She took a knee an then placed the plate with the large chunks of replicated raw meat onto the floor. Cosmo was ripping into his dinner the moment it was eye level, smartly using his large right claw to hold the food in place, and then tearing at it with his razor sharp teeth.
Maya watched the le-matya
devour his meal and couldn't quite help but feel a tiny tinge of jealousy.
Cosmo had been with her for most of her life. Discovered as a cup on a seized Orion vessel by her parents while serving on the Border Service cutter Thrasher
, they had given him to her as a present and companion in lieu of being able to make real friends as the daughter of two career service members. After all, for many years, she had called home various starbases and occasionally even the Thrasher
or other vessels not designed for a civilian crew.
It hadn’t been until she made chief engineer on the Columbia
that she’d had enough clout in her career to be able to keep Cosmo on her own assignments and even then it had not been an easy task to get permission from Starfleet bureaucrats to keep a wild animal as a pet.
The feeling of envy were new for her. But lately she couldn’t help wonder what exactly Cosmo had to worry about in his life. Just over twenty years old and what did he really do but eat, sleep and play. Right about now it seemed to her as if Cosmo had it made.
She petted his head which garnered her a quick, uninterested look before he went back to tearing up the fake meat. “You don’t even know how good you have it, do you?” she said to him, even as he paid her no further attention.
“I’m sure he appreciates all that tender love and care you extend his way,” said Texx who stood by her desk in her ready room, holding a padd. A large smirk on his lips. “Le-matya’s
are nowhere as cold and emotionless as their Vulcan planet-mates.”
She stood and turned to face her first officer. “Judging by the tongue baths I’ve endured over the years I tend to agree.”
Texx handed her the padd. “Mer’iab and Sh’Fane have come up with a plan for a multi-pronged ground assault on Iota Crucis IVa and IVd using both Starfleet security personnel and Marines.”
“So quickly?” she said as she studied the padd.
The Bolian nodded. “And I’ve looked it over. It appears promising. They’ve used long range scans of the two moons to get an indication of the layout of the facilities and interviewed Ket for information about expected troop strength, weapons and abilities. Doctor Rass took extensive scans to better understand Xenarth anatomy. Sh’Fane and Mer’iab both believe that the results may help their assault strategy.”
“Honestly, I’m just impressed they managed to work on this together without killing each other first.”
“I’m more concerned about Daystrom to tell you the truth.”
Maya looked up from the padd and towards the sofa on which Vej had made himself comfortable. “He’ll be fine. I know he isn’t crazy about the idea of destroying Omega but he’s a Starfleet officer and when push comes to shove he’ll do his duty.”
“Don’t make the mistake to take that for granted,” the counselor warned. “Right now he’s displaying all the classic signs of experiencing a serious internal conflict over what he thinks is right and what he has been asked to do. Starfleet officer or no, sometimes people decide to follow their conscience instead of their orders.”
The captain sighed. “What do you suggest I do? Sideline him for the rest of the mission?”
Texx shook his head. “If we are serious about going after this molecule we can’t afford not having his expertise. From what I understand he knows more about Omega than the rest of this crew put together.”
“I appreciate that,” Vej said. “All I’m saying is to keep an eye on the young man and not to push him to hard or to fast or you might invite a disaster when you least need it.”
“As if this isn’t one already,” said Maya and picked up a small white ball with red stitching which she had been told was used in a once popular sport on Earth. It had been a gift from Terrence Glover when she was on Deep Space Five, no doubt in trying to establish himself as an avid athlete in her eyes. Of course the gesture had changed nothing between them and she had little use for the obscure sport. Nevertheless she had liked how the ball felt in her hand and therefore kept it near her desk.
Her two advisors watched her curiously as she began to pace her ready room and throwing the baseball into the air, a bad habit she had developed when pondering serious thoughts. A moment later, Cosmo, having completely devoured his dinner, prowled behind her, his eyes eagerly following that ball.
“Gentlemen, I’m not ashamed to say that I feel a little bit in over my head here. With the Romulans in the equation this has become even more of a powder keg situation which could quite easily lead us down a road to interstellar war if we don’t tread carefully,” she said and stopped to turn and face the two men. “If we carry out the Omega Directive to the letter we will not be able to avoid a battle. If we do nothing and tug in our tails and run away, the Romulans will get their hands on what may be the most powerful force in the galaxy, either changing the balance of power in the galaxy for good or leading to an arms race and quite possibly destroying half of subspace in the quadrant in the process.”
Vej smirked. “Still enjoying sitting in the big chair?”
She fixed him with a scowl and the counselor wiped that smile off his face.
“We could hold our ground and wait for reinforcements to arrive,” said Texx.
But Maya quickly dismissed the idea. “To what purpose? Besides if our reinforcements are moving in, I guarantee so are the Romulans. Instead of two ships facing off we end up with two fleets. That’s only going to complicate matters further,” she said with a sigh. What she hadn’t revealed yet were her own doubts about the Omega Directive itself. Maya had been truthful when she had told Ket earlier that it would be difficult for some Starfleet officers to carry out an order which so blatantly violated the Prime Directive even if it had been legitimized. What she hadn’t mentioned was that she counted herself as one of those officers. The Prime Directive wasn’t just some high concept or another Starfleet regulation to her. It had been indoctrinated into her so effectively that she found the idea of imposing her will onto an alien race which wanted nothing to do with the Federation nothing less than repulsive.
“It occurs to me that this is a matter of weighing the costs of our actions versus our inactions,” said Vej. “A potential war and millions of deaths if we take action against the Romulans or an end to the galaxy as we know it we take no action and risk an Omega Molecule accident,” he added and looked first at Texx and then at the captain. “There are too many hypothetical scenarios and ethical quandaries in there for anyone to be expected to make well-founded decision.”
“Not to mention the epic scope of either implication,” said the first officer.
“Gentlemen,” she said and placed the baseball onto her desk. “You are here to help me find solutions and not to remind me what a difficult decisions this is. Trust me I’m already well aware of that.”
“Sorry, Cap,” Texx said. “I suppose what I’m trying to say is that perhaps there isn’t a right decisions to be made here, just two inherently bad ones.”
“Agreed,” said the counselor. “You will have to deicide which one is the lesser evil. And most importantly, which one you’ll be able to live with.”
“I think Cosmo wants to play fetch,” said Texx.
Maya turned around just to see the large cat having managed to put both his paws onto her desk to get to the ball sitting there.
But Cosmo had already pushed the ball off the desk so that it bounced onto the floor and then quickly scooped it up in his large wet maw.
“That’s not yours, it’s mine,” she said angrily and then reached right into his mouth to dislodge the ball. Cosmo hissed in protest at first but eventually relented and the salvia-covered orb was set free again. She wiped it clean on her uniform pants with one hand and grabbed the large animal’s jaw with the other, pulling it up so his eyes were focus on hers. “We talked about this. You have your things and I have mine. You can’t have mine.”
Texx and Vej exchanged an amused look at the captain’s interaction with her pet, both getting the distinct impression this was one of many similar ‘talks’ they’ve had.
Maya was unconcerned by her audience and kept hold of Cosmo. But her gaze had wandered off. “You can’t have mine,” she quietly repeated to herself.
“Cap?” Texx said when he realized that she didn’t appear to be thinking about the le-matya
Cosmo finally managed to free himself from his master’s grip and trotted back to his favorite place below the window.
She turned to glance at the first officer with a little twinkle in her eye.
“I don’t think I like that look,” said Vej.