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Part of USS Polaris: Entropic Foliations of the Galactic Fabric and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

A Question, Not Of Honor, But Of Science

Northern Lights Lounge, USS Polaris
Mission Day 9 - 1930 Hours
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“I’ll give it to you, my scaly friend,” the Klingon General chortled as he slapped the Saurian subspace theorist on the back, bloodwine splashing out of his goblet. “You keep up with Voragh, and that’s saying something! If ever you want a change of scenery, we’d put you to good use on Mempa V.”

“The scenery always changes aboard a starship,” Ensign Vok dodged warily. He knew how the Klingon Empire treated its non-Klingon subjects, and the cold-blooded Saurian would sooner settle on the icy surface of Andoria than shack up with the Klingons. “That’s what makes the Polaris unique. The technology of the Federation’s finest labs, but set among the stars.”

“Indeed,” General Golroth concurred as he turned towards the scrawny astrophysicist in charge of ASTRA’s Astrophysics and Exotic Sciences unit. “What about you, Dr. Lockwood?” He eyed the clear liquid in the man’s tumbler. “You’d have to develop a stomach for something stronger than water, but I’m sure we could find a spot for you!” Someone of Dr. Lockwood’s caliber would be a fine addition to his collection, he knew, as would any of the ASTRA researchers he’d met since coming aboard. He envied the group that Fleet Admiral Reyes had assembled.

“No thank you. Water does me just fine,” Dr. Lockwood replied with more than a bit of judgment present in his tone. He’d seen far too many brilliant minds falter to the cruel grip of alcohol. Math and the mysteries of the universe were all he needed. “And abstaining keeps my mind sharp.”

“Well drinking sharpens mine,” the Klingon chuckled, flashing his sharp teeth.

“To that, I’ll drink,” offered a new voice as a haggard old man strode into the room, his voice gruff and his presence commanding. Captain Lewis drew up to the bar and helped himself to a hearty pour of the bloodwine before turning to face the Klingons. “To sharp minds,” he offered as he raised his glass in a toast. “And to our dear friends who have arrived in our moment of need.” He tilted his glass towards the Klingons and then took a deep swig.

“It’s our pleasure to come to the aid of an ally in need,” General Golroth smiled as he eyed the new arrival, noting his burly shoulders and weathered skin. This was not a scientist like the rest of the officers that had joined them for the evening’s festivities in the Northern Lights Lounge. “But I don’t believe we’ve been introduced yet.” He extended a burly warrior’s hand. “General Golroth, Commander of the IKS Qul’val and her sister ships.”

From his passing knowledge of Klingon, Captain Lewis could not help but notice the curiously named ship. “Captain Lewis, Commanding Officer of the USS Serenity,” Captain Lewis replied as he met the Klingon’s outstretched hand with a firm grip, one as unyielding as the General’s own. “And perpetual skeptic of all things Dr. Lockwood and the rest of them lab rats do down there.” The Captain glanced over at the eclectic assortment of scientists mixing it up with the Klingons. What an odd gathering they made.

“You should give them some credit, Captain,” General Golroth smiled. “In my Empire, men like your Dr. Lockwood and your Ensign Vok are relegated to the periphery of our consciousness.” He glanced around at his own men, the ones he’d brought with him from Mempa V. They’d been pushed to the fringes of society as milksops who would sooner wield the pen than the blade.

“If not for you, my dear friend,” Voragh, the lead research scientist from the Klingon contingent, offered as he gave the General a hearty pat on the back. “The General here gave us a platform for our work, at great personal peril.”

“Voragh oversells it,” General Golroth shrugged. “Contrary to what the stodgy old warriors of the High Council insist, glory is not proven only on the battlefield. It may be found in the lab as well.”

“It’s curious to hear you say that,” Captain Lewis raised a brow, intentionally baiting a response.

“Why? Because you think us mere brawlers and brutes?” General Golroth asked rhetorically. “How do you think my people first took to the stars? With Bat’leths and D’k tahgs? We might have used them to prove our supremacy over Grishnar Cats and Kolar Beasts, but to build the great Klingon Empire, we needed warp drives, deflector shields and disruptor cannons.”

And that was the explanation Captain Lewis was looking for. “And you and your squadron, you represent a continuation of that, of the pursuit of science and discovery?”

“More or less.”

It was what Captain Lewis had already anticipated from their knowledge, their equipment, and even their uniquely named flagship. They were, for as much as one might make a comparison, the Klingon equivalent of the Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity. “Not that I’m complaining, but if you don’t mind me asking, what brought you to Vespara?”

The General was midway through a sip of bloodwine, but the question caused him to pause. “The Admiral’s mayday, same as the civilians that responded… except, of course, that we come with more than cargo bays to ferry your colonists from this dying world. Together, your crew and mine, we can save it!” His tone was that of a rallying cry, like a warrior headed to war, except that this time, the battle was with a spacetime fissure that reached deep into the compressed foliations of subspace.

“But how do you know so much about the anomaly?” Dr. Lockwood asked as he jumped eagerly into the conversation, much to Captain Lewis’ chagrin at the lack of subtlety. “Our people have never seen anything like this before, and I can’t imagine you have either.”

“Subspace is changing,” General Golroth explained. “New tunnels are forming through it…”

“Ripples would be more apt,” Voragh interrupted.

“Yes, apologies, my friend,” General Golroth conceded, much in contradiction to typical Klingon parlance where such an affront against a Commanding Officer would have been met by a stern reprieve, most likely physical in nature. “Ripples that, through the compression they create, allow us to tunnel great distances through subspace in what I believe your Federation refers to as the Underspace.”

It was clear, as Captain Lewis watched them, that the General, as much as he might not have the scientific acumen of his men, had a deep respect for them. And the way he danced through the interruption, it almost reminded him of how Admiral Reyes managed her own eclectic team.

“Yes, the Underspace,” Dr. Lockwood continued. “As it was dubbed by the Turei, who laid claim to what we thought was a phenomenon unique to the Delta Quadrant until… until a week ago.” There was a sharpness in those last words, one that was almost accusatory. “I wasn’t aware the Klingons had any knowledge or exposure to it.” The Federation’s arrangement with the Turei was unique, as far as he knew, and the Turei exercised a heavy hand even in Starfleet’s use of those corridors, limiting their ability to develop any real understanding of it.

“There are many things we know,” General Golroth replied, his tone still kind but his eyes narrowing, if but a bit, on the little man before him.

Captain Lewis sensed the shift in tenor. Dr. Lockwood had struck a nerve with their previously collegial drinking buddy, and that was a dangerous place to be with a Klingon General.

“But come now, dear General,” Dr. Lockwood pressed without heed for the fact the ground had shifted beneath his feet. “Whipping up, in mere minutes, the tensors to map an inversion of the tetryon field equations right on top of our model of subspace perturbations that you’ve never seen before?” He flicked his wrist insolently. “Spare me. There’s no way. Not unless you’re further from me than I am from a Pakled.” And that, he knew, was not possible.

General Golroth set his goblet down and drew up close to the scrawny Starfleet scientist. He had almost half a meter over the man, but he lowered himself so that he was eye to eye with the smaller Starfleet officer. “What, my little friend, are you insinuating?”

The lounge suddenly drew dead quiet as everyone turned to watch the unfolding scene. Captain Lewis, for his sake, just leaned back against the bar and took another sip of his drink. It was about to get interesting, he knew, and he was going to let it play out, for a bit at least. Hell, getting roughed up might even teach Dr. Lockwood a bit of humility, and beyond that, it might offer some insight into the Klingons and their motives.

“Just that this is all a bit too convenient,” Dr. Lockwood replied, still remarkably unphased. He was a Starfleet officer, standing on his own ship, surrounded by his own colleagues. What the hell was the Klingon really going to do? “I mean, you showed up not just with a model, which maybe I can buy you somehow cooked up even without ever being exposed to the Underspace, but even the exact technology we need to stop this thing.”

“General, sir. What he means to say is thank you for your gracious assistance,” Ensign Vok tried to interject, stuttering a bit given the rising emotion in the room. “It’s so fortuitous that you happened to be…”

General Golroth wasn’t having it though, and, without so much as breaking his stare with the human, he shoved the Saurian back, causing Snnar Vok to stumble back. “I come to your aid,” the General continued, a furor growing behind his eyes. “I bring my men and my resources to assist your people, and you question my word? My honor?”

“Now, now, Mister Golroth,” Dr. Lockwood countered insolently. He didn’t even have liquid courage to blame it on. He was simply a fool. “Technically, I said nothing about your honor.”

“You question my motives. My motives are my word,” General Golroth said as his arm suddenly shot out, grabbing the astrophysicist around the neck with one hand and lifting him off the deck almost effortlessly. “And my word is my honor!”

Dr. Lockwood struggled to breath as the General’s grip tightened.

Around the room, everyone was frozen in shock. Everyone except Captain Lewis. The aged spook slowly and calmly straightened back up, approaching the pair. 

“He’s not challenging your honor.”

While still holding Dr. Lockwood half a meter off the floor, General Golroth looked over at the Captain with a face that dared him to continue.

And Captain Lewis did just that: “He’s just questioning your science.”

How dare he say such a thing?! In a flash, General Golroth dropped the scrawny scientist to the floor and lunged towards the Captain, but as opposed to Luke Lockwood, Jake Lewis was ready for it. Nimbly and almost effortlessly, he sidestepped the move and redirected the General off to the left.

It took a moment for the General to regain his footing, but then he squared up with the Captain, looking ready to come at him again.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” Captain Lewis cautioned. His palms were open, but he’d assumed a wide stance. A fighting stance. It wasn’t lost on him though that he was surrounded by a dozen inebriated Klingons, and not one of ASTRA’s research fellows or staffers would be a lick of help.

“Why not?” General Golroth snarled.

“Because a melee, while a way for your friends on the High Council to demonstrate their honor, isn’t why you came here,” Captain Lewis replied in a voice that was equal parts calm and assertive. Admiral Reyes would never forgive him, he knew, if he let a social mixer with their unlikely saviors devolve into a brawl. “You came here for science, remember? So let’s do some science.”

The General took a moment, but slowly, he cooled. The Captain was right. There were bigger things at stake here, bigger than a physical test of honor, and bigger even than saving the planet beneath them. If this was to play out as it was meant to, they needed to stabilize that aperture first. 

General Golroth reached over and grabbed his goblet once more, raising it in a toast: “Tonight, we drink, and tomorrow, we stabilize the aperture and save your world!” 

He’d get his pound of flesh later.

Comments

  • Ahh that tense writing, got me hooked and almost glued to the screen. I wanted to see it so badly happen, Lockwood somehow deserved to be put on his place after all he said. But Lewis had to crash the party and stopped when it was needed in his trained calm stand. Great post!

    July 10, 2024
  • Jake Lewis

    Squadron Intelligence Officer
    USS Serenity Commanding Officer

  • Luke Lockwood, Ph.D.

    ASTRA Lead, Astrophysical & Exotic Sciences
    Chief Science Officer

  • Snnar Vok

    ASTRA Staff Researcher, Subspace Mechanics