DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2003 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG13.
A TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON: A PALE HORSE
Stardate: 3193.7, Personal Log. First Officer Spock recording.
My Fathers, hear the one who speaks. I humble myself before your wisdom and guidance. I seek arie'mnu and the serenity that comes from c'thia. I have studied the Tenets all my life and sought fulfillment in the grounding they have given me. But as I venture with the qomi'nim among the stars, I am constantly tested and challenged, for I realize that we are nearly unique in our philosophies and devotion to peace. I have witnessed such a case this day and I now seek your help to center myself and bring my emotions back into control.
It was not the fact of a five hundred year war that alarmed me so strongly, nor the fact that the Eminians and Vendikans had reduced their war to clean and mathematical lines, fought with computers. It was not even the fact that approximately 3 million Eminians died each year in this war. Indeed, being in their city, it was difficult to recognize that a war even existed, much less had become part of their daily lives for centuries. The city was clean and aesthetically pleasing, full of art and music, the people were prosperous and healthy, their businesses being carried on as usual. I saw no children, but we were largely confined to the governmental center of the city, and education and child care were likely active in other areas.
No, the thing that chilled me to the core of my being was the manner in which the war deaths were handled, for the Eminians had taken that to its highest and cleanest degree as well. There was no blood, no screams, no horror. The "casualties" simply stepped into a disintegration chamber and ceased to exist. I witnessed a couple saying their goodbyes. They embraced lightly and smiled pleasantly at one another, then the wife took her place in the chamber. The door closed, the activation light blinked a few times, then the door opened and the husband stepped in as well. They might have been transporting to an afternoon luncheon for all the emotion or stress they exhibited. And the technician who operated the machine looked almost bored. Simply another day of killing people. It had become that normal and accepted in this society!
It was while watching that cold-blooded scene of murder that the true horror of it all struck me full force. The entire purpose of that disintegration chamber slammed into me -- it was to dispose of bodies -- neatly, cleanly and with as little fuss as possible. It was a solution to the corpse problem. And a picture from Earth history blazed up to stagger me, one I had seen while studying the history of warfare at the Academy. It was an oven, swung open to show the ashy remains of burned bodies.
I had spent a half-hour in the sani vomiting. Not because of the sight of a dead body, but because of the obscenity that it represented. And it was not the only one. There were pictures of heaped skeletons on the killing fields of Cambodia, mass graves uncovered in Iraq, miles of bodies lying on the battlefield of Megiddo, the mountains of charred corpses in New Delhi following the climactic nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan that ended the Eugenics Wars, the twisted, frozen forms littering the blasted dome of Martian Colony 12 after the Revolt of 2132…
Commodore Wolfe found me in the sani after he dismissed the class. "Makes you sick, doesn't it, son?" he asked, his scarred hand on my shoulder. "Well, it's supposed to. That's why I show it. Don't feel bad. Villarreal didn't make it out of class before he puked, and Raynard fainted and fell out of her chair." He helped me to the sink to rinse my mouth. "I show it to illustrate how inhuman Terrans can be to their fellow man. And those were atrocities committed on non-combatants. On the innocent populations who just get in the way or are the wrong religion or color." His voice tightened. "I show those things to cadets so you'll understand why Starfleet is here. We're here to make sure it never happens again! To make sure we never forget!"
Never forget… The Eminians had forgotten, though. They'd forgotten what war was really like. They'd forgotten the true nature of war, that it wasn't computer games and impersonal casualty lists. They'd forgotten what death really meant.
I remembered something else I had read long ago in my mother's religious texts. It was about an apocalyptic war between the forces of good and evil during the final days of the world. It involved allegorical figures appearing to represent War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, depicted as riders on various colored horses. The last was Death…
"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the Earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the Earth."
For the Eminians, the pale horse was among them and they didn't even recognize it anymore. They'd made a pet of it. My stomach turned over again at the thought.
But their war machine has been destroyed now. Hopefully they will understand now and turn to peace. As I must now, my Fathers. Help me find it within myself. I evoke Surak's Benediction as I search for the Path of Life…
S'eshikh ki'sarlah spes t'shaula eh t'utan'es -- spes t'olozhika! Out of the desert came a voice of reason and compassion, a voice of logic!
The speaker has finished. I listen to the voices of Those Who Have Gone Before. May the Way of Surak lead this one back to peace.