The War Inside
Dr. Walter Ingalls, Starfleet Medical
At the request of the Angosian government, Star Fleet has dispatched a team of doctors and other specialist to help rehabilitate veteran's of the Tarsian War.
When I first got this assignment, I thought that we would make quick and easy progress. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I first thought were symptoms of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a much more complicated condition created by conditioning, drugs, genetic engineering and nano-technology.
This may well be a case where we can not think in terms of a cure per see but to manage the condition to improve the patients quality of life.
This interview is typical of the patients that we have seen at the Luna V facility.
Subject 378- Rayner Zale
Ingalls- I specifically asked to speak with you because you have had nothing to do with Roga Danar's insurrection and have expressed no interest in therapy or to live anywhere but the Luna V facility. I wanted to understand your reasoning.
Zale- There's simply no point in it. What I have become, what we are, we're not Angosians anymore. We're something else. Something horrible that frightens those of us who were conditioned to be soldiers most of all.
Ingalls- So you consider the conditioning program irreversible?
Zale- They can remove the drugs, disable the implants, reverse the genetic alterations but... how do you get rid of the faces? I personally have killed over three hundred Tarsians. My enhanced memory allows me to remember each and every face in exacting detail. Can we get rid of that?
You can take the soldier out of the war doctor. It's much more difficult to take the war out of the soldier.
Ingalls- Perhaps we can help. We have treated many Federation veterans of the Dominion War. I'm certain that we can help.
Zale- Maybe you can. I will see how it goes with the others before I commit.
Ingalls- No good soldier commits to action without intelligence or reconnaissance.
Zale- (laughs) You sound like a soldier yourself.
Ingalls- I fought in the Cardassian War and the Dominion War.
Zale- It's good to talk to a fellow soldier. Most of the Doctor's are nice young people who have no idea...
Ingalls- Yes. Tell me your story.
Zale- (sighs) It's fairly typical tale. I will tell it in trade. Your story for mine.
Ingalls- That's only fair.
Zale- I was young when the war started. I was in my first year at university studying architecture. The war was going very badly at first. Angosians aren't naturally a warlike people. Many of our first generation soldiers hesitated. We suffered defeat after defeat. The Tarsians were... brutal, almost animalistic. We soon discovered that the Breen were backing the Tarsians in a bid to destabilize the area around Romulan space. Both sides were pawns in a much bigger game. I volunteered when our home world was bombarded and several of our cities were leveled.
We asked for help. Not from the Romulans of course. The Federation wouldn't get involved. We were able to secure key defense technologies through third parties that made our military at least competitive. With Klingon disrupters, Romulan shields and old Federation warp drives, Angosia was able to build a small, formidable fleet that was able to stop the Tarsians cold and turn the tide of the war in our favor. But... I'm getting ahead of myself.
I joined our military in the third year of the war. After basic training and testing, I was asked to join a special unit. We were warned that it was dangerous and that many didn't survive but being young and patriotic, I volunteered.
It was nothing like the training that I had previously had. Rather than Subadons (Angosian equivalent of a drill instructor), we had counselors. We were enhanced by biological engineering, drugs and nanotechnology. Most importantly, we were conditioned not to be like other Angosians.
Ingalls: What do you mean?
Zale: When it came time to kill, we were conditioned not to hesitate.
I was there for the our first assignment: to retake Angosia VI. The Tarsians had captured one of the planets in our home system and we had to remove them. Angosia VI is a cold desert world with low gravity. It can barely sustain life. The military called it Operation Mystic Winter. Those of us that went called it hell.
We launched on four troop transports with twenty-five hundred men each and equipment. One transport was destroyed in space. One crashed landed. The two that did land were badly off course. The first day we lost thirty men to the cold.
It took us days to move into position to strike the Tarsians and they had air superiority until the very end. Finally we were able to hit their defensive perimeter and our programming kicked in. I didn't even know that it was possible to move that fast. I would look around and the hands and feet of my fellow soldiers were just a blur. We fought until we were completely out of ammunition. Then we used knives, clubs, rocks and even our bare hands.
We won the battle. When it was all over there were only twenty-seven hundred of us left. Historians call it the turning point. To me it's just another one of a score of nightmares that keeps coming back over and over.
Ingalls: By all accounts, the Battle for Angosia VI was the turning point.
Zale: And I have the campaign ribbon, the Angosian star and... a lot of dead friends to remember it by.
Ingalls: That's the part you never get used to. Burying your friends.
Zale: The conditioning lets you turn it off.
Ingalls: What do you mean by turn it off?
Zale: Part of the conditioning allows you to turn off emotions. The only problem is that they don't go away. They don't stay turned off forever. Just long enough to keep you from being distracted from your mission.
Ingalls: You were promoted after Angosia VI.
Zale: Yes. That's when it got so much worse. It's one thing to be a soldier. To be responsible for the lives of others... that's hard.
I was given command a platoon (24) of soldiers that had just completed the conditioning program.
We fought in a number of minor skirmishes and did extremely well.
We were in the first wave of the invasion of Kavis Alpha. I lost eight of those kids. I can still call them all by name.
Enhanced memory is very difficult when you want to forget.
Ingalls: That battle forced the Tarsians to the peace table.
Zale: It was a great shock to the Tarsians. Angosians that could snap their necks like twigs and didn't shy away from striking killing blows. That's the battle that scared them. They couldn't handle us at all and they knew it. The war dragged on another year and a half but they had gone from swaggering militarists to skulking cowards that hid in bunkers.
Ingalls: You seem to still have a lot of anger towards the Tarsians.
Zale: You're damned right I do. I'm angry at all of the lives they took. And for what? To gain another star system? To be acknowledged as a regional power? No. We know the Tarsians all too well. They were just bullies with more weapons than sense and stopping them made it all worthwhile.
Ingalls: You consider the sacrifices that you and others had to make worth while?
Zale: Honestly, I didn't expect to survive the war. Ask our soldiers an most of them will tell you the same.
Ingalls: Don't you ever want to leave the Luna V facility?
Zale: No. To win that war, I had to become a monster. I am still that monster. I can still snap a mans neck or jam his nose cartilage into his brain in a split second. There lies the problem. We had to learn how to act without thinking- to not hesitate to kill. That is an absolute necessity in war but it has no place in peace.
I am no longer fit to be a part of any civil society. I am a weapon that must be locked away until it is needed again.
For me the war never really ended. I see, I smell it and I feel it every time I close my eyes. I am no longer in a war. The war is in me.
The Tarsian Wars were a protracted conflict in which the Angosians were forced to create super soldiers to survive and eventually win the war.
What does a peaceful society do with super-soldiers once the war is over and they are no longer needed?