Author's Note:

Captain Elizabeth Shelby is based on the character Commander Shelby, portrayed by Elizabeth Hannah Dennehy, who appeared in the Star Trek Next Generation two-part episode The Best of Both Worlds.

Commander Shelby and the Star Trek Universe are the property of Viacom-CBS or its successors. The other characters and the star system, its objects and its inhabitants featured in Star Trek Hunter: Rock of Ages were created by me for this story or for the Star Trek Hunter series.

Special thanks to CeJay, whose short story, "When Gods Smile" served as the inspiration for this story. CeJay's stories can be found at: StarEagleAdventures dot com

- Robert Bruce Scott

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Star Trek Hunter
Rock of Ages
Scene 1: Death With Dignity
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Death With Dignity
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It was a hell of a wedding gift - an assignment to observe a global extinction event that would destroy one of the most promising pre-warp species the Federation had ever encountered. And as a member of several expeditions to study these excellent people, Captain Elizabeth Shelby was the last person who wanted to watch their future and their people die.

But she had not pleaded for this assignment to be given to another starship crew or captain. As a visiting professor not only of military tactics but also ethics and federation law for Star Fleet Academy, she knew quite well why she had been chosen to watch these particularly promising innocents die in the most heart-wrenching of ways.

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The people of Al Semora 5 - known to the unimaginative Star Fleet Academy Dept. of Xenoanthropology as the al semorans - had only begun to use robotic spacecraft to explore their home star system. They were at least decades if not a century away from developing faster than light travel, which placed them firmly under the Prime Directive.

Similar in physiology to the cardassians - an al semoran could be mistaken for a cardassian at a distance - they had evolved beyond their primitive, warring period, developed an unusually egalitarian global culture and were advancing at a dramatic rate technologically.

But not quickly enough to save them from an asteroid nearly 2/3 the size of Pluto. If this asteroid had been even only half its mass, al semoran technology might have been sufficient for them to nudge it aside so that it would not strike their planet. As it was, the collision would not only exterminate all life on their planet - it would punch straight through the core of their planet - leaving only scant remnants of their nascent space program as evidence of their existence.

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Most heartbreaking of all, the al semorans knew their fate. And had responded with unique nobility in the face of their impending doom, devoting their entire global effort to their attempt to ward off this disaster. Too little. Too late.

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Shelby had been chosen as the Federation's observer to this event because she was probably the only captain in the fleet with the stomach to obey the Prime Directive and stand by and let nature take its course.

And only a month after her wedding to Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. He was assigned elsewhere - in no small part to keep him and the U.S.S. Excalibur out of trouble. Only Shelby and her crew aboard the U.S.S. Trident were to be in this sector. She was determined to spend as much of this mission in the captains chair as possible to provide an example for her crew. This kind of mission was far worse than the infamous Kobiashi Marou, the no-win-scenario used by Star Fleet Academy to train Star Fleet cadets how to face death with dignity.

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