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) 2010 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.
THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE: THE WHITENESS OF THE WHALE
Stardate: 4043.5, Personal Log. First Officer Spock recording.
Obsession is a strange and very Human emotion that I do not feel I shall ever understand. As I stood with my fellow officers at the memorial service for the crew of the Constellation, I pondered how Commodore Decker's obsession nearly brought about the destruction of two starships and the loss of both their crews.
I must still have appeared troubled afterwards as we got underway for the Zeta Boötis system to investigate Klingon activity in that sector, for I noticed Captain Kirk eyeing me with a speculative expression on his face.
"You have the bridge, Mr. Sulu," he commented casually, rising from the command chair and heading toward the turbolift. "Spock, let's get some coffee."
His easy comment had an undertone that was more than a request and I obediently rose from my station and joined him. The Captain didn't say anything until we had retrieved our beverages -- coffee for him, chai for me -- and settled at a table in the officer's mess. It was mid-shift and the room was deserted.
"Okay, Mr. Spock, what's on your mind?" he asked.
"At the risk of opening myself to a negative comment, I would have to reply 'nothing'," I answered.
"Spock, I was watching you all through the memorial service and just now on the bridge," Kirk replied, his hazel eyes hardening just a bit. "I can read you like a book. What's bothering you?"
I sighed and surrendered. "I am puzzled by Commodore Decker's obsessive behavior and ultimate suicide in battling the planet killer."
Kirk gave a little snort. "'From Hell's heart, I stab at thee'," he said softly.
"Ever read Moby Dick?" he asked.
"Of course, sir. It was required reading at the Academy in the Human Psychology class. You know that. Why?"
"Did you get the point of the book? It was all about how obsession and revenge can drive a man to destruction. Ahab lost his entire crew because of it. Ishmael excepted, of course. The object lesson to budding starship officers was that we need to temper our determination with a bit of common sense and not let our demons take control of us."
"I would say that Commodore Decker lost control of that struggle," I commented wryly.
"Matt faced his own personal Kobiyashi Maru scenario with that planet killer. He did what he thought was best for his crew by beaming them down from a wrecked ship, then watched helpless as they all died. Can you imagine how that must have felt?"
"No, sir. I have no emotions to--"
"Oh, bullshit!" Kirk waved a dismissive hand at me and looked annoyed. "What did I just say about reading you, Spock? Think about it. Matt Decker was an outstanding officer and commander. He sat helpless on that ship and listened to the screams of his crew as they died while that thing sliced up the planet he'd just sent them to. Is it any wonder the horror and grief of it drove him insane?"
I allowed an eyebrow to lift slightly. "I suppose not."
"Afterwards, he was driven by a need to avenge their deaths at all costs. And he wanted to join them in death. That planet killer became his white whale. 'I spit my last breath at thee.' Maybe he became Ahab at the end, but sometimes there's no help for it. I know how he felt..."
The Captain's voice trailed off and his gaze turned inward. I suddenly knew that he was thinking back to his own losses ... watching Kodos the Executioner sentence thousands to death on Tarsus IV ... the loss of crewmates on the USS Farragut due to his own hesitation ... the death of his brother on Deneva ...
I watched him for a few seconds then said, "But revenge is illogical. It does not return the dead to life and it very often results in worse acts of counter-revenge that escalate into full scale war. Your own history is rife with examples. Pre-Reform Vulcan history is the same. It was only after Surak taught us to control our emotional responses that such acts faded into the past and made Vulcan the peaceful planet it is today."
"Alright, not revenge. Justice. Absolution." Kirk still had that determined expression that I knew so well. "That thing needed to be destroyed for the good of the Galaxy. It was headed for Rigel and who knows how many billions of lives would have been lost there. Who knows the trillions of dead it left in its wake ... how long it had been traveling ... where it came from..."
"I fully agree, Captain. The planet killer could not be allowed to go any further, but I still maintain that Commodore Decker acted illogically in his quest to destroy it. As I pointed out to him when he took command of the Enterprise in your absence, we should have retrieved you and the others from the Constellation, then gotten far enough away to contact Starfleet and call in other ships. He was determined to destroy it himself."
Kirk sighed and took a sip of coffee. "Well, the Human mind is not always logical, Spock. You know that."
"And, in an odd sort of way, Matt was doing what he had to do. It was the only way he could have died with any kind of peace in his heart." The Captain shook his head speculatively. "What I can't understand is why in the world anyone would create something that would turn around and destroy you just as surely as your enemies. I talked about the old H-bombs of the 20th century, but there have been so many others. Poison gas ... biological weapons ... environmental weapons ... fusion bombs ... those sun-busters the Scala had that could make a star go nova... All weapons of mass destruction. I used to think only Humans were crazy enough to build things like that, but it looks like it's a universal trait."
He brought his gaze back up to mine. "Do you know where the concept of Total War came from, Spock? At least in Earth's history?" I could see that he wanted to talk, so I inclined my head slightly to signify a negative. "The idea goes back to the dawn of time, really. You see it in the Old Testament of the Bible and it was practiced in the Punic Wars, but it didn't really go into full scale until the French Revolution. It was called levee en masse and involved the idea that everyone -- men, women and children -- were combatants. Thus you had to completely destroy your enemy. Genocide. Scorched earth. If you could come up with a weapon that would obliterate them from the face of the planet, so much the better."
He looked away and sighed. "Of course, your enemy replied in kind, doing his best to obliterate you. The Vulcans seem to be the only sane race in the Galaxy."
"Not so sane," I answered softly. "We had things that nearly destroyed us as well..." My thoughts turned to our distant past. Vulcan had not always been a desert planet. There had been a time of lushness and fertility, when oceans lapped the shores of a verdant world, when fields waved with grain and trees bore fruit with abundance. Before our own planet killers and the devastation we brought upon ourselves. Long ago ... long before Surak brought the insanity to a halt.
I caught the Captain eyeing me again, then he smiled lopsidedly and said, "Well, right now, I think this replicator coffee could qualify as a WMD itself." He rose and tossed his cup into the recycler. "Let's get back to work. I'm convinced the Klingons are supplying weapons to the people on Neural. I want to be ready for them when we get there."