Saturday, December 5, 2009

Novel Excerpt: Joining Red Squad

My Dear Reader,

Sorry that this is a bit late. I had a hard time trying to find something to show you, but I ended up choosing this because it will give you a real taste of what this story is about. The main speaker in this excerpt is one Admiral Alexander Chapman. He, along with his brother, Professor Angus Chapman, is trying to resurrect a special cadet training group (Red Squad) that had previously been banned because of scandal. In this scene, Admiral Chapman is addressing a number of advanced students whom he has hand-picked to try out for the team.

“We stand here today in full view of the Golden Gate Bridge for a reason. This structure, as many of you are aware, is more than a way for people to get across the bay: it's a symbol of Starfleet's heritage. Starfleet, as an organization that has been around longer even than the mighty Federation of Planets, was built by our intellectual and cultural ancestors, and their ancestors built this bridge. A marvel of its time, it has withstood the test of time better than its designers dreamed. The Golden Gate Bridge, an icon of an age, was all but destroyed in our conflict with the Dominion. Slowly, it will have to be rebuilt, piece by piece, until it is restored to its former glory. Starfleet has a similar fate. Starfleet will also have to be rebuilt with young people like yourselves. You are each here because Professor Chapman and I have reviewed your Academy applications and believe that you could be an integral part of this rebirth. Together, we will form a team that will train the best the Academy has to offer so that they, in turn, will have the skills to serve in Starfleet to the best of their ability. This team, this agent of renewal, will be called 'Red Squad.'”

Red Squad? That was why she was there? A chill ran down Carlotta's spine at the thought. There was a lot to learn when you were waiting tables so close to Starfleet Headquarters—she had heard all the rumors, and she knew most of them were true. She had a sudden urge to just turn and run away, but she decided instead to stay and listen. The bridge that Admiral Chapman had talked about had belonged to her, in the way it belonged to everyone in the Bay. The admiral had talked about intellectual ancestors, but she was the direct descendant of some of the original workers. The blood that built that bridge was now in her veins, and it seemed to speak to her as if carrying the voices of the dead. Her ancestors had built this city, and some had even had a hand in building Starfleet. It was her inherited responsibility to keep their legacy in tact. So, even though her instincts told her to flee, she decided to stay. She would listen to this man, and if he told the truth, she would give him a chance.

“Now, I know what some of you are thinking. This idea is not new, nor is the name. In fact, I'm sure that most of you have heard the sad tales of what happened to Red Squad in the past. I assure you, though, that this will not happen again. Red Squad, in hindsight, wasn't a mistake, but it was dangerous. The idea behind it was to take the red cadets—the command-oriented students—and put them in a position where they would get more opportunities to lead. It worked on paper, and for a couple of years, it worked in the field. Once the war started, everything changed. Students from other concentrations were added with the rationale that they would compliment the command students, but this was twisted into the idea that they were a crew unto themselves. Red Squad went rogue—used by a radical for his own ends, the cadets stuffed with enough hubris to make them believe they could act alone. They were put on a ship, made a crew to fight the war on their own, and all but one died. Red Squad was created to breathe new life into the next generation of officers, to give the exceptional students the chance to excel. Instead, their lives were wasted in an ultimately meaningless pursuit. But we need that breath now more than ever. It's not just San Francisco that's being rebuilt—it's the Federation itself. It's the fleet. Each of you has a chance at becoming part of that process.”

The admiral stopped to take a drink of water and give his brother a glance before he continued.

“It's true that we're still going to call it 'Red Squad.' The name hasn't changed, but the meaning has. Those of you who wish to try out for this project will need to understand this new meaning before you apply. Red means much more than command, more than just the true color of this bridge . . . it has a deeper, more primal meaning. It means courage, passion, and for many species,” he nodded at Saraal* as if to admit that she was about to be an exception, “red also is a symbol for the blood of those lost. The cadets that died trying to fight the wrong war—they deserve redemption. All of those who died in the war do. So when you think about joining Red Squad, know that we will be a team stained with the blood of our betters, of those nobler and abler, and that our true mission is to do whatever we can to to honor the lives lost. Many of you knew one of those lives.”

He looked out over the crowd, and saw heads bowed reverently as he invoked memories of the dead, some out of respect, some out of agony. The noticed that the Esposito girl looked especially grim, almost pale.

“As you go through the application process, I want you to think of those who you've lost. I want you to think of what you need to be in order to truly honor them. That drive is what you will need to join Red Squad.”

The admiral finished his speech and sat down, with Professor Chapman seamlessly taking his place.

“Thank you, Admiral,” he nodded to his brother, “Now, for the practical portion of this meeting. In order to be a candidate for Red Squad, you must enroll in my Survival Skills class. You may be aware that this course is normally reserved for second-semester students, so you will need to have special permission in order to enroll. There are thirty spots in the class, given to the most worthy applicants. Out of those thirty, only nine will be chosen for Red Squad. There will be no changes in the number of students allowed in the class, or to the number allowed in Red Squad. In order to request a seat in my class, please fill out this PADD and turn it in to either Admiral Chapman or myself by the end of the day. Dismissed.”

Regards, best wishes, and honor!,

-Cecily Jane

*Saraal is Vulcan. Vulcans have green blood.


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