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The Last Star Trek: Chapter Seventeen - Decision Time

...If those….things ever get out into the galaxy, it could mean the end of all civilized life as we know it. With their….unique method of breeding, it would only be a matter of time before they took over everything; Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans…All would fall before such a relentless onslaught. We can’t allow that to happen. In the face of such a threat, maybe the Prime Directive doesn’t apply...

The crew of the Enterprise engage in the most important philosophical debate of their lives.

If this is your first encounter with Brian William Neal's lavishly exciting space adventure click on The Last Star Trek in the menu on this page and begin reading at Chapter One. Do strap yourself in for a thrilling ride through space and time!

Immediately after returning from the surface, Kirk called a meeting of all the crew. When they had all watched the recording Spock had made of the alien’s message, Kirk addressed them without preamble.

“I don’t believe there’s any reason to doubt the truth of what we’ve just seen, given that we ourselves have met two of these creatures,” he said, looking at the others as they sat around the conference table. “Nor can there be any doubt that we, as the people on the spot, are the ones who have the responsibility of doing something about it. The question before us now is, what?”

He paused, then said, “I would appreciate any suggestions anyone might have.”

They looked at each other, then McCoy said, “Well, that’s what I’d like to know, too. Just what is it we’re supposed to do, Jim? The alien in the message said that they had no warp drive. Maybe the guy who escaped had something like it, maybe not. But from what the alien in the message said, he sure as hell didn’t share it with any of those who remained behind.”

“A reasonable assumption, doctor, although flawed in one vital aspect of its reasoning,” said Spock. When McCoy looked enquiringly at him, Spock went on. “If you will recall, the messenger also said that the creatures have the capacity to learn, a capacity that approached his own people’s. Such a potential could conceivably give them an intelligence at least equal to our own, perhaps even greater.”

The others in the room absorbed this in silence, and Spock continued. “While we do not know how much time has passed since that hologram was made, it would nevertheless be prudent to assume that the creatures have not been idle.”

“What do you suggest, Spock?” answered McCoy. “That we sterilize the planet?”

Before Spock or anyone else could reply, McCoy went on. “How do you think that would sit with the Prime Directive? No matter how warlike or aggressive these creatures might be, they are still, by all accounts, a sentient race.”

“But Bones,” Kirk interrupted, “if we are to believe the alien, these creatures were created in a laboratory.”

McCoy looked hard at his friend. “So what? What difference does it make where they came from? Haven’t you heard of test-tube babies? Artificial insemination?” He paused, looking around the room for a moment, then went on.
“Look, regardless of their origins, they are now a species of sentient, living creature, populating this planet. We do not have the right to exterminate them just because we see them as a threat to ourselves, any more than we have the right to take the same action against the Klingons or the Romulan Empire.” He paused, and looked around the table. “And we all know that,” he finished.

They were silent for a moment, then Kirk said, “You put up a pretty good argument, Bones. Nevertheless, we have to do something. The alien in the message was right. It was just pure, blind luck that the alien ship crashed on LV-426. If those….things ever get out into the galaxy, it could mean the end of all civilized life as we know it. With their….unique method of breeding, it would only be a matter of time before they took over everything; Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans…All would fall before such a relentless onslaught. We can’t allow that to happen. In the face of such a threat, maybe the Prime Directive doesn’t apply.”

They were silent for a moment, then Spock said, “Captain, if I may…?” Kirk nodded, and Spock continued. “Although it is obvious that the creatures do not as yet have warp drive, and may not even be capable of piloting a spacecraft it is, as you correctly observed, only a matter of time. Contrary to what Doctor McCoy said, their creator did in fact develop a warp drive…”

McCoy broke in, “Wait a minute, Spock! We can’t be sure of that. The alien only said that the other’s ship ‘disappeared’ in a burst of acceleration. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he had warp drive, or even any other kind of faster-than-light technology. How can you be so sure?”

The Vulcan looked in mild surprise at McCoy. “It is obvious, doctor. If you remember, the alien ship was discovered on planet LV 426 in 2056, more than two hundred and thirty-five years ago. At the time, conglomerates such as the company that owned the Nostromo ruled the earth. When the sole survivor, Ripley, returned to earth some fifty-seven years later, the planet had been terraformed and colonized for more than twenty years.”

McCoy, exasperated with what he saw as the Vulcan’s long-windedness, interrupted. “So? What’s your point, Spock?”

Spock continued, completely unruffled. “My point, doctor, is that there was no sign of the alien ship when Ripley and the marines returned to the planet. Therefore, it is obvious that the Company had removed all traces of it prior to the colonists moving in and establishing a base.”

Kirk nodded in growing comprehension. “And if they got the ship, they also got its drive. But they somehow missed the other eggs Ripley said that they saw. Either that, or they were no longer there to be found, but had been moved somewhere else.” He turned to the Scottish engineer, who was sitting next to Uhura. “Scotty, you know more about warp drive than just about anyone, with the possible exception of Spock. Who invented it?”

Scotty looked at the Vulcan, who said, “Please, Mr. Scott. I defer to your superior knowledge.”

Blushing, feeling almost childishly proud of such high praise, Scotty smiled and said, “Well, captain, historical records show that it was Zefram Cochrane who first tested warp drive, usin’ a converted nuclear missile and establishin’ first contact with a Vulcan ship that was passin’ close to the earth at the time. But that was during a period of worldwide civil war, after the collapse of the conglomerates. Where Cochrane got the idea from is anyone’s guess.”

Kirk said, “That’s right. Cochrane never explained how he came up with the original idea, or the math. I always had my doubts about that, whether he had the ability to think of such a thing. He wasn’t a brilliant scientist before his invention, just average.”

Spock nodded. “True, captain. But the same can be said of Albert Einstein, before he presented his Theory of Relativity. A moment of clarity can come to the most average of minds without warning, and even without precedent.”

Kirk mulled this over for a moment, then said, “But the Company still could have taken the warp drive from the alien ship, worked out its secrets, but not had time to develop it before the collapse began.”

Spock said, “Quite so, captain. It is possible that Cochrane found the material that the Company had taken from the alien ship and developed the drive from it, rather than conceived the idea himself. History is vague on that point.”

There was silence around the table for a moment, then Kirk said, “So, if what Spock is saying is correct, then the aliens, having the potential to be almost as intelligent as their creator, could conceivably also develop the drive themselves.” He looked at the others, then continued. “I don’t need to tell you what that would mean, or the dilemma it leaves us with. On the one hand, if Spock is right, then we can’t take the risk that the aliens will eventually develop warp drive and get out into the galaxy.

“On the other, Doctor McCoy is also right; the Prime Directive prohibits us from taking any action that would interfere with a species’ development, let alone result in their extermination. What we have to decide is, are these creatures a sentient race that deserves a chance to evolve and expand, or are they, as the alien in the message said, merely a plague, a disease to be wiped out?”

The others, except for Spock, began to debate the issue hotly, some for one side, and some for the other, and Kirk leaned back in his chair. The problem nagged at him. Who did they think they were? How could they justify playing God like this, debating the survival or extinction of an entire species, and deciding whether they should live or die? On the one hand, the aliens were obviously sentient beings. Then again, they were created by another race, and were not the product of any natural evolution. Perhaps extinction was not necessary, he thought. Maybe some kind of blockade would be the best solution. Keep them isolated on their planet, and not let them out into the galaxy. As he formed this thought, he saw its flaws. As he himself had said, it would only take one to escape for the entire exercise to be rendered futile.

The debate looked like going on for some time yet, and Kirk groaned inwardly. He was tired; what he needed was at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, but as long as this question remained unresolved, it did not seem likely that he would get it.


***


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