It was a strange table arrangement, with Matt at one end and Commander Borahn at the other, with Star Fleet and Romulan officers interspaced between them. As the desert plates were taken away, the Romulan Commander leaned back and lifted his wine-glass, taking a sip and sighing.
“Earth drinks are so . . . diluted . . . I find, Captain Dahlgren. Still, there is a subtle flavor to this that is . . . pleasing.”
“Oftentimes the best flavors in life are those which are subtle, Commander,” Matt answered. “Have you given any thought to my request?”
Several Romulans glanced at their Commander in surprise, and Borahn sighed again, setting down his glass. “As I informed you earlier, Captain Dahlgren, it would be impossible for me to allow you to cross Romulan space into the territory of the Klingon Empire. Regulations forbid it, you understand.”
Borahn smiled at the shocked expressions of his junior officers and he raised the wine-glass again, taking another sip of the desert sherry.
“This Federation vessel is experiencing a medical emergency for one of their crew—a Vulcan who is . . . well, let us say he must return home to Vulcan urgently. Captain Dahlgren requested that Nei’rrhael
escort him through Romulan space for four days so that he might deliver this crewman to his home world before death. It is, of course, out of the question.”
Sub-commander Talarin frowned and she leaned forward. “What sort of medical emergency requires transport to one’s homeworld? Federation vessels devote an inordinate amount of space to their medical facilities?”
Quincy scowled, “That is a confidential mat-. . .” he snarled and broke off at Matt’s frown. “It is a private matter, Sir! Lieutenant Turovik expects that his condition be given kept a matter between him and his physician!”
“He’s dying, Quincy,” the Captain said in low rumbling voice. “And it means embarrassing one of my crewman to prevent his death, than that is what I will do? Is that understood, Doctor Talbot?”
“Clearly, Sir,” the physician spat out.
Matt turned his attention to the Romulan officers at the table. “Lieutenant Turovik was infected by an alien virus on a recent away mission; the virus subtly altered his metabolic rates. It was . . . easily corrected. But between the viral infection and the treatment, it has triggered his . . .” Matt paused. “I am not certain how familiar you are with Vulcan physiology,” at which point every Romulan at the table except Borahn burst into laughter. Even the stoic Romulan Commander smiled slightly.
“We are familiar, you may rest assured, Captain Dahlgren,” he said.
Matt raised his wine glass in salute. “The viral infection and the subsequent treatment triggered his pon farr
The laughter died away and the Romulans looked uncomfortable. “Ah, do the Romulans suffer from this as well?” Matt asked.
Borahn frowned. “We are . . . subject to a lesser form of the condition, Captain Dahlgren. It helps that we do not suppress our emotions as the Vulcans do. It is not a condition which is discussed in polite society or at the dinner table.”
“My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, but you did ask,” Matt said.
Talarin frowned. “Cutting through the Star Empire and then travelling through the Klingon Empire will reduce your journey by . . . ten days, Captain Dahlgren?”
“Eleven, Sub-commander,” answered Chan.
“Eleven days. Yet you are wasting time here having dinner with us.”
Matt shook his head. “Doctor Talbot tells me he will not live for more than sixteen or seventeen days, even with medical treatment—unless he is brought back to Vulcan. This idea was the only hope of his survival. But since we cannot save him, it makes no sense to speed back to Vulcan, only to bury him. No, if we cannot cross Romulan territory, than our Lieutenant will die and we will continue on to the Cygnus Sector.”
“A pity that the regulations are so set in stone, Captain Dahlgren,” Borahn said as he gently swirled the wine in his glass. “It would a propaganda coup for the Star Empire to help save this gallant young Vulcan’s life. But it is forbidden.”
“Impossible,” said Matt glumly.
“Out of the question,” replied Borahn.
Talarin frowned and she shook her head. “Commander, if we contact the Senate and ask for permission—for humanitarian purposes—then perhaps . . .”
“The Senate will debate and they will give us an answer too late, Sub-commander. You know this; your own father is Proconsul of this Sector. Alas, I fear that despite the best of intentions, and how the news of the Star Empire freely and willingly assisting the Federation in their time of need would improve how others view us, that I cannot comply with your request.”
Talarin licked her lips. “We can contact my father by sub-space radio—as Proconsul, he speaks for the Senate. If he orders us to escort Republic
through our space, neither the Fleet nor the Senate can protest this action, Commander.”
Borahn shook his head. “I am but a ship commander, Talarin. One of many in your father’s service—he would need far greater persuasion than I can give.”
The younger officer, slowly nodded. “I will request that Father grant us permission—if you would permit, Commander?”
Borahn sat back. “Well, at worst he will say no. You may send the communication, Sub-commander,” he turned back to Matt. “Perhaps we can save your Vulcan after all, Captain Dahlgren.”
Matt smiled and he raised his own glass in salute to Sub-command Talarin. “I will be grateful for whatever you can do, Sub-commander; Commander.”