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The Prime Directive

by BP | Score: 5800

We'd be docked above Centauri Five for six cycles when the readings first came in. Thermonuclear numbers off the charts. Or so Cadmus down in Observation told me. I don't know anything about thermonuclear dynamics, let alone to chart them. But people have been all a flutter about it since.

"The readings are clear," Cadmus told the captain. "A quake will hit. And when it does, it'll damn near split the plant open."

The captain took this news with ease. Or, at least, he LOOKED like he took it with ease. I suppose that's a class you take when applying for The Chair. How to Look Calm in the Face of Pants-Shitting News. He must have aced the course.

"And you're certain of this?" The captain asked, his eyebrow raised in concern as if Cadmus made a habit of overreacting to misread information.

"Yes sir," they said, hands behind their back, nodding solemnly. "I'm certain." Like all direct reports to the captain, I imagine Cadmus took their own version of the pants-shitting class entitled, How to Respond Calmly to an Asshole Who Constantly Questions Your Expertise.

They both must have scored aces.

I wouldn't know. As an ensign I'm still finding my way. Currently my way is as the dude who brings coffee to important meetings. Why they need a person to deliver coffee on a Galaxy Class star ship is above my pay grade but I imagine it has something to do with faded remnants of the 20th century practice of hazing. Evolved though it may be.

"I see. Thank you, Cadmus. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I know this is difficult to hear, but the regulations are clear. We're not to interfere with a civilization who has yet to develop a Core 5 engine. I'm sorry to say it, but there's nothing we can do. The Ceethans must die."

A wave of discomfort rolled through the room, with the various gathered guests shifting in their seats and stealing sidelong glances at one another. Honestly, I envied them. The captain was right. Protocol was very clear in situations like this. Morally difficult as it may be, doing nothing wouldn't get you demoted.

On the other hand, nothing in the handbook covered how you're supposed to react to such news when you're an ensign assigned to coffee duty. Do I serve this now?!? Well, ladies and gentlemen the numbers don't lie, an entire planet of people are going to experience an awful, terrifying death at the ends of a tragic natural disaster. Animals too! The Ceethans probably have dogs, cats, elephants, or some equally adorable equivalent. And they're all going to die screaming. By the by can I interest anyone in a cup of joe? How about a scone? Who the fuck's decision was it to include scones in this death meeting. Confidentiality be damned, if you're going to be discussing morally difficult decisions, the outcome of which will determine whether or not people are going to suffer fiery deaths, the first person you talk  to is the chef. I'm sorry, that's just how that goes from now on.

"Captain, if I may?" Angelia, the ships chief advisor and something of a curio given that she was still a practicing Catholic, leaned forward, resting her sharp little chin on her hand. "If Cadmus' numbers are correct." Again with the question. "Then the Ceethans will not be the only ones affected by this tragedy. The cosmic ripple, as I understand it, could have disastrous aftereffects on this entire galaxy."

"Chief Advisor Goodman, I--"

"A galaxy," Angelia added, "that contains no less than two civilizations on the brink of Core 5 technology. One of which the Federation has already scheduled a formal observation of."

"Your point, Angelia."

"My point, Captain, is that this is not as straight forward as you would like us to believe."

Definitely not the time to serve coffee now.

"I understand that. And I understand the enormous responsibility this places on all of us. Not to mention the incredible strain it places on our collective consciouses. A pain I imagine you feel quite acutely, Advisor Goodman."

That raised the Chief Advisors' eyebrows quite a bit. More importantly it created a lull in the conversation. I decided now was the time. No one was talking. Tension was building. What better way to cut through all that than with a nice bitter cup of scolding coffee. Plus if I don't place this tray down on something my arms are going to give out.

Clearing my throat, I approached the Captain first--protocol, protocol, protocol.

"Captain," I lowered the tray and began pouring a cup.

The captain's hand came down on the table, hard. "I'll deal with you later."

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Location A space ship
Event An earthquake hits
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Letter Use the letter V
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Character A respectful missionary
Words Reach 700 words
Sentence "I'll deal with you later."

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