From the desk of Admiral Kendra Cassidy
Her story is extraordinary. I know, I keep saying that, but it’s true. Maybe it’s my bias. But I’d rather believe that the people that we brought into the Federation, and into Starfleet, represented the best of humanity. The dreamers. The strivers. The people who look to do things larger than just themselves.
Some people call her a traitor, even now. They believe that she betrayed her home, betrayed her country, betrayed her people.
She’s from Artemis, from one of the Four Families of Artemis. That doesn’t mean as much any longer, but when she was growing up, the Four Families ruled Artemis. Some of that was behind the scenes, but most of the upper level of the government was from one of the Familes.
She’d gone into the Navy, and worked her way up. Oh, she had all the advantages of her name, but, from what I was able to discover later, never cashed in on it. Her family may have pushed from behind the scenes, but in the years I’ve talked to her she was never aware of it. What she got, she earned. And what she earned, she kept.
Before she transferred tracks from active duty in the Navy to the Ministry of War she achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander and had commanded a frigate and been the executive officer on a cruiser. She was obviously on the fast path to an Admiral’s rank; again, it was her ability, not her Family, that got her there. While she left the Navy, she never really left them, regarding them as ‘her people’.
Her career in the Ministry of War was equally impressive. She took the discipline she acquired in the Academy and on active duty and applied it to the positions she was given in the Ministry. She’d risen quickly to the pinnacle of the Ministry, getting the position with the advise and consent of the officers of the services.
And this is where her story intersected ours. She was in her eighth year as Minister of War – itself an unusual accomplishment, most only served two – when the Primus precipitated the crisis with the Federation.
Davie attacked the problem head-on, and while I can’t say that I appreciated her efforts personally, I certainly was able to respect the planning and the tactics. She did the best she could given what she knew.
That wasn’t good enough for the Primus. In one of the stupider moves that ignorant baboon made, she ordered Davie to kill herself if the attack failed. Davie, being a pragmatist, made it appear she followed the order, but instead chose to disappear into the Artemis City undercity, where she hid for six months. No, lunars. Six lunars.
Her rescue from the undercity was part of a long-running operation by OutLook to procure more intel about what Artemis was doing. They never expected to land the former Minister of War!
But – and I’m going to skip over the details for now – here’s where Davie’s character truly shone.
She was aboard Njord, and had been for a few weeks. We’d debriefed her, and she’d answered questions honestly, but there was always an air of reluctance. So I went and sat down with her, face to face, and we talked.
Somehow the subject came around to the fact that the plans, the attacks that cost thousands of lives, were at her orders. I was furious, and I told her so.
(Excerpt, reconstructed from video recordings)
“When I told her that your ship was going to be the power in the system as soon as it was operational, she lashed out. She wasn’t rational. But she was, is, the Primus, and so we all –”
“Wait. You told her?”
Davie looked puzzled. “I did. Admiral, there isn’t another dozen ships in the system which combined could touch yours.”
Kendra’s face showed barely-restrained rage as she ground out her words. “You. Are responsible. For the deaths of thousands of innocent people. The deaths of my people. The deaths of my friends.”
Davie raised her hands but didn’t otherwise react. “Admiral, if that’s what you believe, then you’re not ready to be a janitor, much less an Admiral,” she said coldly.
Kendra, who had half-risen from her chair, sat back with a thump.
“Maeve wept. I don’t know all of your background, but it’s obvious to me that you’ve never had much experience making strategic decision, making decisions which would affect more than a small circle of people.”
“No, not until I started doing this,” Kendra answered, waving at her uniform.
“Then I’m going to give you some advice. Call it the last payment for my rescue from Artemis.” Davie looked Kendra over, as if judging her ability to handle the information. “When you’re leading people, bad things will happen to them. I can see that you know that, and maybe even acknowledge it. What I don’t see, though, is this: don’t take it personally. Deaths in the course of battle have nothing to do with you, Kendra Cassidy. It has everything to do with the other side doing their best to kill you, and your people, and stay alive themselves. When you get angry, Admiral, you make bad decisions, and when you make bad decisions, more people die, yours and theirs.”
Davie leaned forward. “That’s what makes the Primus dangerous, Admiral. She gets angry, and she genuinely doesn’t care what happens to others. She makes rash, terrible, bloodthirsty decisions, and then people like me have to turn those decisions into actions, and then people die who didn’t have to.”
She sat back and lowered her voice. “Yes, I told the Primus that your ship would make your Federation the preeminent power in the system. I told her that because it was the truth, and if I didn’t then someone else would, someone who wouldn’t care about consequences.”
“And you did?” Kendra’s voice had a bitter edge, but there was a core of genuine interest.
“I did. I stalled as long as I possibly could, threw up as many objections as I could, and tried to find the least damaging way to fulfill her arrogant, stupid, foolish order. I ordered the KEW which destroyed your home on Earth, but not because I wanted to kill civilians. I wanted to keep deaths to a minimum, and if I removed you and your wife, I could do that.”
“How can you sit there and calmly tell me that you ordered me killed?” demanded Kendra.
“Oak and ash! Because I would have saved every single person you killed when your forces destroyed our ships!” barked Davie. “Don’t you think that their deaths pained me, as much as your losses pained you?”
“You weren’t in command at that point; I read the debriefings that you’ve done.”
Davie waved it off. “Irrelevant. I might have dropped off the grid to save my own life, but they were still my people. When I failed to kill you, I killed them, sure as I had put a pulse rifle to their head and pulled the trigger.” She was very quiet by the end of her statement. “My husbands were killed in that stupid attack, when their ship was destroyed by your Wolves. By your logic, Admiral, I should hate you for that. I don’t. I hate the decisions that led to their deaths, and I especially hate the person who put those decisions in motion.”
“I’m sorry, Minister.” Kendra’s voice was also pitched low.
“Not Minister, not any longer. If you need to call me anything, call me Davie.”
“I will. Will you call me Kendra?”
“No. At least, not yet. Don’t mistake this for friendship, Admiral. It’s nothing of the sort. But you and I both want this war to end as quickly as possible, with as few more people dead as is possible. On both sides.”
Kendra thought she heard something in Davie’s voice. “You’ll help us? Me?”
Now it was Davie’s turn to sigh. “Yes, Oberon help me. Because I believe you. And because I believe we have both been hurt enough.”
“That works for me.”
After that, we were able to work together, and work far more closely than we ever thought possible. She, like most of the others in the Federation, believed in what we try to do.
When Kyran needed someone to help with the burden of running Njord, Davie was the logical choice. From there it was an easy leap to coordinating all military activities of the Federation; she was the first official head of Starfleet, when I hung up the uniform. And she was our first Secretary of Defense, when the war was finally over and we could return to our primary mission of exploration.
Some call Davie Whitmore a traitor. I call her a hero.
Kendra Cassidy, Admiral (ret)