“Nothing from the Voth?” Harris stood beside the communication station, a mug of coffee in his hand.
“Nothing. Long-range sensors picked up their search pattern in the area….but no communication was detected. An hour later, they left the system, and we tracked their course back to the homeworld.” She was as confused as he was, given their history with Cardamon. She had expected at least a cursory questioning hail regarding if they knew anything. The silence bothered her, and she could tell it was getting under the skin of her CO as well. Atega offered, “We've been cleared for departure from Starfleet Command. We're in 10th place this time around.” The USS Mackenzie had arrived at the wormhole demarcation point earlier that morning.
Harris pondered the steaming cup, “Peculiar. Do you think Larsak was lying?”
Presley opened her mouth to speak but stopped as she considered. They didn't know the ins and outs of this group of Voth to judge. "Lying about…?
“About what would happen to Cardamon. The deal was that he would return to his position with the Voth and start up his work for them again. We didn't ask either of them what that would look like.”
Her eyes grew wide, “You think he was going to be imprisoned to do the work?”
Ambrose mulled over the various scenarios he had been imagining, “I was considering they'd shackle him to a table or something. Given how Larsak was going to kill him when he refused…I think we were blinded to the horrors of his life.” He pushed off the wall, “As for why they haven't come to ask or sought us out…maybe they've decided it's not worth trying to get him back with all the trouble he's given them. First, he left, then he survived a murder attempt, then he brought the Hirogen to their door…and then he killed their High Commander. You put that on a simple scale; you start to wonder how much more damage he'll do if given the chance.”
The communications chief frowned, “Well…that does beg the question, sir….” She didn't like voicing the concern, but she was unable to shake the irrational fear that had crept up on her mind.
He sighed, “If he's this much trouble to the Voth….how much trouble could he be for us? It's valid. The difference is…we weren't trying to tell him what to do, where to go, and how to do it…we gave him the freedom to choose. He'll have to go through customs, inspections, and interviews - everything an asylum seeker is required to complete. If Starfleet rejects him, he'll sit at the Starbase until the wormhole opens up." He drained his cup, “Signal Starfleet Operations, we're moving to our place in line.” He returned to the center chair, “Lieutenant Prentice, move us to where we need to be.”
The bridge fell into the old habits as the Excelsior II class starship rumbled carefully into the growing line of ships returning to the Alpha Quadrant. Some were staying, but Harris had turned down the offer for another month in the quadrant. They'd had their fill of the place, thankyouverymuch. He'd found the diplomatic way of saying it with a quiet smile. The chrono under the viewscreen clicked over to 0800 hours.
The beauty of a wormhole's exploding opening never got old. The explosion of motion, color, and power shook each of those that watched it, the awe of such a formation still sending shivers down spines - an open portal across space and time. The bridge fell silent as the ships in the line moved forward until it was the Mackenzie's turn. Harris spoke quietly, “Yellow alert. Alert all crew; we're headed into the wormhole.” He waited until the soft klaxon had finished whispering its alert, then ordered, “Take us in, Lieutenant Prentice.”
The Mackenzie seemed to fly easier as it slipped through the wormhole on its way home.