She stepped out of the turbolift and was surprised to find the tall avian already waiting for her in the corridor, flanked by two of his security guards. She thought this to be odd as she believed to remember seeing him on the bridge before she had left and it now made her to wonder how he had managed to beat her all the way down to deck eight, already armed and with an assembled team at the ready.
“Captain, I would like to reiterate my request to place the ship on yellow alert,” he said and then fell into step next to her, his two guards following behind.
“We had this conversation, Lieutenant,” she said. “And you said it yourself, her one-man vessel posses no threat to Agamemnon
“I am more concerned about the fact that we know next to nothing about this individual or her race. This is a potential first contact situation and we do not know what to expect. Additionally, this person has already made a threat against us.”
She shook her head. “It wasn’t a threat, Lieutenant, it was a warning.”
“A semantic difference.”
Maya smirked at that. Leave it to your chief of security to see a potential threat around every corner. “I have reason to trust this individual and that the warning she spoke of is not a threat specifically against this vessel but of a much more general variety.”
At this the Aurelian actually turned his head towards the captain for the first time since they had set out down the corridor. His large blue eyes mirroring confusion. “I do not see how you could possible know about these people, there is no record about their race in our database.”
“You ever consider that as the captain sometimes I might be privy to information you are not. Better get used to that.”
It was obvious he didn’t like that response. As the head of security Mer’iab felt it necessary to be amongst the best informed officers on the ship and Maya didn’t fault him for that attitude. If it had been up to her she would have been more than happy to share everything she had learned about the Xenarth from Robert Wesley’s classified log entries. Alas, it was not her call to make. The entire thing had been sealed to anyone below her security clearance in line with the Omega Directive.
Mer’iab didn’t get a chance to utter another protest. Just as they turned a corner they spotted another team approaching the transporter room from the opposite direction.
Lieutenant Sh’Fane was leading two heavily armed marines down the corridor.
The two teams met in front of the transporter room and before Maya could even open her mouth, Mer’iab had already placed herself in front of her captain in order to face the Andorian. His wings were slightly unfurled in what Donners had since learned was an indication of anxiety or anger.
“Lieutenant, what is the meaning of this? What are you doing here?” he said immediately, his voice clearly challenging.
Sh’Fane didn’t respond well to his belligerent display and her muscles visibly tensed. “I’m here to provide security arrangements for the guest about to be transported onto the ship.”
“No you’re not,” Mer’iab responded before she had even finished talking. “This falls within my remit and I’m covering security arrangements. Your presence here is neither requested nor required.”
“We had an arrangement, Lieutenant, and I am expecting you to follow –“
The Aurelian didn’t let her finish. “The arrangement was for you to request any participation in ship’s security matters to me in writing which you haven’t done.”
She frowned at this. “Difficult for me to do if you refuse to share information with me, Lieutenant. I had to find out about this meeting through the grapevine.”
His wings fluttered a little in anger. “You are spying on ship operations now?”
Maya had just about enough and before the Andorian could come up with a retort, she promptly placed herself into the line of fire and between the two upset officers. “You cannot be serious,” she barked, looking at the both of them. “I cannot have two department heads behaving like school children fighting over access to the playground. Especially not the ones entrusted with providing security on this vessel. And certainly not minutes before taking aboard a foreign dignitary. You are both way out of line.”
“Sir,” Mer’iab began. “I understand that we have had some difficulties but –“
“Shut up,” she said and glared at the large avian. “I don’t care about your difficulties right now. You don’t think I have enough of my plate to worry about the two of you being at each other’s throats? We will have a conversation about this later. For now I expect both of you to send your people home.”
Both the marine and the security chief were about to protest but Maya wasn’t going to have it. “You two can stay but I’m not beaming a foreign diplomat on board my ship just to face half an army. I trust the both of you can provide ample security,” she said and then turned around on her heels and stepped into the transporter room. “And for God’s sake,” she said over her shoulder. “Try not to kill each other.”
The two officers left it and glaring at their counterpart instead. Then they quickly turned to their men and dismissed them before following the captain into the transporter room and taking up position by the door, standing about as far away from each other as possible.
Maya sighed and then focused on the person already waiting for her.
Lieutenant Commander Chen turned to face Donners and by the way his mandibles twitched in confusion, it was clear he wasn’t quite certain what he was doing here. “Captain, you wanted me to be present for this. I admit I am uncertain why you would require an engineer for a first contact mission.”
She gave him a smile. “This is no straight forward first contact, Commander. In fact it isn’t a first contact at all. But I suspect you will understand shortly why I felt your presence here beneficial.”
He moved his head sideways slightly and she understood this to be his approximation of a nod.
Then she turned to the transporter operator, a young Vulcan woman. “Ensign Saarik, do you have a lock on our guest.”
She looked up from her station. “Yes, sir. Ready for transport.”
May faced forward. “Energize.”
The column of shimmering blue light quickly gave way to the solid form of a large creature which features not too different to Chen’s. She looked more humanoid than he did with four arms instead of his two and less intricate mandibles but otherwise they were both clearly of insectoid origin.
Amaya took a cautious step towards the platform. “Queen Ket, welcome aboard Agamemnon
. I’m Captain Donners.”
Ket’s large compound eyes were as difficult to read as those of her chief engineer but she was quite certain that they were focusing on her. “My sincere thanks for allowing me onto your vessel, Captain,” she said, her feelers seemingly twitching in excitement.
“It is our honor to have you as our guest.”
It didn’t take long for her to notice the other persons in the room and as expected, the other insectoid immediately captured her full attention.
“Allow me to introduce my chief engineer, Commander Chen.”
Ket stepped down from the platform and up to the engineer. “You are not human,” she said.”
“My race is called Xindi,” he explained. “We are made up of many sub-species which include humanoids, reptilians and aquatics. I’m part of the insectoid species.”
“I was not aware of others like us in this part of space,” she said.
Maya didn’t miss that the fascination was two-sided. They stood surprisingly close, almost allowing their respective feelers to touch each other. She had to admit that it was much closer than she would have been comfortable with but apparently neither of them minded. In fact it almost appeared as if they were attracted to each other on some level.
“The Xindi originate in the Alpha Quadrant but since loosing our home world a couple of centuries ago we have been a mostly nomadic race,” he said. “There aren’t many of us left today.”
“We too lost our home world,” she said. “It appears we have more in common than appears on the surface. I would greatly enjoy to learn more about you and your people, Commander Chen.”
“As would I. I was also not aware of another insectoid species in this region.”
Maya realized she had to butt in here. “It’s a bit complicated, I’m afraid,” she said, suddenly reconsidering the wisdom of having asked Chen to welcome the Xenarth on board. She had thought that it would perhaps put Ket at ease to meet somebody else like her but she hadn’t expected the two of them to get along this well so quickly. Operational security and the implicit orders of the Omega Directive came back to mind. “Perhaps we can arrange another meeting later. For now I’m afraid that Queen Ket and I will have to have other and more pressing business to discuss.”
The two insectoids turned to look at the captain, both appearing almost disappointed by her words.
Ket moved her head in a similar fashion as Chen used to do when he was in agreement. “You are of course quite correct, Captain,” she said.
“If you want to follow my officers, they’ll escort you to our observation lounge,” she said.
Ket exchanged one last glance with Chen and something unspoken seemed to pass between them, before the Xenarth approached Sh’Fane. “You are an Andorian.”
The marine nodded but unable to entirely hide her own confusion that a race she had never heard of before seemingly knew about her own. “That is correct, ma’am. If you’d like to follow us,” she said and stepped out of the transporter room, followed by the Xenarth and with a clearly annoyed Mer’iab making up the rear.
Maya couldn’t entirely blame the man for his disposition but she understood why Ket had naturally drifted towards the female instead.
Chen looked after the Xenarth and then glanced at Donners. “Captain, I am intrigued by our guest. I hope there will be a chance for me to be able to meet with her again.”
Maya looked pained. “No promises, Chen. This is a very delicate matter we are dealing with here, rife with far-reaching consequence and security concerns.”
His disappointment was not easily missed.
Maya sighed. “I see what I can do,” she added before she briskly walked out to follow Ket to the observation lounge.
* * *
Sh’Fane and Mer’iab didn’t like it but Donners insisted that they waited outside the briefing room and made sure that they were not disturbed.
Inside Wayne Daystrom had been waiting for Ket and the captain and he quickly jumped to his feet when they had entered. Amaya had briefed the science officer on the most basic details on the Xenarth and their involvement with the Omega Molecule, making him the only other person on board besides the captain to have any knowledge about Ket and her people. It hadn’t been any easy decision to make for her but after already disregarding her orders in regards to sharing knowledge about the Omega Molecule, she didn’t feel she could make things much worse by letting him know about the Xenarth.
Daystom and Ket exchanged greetings and then everyone took a seat around the conference table.
“It has always been a dream of mine to visit a Starfleet vessel, ever since I’ve learned about your people from Selphi. After her passing she entrusted me with her journals and records about her encounter with Robert Wesley and the Lexington
. She spoke very highly of him and his people and I find now that she didn’t exaggerate at all.”
Maya nodded. “Thank you, Queen Ket. It is high-praise to be compared to such a distinguished Starfleet officer as Commodore Wesley.”
“I am curious however,” she said. “Your crew does not appear to have any knowledge of my people.”
Maya nodded. “After the Lexington
encounter Starfleet felt it best to classify the mission and quarantine the Iota Crucis system. Not just because of your leadership’s xenophobic tendencies but also due to the inherent dangers of the Omega Molecule.”
Daystrom uttered a low groan and Maya aimed a displease look at the young man.
Ket however seemed in agreement. “A wise precaution, Captain. Another contact with our people after the events that took place during the Lexington
visit could have been catastrophic for both our people.”
“Like the Lexington
we have been drawn to your world once again because we have detected the presence of the Omega Molecule and considering what happened last time, naturally we are greatly concerned about this.”
The Queen jerked her head in agreement. “And so you should be, Captain. Forces are at work on New Xenarth which mean to utilize these uncontrollable forces yet again, seemingly not having learned their lessons of the past, they believe they can use and control it to once again attempt to take us were they believe we truly belong.”
“I was afraid of that,” Maya said.
“Captain, if I may,” said science office and then proceeded when he got the nod from Donners. “This could be a great opportunity for us. From what I have learned in the admittedly short period since you told me about the Xenarth, they have made incredible advances in synthesizing and stabilizing Omega even a hundred years ago. And we too have made leaps and bounds understanding the way this molecule works since then.”
She aimed a suspicious look at the man. “I’m not sure I like where this is going, Lieutenant.”
“Sir, you said yourself that you didn’t like the idea of suppressing knowledge the way Starfleet has done concerning this. Perhaps this is our chance to show them that there is another way. I’m not arguing that Omega isn’t dangerous but instead of trying to destroy it and risking alienating an entire race, perhaps now we can try and succeed were others have failed and in the process revolutionize the manner in which we produce energy in the process.”
It was impossible to miss the passion in Daystrom’s plea or the notion that he had given this matter a great deal of thought since she had shared the details of Lexington
’s mission to New Xenarth over a century ago. And once again Donners wasn’t sure if she hadn’t made a mistake of bringing him into her confidence regarding the Omega Molecule.
She glanced at Queen Ket and while it wasn’t easy to read her insectoid facial features, she was certain that she too seemed concerned.
Maya desperately wanted to avoid the mistakes Lexington
had made but at the same time she aspired to find a solution that had eluded Starfleet for over a century. A way to end this seemingly medieval ban on a promising technology for fear of its destructive power and at the same time hand the Federation and the entire known galaxy an energy source beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.
Amaya Donners couldn’t help wonder if it was indeed possible to sometimes have your cake and eat it too.