From the desk of Admiral Kendra Cassidy
When I look back at what the Federation and Starfleet have become, I realize just how much of who we are is imprinted with Alley’s particular touch. Her utter professionalism is what got us through our conflict with the Union, but her ability to go with the flow allowed Starfleet to become the premier exploration service in space.
I stole her from the Northern Imperium Navy. I admit it. But it was their own zarking fault; she’d been grounded because she dared to follow their rules against a member of the ruling family. Even though she was right, she paid for it with her command.
So I swooped.
It was Candice who told me about her; she’d gotten to know her back in the day, when Candice was undercover in the NIN. Honestly, she was the only candidate I really considered, given her background and her skills.
One of my favorite memories of Alley is the first time she was on the bridge of the Enterprise. She’d done well with everything else, the whole ‘up into space’ and ‘here’s a nanobot factory for your jaw’ without even blinking. But the optical aluminum – I know, I call it optical sapphire too, and they’re technically the same. Right, where was I?
First time. Yes. So this is how it went:
None of this is what caught Alley’s eye.
Instead, she focused on the broad and clear expanse at the far side of the bridge, allowing them to look out at the dock and space beyond.
“Tell me that’s a screen.”
“Yes, and no.”
“That’s not reassuring.”
“It is a screen. You can have it display virtually anything the computer can generate, whether that’s a view of the surroundings, tactical information, sensor readings, whatever. But the screen is embedded in a slab of optical aluminum, eighteen centimeters thick.”
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“It’s a window?”
“On a starship.”
“You put a window. On a starship.”
“Yes. You seem a little stuck on this.”
“You put a goddess loving window on a starship!”
“We put lots of windows on this starship. You should see the one in the observation lounge on deck eight; it’s bigger than this one.”
“Are you totally out of your mind?”
“This seems to be really bothering you.”
“Why isn’t it bothering you? It’s a window on a starship!”
“Because I know it’s perfectly safe. It’s nearly as hard as sapphire, stable at temperature extremes, and resists shattering. That doesn’t begin to get into the other tricks we’ve tucked into it.”
“Okay, it’s strong. But a window?”
“When better? This is the first starship; what we do here sets a design standard for all future ships, and I wanted a window!”
She got over it, eventually, and when she was put in charge of overseeing the Fleet, she insisted that the new starships designed on her watch all had the same windows as Enterprise. As she said, “Kendra might be crazy, but she’s right. Putting a window on the bridge of a starship is absolutely the right thing to do. It’s the best way I know to get your command crew to really appreciate the wonder and beauty of space, of the job that we’re privileged to do day in and day out. The day our starships lose the window, the day our crews can’t see the glory around them, is the day Starfleet loses its soul.”
She’s also responsible for the tradition that the Captains of the Fleet have a pet aboard, usually a cat. She and her wife, LJ, brought the first little bundles of trouble aboard.
That’s not entirely fair. They were LJ’s cats, and she’d brought them when I recruited her to serve aboard Endeavour. When she and Alley decided to share quarters, LJ brought the cats, Theo and Luci, with her, and the tradition was born. Now we have generations of cats – and dogs, too – who have never known a planet. You’ve never seen anything until you see a cat bouncing around a gym in a quarter gee!
Well, until you see a treecat doing the same, but that’s another story.
Kendra Cassidy, Admiral (ret)
Want to know more? Read The Road to the Stars and get all of Alley’s story, not just the part Kendra remembers here! Audiobook available too. Click on the image to see!