Upon coming home from the victory at Mendus, Admiral Nancy Moore was welcomed home to Altair with a citywide parade in the capital of Parma. People all over the capital of the Allied Colonies for Freedom came out for it. The president of the Allied Colonies for Freedom declared the day a national day of celebration which pretty much resulted in everyone getting off work and gave people an excuse to party and get drunk.
Moore and her flag officers were invited to the president’s mansion in the capital city for a personal meeting and an elaborate banquet in their honor. Personally, Moore hated all the attention; she wasn’t one for appearances but when the president personally called and invited you to his mansion you couldn’t refuse the offer. She’d much rather avoid all the limelight and get back to the job of prosecuting the war. The Human Federation wasn’t going to go away just because she beat them back at a single star system. She needed to get back out there and do it a few more times.
She considered all the pomp and circumstance a chore. The citizenry saw her as a hero, a larger than life person, and someone who gave the Human Federation a bloody nose that most people in the ACF felt they most richly deserved.
“The president will see you now,” the president’s personal butler said as he came through the doors leading into the president’s sanctum sanctorum. As Moore and her personal staff walked into the office the president stood up from his desk and welcomed them. Nancy looked about the room and couldn’t help but to notice that many features of the room copied that of the president’s office in Abu Dhabi.
“Admiral Nancy Moore,” President John Renalt said as he came forward to personally greet her. “It’s an honor to meet the admiral that brought the Allied Colonies for Freedom such a great victory over the Human Federation. You have given us all something to be proud of.”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Moore said as she walked forward to shake her president’s hand. “It’s an honor to serve you and this star nation.”
“Did you enjoy the welcome home ceremonies?” the president asked as he motioned for her and her staff to sit down in across from him. “I arranged to have the parade in your honor. It’s not every day that we have a massive victory over our enemy, you know.”
“Mr. President,” the president cut her off. “Please, call me John. I’m not an officer or anything like that. If you ask me, I’m tired of the title. Mr. President this, Mr. President that. The title can be so…”
“Heavy?” Moore asked.
“Yes,” John replied. “It’s like a damn ball and chain connected to my ankle. I feel like sometimes I can’t be myself and that I must put on some kind of face. It’s very tiring. At least with you, I can feel like I can be myself, be the true person that I am.”
“True, but you are my commander and chief.” Admiral Moore paused. “But if you insist, John, I will call you by name.” She looked at her staff officers and then the president. “If you want me to call you John, then call me Nancy, that’s my first name.” John nodded his head. “I know you describe this as a major victory but honestly if you ask me, I’m only doing my duty to my nation just like any officer and soldier has done. I’m no more important than the people who carried out my orders. I’m only Human.” She shook her head. “I know that this may sound bad, but I take no joy in having to do what I do, that is, destroy Human Federation ships and kill their crews.”
“How can you say that Nancy?” John leaned forward and clenched his fists as he slammed it down on the side of his chair. Nancy could see John’s face flush. “The Human Federation has done us a great wrong! They took everything we had in the form of taxes. They left us with barely anything. They raped our economy leaving thousands out of work and sending them to soup lines, all because they wanted our resources and that we Colonials should give them it. They said, and I quote, ‘It’s not our problem.’ Don’t you remember that?
“I’m sorry,” John stopped, putting his hand up and drew in a long breath. “I’m sorry for that outburst. It’s just that when it comes to the grave injustices that those people did to us I can’t help but to get angry. Because of what they did is the reason we broke away, or do you not agree?”
“Yes, the Human Federation has done us a great wrong. I can’t agree with you more. But let’s not forget that they are still our brothers and sisters. Most of them are only following orders from people further up the chain of command. We’re all Humans,” she paused. “We both call Earth our home. Those very officers and soldiers I fought against stood beside me not too long ago. I helped train a lot of them at the Naval Academy Etajima on Earth. Some of those killed might’ve been former students of mine. We’re fighting our kin here. That bothers me sometimes.”
“I see,” John replied as he breathed out. “Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps we, and I include myself, have been blinded by our hate and our anger. We wanted justice but the hate for them turned it into a lynch mob.”
The admiral nodded her head. “For instance, the admiral I defeated at Mendus, Admiral Megan Kimery, was once one of my prized students at the academy. I taught her everything she knows today. And before you comment that the student hasn’t learned from her teacher,” she ignored the chuckles and quiet snorts from her flag officers, “She did face a set of unusual circumstances with our computer virus. She’s a good officer and a good person. I’m sure that my leaving the Human Federation hurt her deeply, to know that someone she highly regarded is now an enemy of hers.”
“I see,” John looked up to Nancy. “You have great respect for her then. I could make it so that you never have to face her again in combat if you feel so strongly about this officer. I could always have the Admiralty issue orders that keep you far from–”
He got no further than that as Moore shook her head, “That won’t be an issue, Mr. President. She’s a former pupil of mine, yes, as are many other Human Federation Space Force officers.” She noticed how the president winced at her using the full title of their enemy. “It’s something we’re all going to have to come to terms with. This war has split apart families, friends, and even spouses in some cases. But that won’t distract me from doing my duty to the Fleet. If I can’t be trusted to do my duty then I’ll tender my resignation right now. Mine probably won’t be the last.”
The president waited ten seconds before he said, “No Admiral,” he shook his head, “that won’t be necessary. You have my full faith and the faith of our Congress.”
“Thank you, sir. I sided with our people because I thought we know better on how to govern ourselves; that the individual states of Humanity know themselves better than those who live decadently on Earth. I was born and raised in the Colonies and they are my home. I will defend it until the day I die.” She paused. “We also have another issue, a major issue in the ranks.”
“Oh?” John asked. “What is it?”
“It’s something that relates to what you said before, the part where you said that perhaps we are too blinded by our hate.” John looked at her. “I found out through some people in my fleet that the XO on the ACS Thomas Jefferson, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Brady, looked away and even encouraged his crew to mistreat some of the POWs that we took after the battle. I investigated the situation during our voyage home in which ten POWs were beaten rather harshly. Some of them were beaten within an inch of their lives. He appeared before a formal captain’s board and it’s their recommendation that he be court-martialed.”
“What?” the president asked. “Are you saying that our officers were responsible for this?”
“Yes John, they were responsible for those acts. And I put a stop to it.” Admiral Moore paused. “They may be our enemy but they’re still Human. Those that were responsible have been punished accordingly under the UCMJ and the Articles of War.”
“What of those POWs that were hurt? Where are they now?”
“They were stabilized aboard my flagship as per my orders and have been transferred to military hospitals in orbit. After they’ve been attended to they will be transferred to the POW prison camp outside of Parma.”
“Good,” the president replied. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention; I will communicate this to the Admiralty.”
“Thank you, John. The Human Federation may be our enemy but that doesn’t mean that we should be butchers to them. I hold myself and the officers under me to a higher standard than that. We can’t have shit like this happen, not now, not ever. If word of this were to get out, then I would anticipate that the Human Federation would do the same to our own. I publicly dealt with the situation and made sure all the POWs, especially the injured ones, saw me personally seeing justice done. I made sure they were tended to by our best physicians and surgeons. I wanted to make sure they knew we weren’t just a bunch of jackbooted thugs.”
Meanwhile, inside the halls of Congress, Admiral Kimery took her seat in front of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, or as she called it, the group of idiots that have been holding them back from winning the war in the first place. She swore that if it weren’t for them they would have been done with the war by now but no, they had to nitpick everything which more often than not, sent many a good admiral packing. She was bound and determined not to let the idiots win against her.
Congressman James Scott spoke up. “Admiral Kimery, you have stated in your testimony that it was a computer virus that infected many of the systems belonging to the ships in your fleet. Is that an accurate description of the issue that eventually led to your fleet’s defeat against the Rebels?”
The admiral sat in her seat and replied calmly. “Yes, that would be an accurate description of the issue.”
“Admiral Kimery,” Congressman Scott spoke up again. “Your testimony also states that you didn’t know that anything was overtly wrong with your computer systems until shortly before the battle began. Is this correct?”
“Yes,” the admiral nodded her head. “That statement is accurate.”
“Why is that Admiral Kimery? How did you not know something was wrong before the battle took place? Don’t you have your computer security personnel looking for these kinds of things?”
“I can assure you that we were monitoring all computer systems up to the beginning of the battle. Nothing out of the ordinary was detected in our systems leading up to the battle.” The admiral replied.
“So why wasn’t it found before you lost so many of your ships and so many of the people who served under your command?” Congressman Scott drilled. “Isn’t it your job to make sure that things like this don’t happen?”
“As I said before,” the admiral replied with a sigh, “we were monitoring all computer systems up until the beginning of the battle and we detected no anomalous readings. We didn’t detect any kind of viral package until it surfaced as the battle began. It caused many of the ship’s computer systems to fail. As far as my cybersecurity people have been able to tell, we were the victim of a tailor-made delayed action virus.”
“Admiral, would you furnish the committee with a list of names of those cybersecurity personnel so we may call them in for questioning as well?”
“No sir, I will not.” The admiral replied with a stern voice.
A murmur ran through the assembled senators and representative assembled there. They weren’t expecting her to reject their request so quickly.
The same senator spoke up again, “Are we to infer that you’re protecting these people? That you want to cover up gross, dare I say, criminal negligence?”
“With all due respect sir,” the admiral said in a tone which was as far away from respect as you could get, “I’m not covering anything up at all. I’ve seen the records myself and I’ve provided them for you.”
“Records that could’ve been altered by your people,” another senator said. “I find it rather convenient that all these records don’t have the names of the personnel in question.”
“There’s a thing called operational security,” the admiral said, all but rubbing the senator’s nose in it, “I don’t wish to have the names of my people aired for all to see, including any ACF spies or sympathizers who may be listening to this broadcast as we speak. I assume that you’d bring my officers before this committee and televise it. As I stated before I’m not covering anything up. I’m merely taking the responsibility as the commanding officer. If you want to blame or punish anyone then that’s me.”
The silence stretched for a long moment before the first senator cleared his throat and said, “You have also stated in your testimony that your weapons were firing on friendly ships. Is this correct?”
“Yes,” the admiral replied with no hint of hesitation. “That statement would be correct.”
“We will adjourn for a recess.” The flood of people seconding the notion came swiftly.