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The Long Road Ahead

Posted on Tue May 5th, 2020 @ 11:20pm by Secretary Kurt Bergen

Episode: Dark Days Lay Ahead
Location: USS Ticonderoga, Earth Orbit
Timeline: Day 1 at 0750

The view afforded to Kurt from the observation lounge of the Ticonderoga was certainly inspiring, but it was also giving him plenty to think about for the immediate future, as well as beyond. He could see the ships being completed at the San Francisco Fleet Yards, knew them by their outlines even as some were not yet near what their completed shapes would become. His right hand came up, first to straighten his tie once more, and then to brush the tips of his fingers over the Starfleet arrowhead pin on the lapel of his jacket.

He had accepted the offer presented to him to serve the upcoming Presidency of Iden Morr because the two of them found very quickly that her long term plans happened to coincide with his own. Hers for the Federation, his for Starfleet. For Kurt, Starfleet had changed radically in his lifetime, and not all of it for the better. Yes, innovations continued to be created and discoveries continued to be found. But it was now all with a sense of trepidation, a sense that every step forward had to be done cautiously out of fear that the wrong step would find yet another Dominion or another Borg Collective. This was not the Starfleet that a young Ensign Kurt Bergen had joined, it was not the spirit that resonated when that bright eyed helm officer beamed aboard the USS Montreal nearly 50 years ago. Frankly, it wasn't even the same Starfleet that a much more experienced Captain Kurt Bergen knew when he first took the center chair of the USS Polaris, and that command had been shot out from under him by the Cardassians.

It had once been said that the greatest enemy of Starfleet was not any one enemy, it was to do what had to be done without destroying or undoing the dream of the Federation. That had been once a mantra to rally against fear, but now, it was a cautionary tale in an era of skepticism and paranoia. And it was a tale that fell onto too many deaf ears. Starfleet was becoming militant, believing that somewhere was an enemy that would strike and would somehow have some new advantage to cripple them at some point in time and they needed to be ready to counter this threat. But how do you counter a fear that your imagination conjures up? How can you defend against an enemy that only seems to be more powerful because your own doubts make it bigger?

Iden Morr seemed to understand what Kurt had been trying to make Starfleet understand for over a decade and a half.

"Pop?"

Kurt turned around, snapped out of his thoughts as his son, Logan, spoke. Logan was the Captain of the Ticonderoga, a bright man who had a bright future still to come. Kurt straightened his jacket and approached his son.

"Lost in thought for a moment there." Kurt replied with a smile before embracing his son. In a family of Starfleet officers, rank was not something they concerned themselves with in private.

"Looked like more than a moment, Pop." Logan replied, heading over to the replicator. "Iced coffee, mocha cream and sugar. And coffee, hot, black."

The two glasses materialized into being, with the former placed for Kurt, who sat down next to the head of the table, and then Logan sat down at the head.

"Big day today." Logan said as he took his first sip. Kurt nodded as he also took a sip.

"Quite. Your mother and I will be there, but I suspect we will have little to do but sit back and listen to speeches." Kurt replied, "Cabinet members don't really get to make many speeches until the Administration is well underway."

"Are you still planning to give the commencement speech at Starfleet Academy this year?" Logan asked.

"I have a few speeches in mind, that being one of them. But it depends on both if the President is comfortable with that and if Admiral Clancy does not have other plans at the last minute." Kurt said with another sip.

"A lot of people still argue over the topic. A lot of people say you and Picard are fools, that people like you are why Starfleet was unprepared at Wolf 359 and the Dominion War." Logan replied, "Just as many say that stuff like the Ascension and Excalibur were proof positive that Starfleet has become paranoid and militaristic."

"Both of your siblings said the same thing, Logan." Kurt replied, "And I was told as much eight years ago. Though like I said to them, I don't deserve to be in the same sentence as Picard. I kept my silence when I should have spoken out for him. A regret that I still cannot even find it within myself to apologize to him for, much less speak to him."

"I don't agree with you there, but I won't argue." Logan said, taking a sip before continuing, "Pop, we can't go on like this. Those of us who served during the Dominion War remember the hardship yet we seem to want to relive it, and the kids who are joining up now, they think that's the only way they'll get anywhere. They didn't grow up with stories of Jim Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard exploring the unknown, they grew up with Ben Sisko and William Ross storming the gates of the Dominion, blasting away everything in their path. Even Janeway's story has become diluted from the amazing things they found in the Delta Quadrant to how she all but singlehandedly put down the Borg and half a dozen other threats."

"I know. We now focus on how Kirk defeated the Klingons, how Picard beat the Romulans and the Borg. Even Archer's story is more focused on his conflicts with the Xindi and the Romulans. The number of specials that the FNN runs now are more aimed at stories of heroism in battle over how much we've learned and discovered." Kurt shook his head, "I bet even the Klingon embassy is sick of seeing it all."

Before Logan could continue, a chime came in from the desk console.

=A="Captain. We have received a message from Starfleet Command. The cargo ship <i>Kilimanjaro</i> is requesting an escort into Ferengi space, and the area they are passing through is a hotbed for pirate activity. We're to escort them to the Ferengi border."=A= The First Officer said.

"Acknowledged. Please inform Starfleet Command that we have a VIP that we need to disembark first and then we'll set out shortly. Bergen out." Logan replied. The two stood up.

"Good luck out there." Kurt said.

"Good luck here. I think you need it more than I." Logan said. Father and son embraced one more time.

"Bergen to Transporter Room. Please beam Secretary-elect Bergen back down to Paris." Logan ordered.

With an acknowledgement, Kurt was on his way back to Paris. And back down the long road ahead of him...

 

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