Oses leaned in to speak into her ear. “Ajshea, I think it best to not aggravate the situation.”
Ajshea broke from studying the walls of the Commander’s office. “Aggravate the situation? How ever do you mean?”
“I mean to say that our initial meeting with Commander Anthbek did not go well and our mission is of vital importance to derail with any personal animosities. We need his help to even begin our mission. If we are ever to learn about the threat ‘they’ pose we need to be able to secure a vessel and a crew to help us undertake our research and to test our weapon.”
“I am fully cognisant of what the mission parameters are and the necessity of securing a ship and a crew. I am also fully aware that we have orders for the Commander from Starfleet and he will have no choice but to follow those orders regardless of any personal animosities.”
“Be that as it may, it will expedite matters if we can make this meeting go more smoothly and not allow emotional baggage to bar the way to progress.”
“I am Vulcan. I don’t do baggage Braham.”
Recalling the barb thrown by Lilli in the Willing Wench, Oses could not help but look at the woman’s pointed ears. A look caught by Ajshea who cast a withering look at him in return.
The doors parted to permit the entrance of the large framed Andorian. He looked a little less dishevelled than before given the chance to dress properly. However, with his rounded gut and his cautious gait as he walked gingerly to his desk and sat even more gingerly into his chair, he did not exactly impress the Vulcan woman any further on second meeting.
Dale Garrow followed with a large tub of ice-cream and spoon, which he handed to the Commander. Ajshea was about to comment about how she figured he had gained the rounded gut when Anthbek tossed the spoon onto the table and sighed in deep satisfaction and relief as he placed the cold ice-cream onto his crotch area.
“Don’t get too snitchy Vulcan! If it weren’t for you I would not have need for such measures. I want no more smart talk from you or any moral lectures. What I do in my private time is my private business.”
“I shall keep tight-lipped even if you cannot keep it zipped.” She smiled sweetly and gratingly at him. For a long moment he felt the urge to throw the large tub of ice-cream at her.
“We have much to discuss Commander. We apologise for the urgency for our meeting but our orders from Starfleet are clear. The sooner we can be sorted the sooner we can be underway.”
“That is a most appealing notion Mr. Oses. You both have only been on my station for less than an hour and already you have caused considerable disruption.”
Rolling her eyes, Ajshea rejoined, “I am sure the brothel in question is the source of many brawls and disturbing scenes. I think our presence hardly constitutes anything scandalous to the inhabitants of this ... place.”
Anthbek bristled at her manner. “The very fact that a Vulcan walks the corridors of this station constitutes enough of a scandal in the eyes of many. After the action of Vulcan in the Onslaught I am surprised a lynch mob did not grab you and spare me the pain of ever meeting you.” He turned to Oses before Ajshea could begin to formulate a response. “And having a Cardassian not in Starfleet uniform walking the corridors alongside said Vulcan hardly soothes the passions of the mob any.”
“Our credentials have been verified by your ... security.”
“I am aware of that.” The Commander adjusted the tub of ice-cream as he leaned forward and joined his hands on the table. “I am also aware that Starfleet dropped the ball on this one. Otherwise, I am inclined to believe they purposefully decided to not inform me that I would be hosting a Vulcan aboard my station. Had I known, I would have had you dock secretly and out of sight.”
“Any antagonism towards me based solely on my being Vulcan is unimportant as well as racial and ignorant.”
“Oh I’m sure once people get to know you they don’t want to hang you simply because you are a Vulcan.” The dig either went over her head or she chose to ignore it. “But the fact remains, a good deal of people hold a deep, deep resentment, nay hatred towards any Vulcan.”
“I am able to defend myself from any trouble makers Commander. I also do not intend to be here for very long. If we could get to the crux of the matter of our business.”
“The security and order of this station is my business. The recklessness with how you have paraded yourself about these corridors is a threat to the security and good order of it.”
“I believe you over estimate the hostility of the station’s inhabitants.”
“I don’t doubt it. I doubt they will act upon it themselves however. Instead my biggest worry is that they will try to cash in on your presence. Already there may be bounty hunters en route to bag you. Some will pay handsomely for those pointy ears of yours.”
“Degrading your argument to petty superficial racial physical traits is deplorable and unproductive.”
He continued as if he had not been interrupted. “I’d be willing to hand you over for free and damn the reward. And if it comes to it, I may have to. If the Klingons, Gorn or the Romulans were to come for you in any kind of force, I would have little choice but to turn you over.”
“The notion that Klingons, Gorn and Romulans hunt down and capture Vulcans in revenge is but a scare tactic employed to keep Vulcans away from the frontier and indeed to try to confine them to their colonies.”
“It is no scare tactic. Be sure of that. Your method to deal with ‘them’ in the final days of the Onslaught was to devastate whole solar systems. You used that murderous mantra that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few to excuse the obliteration of millions of lives in an instant.” He punctuated his remarks with a sudden sharp click of his fingers.
“The nonsense of not referring to them by name is both superstitious and petty. The Vulcan Academy’s solution to the Onslaught was unprecedented but necessary. It was no excuse but a perfectly valid final solution to deal with the Spawn. Had the Vulcan Science Academy not taken its action the Spawn would have continued to devour systems and eradicate all life within the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. The final solution was radical and unprecedented. But so too was the threat to life unparalleled. The complete and utter destruction of the Spawn Hives was the only means of stopping the Spawn.”
Spewing angry spittle, the Commander railed against the Vulcan’s impassive demeanour as she candidly explained away the immense devastation. “And so what if it cost millions upon millions of lives, destroyed worlds and rendered whole sectors impassable. And let us not forget your mission here goes to show that the final solution has proven far from final!”
“It was a terrible price Commander however we need to focus on the now.” Oses tried to bring the heated exchange of words to an end. He turned in his chair and appealed to Ajshea. “Let us focus on the mission and on the future.”
“You are correct of course, Oses. Commander.”
The Commander gave her a long look. His antennae twitched upwards and pirouetted in agitation. “You wear black eyeliner around your eyes. Does that not mean you are a Redmeptorist? Does that not mean you are sorry for the actions your people took with their final solution?”
“I do and I am.”
“Well you don’t sound terribly sorry with your mealy mouthed words and petty excusing for the mass extermination of life.”
“I do not believe that the actions of the Science Academy were the proper course. I believe that other viable options were available. I do not however apologise for what they did. It is illogical for me to profess sorrow for actions that were not of my doing and beyond my control. It is illogical for me to try to account for their mistakes or for their success in ridding us of the Spawn for so long.”
“Talk about having your cake and eating it! That is a pile of crap!”
Ajshea was about to indignantly remonstrate with Commander Anthbek when the doors to the office burst open and a voice declared, “Oh Georgie!”
The party swung their attention in the direction of the seductive voice. From the doorway, outlined in the spilling light, a leather clad leg and boot propped itself on a short bar stool. The silhouette showed a figure that was strong and toned. At the fulsome hips a pair of holstered pistols hung. At her shoulders a fur trimmed black leather jacket with an outrageous animal print did little to distract from the effusive head of tightly curled hair that played free and flowing.
She stood proudly and with an allure with her hands on her hips. Even with her face in shadow it seemed evident that she was grinning, nay preening at the attention she garnered.
“Tabatha ‘Don’t call me Tabby’ Katherine Chase.” She stepped into the office as she declared herself, extending a hand as she neared them. “Most pleasing to make your acquaintance.”
Looking at the extended hand as if it were something radioactive, Ajshea refused to shake it and instead ignoring the introductions went straight to asking, “Why would I call you Tabby?”
Under his breath Jorga Anthbek sarcastically whispered, “Vulcans, don’t you just love them?”
“Indeed,” Tabatha declared smiling widely and placing her manicured nails on her hips, “why would you call me Tabby?”
Ajshea persisted. “Indeed why?”
“Why indeed?” Tabatha shrugged in return.
Ajshea informed her brusquely, “You raised the issue in the first instance.”
Tabatha winked and smiled as she answered, “Only to avoid the matter becoming an issue.”
“Which obviously failed.”
“Not really. You know not to call me Tabby now. Click, click.” She made guns out of her pointed fingers as she made the noise and winked simultaneously with it.
“This woman is wasting our time. Is there a purpose for her permitting her being here and interrupting this meeting?”
Tabatha pretended offence. “Well nice to meet you too.”
Jorga forgetting the spectacle of Tabatha stood in the midst of his office said declaratively to the Vulcan, “Tabatha earns a right to be here. You needn’t pull military protocol on me, as you are only a civilian yourself Miss Ajshea.”
Again, indignant, Ajshea started, “I am a ...”
He stated roundly, “I’m well aware of what you are.”
“Andorians have always been known to be belligerent. I see that you live up to that reputation.”
Jorga snarled, his antennae quivering in barely controlled rage, “You think me belligerent? You haven’t seen me belligerent Vulcan. You may be a Redemptorist Vulcan but it holds no clout with me. The black eyeliner around the eyes is but make up. It does little to make amends for the crimes you committed in the name of logic, expediency and supposed mercy.”
“I will not stand here and ...”
Oses stepped in again and tried once more to placate matters. He stood now to try and gain both of their attentions. “Commander Jorga, we all have difficulties with what has passed. Our mission is what is vital. What can and may save the future.”
Somewhat aggrieved at being forgotten and cast aside, Tabatha Chase o’ed in fascination. “Sounds fascinating. Do tell.”
Oses’ scales would have blushed at his indiscretion. The situation was not what he was use to. “I cannot. It is a classified matter.”
Tabatha tousled the bangles of curls before closing one eye to size them both up and pointed a long slender finger at each of them. “You’re civilians are you not?”
“Yes. We are. But with a mission brief from Starfleet.”
“Starfleet conducting missions out on the Border Lands?” She cocked a leg and leaned on one hand on her hip as she looked at the two of them surprised at such exoticness wrapped up in two rather serious figures. Though it she reprimanded to herself it shouldn’t have been too unexpectant considering that most Cardassians within the Federation Alliance stayed to their own territories unless actively serving in a Starfleet role. As for the sight of a Vulcan, especially one so striking and sensuous wandering about the Border Lands, Tabatha was just bowled over. “My, my, how very much more interesting.”
“Yet none of your business.” Ajshea stood now to assert her command. She turned to Jorge seated still behind his desk. “Commander, any issues you might have with me are insignificant in light of our mission. It behoves you to set aside any resentments and focus on the mission at hand. Let us begin by ridding ourselves of the presence of this woman and consider the details in private and secret.”
“That won’t be possible.”
“Oh Georgie. I love it when you stick up for me. However, you can go play nice with these people and I’ll see to other business I have on Jericho before we discuss your little proposition.”
“The matter of your proposition is the matter of the mission we speak of.”
“Oooo... do tell.” Tabatha smiled with a curious inkling and yet at the back of her mind was a nagging concern.
Ajshea must have begun to make certain logical assumptions too as she pressed of the commander, “Clarify.”
Jorga lorded it over the Vulcan happily as he set the tub of ice-cream aside. “What? Did you expect to get a starship and a crew from my meagre supplement and swan off into the Border Lands?”
“Our mission was cleared by Starfleet Command.”
“Yes it was cleared. The specifics of it were not. As the commanding ranking officer in the region it befell me to make it as practicable as possible. To that end, meet your skipper!”
* * *