Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Star Trek '12: 1112 AD - Sphere Builders

The Sphere Builders were clever.  They began their plans long before anyone could have guessed what they were doing, and by the time it mattered, they allied themselves with the petty inhabitants who dominated the region of space they wished to claim, and set them against the only force that might be able to stop their plans.

This was the year the spheres were built.  The Sphere Builders intended to manipulate both time and space in their efforts to sustain favorable results in the Temporal Cold War.  The spheres were the product of their shrewd calculation, a perfect plan that went ignored for more than a millennium, slowly building the Delphic Expanse into a region that would allow them to operate under the same terms as their rivals.  Why did they even care about opponents they could have avoided altogether?  Why does any belligerent force thrust its will on reality?  Because it can, because it wants to, and because it never suspects for a moment that anyone with motives more pure than their own can possibly challenge them.

The Sphere Builders’ hubris was a game of chance all along.  They had the ability to examine the odds in ways other beings could only have dreamed of, the ability to not just consider the possibilities but actually see outcomes of their actions, so that they existed in a nexus of alternate timelines.  Yet they chose to ignore the one possibility that was always there by half, that regardless of their machinations all their plans and schemes could be defeated.  They were blinded by greed, the basic failing of their kind, no matter where it resides in time and space.

They considered their long-term potential only as it appeared in short-term goals.  If successful, they didn’t worry.  They judged anyone else as inferior and worth considering only as a temporary obstacle, easily thwarted, ignored.  When it seems like everything’s going your way, that’s probably a safe mood to enjoy.  Well, maybe that’s why the Romulans were always a threat and the Sphere Builders only a temporary one, because Romulans plot more than they act, while the Sphere Builders act more than they plot, anxious and yet ultimately ineffective.  No wonder that historical speculation based on the random experiences some have had in the Temporal Cold War believed one of its prime players to be a Romulan.  The Sphere Builders thought they could wipe out the threat of the Federation.  Romulans only ever engaged in one outright conflict with the Federation, and lived to plot another day, and plot many of them continued to do, even though their cousins were Vulcans, who along with humans helped to found the Federation.  What did the Sphere Builders accomplish?

That’s actually an interesting question.  In many ways, their actions backfired.  Without those spheres, the Federation might not have happened.  There has been much debate about those early years of humanity’s Starfleet, its effectiveness and struggles with Vulcan restrictions, its various stumbles.  Understandably, the Temporal Cold War intersected with its formative stages.  The Sphere Builders were unlucky enough to not realize their biggest rival had a vested interest in the founding of the Federation.  They probably never even considered that as a possibility.  Petty goals can take ambitious shape, but if they don’t take on the shape of history, then even their success will come cheaply and amount to nothing, no matter their initial impact.

Maybe that’s fine for people like the Sphere Builders, to look only at a small portion of existence and try to claim it ruthlessly, blindly, ignorantly.  Sure, their plans unfold brilliantly, spectacularly, successfully.  But they come to naught, all the same, because that’s what they really are.  They don’t mean anything.  Now, sure, you can certainly enjoy it while it lasts, and maybe that’s all anyone can ever ask for, maybe that’s what life is really all about, the fleeting moments of satisfaction.  Or maybe, just maybe, that final frontier is a little more elusive than you thought.  It’s a goal, not a reward, an ideal.  Ideals can’t ever be satisfied, only the pursuit of them.

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