Sunday, April 17, 2022

So Loved the World

He believed.

He was an old man, when he died. He was a young man when he first began to live. He met a man named Jesus, with whom he traveled for a few years, until the execution, and then he carried on the mission.

At the time of the execution he was in his early twenties. Together with his friends, he spent a decade spreading word about Jesus. In time he went about this on his own, with those he had gathered around him, when communities based on the Way began to form, outside the immediate reach of these original friends. When the persecutions began in earnest and executions became a common occurrence based on followers of the Way, and he was sent into exile, he found a new calling, a new voice.

Which is to say, he began to write.

It was a few decades into the movement that letters began to circulate, after these communities solidified. The letters kept these communities in contact. Some were written by a man named Paul, who joined the Way years after the execution, who had never known Jesus in life. And some were written by those who had known Jesus.

The friends had not been of an overly literate manner. Many of them had been fishermen. As the Way progressed, they found those who filled in the gaps of their experience. The one I followed, by the time I met him, as I said, he had found his voice. Sometimes it takes time. Often we are told to believe that talent is inherent, that it needs to exist in some recognizable fashion in order to be nurtured. Sometimes it simply appears. Sometimes it is inspired by forces that cannot be rationally explained. We came to believe such things. We believed in God, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Some of us because of a man we found beloved.

He wasn’t always easy to love. He could be irascible. He had a peculiar sense of humor. If you didn’t understand it, if you didn’t understand him, you might get the wrong impression. He never hid from his reputation. Instead he would joke about it, or deflect. He’d say it was Phillip, not himself, who was the cause of all the mischief. This was funny, to me, in part because Phillip had been dead for years at this point. 

But he understood things better than anyone I ever knew. His words became like angels. He was a poet. He would say he learned from the master. If you want someone to remember something, tell it in a way that’s impossible to forget.

He was always telling us about Jesus. By this time there were stories about Jesus, about his life, circulating, to explain him to those who had never known him, who saw these friends spreading the message and perhaps might think it was them and not Him they should thank for it. It could be difficult, to reconcile the things said about Him. To many of us, he was God, and to the friends, he was Jesus. In the stories, he was both. But only in the words of my friend was this truly evident.

Over the years, over the decades, the more the Empire sought to stamp us out, the harder it became. Many of us expected Jesus to return in our lifetime. There were those who believed this was the whole point of our faith. There were many, and are, who confuse what our faith is about. They are the ones who struggle over whether Jesus was God or man. They miss the point, but at least they believe, although I confess I sometimes wish their faith was stronger.

My friend saw many things, and he amassed a great many followers, although he never for a moment let it reflect off himself. He kept the emphasis on Jesus. As the years progressed, and as he approached his death, the last of the first generation, he was in his nineties, but you wouldn’t have known it to see him. People often assume everyone ages the same. But some who are old are still young, and he was one of those. He never tired. 

He died seventy years after the execution. A lifetime. He never forgot a moment of his earliest years, in the footsteps of Jesus. Those of us gathered around him, we were writing our own letters, keeping the faith, the Way, and some of us were on our way to much more violent deaths, shorter lives, but no less consequential in our devotion to Jesus, in the face of an empire, Babylon, awaiting a glorious future, not in this lifetime, in this life, but in a different kingdom altogether. We believe in a life that can endure, that seeks the best of humanity, even in the midst of the worst, because God so loved the world he gave us Jesus, himself, his only son, the Son of Man, to an execution, a reconciliation, a new baptism, an affirmation, to wipe away forever the sins of the world, for all time, from the face of the earth, even as we continue to stumble and fall, to fail.

And I believe this because of my friend, who never gave up, who was old when he was young, and young when he was old. We should all be so lucky.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Still, I Believe - An Easter Tale

Still, I believe.

He just died. I stood at the foot of the cross with his mother. We stood there and watched the end of his life. I can’t really begin to process this. I listened to him talk about this moment, this day, long before any of the events that led up to it ever began. This isn’t the first one I ever witnessed, but…

I grew up with parents who made me believe the world was mine. Even when I started listening to the Baptist, this was the focal point of my life. A lot of us followed the Baptist not because of what he had to say about the messiah, but because he was himself magnetic. And that was why I followed him, too.

I can’t say his name right now. I don’t think I deserve to.

I found him magnetic, that’s why any of us followed him, if we were being honest. We certainly didn’t to have him explain, in his various ways, how badly we’d been failing, and continued to fail, even as we followed him. 

But even that wasn’t nearly humbling enough for me. Me and my ego. I thought, and never mind about my brother, because, and this isn’t because of ego, but, as I try to process what I just witnessed…that in order to follow such a man, to recognize his greatness, it could only be a credit to my character, that it spoke about me, my ability to recognize him for who and what he was…People would say about me, surely, what a good judge of character I am, how wise it was for me to attach myself to a great man, surely destined for truly great things…

What I could get out of it…

Sometimes you listen but you do not hear, look but do not see. You don’t realize how strong a pull the past has on you. My parents…they did what they thought was best for me. What I am beginning to realize, perhaps, is that what is best for me isn’t necessarily what’s best for others.

That’s what he was always trying to help us understand. And he just…He just died. He died because he loved the world. I can’t understand this.  He died because he loved the world. I’m trying to make sense of this. 

He died. Even after he told us this would happen, I don’t think any of us truly believed…What does this mean for tomorrow? I know what he told us…Not tomorrow but the day after.  But what about today? What happens today? How do you believe in tomorrow when the worst day of your life has just happened? How do you continue to believe you found the meaning of life when the world has just determined that it must have been wrong, very wrong, so wrong that it had to be expunged…

I spent years with this man. And he was a man, he was my friend, and most of the time I spent with him was like spending time with anyone. When he spoke, when he really spoke, his words were impossible. Listening to him then, it was as if there was no point listening to anyone, anything, ever again. This was a man who understood life better than anyone who ever lived, and somehow he was always better than anyone, and yet still understood…Completely impossible. I still can’t understand…

And to most of the world, despite the words, despite the miracles, he was almost completely anonymous. He was not a temple rabbi, he was not a king, he was not a governor. He was not friend to any of these. Not because he couldn’t have been. But because they had every reason to ignore him. And someone like me, when I finally got out of my own way, every reason to listen.

And I’m only now just beginning. Now that the words have stopped. Now that his body lies cold. What happens from here? I don’t know. They ended his threat. None of us are remotely his equal. How do we keep his work going without him? I listened, all those years, and I listened to his last words…They sounded definitive. Final. 

And yet, listening, as I am now, in the memories, I hear his message, and remember how he changed me. Took away my ego. It would be very tempting to say the world revolves around him, even in death. I don’t think this is what he would want, though. Remember him. But honor him in keeping his words alive. Believe.

He lies dead, and still, I believe. He saw a world that was possible. He saw the possible in the impossible suffering. He died for this. He died because he loved us. I know it doesn’t seem to make sense. For who he was, what he was, to die because he had faith in us…

It was terrible. The suffering, even knowing so many had been crucified before and many more will after him, knowing that he accepted this, even while it was happening, I didn’t know if I was strong enough. To witness. 

He spoke to me, from the cross. He called me a son. I have always been a son. But not until today did I understand what that meant. And he called me a brother. I have always been a brother. But not until today, when I lost my brother, did I know what it meant.

He didn’t ask anything more from me than to embrace my family. But I am only beginning to understand what a family is. And how hard it is to embrace it. You lose the member of the family who was most important to you, but you don’t lose the family. You can never lose the family. 

I…Even now, at the end of the world, I have a family. And this is what is going to make tomorrow possible. And the next day. And the next.

Still, I believe.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Star Trek: Starling - A Eugenics Tale

 (note: this story takes place immediately before the events of the Voyager two-part episode "Future's End")

Henry Starling had done it.  He had successfully buttressed the Western hemisphere from the awful effects of the Eugenics Wars, and he owed it all to a starship that had crashed in his backyard, a starship that hailed from the far future, and given him an edge in the budding wars of the future, the wars of the mind, of technology...

In the Asian lands there had been a man named Khan, and he had dominated the power struggles there in ways the modern world had not been prepared for, the product of genetic engineering that made him stronger and smarter than any man who had ever lived.  And he had not been the only one.  There had also been a man named Vlad, who had done much the same throughout the Baltics, and had designs for...elsewhere.  This was to say nothing of the African theater, where the worst of...everything, had occurred.

But Starling had at last won.  He had designed the ship that sent the survivors of these...men, into space.  Banished.  Forever.

It was Vlad who had considered himself Starling's rival.  In the United States of that time, its presidents had emerged from the Cold War with the chilling knowledge that they were equally forced to confront these supermen, and only one of them, the one called Vlad, had set his sights directly on them.  He scoffed at the presidents.  He saw them come and go, small men who depended on elections to gain power, and who were so easily undermined in the courts of public opinion.  But he saw Starling as different, obviously.  He saw Starling as having true power.

Starling, who had ushered in new ages of innovation for decades, who had significantly aided the NASA programs and their successes, not a single failure! in an endless procession of missions into space.  Vlad had seen this as the new frontier, and that for all their power his brethren held no sway in that realm.  They played checkers while Starling played chess.  And so he positioned himself against Starling.

What Vlad couldn't know was that Starling spent much of his time obsessing over someone else entirely, a man named Braxton, the pilot of the starship that had created his technological empire, who had gone missing, and had never been found, off the grid, even Starling's.  And Starling could not allow this to continue forever, for a Braxton left to his own devices would surely one day pose his own threat, one far deadlier than any superman...

It was this distracted Starling who blinked as Vlad set the world on the brink, set a course for invasion, the spark that would light the fire of another world war, while the latest president struggled to come up with a response.  Vlad even proposed a fight, an actual, physical fight, not against the president, but Starling, one he knew beyond question he would win.  No one, in the real world, need possess physical prowess anymore, not to enjoy power, and this Vlad had realized before even Khan, had so frustrated him, and he saw the laughable prospect of a fight with Henry Starling as exactly the image that would win him the world...

But Starling, his eye on a man who in all likelihood was currently living the life of a homeless bum, separated from all his advantages, had already developed the only weapon he needed, a new ship, a ship that could place all the supermen in stasis and then off into the deep reaches of space, and then...He turned his eye toward the world, the mundane, ordinary world, long enough to catch the crisis unfolding on the news, and the challenge issued by Vlad against him.

And he accepted!

So of course he cheated.  Shamelessly.  Vlad never saw it coming.  Starling pulled a gadget out of his pocket, casually, and unexpectedly fried the life right out of Vlad, in an instant.  Starling hadn't meant to kill him, just as the warlords in Africa hadn't meant to starve out their superman, along with everyone else, but that's how it turned out.  Starling didn't understand all the technology, even decades later, that he'd stumbled upon, modified, exploited, developed over the years, inventing the modern world.

Which, very soon after he'd won, sent the last of them into space...the future caught up with him.  And then, a few years after that, another world war did happen.  But, in a missile silo, in Montana, a man had tinkered with his own vision just long enough to invent humanity's quantum leap, the warp engine, the one thing that always eluded Henry Starling, and...

Saturday, December 25, 2021

As They Lay: A Christmas Tale

Before the angel came, long before, they lay in the field, on a cold winter’s night, and wondered.

The world is a cold place regardless of the season, of the weather, the climate. People are apt mostly to worry about their own lives, even those charged with watching over others. These huddled few, though, these shepherds, they had spent long hours discussing things, and they had always been a little different.

Just imagine the life. Watching over sheep, all day, every day.

We will give these shepherds names, not the names they would have had, not names they would have known, but names you will recognize, for your benefit: Frank, Mel, Joe.

Frank could be taciturn. He could be cold, but there was no one who knew his work better than he did. He always thought, regardless of what others did, that it couldn’t hurt to sing for the sheep. Mel was the wild one. If you knew him it was as likely you would love him as think him strange, and it mattered how you encountered him if it mattered at all. Joe, he was the one who thought most deeply, who was most passionate, of the three, who was most easily dismissed by outsiders, but who was the best of them.

They were of varying ages, Mel the oldest, all of them driven from the mass of humanity into the field, and yet they had somehow retained their faith in the world. They held to it for a simple enough reason, and that was the idea of God. For them, God did not make things happen. It didn’t even matter if God had made the world or would ever appear in it, if God took an interest in a single life from throughout the vast length of human history.

Nothing so crass. Not even the idea of God as some perfect being, some example to strive toward. Not a hope for a change one way or another. They led simple lives that were by and large the same from day to day, year to year, and they saw little point in changing their fate.

They saw God as something good.

That night, when the angel came and called to them, it was certainly strange. They knew all about the Hebrew faith. They knew about angels, no matter how rare. They had never expected to see one. When it appeared, the angel blared like a trumpet. The sheep scattered, startled. They were in truth a little annoyed.

But they knew. 

The three of them, they never uttered a word to each other. They left the field immediately, and sought out the manger. The child, when they saw him, was crying. 

Frank began to sing, Mel asked to hold him, and Joe spoke with the parents, about nothing in particular, just how things were going.  They didn’t say a word about God, about destiny, the future, what the child would become. And none of them had ever been happier.

Later, when they were back in the field, gathering the flock, silent, they thought how good it had been. They were glad. Their lives continued as they had always been. Nothing changed. They never left the field, or the sheep, again.

And yet they were happier, knowing this child had entered the world.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Star Trek: The Once and Future…

“They still oppose us, they’re still our enemy.”

***

The thing about the game of time travel is that it presents you with a lot of information. You’ve no idea how much information you need to even begin to consider it. If it were as simple as inventing a machine and plugging in a date, it would be sheer chaos. And impossible to accomplish anything. The most basic rule is that it’s not just time that needs to be accounted for, but space as well. You need to know when and where you will end up. The universe is always on the move! And you have to do everything to keep up with it.

This is to say, I saw when Silik said that. I see everything. When you view every element of your life, of existence itself, as a variable in an equation, you are going to have to. You will have to see everything. Amateurs always underestimate this. They don’t appreciate the complexities. 

The many agents in the so-called Temporal Cold War agree at least on this. This is not to say all the players do. Sometimes in order to get something accomplished you have to use the available resources. Such as the Cabal. Such as Silik.

***

This is to say he had no idea the role he played in thwarting me. I could not blame him for this. After all, I of all people know how this game works.

***

For me, it started before my birth. My father was a Romulan and my mother a Reman. I ended up looking like my father. I grew up incapable of reconciling my origins, for a simple reason: My father abandoned me as he had abandoned my mother.

If you know anything at all about the relationship of the two center worlds of the Romulan Star Empire, you will understand most of this already.

You will not know why my father did what he did. He did not rape her. He loved her. Perhaps this is a lie my mother chose to tell me, but I have always chosen to believe it, too.

No, he abandoned us out of naked political gain. This is the way of the Romulans. They will do anything, sacrifice anything, to advance their career objectives. They will always tell you how different they are from their Vulcan cousins, but they are driven by the same cold analysis of the world. They simply choose to exploit it with abandon, rather than study it endlessly. They are driven by the same arrogance.

He won a seat on the council, if that impresses you at all. It wasn’t satisfying for my mother, and it wasn’t for me.

***

To erase him from my history, from my very DNA, was delicate business. The one thing I will never be able to erase is his memory. 

It was not as simple as erasing him from history. If I did that it was a paradox resolved only by my own elimination.

I debated many times with myself, how much I needed to tell my mother. I did not want to hurt her. I considered various alternate suitors, though she had remained faithful to him in their courtship. Obviously I favored Remans. I did not want to see my father in the mirror. 

The riddle eluded me. I chose to practice dispassionately, in the affairs of others. I suppose I was somewhat ruthless in this regard. I did, however, affect what I could to benefit my Reman brothers, the imbalance that was hardly a balance at all, in the Empire. I pivoted roles to give advantage where I could, even though no Romulan would ever acknowledge my victories. I positioned a clone in ever more important circles. That one I was particularly proud of. He became praetor, but inevitably came to a bad end. He was not as precise in his machinations as I have tried to be.

As I grew bold, experienced, I saw how it might be done. Protected as I was in all the experience I had gained, the dark secrets of time travel and the host of those who truly understood it, even if in opposition to me, one day I was able to look in a mirror and see as close to a full Reman face as I had ever dared hope dream. I will not labor you with a litany of what needed doing, but the end result was, I had just one last move to make.

***

And I found myself trapped in the past, on the planet Earth, and involving myself in the business humans call World War Two. All I had to do was invent time travel again.

But it was not meant to be.

***

I am home again. I have my original face. I see my father in the mirror.

And one day, this will change. Forever. It will just take time. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Star Trek: Child of Sarek

Part I: Michael

Growing up as an adopted member of Sarek’s household had all manner of unique challenges. One was mastering the Vulcan art of restraining emotion, which was difficult not only as a human but for the fact that I had lost both my parents, and that was how I had come to live there. Another was the presence of Spock, Sarek’s child with Amanda Grayson, which had the effect of cancelling out any advantages Amanda’s proximity might have had for me, as Spock always chose a fully Vulcan approach.

The final was the existence of Sybok. Unlike Spock, Sybok was not always present in the house. He traveled frequently with his Vulcan mother, the princess, whose infrequent visits always served to emphasize how poorly even Sarek managed to follow the tenets of Vulcan society, which I grew to understand had nothing at all to do with the teachings of Surak and the purity of logic, and everything to do with snobbish devotion to class distinction. To be Vulcan, according to mainstream Vulcan society, meant you were better than everyone else, even the majority of Vulcan society itself.

This is a fact that is often oblique to outsiders; Vulcans are simply Vulcans, and that’s all you need to know, and all you’re likely to see.

Yet the root of the perceived arrogance of Vulcan society isn’t its devotion to logic and disdain for all those who fall below such lofty standards, but rather the elite of Vulcan society, which needs no greater standard than to believe it is better than everyone else, no particular distinction needed. In fact, if you were to peel away the veil entirely, you would find that at this level, the vaunted emphasis on logic disappears entirely.

That is what a Vulcan princess is like.

Very fortunately, Sarek was never like this at all, despite it being difficult at times to live up to his lofty standards, and it being equally hard to know where you stood with him.

I spent my adolescence trying to figure that out. I often confused this with the parallel inquiry into how he had mated with a Vulcan princess to begin with. I am sorry to say my conclusions were often unkind.

Sybok himself didn’t help matters. He lived his life in complete rejection of Vulcan norms. He grew a beard as soon as he was able, and never shaved it off. Beards are beyond scarce among Vulcans. To see one at all on a Vulcan is most often interpreted as the mark of a troubled mind. Sybok wore his in knowing fashion as a mark of pride. I always knew when he was around since even the usually stoic nature of Spock retreated further inward, and it became impossible to talk to him at all, which was of course the complete opposite of the incessantly garrulous Sybok, who punctuated all of it with laughter, another certain indication of madness in Vulcan society.

To be a child of Sarek, in all this, was a constant challenge. Classmates would look for any deviation in behavior, and in a society of outward conformity was to see opportunity subtly diminished. This is why Starfleet was such an attractive prospect, not merely for the opportunity to escape but because it was the only chance to be Vulcan without complication, even if you were half human. Or fully. When all you wanted to do was fit in, and despite it seeming like the easiest thing in the world, was most impossible.

I love my father, but without meaning to he made my life infinitely difficult, forever forced to prove myself. To him, to everyone else, but mostly to myself.

***

Part II: Spock

In many ways I was an only child. Vulcans live solitary lives, contributing to society, in endless collaboration, but always at the behest of one’s own goals. Ideally there is no contradiction in this.

In many ways, I was never allowed to live this way. As a child of Sarek, I endured his peculiar habits on a constant basis. A Vulcan like any other. A Vulcan unlike any other.

To know my father is to struggle with contradiction. His first mate was a Vulcan princess, an ideal arrangement made, as with all Vulcans, when he was young. When he was older and established in his career as a diplomat, he chose a different mate, a human, and from that union I emerged. Often I had to contend with the legacy of his first mating, my brother Sybok, who was fully Vulcan and indulged in all things, favored by his mother and, at times, favored by my father as well, or so it sometimes appeared to me. Sybok had the advantage of every opportunity. He traveled far and studied widely, always of his own choosing, far from the restraints of standard scholastic pursuit. He was the product of a single culture and yet he embraced all manner of alien ways.

One often struggles with the approval of a parent, and yet with my father it was perhaps more accurate to say he was more interested in Sybok’s wanderings and hardly aware of what occurred in his own household. Vulcan discipline would suggest the problem was Sybok, and yet often I would lie awake at night keenly aware of the absence that occupied a room quite near mine.

When the Vulcan princess made an infrequent appearance, inquiring after news of her own son, I would suffer two emotions: jealousy and resentment, jealousy because no one asked about my pursuits, carried out under their noses and yet unobserved, and resentment because I yearned to be doted on in some minor fashion. All of it connected. All of it torment. All of it visible only to Sybok himself, who never let me forget it.

I would pretend he didn’t exist, not merely later, when I should have moved past such petty notions, but when I was a child as well. 

Under the weight of my father’s gaze, at the dinner table, even when everyone sat gathered on those rare occasions, I chose silence rather than conversation. No doubt there was a range of interpretation. My mother would view me as the perfect Vulcan. She always did, and always I felt a traitor to her. My sister, fully human, closest to me in every way, wondered as always if she should follow my lead, but ever eager for approval, and ever pulled in the direction from which it would be hardest to attain. My brother, calling attention to himself. The Vulcan princess, ever with disapproval, except for her son. My father, ignoring me even when given no reason, and yet always with disappointment in fleeting glances.

Or so it always seemed.

The warmth he shared, on rare occasions, always felt like the most genuine version of my father, the part he worked hardest to suppress, the part that was the most like myself, the part he had fled from the Vulcan princess to preserve.

If only he had trusted himself more, or trusted me. If only I had trusted him.

***

Part III: Sybok

It’s not easy to be an outsider. Often you will encounter unspeakable bigotry, even from those who ought to know you best, who watched you grow, who called you brother, son.

It’s easy to view my life in the most dismissive terms. Out of all the children of Sarek, I was the one who had all the opportunities. I was the only one whose parentage was fully Vulcan. I was the only one, as a result, with the full blessing of Vulcan society itself.

And for all that, I was only ever an outsider.

My mother wanted nothing to do with me. She abandoned me at every opportunity, every excuse. She indulged her standing in society at my expense. She mocked my every ambition. She never respected a single thought I had.

My father wasn’t any better. I was unwelcome in his house. He made that perfectly clear at the earliest opportunity. I was free to visit when I liked, but never to live there. He never had a harsh word to say to me, and yet his embrace was like a dagger, and I was the blade he used against all his children. I loved him completely. I understood his impossible situation better than anyone.

He was everything I could never hope to be. He had grasped the possibility of rebellion against a repressive society better than I ever could, and for that he paid the price, forever trapped, and as a result, insulated from rejection in a way that I would never know.

I could never be a Vulcan other Vulcans would understand. I behaved as I wished, believed what I wished, did as I wished, and thus could never live among my own people. 

I was an outcast. It’s easy to say that I led myself astray, and found it easy to do the same with others, always in search of another mad quest, but that’s revisionism. With my brother, for instance, I was a rock of stability, who understood his pain better than anyone, was his only outlet, his only chance to be seen. It was much the same with my sister, though she saw me only as my brother wanted her to, and so only as the unwelcome visitor, forever linked with my mother, the impossible ideal forever corrupted. Unwanted.

With my father it was different. I always knew where I stood with him, an unspoken respect, mutual, the only way it could have been. 

Naturally we did the best we could to bury this deeply, invisibly, below the surface, and in that manner it poisoned everything, made everything possible, destroying the family, pushing my brother and sister into lives that meant something, far away from Vulcan, full of purpose. To be a child of Sarek was a guarantee of potential. Somehow mine, which looked so promising, or so it was the popular mistake to believe, amounted to the least of it.

But such are the children of Sarek. Unpredictable. Like their father. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Star Trek: Enemy of My Enemy

My grandfather, Randall Eickhoff, was a minor officer in Starfleet. By this I mean he never had command of a starship, never part of a command crew, even. He wasn’t insignificant, though, by which I mean he had real responsibilities. Everyone knew who he was. 

Admittedly, this might be because he never stopped talking about Jim Kirk. Jim Kirk, now everyone certainly knows him. You don’t have to be a Federation citizen, even, to know the name Jim Kirk, you don’t need to have served in Starfleet. Everyone knows Jim Kirk.

Which means, there’s a lot of people who shaped their own reputations based on Jim Kirk’s. My grandfather didn’t serve with Kirk, never came even had an assignment that brought him aboard the Enterprise, let alone as a member of its crew. No, he studied with Kirk at the Academy.

They shared only one class together: Klingon Field Tactics. Now, for those of you who only know about the Klingons from the many conflicts between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, you will probably assume the class was meant to prepare cadets for battle with them. Actually it was exactly what the course title says it was: an in-depth look at Klingon tactics.

This was the class Kirk would later mention as having taken when he came upon General Korrd on Nimbus III. At the time, Federation-Klingon relations were beginning to thaw after more than a century of hostilities. It was suddenly okay to view the Klingons as something other than the enemy.

Klingon Field Tactics was an elective, meaning if Jim Kirk said Korrd’s strategies were required reading, they were, in this class, taught by an old Klingon lawyer named Kolos, said to have had personal ties to Jonathan Archer.

It becomes still easier to understand all this when you know Korrd’s strategies were employed not against Starfleet but the Tutt Raiders.

Chances are, unless you’re Klingon or are exceptionally well-informed, you’ve never heard of the Tutt Raiders. These guys are largely responsible for making the Klingon Empire the aggressive institute it became. They were the enemy of our enemy. They were, worst of all, if you were a Klingon, totally without honor.

They were the scourge of deep space travel for many worlds. They set the pattern of conquest the Klingons would later follow, but were far more ruthless, and random, about it. They took without any thought to the future. And one day they came upon Qo’noS.

Do not be mistaken: the Klingons were already quite Klingon; Kahless was quite unforgettable even at that time. Warriors honed their skills with the bat’leth. Yet these were things known only on a single world, and as such, there was no idea of empire.

Until the Tutt Raiders.

They came as in a swarm. They cared little for the conditions facing them, or the challenge, foolish enough to believe they could take on any they found. The greatest of them was Anles Tutt, and the long period of warfare finally led to a reckoning between Anles Tutt and General Korrd. 

When Jim Kirk and my grandfather were being taught this by Kolos, it was still fresh news. It was indeed a glorious day for the Empire, when Korrd led his small fleet against the combined forces of the Tutt Raiders. Slowly the Empire had carved itself out of the worlds scoured by their foes, until the day came that even Anles Tutt, the greatest of them, could no longer withstand the tide.

But the fate of even the greatest warriors must be shared. One day they die in battle, or there is simply no longer a fight left for them.

Korrd grew old. He had presided over the final defeat of the Tutt Raiders, and then it was left to younger men than him to contend with the Federation problem, a different one, one that required different tactics.

Since the defeat of the Tutt Raiders, in fact, no major war has been prosecuted, by the Klingons or anyone else. The Klingons and the Romulans seem intent to change that, and we have all heard about the Cardassians, but those are matters for the future. Or maybe tomorrow. Who knows?

My grandfather always liked to talk about those days, how exciting that class was, and sometimes I think it’s not entirely because of Jim Kirk, that it really was about a war that meant nothing to anyone else, and everything to him. Sometimes I think he wished he was a Klingon.

And even today I wonder what a Tutt looks like, if I would even know if I saw one. They’re a threat consigned to the ancient past. But chances are, they would still be no friend of the Federation, even if they were the enemy of our enemy.