“Captain, I'm detecting an inbound Voth transport ship in long-range sensors.” Fowler worked her console and felt her heart rate pick up speed, “Computer is confirming this ship is the one that took Cardamon back to the Voth homeworld.”
Harris glanced at his chief of science, “Speed and path?” They were on their way back to the Markonian Outpost as they were still working on the Blood Dilithium project.
“Current projections have us intercepting here.” She tapped the console, and the viewscreen shifted to show the points where the two ships would meet. “The Voth ship is running hot at warp six. Sensors suggest it may shut down sooner than our meeting point. The intercept waypoint is thirty minutes away. Computer calculates the ship may stop about an hour away from us.”
Atega was distracted at her station as she read the message twice. “Captain, I have a message from the transport ship…it's from Cardamon. The message reads, ‘Starfleet, I am injured in battle and coming to you as fast as I can. I need medical help and assistance. Please respond.’ It just came through, sir."
Ambrose didn't need to think about it, “Prentice, adjust our course to intercept Cardamon. Alert Doctor Reid that she's going to have injuries inbound.”
Kondo and the security team glanced around as the transporter beam faded. Cardamon had been moved to the Mackenzie's sickbay. The three others quickly scattered to the back of the transport and cleared the rooms within. They returned, and all eyes fell on the body of Larsak, Voth High Commander of the Voth Expeditionary Force. Kondo slipped out his tricorder and motioned for the others to begin their investigation. Squatting down, he eyeballed the injury. The neck had been dug into deeply by the claws of the Voth, and the blood had soaked and flowed onto the floor where it had coagulated. They downloaded everything from the transport computer and continued to gather evidence. The Chief Security officer tapped his badge, “Chief Kondo to Captain Harris.”
Harris glanced up from the center chair on the bridge, “Go ahead.”
On the transport, Kondo tapped at his PADD, “Scene is pretty brutal, sir. Sending you the preliminary scans and report along with the data dump from the computer core. No question that Cardamon killed Larsak.”
Ambrose pursed his lips. What did you say to that? Cardamon had been put in a position to sacrifice himself for their safety and protection…and into a future he had run away from seventy-five years ago. He found himself placing himself into the metaphorical shoes of the Voth. Grappling with identity and the meaning of life were just the beginnings of what Harrs imagined was banging around in the head of their new friend. “Collect the evidence. Have the coroner take care of Larsak's body and store it until we sort out how to get it to the Voth.” Kondo confirmed and closed the channel.
Prentice turned to face the CO, “What if the Voth want to charge him with murder?”
Harris sat back in his chair and blew out a breath of frustration, “I'm not sure what we're going to do. The act was committed on a Voth ship between two Voth. We'll have to examine the navigational data from the core to see where they were when the attack took place…and chart that on a map. Given the lack of rule and law here in the Delta Quadrant…I have no idea.”
The Chief Helm Officer pressed, “Are we going to protect him? Or give him up?” Okada cleared her throat from her station, and Will sheepishly apologized, turning back to his station.
Harris glanced at his XO and spoke to Prentice, “Lieutenant, it's a valid question. Something we probably do need to discuss as a team.” He looked around the bridge, “Whatever we decide - we have to be in complete agreement.”
Atega voiced her feelings, controlling the emotions that were rolling about in her stomach, “I don't think we can in good conscience return him when he clearly does not want to go back.” She wanted to say more, and her passion for the aliens of the galaxy threatened to overwhelm her mouth.
Fowler considered their choices. They had four days before the wormhole opened up again and let them through. She wasn't sure how they would react to the murder of one of their own…by one of their own. Who now resided in their sickbay under the care of their Chief Medical Officer. Then there was the matter of the body they were storing. She ventured, “Has he asked for asylum?” She glanced around the bridge and settled back on her CO. “He hasn't been convicted of anything…we have our preliminary investigation, but we're not the Voth Security Force. They would need to conduct their process.”
Kondo mused, “Lieutenant Fowler makes an interesting point. We are not a security or law enforcement authority in the Delta Quadrant. Our right to arrest and prosecute is…thin at best. My investigation is in the early stages - further steps would be needed to confirm our suspicions on the allegations that are present aboard the Voth ship." He affected a look of bemusement, “This is a most interesting scenario. I could stall out the next pieces of the process…buy us some time."
Okada stood and leaned on the railing, “A lie?”
Kondo turned to face her, “An error. It happens on occasion.”
Calog Tir was thinking, and his symbiont was musing wryly in his mind, ~Lying has a nasty habit of catching up with the liar. You know this is a bad idea.~
He replied, ~You have any better ideas?~
She was quiet for a moment and then sputtered, ~You could make that ship and the body… disappear. Throw it into a sun or something. Burn the shit into nothingness. No trace, no crime, no problem! They come asking - we don't know a goddamned thing!~
Calog wondered how many people Tir would have killed if she was given that chance. He sourly countered, ~A lie?~
Tir proudly responded, ~An Ommission.~
He cleared his throat, “I don't often share what Tir has to say on most of what we do here…but she has an idea.” He shared the thought and shrugged as he finished retelling it, “It's not a great plan, and it's going to make explaining Cardadmon's presence on the ship hard to explain.”
Tir elbowed him in his mind, ~It's a great plan, dumbass. You just need to accept it's genius." He motioned her to the corner of his consciousness for now as his focus returned to the bridge.
Okada softly hit the railing and pointed at the Operations Chief, “It's not that terrible. We do what they did with the Devore in the past - we store Cardamon in the transporter buffer, and when they come looking, we say we picked up some readings a few systems over…conveniently the system where we threw the ship and the body into the sun…something about weapons fire or something….they go and find faint readings of a ship's wreckage drifting close to the sun…and they make up their own story.” She smiled, “I mean, it's terrible and breaks just about every rule we got but…this place has been breaking us, our rules, and our friends since we got here.” She gestured to the screen, “If they were in our shoes, they'd be doing what we're doing…only probably much worse and much more evil…er.”
Harris replied wryly, “So we're still going to have to lie.”
Okada held up her hand and held her thumb and pointer finger apart an inch or so, “It's a little exaggeration. We're just letting them fill in the pieces while we get to go home, and Cardamon gets a chance to live a life in our part of the Galaxy.”
Ambrose stood and glanced around the bridge, “All those in favor of lying, exaggerating, and committing errors a plenty on our way to save Cardamon?” Every hand immediately went up, and he sighed with a quiet smile, “Well, here's to doing this the Delta Quadrant way. Lieutenant Prentice - get with science and find us a sun with some burn to it. Chief Kondo - get a tractor beam on that ship. Once they have a system in mind, let's get moving. I will find a way to convince Cardamon to ask for asylum. I suspect he won't put up much of a fight. Let's get to work, people. Time is not our friend here. Okada, you have the CONN.” He entered the turbolift, and as it closed, he sighed deeply.
Four days. Four damn days. What could go wrong?