding our borders, not ferrying homeless humans around the quadrant.”

Myra remembered her mother looking sad at this although she said nothing. Everyone knew the humans had all but lost their voice in the Federation now, so few of them remained.

“It may be that both of you have a point, Councillors.” Phanale, the Tellarite, cleared his throat. “We need to prioritise which…”

“I’ll tell you what’s being prioritised.” Frith cut him off. “The Romulans are deciding which undermanned Starbase they should attack first, and the Cardassians are prioritising which of their old colonies they’d like back.”

“Our defences are adequate,” the Vulcan responded. “And we will strengthen them as soon as we have settled the internal issues that face us.”

Frith was on her feet now, her voice raised. “You’re not getting it into your Vulcan skull, T’vor. We need to do something to show we are not weak.”

“Logically…”

“Don’t start with logic! It was Vulcan logic that said Sol wouldn’t go nova for months, your logic that put so many Starfleet ships in that system at the wrong time. Your logic doesn’t have all the answers, you need instinct, and my instinct tells me Andor would be better off looking after her own borders.”

Phanale’s attempts to call for calm were drowned out by the angry voices from around the chamber. Myra had remained in her seat, afraid at what was happening around her, watching her mother as she began to cry as the dream faded away.

Myra awoke in the darkness again and rubbed her eyes, yawning.

Ansell was like the Vulcans, she decided. He wanted to keep everyone together, keep them safe. Laudable aims, to be sure, but sometimes something more had to be done.

Isaac was more like the Andorians, desperate for action, any sort of action, rather than standing idly by and hoping for the best.

And in the middle poor little Ivy, trying to see both sides of the argument, like the poor little Tellarites, left trying to hold the Federation together. After the destruction of Earth the role of the mediator fell to the Tellarites, and it was a role they were ill-suited for.

* * *

The sky was clear, the sun shining bright, reflecting from the deep snow with a painful glare. The air was colder than Myra could remember as she wrapped her furs tighter around her thin body, doing her best to ignore the constant gnawing hunger in her belly.

The supply ship was two months late now and their supplies all but exhausted. Isaac had taken almost half of their small stores when he had led a group of colonists north to find one of the other settlements. The schism in the village had finally led to a split - those who were willing to weather the storm in the place they knew, and those who would risk it all for a salvation that may or may not exist.

And now those who remained were dying. Myra had seen death before many times over the last seventy years, but they had always been fast; the instant annihilation of the nova which had claimed her father, the burning death of war that had taken both her first and second husband, the horrific poison which had murdered her mother minutes before help could arrive.

But this slow, terrible death of her friends was worse than them all.

“Myra.” It was Ansell, his normally bright eyes now sunken and dull. “I fear I’ve doomed us all, haven’t I?”

Myra smiled as best she could. “We had the choice, Ansell, to stay or go. And we chose to remain.”

“But if I’d persuaded Isaac to stay, if we’d remained united, we’d have stood a better chance.

“I can’t argue with you there.” She shook her head. “But you were doing what you thought was right.”

“I should have compromised with him, I realise that now. I’m too stubborn for my own good. And now we‘re all suffering for it.” He sighed, his breath streaming out in the cold air. “You shouldn’t be out here, Myra, at your age. Let’s get you into the warmth.”

Myra acquiesced but before they had gone more than a couple of paces a shout from Ivy made them turn around.

“A ship! I see a ship! It‘s coming this way!”

Myra and Ansell exchanged a look.

“Could it be?” Ansell’s expression see-sawed between hopeful and incredulous.

By now others were pointing and shouting but it was another minute before Myra’s eyes could pick out the dark shape descending from the atmosphere.

“That ship…” Her voice was hesitant, images from old dreams were surfacing at the back of her memory. “I’ve seen ones like it before.”

“Well of course you have, Myra.” Ansell chuckled. “They come every year.”

“No, not this one.” The ship was lower now, green metal landing struts starting to unfold like insect legs. Other colonists were starting to mutter as a sense of unease grew. “It’s not a Federation ship.” She turned to Ansell, her eyes wide. “It’s Romulan!”

Several of the humans screamed and fled in panic as the ship settled between the houses. Myra felt Ansell take her hand as they watched. They knew there was no point in running as there was nowhere to run to.

“It’s over, then.” She looked up, tears in her eyes.

“Maybe we would have been better leaving with Isaac. Perhaps we would have stood a fighting chance.”

“No.” Myra disagreed, shaking her head. “No more fighting.”

A ramp descended from the ship and armed Romulans spread out, rounding up the settlers. Myra heard the sound of shooting. An officer of some kind emerged from the ship, the sunlight glinting off the polished medals pinned to his uniform. He raised his voice to shout.

“Terrans, this planet has been claimed by the Romulan Star Empire. You are now subjects of Imperial rule.” His smile was as cold as the ice which surrounded them. “Remain where you are for processing…”

Lt Sinda Essen

Chief Tactical Officer

USS Drake

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