Personal Log – Ambassador Ian Lamont
“Fortis cadere, cedere non potest”
Ian Lamont walked down the corridor of the Eris deck intent on enjoying some leisure time before the Charon departed Lyrillia. His recent conversation with the captain had been bothersome and contrary to the ideal outcome he had envisioned. While his prized collection of Romulan Ales remained intact, at least for now, he had not been let off the hook completely. Relegated to ‘community service’ on a daily basis his newly assigned duties in Engineering would no doubt be an interesting addendum to his resume.
Two hours a day in and around the ship’s powerplant for the duration of the Charon’s mission wasn’t exactly the sort of experience that a diplomat lusted after, however the duties were a far improvement over confinement in the ship’s dungeon otherwise known as the brig. He did have a certain vague interest in the mechanical devices which ensured the crew was provided power, water, heat, food, and the other necessities of life that they often took for granted. While he was sure there would no doubt be some initial frustration at having an unskilled diplomat poking about key systems with sharp tools he hoped the experience would not prove to be completely unbearable. Perhaps in time he might even pick up a few skills and possibly a knack for the job. He would certainly have enough exposure to all things engineering by the time the Charon’s mission was at an end.
He stopped at a nearby holodeck he had reserved. Tapping on the panel he was anxious to blow off some excess energy and frustrations. The commodore had put him in an interesting mood. He wasn’t bitter or angry; in fact he was almost surprised at the CO’s orders which while grueling and perhaps unsavory for a man of diplomacy. The order lacked the vicious teeth he had prepared himself to be bitten by. In any event he was determined to vent his frustrations in a constructive way and there was no better place for fantasy than the ship’s own holodeck system.
Through the magic of science the room could produce almost any dream imaginable making it an indispensible tool for keeping a crew sane on long voyages. Stepping inside the heavy double doors, Lamont entered the room as he gazed over the orange grid.
“Computer, load Lamont Program 4.”
The grid instantly disappeared and was replaced by an elaborate and finely decorated English style room adorned with rich oil paintings of nobles and kings hung from the walls, polished dark red woods, and various old world furniture and antiquities. A gold chandelier hung from the high ceilings illuminating a long black mat. Several other exercise devices were positioned around the room which was a recreation of an old and prestigious English country club on Earth of which Lamont had been a member in his youth. In addition to the opulence of the room, several suit of polished, shiny ancient armor stood silent guard over the room.
Adjusting his outfit satisfied it was indeed sufficient, Lamont selected a suitable weapon from a nearby case. His chosen sword, light and agile, was also a recreation of his favorite and most prized possession. The original, a valuable ancient Earth antique and one of the few remaining Lamont family heirlooms was safely stored back on Earth. It had been years since he had practiced as a boy with the foil, yet the holodeck could recreate it perfectly in every detail. While not the original it still returned the memories of his childhood at the height of the Lamont family’s power.
A few moments of warm up and Lamont felt ready to engage in a few matches of competitive fencing. Gripping the tip of the foil, he bent the long instrument several times before drawing it swiftly to his side.
“Computer, create a suitable adversary matching my skill level from previous matches.”
An opponent shimmered into existence opposite Lamont. “Computer, Begin.”
Bowing to his opposition, Lamont secured his protective headgear gripping his weapon. “EnGuarde”, he shouted as the two touched foils and began the fencing match.
[ Later ]
Lamont’s foil struck the chest of his opponent as he broke through his defense. Instantly the character vanished before him the match won, the program at an end.
Pulling off his protective mask, Lamont shook free his shoulder length hair. The match had been well fought, but was not the challenge he had been seeking. He wanted something more aggressive. He wanted a real challenge. The computer was a fine match, but it couldn’t simulate danger and emotion the way a real person could. What he really wanted was a duel with the commodore. Not to injure her, just to challenge her in sophisticated sport as opposed to their usual jousting with the bluntness of rank and position alongside the sharpness of words.
“Computer”, Lamont shouted. He was tempted to have the machines recreate the commodore, but such fantasy was just that. If he ever had the opportunity to engage the commodore in a friendly match of fencing he would do so against the genuine article not a computer replicated facsimile. “Give me a Romulan opponent. Male. The Romulan’s natural physical abilities should remain intact. Increase the difficulty by a factor of two.”
He tossed his protective headgear into the corner. He wanted a real fight with a genuine sense of peril. There was no substitute for reality. Retaining his fencing skills meant he needed to push himself against an opponent with the capability of winning, not just matching his own skills which he had carefully maintained over the years. In his quarters hung a few of the many awards he had amassed as an expert in fencing. While not the best swordsman in the quadrant much to his consternation, he could certainly hold his own against the vast majority of those brave enough to challenge him with a sword and indeed relished the opportunity to prove and test his skills when such a challenge was made.
Perhaps one day he could convince the commodore to challenge him in this arena. That day would not be soon, but perhaps before the Charon’s mission ended he could duel her purely for sport. She would be a worthy opponent. Quite worthy indeed. For now, he would settle for fantasy or would he?
“Computer”, Lamont stated slicing his foil through the air. “Disengage the safety protocols.”
“That request must be preceded by proper access authorization. Request denied.”
Lamont cursed the ever so obvious computer. “Disengage the safety protocols. Lamont, Ian, Commander, Authorization One One Five..uh…Six Two Sigma Seven.” He hadn’t used his Starfleet naval codes in awhile. Recalling them had given him pause, for a brief moment.
“Holodeck safety systems now disengaged. Warning, use of the holodeck without safety protocols in place may result in…”
“Computer spare me the motherly lecture”, Lamont shouted back. “I don’t need another woman telling me WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO aboard this ship! I’ve had enough of that today as it is!” His temper was flaring. “Computer, retain safety protocols to prevent death, but keep them off in all other circumstances.”
“Parameters acknowledged. Program will not be permitted to kill or inflict mortal injury.”
“Fine. Let’s get on with it. Give me the Romulan.”
A romulan male appeared before him. This one appeared more menacing and aggressive than his last opponent. Gone was the protective headgear of the simulated male. So much the better. Lamont could see his face and his expressions. That would make the match that much more interesting.
“BEGIN PROGRAM”, he shouted. Without waiting for the usual sportsmanlike beginning to a fencing match, Lamont simply yelled “ENGUARDE” and lunged at the burly Romulan.
Their foils clashed as metal scraped metal. Lamont took the offensive and quickly pressed home his attacks. The Romulan parried the assaults with an ease that was disquieting, but not unexpected. Lamont had wanted a challenge and was getting one. The momentum of the fight swung against him and Lamont now found himself on the defensive as the much stronger Romulan challenged with aggressive thrusts. Lamont was impressed by the Romulan’s strength. It was a pity that he as a human would never be able to match him in raw physical power, but what Lamont lacked in physical ability he made up for it in skill, guile, and agility. The Romulan was indeed strong, much stronger than he, but while he possessed improved power it came at the cost of speed. The weakness was not overlooked by Lamont who quickly moved to exploit the vulnerability.
Their swords clashed. Lamont grinned at his Romulan opponent while it merely scowled in return. With a rush of triumphant adrenaline, Lamont’s blade scored the first hit as the tip of his weapon caught the Romulan in the torso. A thin line of green blood stained the simulated male’s garment and in close approximation to the genuine article the holographic enemy seemed to grow angry and more aggressive.
Lamont struggled to protect himself against a hailstorm of thrusts, jabs, and lightning fast attacks which were now stronger, more focused, and impressively realistic. On the defensive, Lamont was unable to swing the match back into his favor. The Romulan continued his offensive with an intense aggressiveness that went beyond mere sport.
The attacks were so intense and quick that Lamont scarcely noticed he had been injured until his arm began burning. His right arm had a thin red line across it where he had been cut by the blade’s impeccably sharp tip. He barely had a chance to register the wound when the Romulan violated the rules and tripped him. Lamont felt to the mat hard as the Romulan pressed home his attack. The swish of a blade through the air, the telltale sound of its tip breaking the sound barrier, hit Lamont’s ears but not before its edge cut diagonally across his face from left to right creating a thin ribbon of crimson as Lamont battled his enemy from his back. Rolling to his left he narrowly escaped the blade again as the Romulan drove it into the ground where his body had just resided.
Kicking upwards, Lamont nimbly regained his footing. He passed his sword from his right hand to his left and then back again concentrating on its perfectly balanced weight while centering his ire, his pain, and his fears and channeling those emotions into carefully controlled rage which he was able to turn on and off like a well oiled valve. The Romulan charged his position. He stood his ground. The enemy drew ever closer as Lamont glared at the man and the contempt that seemed so clear in the depths of the Romulan’s eyes. The computer was pulling no punches and the Romulan was in fact acting like one true to his race’s ingenious uses of deception, misdirection, and guile. Breaking the rules had caught Lamont off guard. He wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
He took a step backwards and felt the cold steel of an ancient suit of armor behind him. Not even the armored English knights of old could hope to fend off the Romulan beast that was closing on him. Lamont dropped to the floor as the attack he anticipated came. A clatter rang in his ears. His eyes noticed a flash of light.
Rolling on the floor nearby was the empty helmet of the knight’s armor. It seemed chivalry was indeed dead as the inanimate knight would no doubt attest to assuming it could speak.
<<I’ll nominate the above lines for a quote of the week. Well I think it’s funny, in any event! :P>>
Lamont dove out of the way as the Romulan slashed through the remaining armor its metal pieces clattering to the ground in all directions. Using the noise and chaos to his benefit, Lamont finally found an opening to attack. He opened the valve and out poured a torrent of pent up frustration, anger, ambitions, fears, insecurities, doubts, hopes, and dreams all channeled into the ever sharp tip of his family’s polished blade.
“FORTIS CADERE, CEDERE NON POTEST”, Lamont shouted at the top of his lungs catching the Romulan off guard by the sudden burst of emotion and strength from the human who refused to stand still and accept his fate.
The Latin motto of his family crest rang in his ears as he shouted it only strengthening his resolve. The phrase had been with him since birth and would be with him until death. Translated it said, “The brave may fall, but cannot yield.”
Lamont had never yielded to anyone or anything in his life. Such was a fact as immutable as the concepts of space, time, or gravity. He would not yield; not to this Romulan, not to the Commodore, not to his enemies, nor even to himself whom he often struggled against.
Lashing out, Lamont drove his sword forward sinking its blade into the Romulan’s shoulder. The cry that followed was practically music in his ears as the Ambassador’s civility evaporated. Raw emotions replaced reason. Adrenaline fueled the dark ember which flickered in every human being. Generations of human advancement could not remove the dark fire that lay dormant in the core of humanity. It was always there with them searching for a way to escape. The dark fire yearned to leash its wrath out into the universe with a power and fury that eclipsed the strongest phaser or the mightiest of torpedo.
Lamont cried out pulling his sword now tinged with an emerald green from the arm of his enemy and lunged again. The fight raged on with neither man willing to accept defeat. Neither would fold. Neither would submit. Neither would yield. Death it now seemed was the only end game solution to two individuals blindly committed to destroying the other.
The Romulan thrust forward. His sword tip raked the wall in a shower of sparks as Lamont dodged the lighting fast attack. Ian Lamont pressed forward despite the odds, the risks, or the challenges. His body, covered in his own blood bore the wounds of the Romulan’s attacks, but still he managed to stand, to retain his weapon, and to fight. He would keep fighting for what he believed in no matter the odds and no matter the cost. The faces of his family flashed before him. He was the last Lamont of the line. It was his duty and his task to restore the family name.
He would be unable to do such wasting his time fighting a stubborn commodore while his family’s enemies gathered their strength back home. How foolish he had been. He was fighting the wrong battle. All this time….he had been running. Running from position to position, from promotion to promotion searching for power in allies, ballroom galas, and political figures. Such power would never be his. He had been deluding himself.
If he was to restore the Lamont name to its former glory it could not be done through might and might alone. The darkness within him was proof enough of that fact. Madmen and fools allowed themselves to be controlled and ruled by such emotions. No…NO! If he was the last heir he would restore his name through honor and hard work and not through the acquisition or use of power, political or otherwise. Such methods could only end in ruin.
The blade of the Romulan tore across his torso as their foils clashed. Both men’s faces hovered mere centimeters from the other. Each looked deeply into the eyes of the other. Lamont stared into the Romulan’s and saw only himself staring back. He swallowed, blinked and looked again. Gone was his image. There was nothing there. They were empty and blank as expected from a simulated automaton.
Lamont wasn’t fighting anyone, but himself. He was his own worst enemy and only he could kill what no one else could see. True to his family motto he would not yield. Fall if he must, he realized there was no shame in falling or dying. His father’s ruin came because he refused to accept the fact that it was acceptable to fall so long as one stayed true to one’s beliefs. Ian now realized his destiny lie upon a different path. How odd he had found clarity in the chaos of battle?
He stared into the hollow dark eyes of the Romulan before him as their blades rattled together under a terrible strain. Both men’s teeth gnashed in unison together with the sounds of screeching metal.
Lamont knew what he had to do to win. The fight could not be won otherwise. It was a stalemate and would remain so as his skill and technique was a perfect mesh against the Romulan’s raw strength. He would not yield, yet perhaps he needed to fall. Falling it seemed was the only way to win; the only way he could win.
Lamont slowly let down his guard as his foil slipped against the Romulan’s ever constant pressure. He closed his eyes as the Romulan pulled back, aimed, and drove his blade clean through Lamont’s upper thigh. Ian steeled himself against the terrible pain which radiated upwards, but quickly his eyes snapped open. The Romulan, as he predicted, was incapable of accepting a defeat and therefore had exposed himself. With the Romulan unable to attack with his weapon embedded in Lamont’s leg, Ian swiftly drove his sword into the man’s chest in a single, swift movement.
The Romulan groaned in agony as the blade pierced him. His eyes were full of confusion whereas Lamont’s were now focused and clear. The Romulan slid forward down the shaft of Lamont’s blade as a pool of emerald green collected on the floor. Seconds later the Romulan disintegrating into nothingness.
Indeed the entire room faded away leaving Lamont alone as the program terminated.
“Program Complete”, was the computer’s way of telling him he had won.
The sword wedged in his leg vanished, but the injuries it had left upon his battered body did not. Slipping to the floor, Ian felt the stickiness of his own blood and his own mortality slowly leaking from him. The computer, true to its instructions, had not killed him, but without medical attention he too would meet the Romulan’s fate in time.
Grabbing a torn piece of his shredded garment, Lamont tore away several strips and tied off his leg stopping the bleeding. He pulled himself back to his feet with a newfound strength from within that surprised even him. Limping to the exit he headed toward sickbay using his sword as a makeshift cane. While his body burned with increasingly painful injuries, Lamont’s mind and spirit had been freed of the guilt, cowardice, and pain that had been his companions since childhood.
While his body had yielded in order to win his mind and spirit refused to bend. Victory had been won at the price of a painful defeat and a lesson in taming his own demons. Armed with this new found knowledge Ian felt liberated from decades of family weight that had been placed upon his shoulders.
He now felt worthy to carry the Lamont name on his own. He was Ian Lamont. Destiny was his to command. His family history needed to be cleared of the charges against it, but their past legacy could no longer rule him nor should it. He would set his own course and follow his own compass from now on. If he could not do what was asked of him that was alright. So long as he never capitulated or compromised himself or his integrity then perhaps defeat or even death itself wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Limping down the hallway leaking crimson like a punctured paint can, Lamont was stopped by several crewman noticing his condition who quickly came to his aid. Held firmly in the arms of his fellow crewmen, Lamont simply trusted them to do what needed to be done. It felt good to trust someone and if he was to survive out here on the frontier of space aboard the Charon, he would need to trust those around him and he indeed would have to somehow regain and earn their trust. But such things were for a different time and place.
Relegating himself to the crew’s able care, Lamont allowed himself to slip into the darkness of sleep as consciousness slowly left him. His fight was over. He had won.
Fortis cadere, cedere non potest.
~ FIN ~