Title: From the Ashes

Author: HopefulNebula (HopefulNebula@hotmail.com)

Rating: G

Summary: A Trekkish take on the Columbia accident.

This is dedicated to all those who died last Saturday, as well as their families.

~~~~~

"Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.  Our journey into space will go on." ~George W. Bush

~

"O grant thy mercy and thy grace, to those who travel into space." ~Robert Heinlein, Prayer for Travelers

~~~~~

            Captain Ellison Rathert stood on the bridge of his new command.  He was nervous as hell.  There were 136 people waiting for him to deliver the customary captain's speech, and he hated public speaking.  He always had.

            Rathert shifted nervously and tugged on his uniform.  Come on, Ellison, he admonished himself. They didn't make you a captain at 34 for nothing.  Show them what you've got.  The new captain inhaled and exhaled once more, then he was ready.  Or at least as ready as he would ever be.  He nodded toward his comm officer, who activated the circuit that would allow Rathert to address his entire crew simultaneously.

            "All hands, this is the captain," he announced.  Everywhere aboard the starship, work ceased as crewmembers stood to listen to their commander.  "It is about time we got under way, but first, I would like to speak to you all.

            "We are pioneers.  This is one of the first missions of its kind, and I would like to commend you for your bravery in joining me here, despite all the risks.  I, for one, am honored to command such a fine crew.  And on this beautiful day, as the sunrise is visible from this spacedock,  we must remember all the pioneers before us who have sacrificed themselves so we may proceed in our advancement.

            "It is fitting that today is the first of February.  Each early space mission that ended tragically has happened in the six days leading up to this one.  I would like to lead you all in a moment of remembrance for the seventeen who so bravely gave themselves for their cause.

            "The Apollo 1 astronauts, who were killed in a launchpad fire on January 27, 1967: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.  May we keep their memory in our hearts.

            "The Challenger astronauts, whose space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff on the 28th of January, 1986: Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe."  He paused briefly, unable to speak, then continued.

            "And lastly, the seven brave souls who died when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry two hundred years ago today:  Rick Husband, William McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Ilan Ramon, Michael Anderson, David Brown, and Laurel Clark.  We must always remember that our path is paved by the spirits of these seventeen men and women, as well as the countless others who have placed themselves in danger and sacrificed their lives so that we may succeed.

            "There have also been many successes in this week in early space travel.  On January 31st, 1958, the United States launched its first satellite, marking the beginning of the space race.  Without any of these achievements, none of us would be here now.

            "Let us go now, and make some achievements for captains in two hundred years to tell their crew about. 

            "We are the crew of the USS Columbia, NCC-2347.  Let us never forget our namesake.  Ensign Cantwell… Take us out," Rathert ordered.  He then looked down at the PADD in his hands.  It held only the text of the speech he had been painstakingly writing and editing for over a week.  He pressed the control that selected the entire document, then pressed "delete."  His new speech was better anyway.