Time. Human perception of the 4th dimension was consistently – inconsistent. One tended to have too much time or not enough as emotions, the environment, actions, events and other forces were constantly at play shaping a person’s perceptions.
Ambassador Ian Lamont pondered such amusing thoughts and more as he made his way down a crowded, busy corridor filled with crewmen working to prepare the ship for the coming investigation of the alien being that resembled a serpent. He currently had the luxury of some spare time and intended to use it lest it be his last opportunity to do so given the Charon’s proximity to a star on the brink of detonation and the appearance of an unknown alien whose capabilities and intentions were far from certain.
Reaching his destination the doors to the Charon’s brig slid open and Lamont strode through them for possibly the first time of his own accord. Back within the confines of the area of this Charon was somewhat unsettling for the Ambassador however he had some unfinished business to attend to in the short time allotted him by the first officer. The current mission would soon take precedence and only fate knew what lie in ahead. Faced with uncertainty, Lamont required an answer to a question that had vexed him since his encounter with a specific individual.
The security officer on duty suddenly stiffened at the entrance of an officer, but relaxed upon identifying the ambassador. “Oh it’s just you. What was it this time? Eh, I’ll find out soon enough. So, do you want your usual cell or do you want to shake things up and try another”, the lieutenant quipped moving toward one of the cells. “This one here is a great one to get away from it all. Quiet and secluded with a great view of a bulkhead.”
Lamont’s expression, already firm, quickly turned sour. “I am so glad I am a source of amusement for you lieutenant. You should also be pleased when I contact your superiors and inform them of your severe lack of professionalism and courtesy when addressing superior officers.”
The lieutenant stiffened realizing that perhaps the Ambassador wasn’t here to be incarcerated – a Charon first. “Sorry sir. It will not happen again sir.”
Lamont said nothing for a moment before turning back toward the lieutenant. “I am here to speak with a prisoner however I prefer to do so in private. Please excuse us for the moment lieutenant.”
“Sir I cannot leave my post.”
“Then stand outside, go have a drink, I don’t care, but I require a few minutes alone with this prisoner. That’s a direct order lieutenant unless you care to end up on report for disobeying orders?”
The lieutenant scowled at the ambassador and headed for the door. “I will be right outside if you need anything…sir. You have five minutes before I report this to the security chief as improper. I would ask that you not touch anything sir.”
“I am not here to release prisoners or aid them in escape lieutenant. I require a few moments for a private conversation.”
“Five minutes”, the lieutenant tersely responded before exiting the room.
Lamont sarcastically mouthed the words “five minutes” as the upstart lieutenant’s back before the doors closed. Turning back toward the secured cells, Lamont approached the one which held the captured mercenary who had attempted to kill him not once, but twice. Standing outside the invisible forcefield Lamont was tempted to touch it just to ensure it was really there. Being this close to a man who was so adept in the art of killing and escape was disquieting.
Before he could speak a voice interrupted the silence as Lamont looked in on a seemingly sleeping Romulan his back facing the ambassador. “Did you come down here to gloat about your victory with the aid of that holographic security program Ambassador”, the mercenary asked startling Lamont who believed the man asleep.
“No. Gloating is not something those in my profession are accustomed to performing nor do I crave such a petty pursuit. I am here on another matter. Are you aware of our current situation?”
“Ambassador, I am aware of the three walls around me, the forcefield that keeps me here, your charming guards, and the three meals a day I receive. Beyond that I am aware of little else that transpires aboard this ship.”
Lamont couldn’t blame the man for the bitterness that was evident in his voice. He was all too aware of the negative effects long term imprisonment had upon the body and mind. Boredom was a form of torture unto itself, yet despite the man’s hardship Lamont was not prepared to help ease the man’s uncomfortable existence. He had tried to kill him not once, but twice.
“The Charon has recently encountered a nearby star which is in the final phases of collapse. Our science teams expect the star to go nova soon which would allow the Charon a front row seat to a rare phenomenon.”
“Should I be preparing for a suntan or is there a point you wish to make Ambassador? Exploding stars are of little interest to me that is unless of course I am to be given a first row seat by you or your captain.” Aev Keirianh lifted himself from his bed and turned to face Lamont his face and expression cold and devoid of any emotion.
“You have no need for tanning lotion for the moment Mr. Keirianh, however there is more. We have encountered a serpent like creature. It is the size of a small starship, appears to have warp capability or some type of FTL propulsion, and is either alive or perhaps is a biological vessel carrying unknown beings. Our instruments are unable to give us any detail given the radiation output of the sun at this distance, however it has been suggested that perhaps the creature or alien race is here at the star like us to study it, is curious, or perhaps may use the pending explosion and energy release as some type of food source.”
“Fascinating. What do you want from me Ambassador? Do I look like a scientist? I either kill snakes or have the good sense to avoid them.”
Lamont hid his desire to curl his lip. For someone who had asked for asylum the man was certainly not endearing himself to achieving that outcome. “You had mentioned your familiarity with this region and your possible usefulness aboard this ship as I recall. Or did is mistake that earlier offer for something else?.”
Keirianh stood and moved toward the forcefield. His body stopped just short of the invisible barrier but the action was enough to cause the ambassador to take a half step backwards. Despite his apprehension, Lamont did not break eye contact with the mercenary who had twice attempted to kill him. Peering at the Romulan, Lamont gazed into his eyes unwilling to break the invisible bond they both now shared. Behind the mercenary’s gaze were dark pools of emotion churning with anger, hatred, and resentment. The ambassador looked deeper yet found few answers and only more questions. The darkness in the man’s eyes was not directed at him yet it clearly existed, but for whom it patiently waited or how it had been so carefully nurtured he could not say.
“What is it you see, Ambassador”, Keirianh asked breaking the silence as both men continued to hold one another’s gaze.
Lamont’s instincts sensed something indescribably dark within the man’s haunting eyes, yet behind the vast blackness that his soul seemed to be swimming there was something more; something barely detectable. If he reached out he felt he could almost touch it…
A sudden deep breath filled the Ambassador’s lungs as he recoiled his reflexes snapping him out of the intense gaze he had held with the prisoner.
“A telepath”, Keirianh said softly as a tiny smile formed on the edge of his thin lips. “Funny. I did not take you for one. You are not a very good one I must say. However, did you come here attempting to extract the information you seek?”
“No. No I did not”, Lamont quickly answered as he struggled to regain his composure.
“No? Then what was that? Just a standard human hello?”
“It’s complicated”, Lamont snapped furious with himself for his lapse in judgment. “In any case it is irrelevant. As you can see I am a raw amateur and have little control over these recently discovered talents. However, I did not come here to attempt to use them. You have my apologies.”
“You humans never cease to amaze me”, Keirianh replied as a smirk formed upon his face which was scarred from battle. The man’s eyes had seen the deaths of hundreds and perhaps more. Lamont didn’t need unusual abilities to tell him that. “I’ve attempted to kill you twice ambassador and yet here you are apologizing?” The mercenary seemed as if we were going to laugh, but the moment came and went without more than a tiny grin.
“I came to ask you about this serpent creature and if you are willing to demonstrate some measure of goodwill by sharing any information you may have in your possession that may aid us”, Lamont stated with a resolute tone. “I have yet to make your case for asylum to the captain. Your cooperation and assistance would be something I could use to sweeten the pot as the human saying goes.”
“You did not come here to ask me that”, Keirianh replied his dark eyes shimmering with an unnatural look.
Lamont’s expression fell slightly. “Of course I did! Why else would I bother…”
“You dismissed the guard Ambassador. If this was a simple request for information why do such a thing? Let me answer. It is because you wish to speak of something in private. It does not concern me, but rather you yourself require something I possess and it has nothing to do with some spaceborn serpent. Its written across your face as plainly as if you were wearing a tattoo. Surprised?”
Keirianh chuckled. “Do not be Ambassador. While I am sure you pride yourself on abilities of deception, guile, and negotiation – such talents are lost on someone like myself. Your poker face is secure, but your eyes tell a deeper story and those you cannot hide. I’ve seen into the souls of thousands of men Ambassador. I’ve killed. I have watched those in life, death, and those hovering in between on the precipice between the two worlds. I have seen much. Perhaps more than any one being should, but nonetheless I cannot forget what I have learned or witnessed.
You Ambassador Ian Lamont are a man conflicted. You want to know who and why.”
“Who and why what”, Lamont barked at the prisoner before him. “I am here to attempt…”
“Be silent Ambassador. We both know why you came. I expected your arrival far sooner, however you appear to surprise from what I have heard. You are here to ask me who it was who hired me to assassinate you. Your next question is to determine their motives and ask me to provide some rationale to help ease your mind. I can grant you neither.
I ask few questions in my line of work. Knowledge is a liability. I only need to know my target and where to locate them. I have no answers to your inquiry. However, I am not completely without a sense of fairness.
My life is forfeit. Perhaps it has been such all along only I was unable to see it. I exist in this nightmare called life unable to wake from it. Yet now I see a door in the darkness. Perhaps if I step through the nightmare will end and I can finally escape from this dream? However, perhaps I have already left reality and have been condemned to dream this dream for eternity.
The mercenary paused for a moment his gaze distant and hollow.
“Those who hired me Ambassador will certainly seek me out since I have failed my mission. When they find me perhaps I may find peace.
Our lives are intertwined and have been since the dawn of time with the universe moving inexorably toward this very moment. One of us will live the other will die. Fate has preordained this. Still we may both wake from this dream or perish if we are truly alive. Who can say?
Lamont’s expression was flat bearing only a whisper of interest or concern. This Romulan was haunted and tortured by demons he couldn’t begin to fathom however he could not pity him nor did he believe the mercenary sought such things.
“I have no idea what you are rambling about”, Lamont blurted turning his back to the mercenary who seemed more like some incoherent philosopher than a cold blooded professional killer.
“Come now ambassador. You of all people understand the deep and dark depths of the psyche. Your tone of voice suggests you indeed comprehend what I have said.”
“I understand that you are a killer and seem to be attempting to justify your past actions with some sort of convoluted philosophical nonsense. If you are seeking absolution I suggest you consult someone of the cloth. I cannot grant such things.”
Keirianh laughed sending a chill down the ambassador’s back. “Absolution? No. There can be no redemption for my soul. It has known only darkness for too long. “
There was another pause as the mercenary left the ambassador at the edge of the cell retreating to his bunk.
“You want answers ambassador. I have none to give, however I can offer you this. The human who contacted me concerning you was extremely well connected. Credits were no issue which suggests more than a mere personal interest. An organized body was funding the contract placed upon your head as the sums discussed far exceeded fortunes obtainable by any one individual.
There is one other detail. The man’s coat and hat covered his features yet I noticed his collar which was poorly concealed. The material was jet black and bore an insignia indicating some form of rank yet it matched none of those in use by the major powers in the quadrant. That is all I can tell you.”
Lamont quickly turned his hand catching the edge of the forcefield which knocked it backwards. Grasping his tingling digits, Lamont anxiously pressed the mercenary for more information.
“Could you draw this insignia? Perhaps the computer can identify it.”
“I only caught a glimpse of it in the darkness of an alley in the middle of a storm ambassador Lamont.”
“I must know who wanted me dead”, Lamont shouted. “If they are as well funded as you have stated they will almost certainly try again. Suppose they decide to be less surgical in their approach the next time? Others may be hurt or killed if I cannot determine who wants me out of the way. I cannot place the crew, my friends, or associates in that kind of jeopardy.”
“Provide me with an apparatus to draw and I will attempt to recreate my memory Ambassador if it means that much to you. However you should know these individuals are powerful and quite capable. I highly doubt you, a paper pushing diplomat, can stand against them. You are in their sights. I suggest you accept the fact that your days are numbered.”
“Unlike you I have no intention of giving up and dying! These associates of yours cannot evade justice.”
Another laugh filled the brig. “Noble words sir and utterly useless. You have no concept of those who walk the shadows. These individuals live in the darkness and thrive on anonymity. They do what they want, when they want, and then disappear into the ether like the reaper himself. Struggle if you must, but it will not delay the inevitable. They will find you. It is only a matter of time.”
“I’m not dead yet”, Lamont barked.
“No ambassador”, Keirianh answered his voice low and ominous, “you are already dead Lamont. You simply have yet to accept it. Once you have you will abandon your futile attempts to alter fate. Live now while you can for nothing you do can change the inevitable.”
“I don’t believe in fate. My destiny is mine to command.”
“Who will help you? The Captain? She would likely aid your hunters given what little I know of your relationship. And then there’s your vaunted Security department? Do you believe they will accept my word? And even if they did, what evidence do you have? The Charon cannot chase after shadows and no one will be willing to hunt ghosts on your behalf ambassador. To be honest, you simply aren’t that important despite your ego. You and I know the truth and that knowledge will remain with us until one or both of us meet our end.”
“If you’re so anxious to die I can arrange that with the captain”, the angry ambassador shouted. “Sit here and wait for death. I could care less just don’t expect me to do the same. If my fate is death then at least I will meet it standing and fighting to the end. I won’t willingly stick my neck into a noose as you seem so content to do!”
“What’s going on in here”, a voice called out behind the ambassador interrupting the two men.
Lamont turned to see an annoyed security officer standing with folded arms waiting for an answer. Behind him was the annoying security lieutenant who had no doubt called his superiors for backup.
“None of your concern commander. This was a private conversation which has concluded. See to it the prisoner is given a padd as he has volunteered to provide us with information about this area and our situation. I want the padd delivered to me personally by one of your staff. Good day gentlemen.”
Lamont brushed passed the two guards without a second glance and briskly moved off down the hallway.
“What the hell was that about”, the guard asked as the doors to the brig slid closed.
Getting no response from their mercenary prisoner the commander sighed. “Get the merc a padd and do what the ambassador requested. We don’t need him complaining to the chief and I certainly don’t want him down here barking orders like he owns the place.”
“He is a commander by rank sir”, the lieutenant noted.
“Bah. He doesn’t know a computer from plasma coil. He conned that promotion out of someone. He’s just a stuck up diplomat who happens to have some brass shoved up his ass – too far I might add. Just do what he says so we can get rid of him-quickly.”
The commander shot a look at the mercenary who said nothing his face showing telltale signs of amusement.
“I sure the hell wish we could get some diplomatic immunity for once from that man down here”, the commander muttered before exiting the brig leaving the lieutenant alone to carry out his orders.
[ End ]
Ambassador Ian Lamont
Aev Keirianh (NPC)