Savant walked alongside the Vulcan hologram, both of them the vision of
calmness and surety. What Savant displayed to the world, however, was
never what went on beneath. The program churned beneath the calm ocean
surface, twisting itself into logical contortions in trying to deduce
everything it could from this visitor. Given that it too was simply a
hologram, Savant knew full well that the surface image had nothing to do
with the true motivations it may have. She would have laughed, had she
such an instinct - Savants' own advantages turned against her.
The avatar from the space entity was pleasant, polite, and apparently
far more interested in tiny details than anything else. She had stopped
for almost a full minute to examine the corner edge of a wall terminal.
She stared at crewmembers without embarrassment or any sense of decency.
She paused to look into light fixtures and had marveled at the
turbolift. An organic might reason that the creature was from space, so
would no doubt be enthralled by the tiny intricacies of a starship.
Savant doubted this to be so- it was probably just using the hologram as
a pointer to show referents of interest.
Savant had been speaking with the alien hologram since they had left the
Bridge together, but her guest was difficult to really understand. Oh,
she knew the words, but had little understanding of how they were
supposed to go together to form meaningful sentences. A Vulcan this was
"You are Charon, yes?" her charge asked innocently as they were paused
to stare into the window of a small crew lounge.
Savant shrugged, as it was a good approximation but not really precise,
"I reside within Charon's network, but I am not dependent on it. I can
and do move to other systems."
The Vulcan hologram raised an eyebrow in the classically measured Vulcan
way. "May I meet Charon? I would very much like to."
Even as the words were being spoken, puzzle pieces fell into place. The
entity thought Charon was alive, a single entity. Perhaps it thought the
crew were parasites, or symbiotes. Savant chose her words carefully,
fearful that the thing might act rashly if it came to wrong conclusions.
"Charon is not a living thing - it is a construction, an extension of
the crew. They are naturally confined to the surfaces of certain
planets. The ship allows them to survive and move in space."
It turned away from the window to look at Savant, and then peered back
inside. The people within the small lounge were focusing on their
lunches and hadn't noticed the interloper as of yet. "So they, as a
group, are Charon. Charon is the scales that they grow to protect them
from the void."
Savant nodded. "It is. You could consider them a collective."
The guest pressed her face close to the glass, squinting, and then stood
straight again. "They are a messy collective. Self-adjustment would be
good for you." Her words spoke volumes still - The guest didn't see
Savant as an equivalent to the organics. Did it think that Savant was
the collective will of the crew? She would have to deal with that
"They do not self-adjust easily, and each of them is independent - they
communicate with one another only weakly. I was designed by them as an
This gave the Vulcan hologram pause; she turned to look at Savant
critically, with the same lack of modesty that Savant herself often
showed. She searched, and likely found nothing to reveal the truth in
the matter. Moments passed before she spoke. "You are one of their
constructs. One of their scales, to shield them from the sun."
"That's not a bad analogy. I am just a construct which can act, whereas
Charon doesn't. You could perhaps see me more as their child than their
"You are Charon's child." The Vulcan woman nodded and continued to walk.
Savant would have winced at the statement, but of course the hologram
didn't. Their guest spoke with such finality that the matter was likely
closed, but it wasn't *true*. Savant followed attentively, and silence
passed between them a few moments more.
"Charon is a nest."
"Yes, that's right," Savant nodded - perhaps the creature was getting it
after all. Also, it apparently knew what nests were and likely had one.
Savant could easily imagine a beast like this hollowing out an asteroid
and coiling up inside.
"You are the children living within it."
Err.. Savant wasn't sure how to reply to that one just yet. Was that
good, bad? Was it accurate? Savant had to borrow a few dozen more
available processing threads in order to even understand the statement,
much less concoct a reply. buy the time she was doing so, the Vulcan
hologram had smiled and turned to face.
"I don't know where your mother is, or if you have one. But you seem to
be good children. I will watch for you."
And then it winked away, as quickly as it had come.