Chalois opened her eyes slowly, stretching as though having awakened from a restful nap. Her eyes focused on Lar’ragos after a moment, and then widened as her memories caught up. “Not… what I was expecting,” she rasped.
Lar’ragos passed her a water bulb and Chalois drank greedily, draining it. “Thank you.”
The El Aurian sat atop a stool at Chalois’ bedside in the warbird’s MedBay. He looked down on her with a wistful expression. “Thank you
for having your distruptor set to stun,” Lar’ragos replied. “And now we’ve arrived at the point where I ask if I read you correctly on the bridge?”
Chalois blinked and sighed deeply. “I see that your people’s abilities are no exaggeration. However, I was expecting something a bit less…”
“Dramatic?” he offered.
“Permanent,” she finished. “How were you able to wrest control of our computers?”
“My people engaged in a bit of unauthorized snooping while assisting with your repairs after Vexam
was attacked by the En-Il-Que.”
She smiled humorlessly in response. “How very cunning of you, Captain.” Chalois shook her head gently atop her pillow, as if trying to clear it. “I had been trying to convey to you, covertly, that the Ferou were still in danger.”
“Yes,” he acknowledged. “The minefield. It took a bit of digging through your database, but we finally located the coordinates of that trap. I’ve spoken with the Ferou, and they’ve changed course to avoid it.”
“Good,” she murmured, her gaze suddenly fixed on something terribly far away. “Good.”
Lar’ragos sensed her train of thought, images flashing unbidden through his mind of Chalois’ long, arduous climb up the rungs of the Galae’s unforgiving rank structure. “I can offer you asylum, Sub-Commander. I’m not unsympathetic to what this good deed has cost you.”
“No,” she replied in a distant voice. “I will live, or die, with the consequences of my actions. I knew accepting help from Europa
might come with a price, and if the lives of the Ferou have been purchased at the cost of my life and career, I consider that a bargain.”
Lar’ragos slid off the stool, nodding toward Taiee as she gave Chalois’ vital signs a final check. “I hope you’ll reconsider, Sub-Commander. You’re good people, and there are far too few good people manning ‘the wall’ out here in the Delta Quadrant.”
She turned her head to keep her gaze on Lar’ragos, allowing a single stray tear to arc from the corner of one eye into the folds of her pillow. “I cannot,” she replied.
He inclined his head in response, as if to acknowledge her sacrifice. “We’re departing in a few minutes. Once Europa
is safely away, we’ll return control of Vexam
“May good fortune find you on your travels, Captain,” Chalois said by way of farewell.
“May you die well, Sub-Commander. I sincerely hope that will be thousands of light-years from here and centuries from now.”