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Friday, August 14, 2015


Written by Frank McLaughlin

Revenge is a dish best served cold.-Klingon proverb

"Gentlemen, it is good to be back in power," Chairman Torrance announced to his cabinet. Long-suffering Unionists like himself, they all agreed wholeheartedly. The election of November Y188 had thrown the Federalists out on their collective ears or other body parts, and had restored the natural order of things, control of the Federation by the Union Party.

The Unionists were well into their fourth term in office when the Klingons came over the border in Y171, and had remained in power until the elections of November Y174. The attempt to end the War (and preserve the Union Party's grip on power) had collapsed at Olsen's Reach, and the Federalists had won power in a landslide, denying Baranov his second term. For the last decade, the Unionists could only wring their hands in frustration (or in shame, as the Federalists saw it) while the Federal Party "won the war" (anyone knew that the Union Party would have won it just as quickly - and at lower cost!) and blamed the intelligence failures that led to the Klingon surprise attack on the Unionists.

But the War was over, and the Federal Party Line wasn't playing to the crowds on Aldebaran - or anywhere else. The Federalists had warned of ISC encroachment, but the Unionists had correctly shown the voters that the ISC was doing them a favor by keeping former enemies (and future friends!) at bay while each nation came to its senses and restored a progressive government unlikely to start wars by building a bloated military that would, sooner or later, have to be used. The Federalists had railed against no end of threats, from the Andromedans (who were a mystery, but only a minor annoyance) to the Xorkaelians (who had not raided Federation territory in years and might never return). Federal Party claims that the Klingons and Romulans were still threats did not resonate with voters, who were attracted to Union Party promises of a peace dividend. Demobilizing half of Star Fleet had been Torrance's first executive order, having come into office as a "New Unionist" who would take a realistic view of actual military needs.

The "New Unionist" label did not sit well on the Old Unionists of Torrance's cabinet. They were, in fact, firmly committed to their old policies of social reform, and were already using their majority in the Council to ram through a platform that raised taxes, reduced the war debt, diverted most of the military's budget to civilian programs, and launched a dozen new spending initiatives, all designed to help "the citizens" (and the Union Party). But what really irked them all was that they had to call themselves "New Unionists" to escape the blame for the General War, for the Klingon invasion not being detected in time, and for the initial defeats suffered by the military and those billions of citizens who spent the next decade under Klingon or Romulan occupation.

But that was going to change.

"I have a matter that I need to bring to your attention," the newly-appointed head of the GIA said. He had considered bringing this matter up privately to Chairman Torrance, and morally he should have, but Torrance really was a "New Unionist" and just might have decided to let the past stay buried in the past. The Old Unionists on his cabinet (selected for him by a "search committee" of party loyalists) could be trusted to bring the matter under the intense light of public scrutiny, where it could do the Old Unionists the most good. Most of those on the cabinet were the under-secretaries of Chairman Buckner's pre-war cabinet, and remained friends with their former bosses. Those former bosses were denied their proper role as "Elder Statesmen" due to the shame of their failures in Y171-Y174. Remaining under the mantle of disgrace, the Old Unionists were never invited to the Sunday morning trivideo programs, nor did they get their well-deserved sinecures on corporate boards and academic campuses.

"What's up?" Torrance asked. "Did you finally find a way to use the Roswell files to our advantage?"

That brought a chuckle around the table. Every administration to come to power for the last three centuries had been briefed on the long-buried secrets of their predecessors, and everyone here had seen those files when their party last came to power. The fact that the Roswell File had never been revealed to the public was due to the inability of any party in power to devise a way that its release could be used against the other party.

"No, not that," the GIA Director responded, "although I do have a team working on an idea or two." More chuckles around the table. Everyone had heard that one before. "What I found was this." He produced a stack of papers and passed them to his colleagues, who quickly circulated them. The document was brief and everyone had read it within a couple of minutes.

"If Star Fleet could just add engines to their existing ships, why didn't they?" the Minister for Agriculture asked.

"Sounds like all of the spare engines were stored at the forward bases," the Minister for Education responded. "They must have been destroyed or captured in the first assault."

"At least this explains why that first assault focused on our bases," the Minister for Defense theorized. "I had wondered why they didn't attack the mobile fleet elements first and pick off the bases afterwards. Now it all makes sense."

"Poppycock!" the Minister for Natural Resources snorted. "Listen, I am an engineer, and I can tell you that the ships were never designed for this kind of conversion. It just won't work."

"Why not?" the Minister for Justice asked. "Standard parts. It seems simple enough, and didn't we do that anyway with the NCA and the FFB? And anyway, I thought you were a mechanical engineer, not a warp field engineer."

"But I do understand the technology, and you don't, you twit!" the Minister for Natural Resources spluttered. "Let me explain. The warp field dynamics..." It took him all of ninety seconds to leave even the most technologically astute of his colleagues behind. Chairman Torrance shut him down after another minute.

"Obviously, this is a matter that deserves a full investigation," he said. "Did the military lie to the government about what it could do, or was the military so incompetent that it placed all of the parts for these conversions in the most vulnerable bases?" Left unsaid was the obvious - the General War, the surprise attack, and the initial defeats, had been the fault of either military incompetence or military fraud, but most definitely not of the Union Party.

"We need a blue ribbon commission to find out!" the Minister for Justice exclaimed. Everyone quickly agreed, knowing that their retired bosses from the Buckner Administration would get jobs on that panel. All except the retired defense minister and the retired head of the GIA, who could not take part (since the board members must be unbiased!) but who would be vindicated either way. An entire generation of Old Unionists would be restored to public favor at a stroke. All of them would be full professors and on several corporate boards within the year and, when the current cabinet retired, there would be jobs on idyllic university campuses (with plenty of golf trips for corporate board meetings) for them as well.

"That's not the best part of it," the Minister for Commerce noted. "Did anyone happen to read the list of names of the officers who prepared and signed this report?"

"I ran a check on the flag officers who signed it," the head of the GIA reported, "but they all died during the war."

"Read further. Down at the end. Lieutenant Commander - that's pretty low down, right? - Carstairs. Jonathan P. Carstairs."

"Oh my God," the Minister for Justice gasped. "Carstairs? That Carstairs?" Everybody at the table knew that Fleet Admiral Jonathan P. Carstairs, hero of Ribinax, was the name being spoken about as the next Federal Party candidate for Chairman.

"Yep, it's him," the Treasury Minister reported, holding up his PDA to show the entry from Who's Who. "He was on the Threat Board from Y160 through Y162." Things would change indeed.

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.