Nor Shall They Grieve
by Nostalgia

I hadn't seen him in three years, since the war ended, since we all went our separate ways. But gossip travels the light-years faster than most things, and I heard about his ship, about his latest obsession.

He had an old ship, the ramshackle, falling-apart detritus they send out for things like that. But he fixed it up, renamed it, shuffled the crew manifest a little until he felt comfortable giving orders. He's got an engineer's patience for these things, and when there's desperation in the mission he can move faster than anyone else I've ever met.

He looked a lot older, when I saw him, out there of all places. Trip Tucker, leader of the Xindi relief effort. Who'd have thought it, huh? So I called, left a message, asked if he'd like to go for a drink with the ex. Old time sake, that kind of thing.

That's when I found out how much he'd changed.


"I shipped out here when the peace treaty was signed, wanted to see the place, gloat a little." He grinned, "Which is selfish, right?"

"They killed your sister."

"Right. They did that." He nodded and scratched the side of his head. "I dropped by the capital a couple of days before going home. It was... dust. You know, like the desert? Dust and rubble and... It looked like the footage from Florida."

"And eye for an eye..."

"Payment in kind. Yeah. Hey, you seen T'Pol lately?"

"You're changing the subject."

He shrugged and leaned back in his chair. "You're gonna give me that look."

"What look?"

"The one that says that you're right and I'm wrong. You kinda shake your head and look way too sincere. Where'd you learn that anyway? Guilt school?"

I think that was the moment, the point where I realised that I didn't even know him anymore. "Trip..."

"OK. Sure. It was the kids."

"The... kids?"

"Xindi kids. They're kinda ugly, but... Shit, Jon, they were wearing rags. And there's nothing in this galaxy that's supposed to look that thin."

"Collateral damage..."

"'Is to be expected in time of war,' yeah, I've read the official statements too. But you have to see it. You have to... All I could think was `Shit, the Vulcans were right.' We're going around saying we've outgrown all that stuff and as soon as they give us a little freedom we start bombing the crap out of Dresden all over again."

"They started the war, Trip. We just acted in self-defence."

"When did we stop caring about the civilians, huh? When did we forget all those genteel rules that we run wars by?"

"Oh, come on! They were far more brutal in that war than we could ever be!"

"Yeah, but we're supposed to be the good guys."

"Good doesn't mean weak."

"It doesn't mean cruel, either. There's gotta be limits, Jon. There has to be a little grace."

That's what happens in wars, people lose it. You see things you don't want to see and you start trying to change the world. Which was what had happened to Trip. Sure, I saw some things in that war that... You have to be strong, you have to steel yourself against it. War's a tough business, and there's no room in there for compassion.

I'd always thought of him as strong, but seeing him sitting there talking about grace and mercy and the cruelty of war... He was so weak, for all his talk. It's not about all this `seeing both sides' crap, it's about making our enemies pay. You gotta have deterrence, you have to strike the fear of God into them. It's justice.


Last I heard, he'd repatriated to Earth and joined the Utopians. I saw him on TV one night, spouting all that garbage about peace and unity. He wants some inter-stellar alliance based on trust and the exchange of ideas. It's bullshit, all of it. We're an aggressive species; we need to make our mark. We've spent thousands of years killing each other on Earth; we've had aliens in contact with and we still can't along with them. We don't want peace. He really thinks one man's going to change all that? Like all it would take is the effort of cooperation. He's weak, he's lost.

So yeah, I'm voting against the treaties, I'm not going to take the risk. And the crazy part? When I see him telling the world that all peace needs is a chance, a little optimism... it scares the hell out of me.


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