“WHY WE FIGHT” – the first-ever AXANAR illustrated short story!

Click here to view the PDF version of “Why We Fight”

Read more about the creation of this original Axanar short story by clicking here.  And come back next week for an interview with illustrator Mark McCrary.

“Why We Fight”

An Axanar Short Story

Written by Jonathan Lane
Illustrations by Mark McCrary

Stardate: 2244.9
Location: The 602 Club, Mill Valley near San Francisco, Earth

At a table…

RON: Ajax

MATT: Apollo


DARIA: Artemis

RON: Demeter

MATT: Dionysus


DARIA: Um, um…Hecate

RON: Hephaestus

MATT: Hermes

RON: Wrong!

THALEK: Incorrect!

DARIA: Crash and burn, Matt!

MATT: Which one did I miss?

ALL: Hercules!!!


RON: Take a shot.

DARIA: Hey, why is it called the Hercules and not Heracles?

MATT: Huh?

DARIA: All the other human Ares-class ships are named after GREEK gods.  Hercules was the ROMAN name for Heracles, which was the original Greek name.

MATT: Hey, Daria, when did you get transferred from biochemistry to ship’s cultural historian?

DARIA: Pulse you, Decker!  When I signed up for Starfleet, I figured I was gonna EXPLORE alien societies…not shoot at them.

[Long, quiet stare.]

MATT: Yeah, I think that’s true for most of us.

THALEK: Not me.  I wanted to fight!

RON: Well, you’re just an idiot is what you are.

MATT: Hey, I thought Hercules–excuse me, HERACLES–wasn’t even a full god.  Wasn’t he just a half-god?

RON: Don’t tell Captain Travis that.  He’ll knock you right into San Francisco Bay…from here!

DARIA: So how many Ares-class cruisers do we have in service now?

MATT: Twenty-two.  And there’s two more in dry dock, ready to join the Fleet.  Nemesis and, um…the god with the two faces…

THALEK: Janus.

DARIA: Huh?  Thalek, how is it that an Andorian knows the name of an ancient Earth god?

THALEK: I don’t.  But the USS Janus is getting an Andorian crew, and I’m being transferred from the Poseidon as soon as the new vessel is ready.


RON: Speaking of Andorians, Thalek, why is it that you hang out with us humans here at the bar?

THALEK: I don’t understand…

MATT: What he means is that most of the crews stick with their own species.  Look around.  The Tellarites drink with other Tellarites.  The Andorians drink with Andorians.  The Vulcans…well, I don’t think they even drink, but they certainly don’t socialize with us.

THALEK: One could say that you humans don’t exactly socialize outside of your own species either.

[Looks of embarrassment.]

THALEK: Hah!  As you humans say, I’m just pulling your hair.

MATT: Leg.

THALEK: Why would someone pull a leg?

MATT: Good point.

THALEK: It’s true that we are all still a little leery of the other races—Vulcans, Humans, Andorians, Tellarites, Nausicans, Deltans.  The Federation covers a vast span of the galaxy, and our races don’t get many opportunities to interact with each other.  Without warp-six capable starships, it can take weeks or even months just to get from one star system to the other.

DARIA: But now we’re all here on Earth together, fighting a common enemy.  You’d think we’d make more of an effort to get to know each other.

RON: I don’t want to get to know each other…


RON: I don’t!  That’s my choice.

DARIA: Thalek, he didn’t mean that.  He’s just a little drunk…

RON: Pulse you!  I know what I said!

MATT: Ron, don’t be a dunsel…

RON: I’m just saying what we’re all thinking!  Tellarites—they’re obnoxious!  They think they’re hot plasma, but they’re just a race full of angry, pig-nosed bloodworms!  Deltans…they’re supposed to be so “sexually mature” that we aren’t even supposed to talk to them!  What in blazes is up with THAT???

DARIA: Ron, keep your voice down, you’re making a scene.

RON: Nausicans are just animals!  Orions are blasted thugs.  Denobulans…

MATT: Seriously?  You’ve got a problem with Denobulans?

RON: Well, no, I suppose they’re okay.  But all the rest of them.  Look at those Vulcans sitting over there…

MATT: Oh, man, here we go.  I knew he’d get to the Vulcans…

RON: Why shouldn’t I???  They think they’re so blasted superior to us.  For a hundred years, they held back technology from Earth—even though we were supposed to be allies—said we weren’t ready for it.  We had to claw our way to a Warp 5 engine that they’d already had for centuries.

THALEK: That doesn’t surprise me.  The Vulcans used to be quite protective of their technology.

RON: They still are!

MATT: Hey, did you know my great-great grandfather worked with Henry Archer on the Warp 5 project?  Or was it three greats?

DARIA: My great-grandfather served under Henry Archer’s son on the Enterprise during the Romulan War.  He was their helmsman.  I think Captain Archer’s first officer was a Vulcan.

RON: Probably sent to spy on them…

THALEK: I don’t beleive  so.  I seem to recall that she helped reveal the existence of a Vulcan listening post that was covertly monitoring my people.  I doubt that a Vulcan spy would assist in a mission that would so jeopardize a clandestine operation like that.

RON: Doesn’t it bother you that they were spying on your planet in the first place???

THALEK: That was nearly a century ago.  The Vulcans have changed.


DARIA: Ron, please quiet down.  You’re embarrassing all of us.

MATT: Yeah, Ron…

RON: Shut up!  The Vulcans haven’t changed at all.  They’re still arrogant know-it-alls who think they’ve figured out what’s best for the galaxy.  The “great awakening”?  Don’t make me laugh!  They weren’t even going to enter this war!!!  And they’re still withholding technology from us!!!   The weapons on board the Zeus?  The Andorians gave us those…

THALEK: You’re welcome.

DARIA: And the Vulcans gave us shields and life support systems.

RON: But they held back the weapons!!!  Why?  YOU HEAR ME, YOU POINTY-EARED HOBGOBLINS?

DARIA: Ron, sit down!

RON: DON’T IGNORE ME, YOU GREEN-BLOODED COWARDS!!!  Why didn’t you give us weapons?  We know you have them!  And they’re probably much more advanced than ours.  Or maybe you could have helped us, worked with us, to improve the weapons that we ALL have.  DO YOU WANT THOSE BLOODTHIRSTY KLINGONS TO WIN THIS WAR???

DARIA: Matt, we need to do something…

RON: LOOK AT ME, BLAST IT!!!  You Vulcans–you’re not even fighting!  You’re just PRETENDING to fight!

MATT: I’m going to find someone from security.

RON: You could have saved the crew of the Tecumseh!  They were being decimated by the Klingons!!  The Nike was the first ship to arrive at Altair VI.  But instead of engaging the Klingons, you held back.  WHY???  My sister was on that ship, and you sat back and didn’t fire a shot!  You cowards hid behind a stupid moon!!!   WHY????  Why didn’t you engage sooner?  WHY DID YOU WAIT???

[A loud voice answers from elsewhere in the 602 Club…]

GARTH: Because I ordered them to.

[Captain Kelvar Garth walks over to their table.]

DARIA: (whispering) Holy…is that who I think it is?

THALEK: It’s Garth.

MATT: Captain present!  Ten-hut!

GARTH: At ease, everyone.  You, too, Lieutenant…. Lieutenant?

RON: Tracey, sir.  I’m a weapons officer on board the USS Zeus.

GARTH: Lieutenant Tracey, I’m sorry about your sister.  I truly am.  We lost 184 valiant men and women in that battle…but it could have been more.  I gave the Vulcans on the Nike the order to wait behind that moon until the rest of their squadron could arrive.

RON: But why, sir?  The Tecumseh was crippled, defenseless.  They had no chance against the Klingons.

GARTH: And neither did the Nike, son…not alone.  Over half a dozen D-6 cruisers came out of warp to ambush the Tecumseh.  Had the Nike gone in before our other ships arrived in the system, it would have been a blood bath…and it would have cost us one of Starfleet’s most advanced warships.

RON: We still lost an entire ship and crew!

GARTH: But not two, Mr. Tracey!  Not even an Ares-class could have held off that many Klingons!

[Closes eyes, composes himself.]

This war isn’t fair, Lieutenant.  It isn’t just, and it certainly isn’t clean.  It is, quite literally, the ugliest and most daunting test we have ever faced as a planet.  And every choice we make, every command we give, will cost us something…because the enemy we are facing is ruthless.

RON: My sister wasn’t even a soldier, sir.  She worked in their sickbay.

GARTH: Look, I know most of us didn’t sign up to be warriors.  That’s not what Starfleet’s about.  But we have to prove that we can do what we need to do to defend the Federation…no matter the cost.

[Pause.  Thick silence.  Deep breath.]

GARTH: That order…and the destruction of the Tecumseh…will haunt me for the rest of my life, Mr. Tracey.  I see those faces and hundreds like them every night when I wake up from my nightmares.  One day when you’re a captain—and I hope you will be—I pray you never have to make the decision of who gets to live and who has to die.  I hope that, by the time you have a ship of your own, that there is peace in the Federation and we can all return to simply being explorers.

DARIA: I think we all want that, Captain.

GARTH: But in the meantime, understand this: we are all—ALL—fighting for each other.  Humans, Andorians, Vulcans, Tellarites…we are a FEDERATION of Planets.  We must have each other’s backs.  We fight the Klingons—we DON’T fight each other.  And remember this, as well: none of us, no race, no individual, is perfect.  No one has a monopoly on bravery or intelligence or common sense, and no one is morally superior.  We’ll all make bad decisions…or sometimes even good decisions with bad outcomes that can’t be avoided.  But we must be willing to look past the bad and see the good in all the races of the Federation.

[Garth turns toward the window and looks out at the stars.]

Someday this blasted war will be over.  It HAS to end, and we HAVE to win.  There is no alternative for us.  And when that finally happens, we’ll be left with what we’ve been fighting for this entire time: the United Federation of Planets.  Don’t tear apart the very thing that we have been risking and sacrificing our lives to preserve.  Do you understand, Lieutenant?

RON: Yes, sir, I do.

GARTH: I think it’s time you head back to your quarters…all of you.  That’s an order.  Sleep this off.  There’s a still a war on, and we need you all to be at your best.  Dismissed.

[The four officers get up to leave.  Ron walks over to the Vulcans and raises his glass in a toast.]

RON: To our losses: Vulcan, Human, Andorian, Tellarite…all of the races in the Federation.  We fight together.

[The Vulcans take a moment, look at each other, stand up, and raise their glasses.]

Vulcans: To our losses.

SONYA: That was quite the speech, Kel.  You trying for Ramirez’s job?

GARTH: No way.  He can keep it!

SONYA: Well, your words do lead to actions.  I admire that.  I think you really reached that young officer.

GARTH: I hope so, Sonya.  But I meant what I said: this war HAS to end, and we HAVE to win.

SONYA: I agree.  But the twenty-five thousand credit question is “How?”

GARTH: That’s why I asked you here.  I’ve got an idea…and it’s a pretty crazy one.  But I actually think it could work.

SONYA: What is it?

GARTH: Sit down, Sonya, and order a drink.  I have a feeling you’re gonna need it.

The beginning of the end…

57 thoughts on ““WHY WE FIGHT” – the first-ever AXANAR illustrated short story!”

  1. Very nice, both the story and the illustrations! I printed out the PDF and read it aloud to my husband after breakfast this morning. (He’s a big Star Trek fan, too — although he probably would have paid more attention if he hadn’t been composing his own blog post on a totally different subject at the time . . .)

      1. Jonathan, that is awesome work! It deserves to be printed and available to all Trek fans. As far as I’m concerned, this is canon. Awesome!

  2. He didn’t say anything at the time — but at least he didn’t go “shush — I’m busy!” (which is his usual reaction when he’s interrupted in the midst of something). We’ve got the printout of the PDF, though, so he can look at it himself later on today when he’s not so busy.

    1. Nah. I was pretty happy the way it turned out. There are only so many times you can read, “he said,” “she replied,” “he retorted,” “he yelled,” before you start running out of creativity. 🙂

  3. I thought it was well written. Reminded me of scripts from the original series. Well done to the author. The art work was outstanding, and complements the story well. Over all outstanding work!

  4. Hey Jonathan – this is good. Expected prose, but dialog places its own special demands on the writing! Love the subtext, and you leave me keen for more. (Yes, and good graphics also.) Downloaded the PDF as I prefer this to reading from the screen – good layout too (naturally!).

    One issue. In the opening where they are vying to list Greek Gods/Goddesses alphabetically, Ajax was never a God. A mythological hero of the Trojan wars, but not a God. (Or is that something you inherited from the Axanar source?)

  5. I immediately got the WWII “Why We Fight” nod.

    It was a fun story which fits very neatly into the Axanar timeline.


  6. My husband Don’s reaction: “He does a good job of showing the tensions which would exist within any alliance of intelligent species. It shows the greatness of Garth as a commander, able to make soul-destroying decisions to achieve victory, but also helps to show why he ultimately went mad under the burden of those decisions. This is some of the best Trek fan fiction I’ve ever read, and superior to a lot of commercial Trek fiction I’ve read. If Mr. Lane wishes, I would be willing to put the story up as a guest post, with full attributions to both him and illustrator Mark McCrary, on both of my blogs, The American Catholic and Almost Chosen People. There are a lot of SF fans, especially Star Trek fans, who read both blogs, and I think the story would attract a lot of comment.”

    1. Tell him I’d be honored. My wife and her family are Catholic, by the way. Mark McCrary is an Evangelical preacher from Kentucky. (I’m a devout Whateverist, if you’re curious.) I definitely appreciate your husband’s kind words. They’ve lifted me up! 🙂

  7. RON Tracey
    MATT Decker
    THALEK (“later” from Star Trek: The Intrepid Adventures; ancestor of Thalek from Hidden Frontier)
    DARIA Mayweather

    I’m right?

    1. Yes, on the first two. As for Thalek, I’ve always liked that name. When we adopted our son, if he’d been an Andorian, I probably would have named him Thalek. 🙂

      As for Daria, I’m not entirely sure Travis was her paternal great grandfather, but possibly. Yes, she’s his descendant, likely with at least one or two non-white progenitors in the mix between there and here because she needed to have blond hair. Why? Well, she will also soon become Daria Decker and leave Starfleet to raise their son, Will.

      Hey, who says it didn’t happen that way, huh? 🙂

          1. Thank you :). And frankly I agree with D. C. Fontana that better is treating Trek universe as a multiverse without rigid canon… but… your method of continuity building I’m really like. Especially in the context of Discovery writers’ unconstraint.

          2. The fun part of playing in the Star Trek “sandbox” is that there’s a lot of toys there. And frankly, fan fiction can be anything we want it to be. Different universes/same universes. Who cares? If you like something in your “head canon,” it’s YOUR head canon, right?

            Many decades ago back in college, I had a girlfriend who wrote some Trek fan fiction. In one of her stories, Kirk is on shore leave and ends up having one of his typical “trysts” with a young woman who only tells him her first name: Joey. Kirk, in turns, plays the game and only tells her his first name: Jim. The two have a fun little fling, mostly harmless, until the Enterprise returns to pick up the crew who was on shore leave. Kirk is with Joey when someone rings the buzzer to her hotel room. She answers, not concerned that there’s a man in her room. She’s an adult, after all. Turns out the Enterprise got back early, and her father discovered that his daughter was vacationing down there and wanted to surprise her with a visit. Her father was, of course, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and “Joey” was actually Joanna McCoy. She had no idea “Jim” was James T. Kirk, her father’s best friend. And…well, the fit hits the shan in a big way.

            Canon? Certainly not. Head canon? Possibly. While I enjoyed the story, and Kirk and Bones do make up at the end, it seems like the kind of wound that might go pretty deep in their friendship. So perhaps it didn’t really happen. Or perhaps it did. Or perhaps it’s just all in an alternate Trek universe. Heck, there was an early Trek novel called “Black Fire” where Spock spends six months as a space pirate. Canon? Head canon? How about just enjoying the book?

            That’s why I stopped complaining about the Discovery Starfleet uniforms and weird-looking Klingons early on. This is, for me, an alternate universe. What I care about now is the question: is this a good television show and a good story? And for me, the jury is still out on that verdict. 🙂

          3. And… it is really good to know that Travis’ descendant was/will be the captain of the Enterprise.

  8. Nice job of cleaning up the “bad” language. “Pulse You” was my favorite. Didn’t Dr. McCoy use to say “blasted” or “blast you”? Besides “dammit Jim” that is If, Some Alien watched Star Trek, they might be forgiven, if they actually thought Captain Kirk’s first name really IS “Dammit Jim”

      1. No, it’s my fault for starting this. My bad. I was just having some fun with it.
        Loved the story and graphics. Hope you guys do another in the future.

        And the new edit function is working as it should. Thanks for adding it Jonathan.

        1. One thing about new edit function, at least on mobile, is I had to hit refresh to see changes on blog page comments, after successfully saving changes on edit page

  9. BTW, there are extensions for WordPress that allow editing of comments. Just a suggestion.

  10. Don says he’ll be running/reblogging your story on both of his blogs on Monday, then. Thanks so much!

  11. You’re welcome, and Don appreciates the opportunity to share your work with the readers of his blogs!

  12. Great story and execution, kudos to you two! 🙂 But is a USS Tecumseh in the 23rd century canon in some way? I can only find one in the 24th century on Memory Alpha, when there was a huge inflation on star ships and names. Isn’t the fleet in the 23rd century “supposed” to be smaller and have the “usual” names like Lexington, Excelsior, Yorktown, Enterprise, etc.? Just curious…

    1. There were multiple instances of names like Enterprise, Intrepid, Excalibur, Defiant, etc. throughout the 23rd and 24th centuries. So just because a USS Tecumseh existed in 2245 doesn’t mean another USS Tecumseh can’t exist a century later, as well.

      The Tecumseh is from a class of ship whose names come from the great Native Americans throughout the history of the Unites States. (Yes, I totally grasp the heartbreaking irony in that last sentence.) We have already seen the USS Geronimo. There will also be vessels with names like the USS Cochise, USS Sitting Bull, USS Sacajawea, USS Pocahontas, and USS Squanto. Tecumseh was a Native American Shawnee warrior chief from what would later become Ohio who unified a number of Indian tribes to resist the American settlers. Originally, I had named the vessel the USS Armstrong. But Mark McCrary liked the class of ship that was the Geronimo and drew that. Alec recommended that we find a Native American name instead, and we both came up with Tecumseh.

      1. Ok, thanks for explaining! 🙂 It’s just that in TOS, I’ve never noticed ships other than the ones I named (Yorktown, Excalibur (?), Enterprise, etc.), and in the movies we had Saratoga, Excelsior, etc., but I can’t recall other sources of names until TNG. Never mind 😉

        1. Although never officially established in televised canon, there were a large number of other classes of TOS-era starships listed in the Starfleet Technical Manual by Franz Joesph. It included such classes as destroyers, scouts, transport tugs, and dreadnoughts along with the more familiar heavy cruisers like the USS Enterprise. And although never mentioned in television Star Trek, in the first Motion Picture, two scout-class ships were briefly mentioned: USS Columbia and USS Revere. You can hear them in the subspace chatter in the background starting at 2:33 in the following video:

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