“The Vulcan and the Snake Charmers – Part II”
[ Main Bridge – USS Charon ]
Favoring the human with an eloquently raised brow, Sakarra could not help but wonder if the good Lieutenant had missed a meal today – first fruit references, now this.
“Duly noted, counselor.”
Lamont couldn’t help but notice the counselor’s nonchalant attitude toward the unexpected guest. It was highly unusual for a counselor to be so casual as it were. Despite a certain reflex to be put off by what seemed like unprofessionalism, Lamont instead was almost glad for the unique qualities of the counselor’s words. This crew did not need any more stress and if he could help lighten the mood upon the bridge given then current gravity of the situation; so much the better.
Speaking of ‘rash’ and ‘fun’ however …
“Commander Pax, please inquire about the status of the shuttles that were modified for the nebula survey. I should also appreciate engineering to provide a time table for equipping fighters with enhanced shielding.”
She steepled her fingers under her chin and for the duration of a Vulcan heartbeat, an expression seemed to flicker over unreadable features.
“Would you deem it a logical assumption then that a shuttle accompanied by two fighters will be considered neither threat nor competition for a food source and should be able to successfully make close range scans of the creature?”
In a way, it had been his idea and Sakarra was tempted to ask the counselor to join the away team. Just as she was experiencing a moment of mild annoyance at Starfleet regulations which would prevent her from leading the flight herself.
"I don't really do logic." Jilani noted lightly, "But I think it is fairly obvious at this point that the only way we are going to get further information about this creature and its possible motivations is by engaging it somehow. It seems pretty content to ignore us for now." He gave the First Officer an appraising look, "So the real question is if you think two fighters and a shuttle, and the lives on board, are worth the information, Commander."
Perhaps for the first time since their slightly unusual first meeting in a transporter room, the Vulcan found it prudent to look … more closely. He seemed untroubled by suddenly finding himself the focal point of such silent regard, implacable as white-hot scorching Nevasa.
“You would have me assign a value to knowledge? And then weigh it against that which is by its very nature invaluable?” Dark currents shifted in night black eyes like hot air seems to move over desert sands, but her low, melodious voice was … almost gentle.
Would those ordered to go and ‘engage’ the dragon find the risk acceptable, the bargain … worth it? Or was the question not rather would any of them be in Starfleet, and on this of all ships, if they did not understand what it meant to ‘Seek out new life’?
Like a patient, indulgent matriarch who decides to explain even though such things are not required, Sakarra tipped her head towards the screen “And this life? What is it worth, counselor?”
Though senses going beyond logic told the Vulcan this was rather … more than a massive K’karee basking in the heat, one had to consider this was a creature guided by instinct, badly equipped to deal with a starship’s resources – weapons and minds alike.
“However,” if there was a dry, mildly amused timbre creeping into the Vulcan’s words, only sensitive ears would have picked it up “I shall take your concerns under advisement. As I am certain, will the shuttle crew.”
The fighter pilots on the other hand would likely clamor to be assigned as escorts, considering any potential danger the aforementioned ‘fun’.
Lamont was still frustrated at their close proximity to the star and saw little to be gained by tempting fate so close to its unstable core. Why couldn’t a dozen probes do this sort of work? What was it about scientific curiosity which drove them to take such unnecessary risk? Those questions were without immediate answers however the appearance of the serpent creature certainly had altered the calculus of their mission. In addition to keeping a hair trigger on the helm and an eagle eye on a star on the verge of tearing itself apart they now had a potential first contact scenario to address. All this and an inability to establish communications was bundled neatly into a nice package marked “EXTREME DANGER”.
Sometimes he longed for the predictability of the Klingons and Romulans and the ceaseless chess game which managed to preserve the peace. At least with the major powers one knew where they stood and had some measure of control over situations.
The unexplored frontier was certainly not for the faint of heart. It was unpredictable, dangerous, and full of unknowns. Despite the risks involved the life had grown upon him. Missions were seldom the same and the faint hint of danger in every one was almost drug like becoming addictive. Though he probably would not admit it, Lamont felt a sense of loss whenever their daily routine was in fact mundane. As a diplomat such feelings would be frowned upon. Diplomats were not encouraged to take substantial risks except in all but the most dire circumstances yet he could not reconcile his training with his human curiosity. It was a most interesting problem to contend with.
Lamont took a long look at the creature before them on the viewscreen before speaking. It was as fascinating as it was potentially hazardous.
“I must concur with my colleague Commander in that I do not profess to be a master at logic however, sitting here staring at the creature will garner us no additional information as the counselor indicated. The longer we postpone any close range investigations the less time is available for opportunities to learn from this lifeform or whatever it indeed is. That star is entering the final stages of its collapse. If we are to learn any more then we must act now before it is too late otherwise we should remain content to observe only the star’s demise. Time will not grant us the luxury of indecision.”
Engineering had signaled one point one hours to complete modifications – satisfactory, considering the circumstances.
Aware of both obsidian and green eyes watching, and the anticipation radiating off the bridge crew – less nervous than before, but still carrying a fair measure of uncertainty – the Vulcan’s features seemed to shift, change from thoughtful and curious not to the impenetrable mask of equanimity and detachment, but … the calm, serene face of someone who has just understood a subtle joke.
“Quite so, ambassador.”
Ah, but Mr Tisdale would fret at having to leave his beloved lab. She would have to make certain a generous supply of coffee would be on board the shuttle before launch.
“Gentlemen, you may make any preparations you consider appropriate and return to the bridge in one point five hours to observe the launch. I shall require your assistance in interpreting possible reactions to our communication attempts. Unless one of you wishes to volunteer for the mission?”
Neither the Vulcan’s voice nor her face betrayed the smallest hint of mischief. Only … benevolent interest.
For a moment Waqas considered challenging the call for volunteers. He was of a lower rank and, as a consequence, more expendable than Lamont. The logical course of action, in his mind, would have been for the First Officer to order his participation. The fact that she had chosen not to give that order was worthy of comment. Whether or not this was the time for such comment, however, was a different matter.
After pausing a moment, he simply said. "I'll go. The snake needs to be charmed and," Waqas added with an apologetic shrug towards Lamont, "It has to be said...I am much more charming than the Ambassador."
Lamont quietly observed the unfolding situation. Waqas's decision to volunteer was sufficient to cause his brow to ascend on his brow albeit only slightly. There was something tantalizing about the serpent on the screen whose outer skin shimmered like diamonds. Men and women alike had died trying to possess such stones throughout human history. Indeed few objects were as coveted and sought after as the diamond. Far too many had paid the ultimate price attempting to claim the largest and rarest rocks of crystallized carbon for themselves. Lamont wondered what intrigue surrounded the rare jewel before them now. It mattered little if his insignificant musings would be answered; the decision had been made.
Perhaps it had even been predetermined. Humans had an intrinsic desire to go where even angels feared to tread. It was both a flaw and a strength resulting in untold tragedies equaled only by monumental leaps in discovery and understanding. Would this end in tragedy or understanding? Only time would tell.
Then there was the counselor's last statement which caused the seasoned ambassador pause.
Leaning forward only slightly, Ian turned and flashed a wry grin at Waqas. "Far be it for me to question our ship's counselor on such matters as charm."
Lamont was repressing a strong urge to flash a wide smile. He would have to get to know this Waqas better if time and fate permitted. He had a singular and uncommon wit.
Leaning back he quickly followed up his last statement, "However, with all due respect, I retain rights to obtain a second opinion when it comes to evaluations of my own abilities." The words left his lips and the ambassador could no longer hide his smile.
"I imagine the vast majority of the science department will want your autograph upon your successful return assuming you can indeed charm the serpent out there. Good luck Mr. Waqas." Lamont offered a respectful nod to a fellow officer.
If insouciance bordering on insolence was part of the human male’s charm – and quietly, Sakarra had to admit it was – then both the counselor and the good ambassador were highly qualified indeed.
And while the counselor’s decision to keep his peace was duly noted, so were … other things.
Another tap at her auxiliary screen completed the away team assignments and the Vulcan gave a brief nod “Dismissed, gentlemen.”
[ End Log ]
Lt. Commander Sakarra Tyrax, XO
Lt. Jilani Waqas, Counselor
Ambassador Ian Lamont