Part of USS Century: 1. Videre Invisibilium

Warm Meal, Hot Gossip

USS Century
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Captain Gar’rath looked at each member of the senior staff that had been asked to join him in the Century’s Observation Lounge. Each of them, along with the members of their respective departments, had performed exceptionally over the past few days and their efforts had brought about a swift close to the investigation that had looked hopeless when they’d first arrived in the affected system. The the loss of life during their mission had been unavoidable, it still paled in comparison to the tangible gains the crew had made in protecting the outpost from future exploitation at the hands of as of yet unknown manipulators.

“I wanted to take a moment, now that we are on our way to Gateway Station, to thank you all for the outstanding work that both you and the departments you represent carried out during this ordeal,” the Captain said broadly before turning toward individuals.

“Lieutenant James, had it not been for your team giving us a means to track down the missing transports, we might still be wandering through the system scanning planets and asteroids alike in a fruitless search. Please express my gratitude to all who played a role in this achievement.”

“I’ll pass it along, sir,” Brian said with a please smile.

“Lieutenant Khar,” the Gorn said, shifting his attention to the opposite side of the table, “The team you lead to the planet surface, along with everyone who has diligently dealt with our prisoners showed the highest standard of professionalism in the performance of their duties. The fact that not a single officer was injured is a testament to their dedication to their training and readiness.”

The Klingon gave the Captain a deep nod, “It is an honor to receive such praise for my people.”

“And to your medical staff, Doctor Odaim,” Gar’rath turned to the final member of the group, “Please know that I am grateful for their ability to adapt to the sudden and unexpected influx of patients, while still delivering superior care even when dealing with individuals who could have turned violent at any moment while in your sickbay. Your assistance with my interrogation also assisted greatly in bringing our investigation to a speedy conclusion.”

The Betazoid nodded with a small smile, “It was interesting to see you work, Captain. And I’ll pass along the message to my team.”

The Gorn turned his attention to his XO, “Do you have anything you wish to add, Commander?”

Cmdr. Peters gave the query a bit of consideration before responding, “I share the Captain’s opinion that each of your departments played a critical role in the success of our endeavors of the past few days. The teamwork and innovation that was on display showed how well the crew can come together to accomplish a common goal. I hope that this is only the first of many excellent conclusions to our many missions to come.”

“Thank you Ms. Peters,” the Captain said before giving the room one last look, “I know our respective shifts have long since ended, so I won’t keep you here any longer. Enjoy your evening and I will see you all tomorrow. Dismissed.”

Everyone in the room rose to their feet and filed out of the Observation Lounge, with Capt. Gar’rath being the last to exit, each of the officers boarding a turbolift on either side of the bridge to descend to the decks where their respective quarters resided.

 


 

Cmdr. Peters and Lt. Cmdr. Odaim, garbed in casual clothing after taking a moment to change, sat across from one another with meals before them and a conversation ebbing and flowing between bites. Some unusual additions to the table were Lt. James, who was sitting one side of the four person table that would have normally been empty, and Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth on the opposing side of the scientist. Abby marked the occasion in her head as the first time she’d shared a meal with anyone other than Reli since coming aboard.

“I am rather interested to hear your interpretation of the events that took place in sickbay, Doctor,” the Vulcan said after making it halfway through his meal, “While I am aware that the Captain was a former security officer, I have not encountered anyone who knew him during that period and could enlighten me on his method of handling suspects.”

“I’m actually curious myself,” Peters said before ingesting a bite of her steak.

The Betazoid snorted at her friend, “You’re still hung up on the whole ‘Is he gonna eat us’ thing, aren’t you?”

“No!” Abby protested before the glare she received in turn forced her to sink down a bit and mutter, “Ok… maybe a little…”

“Seriously?” Brian asked, his fork drooping in his grip upon hearing that exchange, “I’ve never gotten ‘you are food’ vibes from the Captain. Am I just not appetizing enough?”

“Do you want to hear the story or not?” Reli asked after laughing for a moment.

“Please, Ms. Odaim, continue,” Sorreth prompted impassively.

“Right. So after Abby went down to the surface with the away team and captured all those thugs, the Captain came walking in to sickbay and started looking around at everyone you’d brought up from the surface. He came in so abruptly that I felt him before I saw him and I’m ashamed to say it scared me half to death,” the doctor started.

“What is it that you felt that disturbed you, doctor?” the Vulcan inquired with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh… right… so, you know how most races kind of radiate a kind of white noise of thoughts without really meaning to?” the woman asked.

“I believe I have heard of this phenomenon before, yes,” Sorreth nodded.

“Ok,” Odaim nodded before continuing, “So with the Captain, it isn’t like a low hum of thoughts like with a Human or some other sapient race. With him, whatever objective he is looking to accomplish is the single thing being broadcast from him at all times. I hate to describe it like this because it isn’t very flattering… but it feels like a predator staring you down, and it just makes you want run and hide. Even knowing that his focus wasn’t on me, I flinched pretty badly and spun around like a scared animal. I know he noticed, but he was nice enough not to mention it.”

“Huh… I never knew his species projected their telepathic presence in such a way. I’d love to do a study on it…” James muttered from his seat.

“I’m not sure his entire species does,” Reli pointed out, “I’ve only ever met the Captain. He could be unique among his kind in that regard for all I know.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s true too. And it would be hard to narrow down some manner of control for the experiment…” the scientist frowned as he realized his budding project would never get off the ground.

“So after you did exactly what you got on my ass for doing…” Abby smirked, “What happened?”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t pick up on that,” Odaim said with a sigh before continuing her story, “So yes, after I embarrass myself a bit in front of the Captain, he starts to ask me about my patients, their general condition, so on and so forth until he spots the guy I had in isolation due to his violent criminal record. The others were just small time petty thieves, but this one fellow is wanted for at least three different murders, so I wanted to make doubly sure he didn’t hurt my staff.”

“Understandable,” Sorreth nodded in an approving manner.

“Well, as soon as the Captain sees him, off he goes to hover over the man’s bed. I knew what he wanted even without reading his thoughts, and woke the guy up after turning off the containment field. As soon as his eyes flutter open, he lets out this spine tingling shriek and starts scrambling for the bulkhead. For a second I thought he was going to launch himself off the bed and fly head first into the wall. Then, faster than I’ve ever seen him move, Capt. Gar’rath launches his left arm and seizes the man’s shoulder, robbing him of any chance to escape. It was like watching a tractor beam grab a small asteroid and just stop it dead.”

“No way!” Abby exclaimed, her eyes wide in shock.

“Seriously,” Reli assures her friend, “At first I thought for sure his claws were going to tear into his flesh and was bracing myself for that, but he didn’t stab him with them. All he did was apply just enough pressure to keep a firm hold on him and nothing more. That man tore his own shoulder out of its socket trying to break loose before realizing that grip wasn’t every going anywhere until the Captain wanted it to.”

“Is that when the interrogation began?” the Vulcan inquired.

“In a manner of speaking,” the doctor shrugged her right shoulder a bit, “It was more like he just held the guy near his face and practically whispered the questions at him. His tone was so low and so deep I wasn’t even sure it was coming out of his mouth for a minute. And the first time, the man tried to lie to the Captain’s face. It was such a panicked lie I didn’t even have to try to dig into his mind to tell. When I told the Captain as much, he whipped his eyes back on this guy and I swear he lost almost all the pigment in his skin all at once. After maybe… two… three seconds tops of getting stared down by a none-too-happy Gorn, information just started spilling out of his mouth. He gave up the name of his boss, told him about their mysterious contact on the station, everything. Then when Capt. Gar’rath clued him in on the explosives in the cave structure, he made some comment about not being sure whether being buried alive was any better than being eaten. I almost burst out laughing when the Captain told him, point blank, that he didn’t even look remotely satisfying before having me put him back under.”

The two Humans at the table had been on the edge of their seats while listening to her recollection of events when she’d reach the ‘punchline’. Both of them burst into a fit of laughter, while the Vulcan at the table merely retained the signature arched eyebrow that usually accompanied something that their emotional peers found humorous and they did not.

“To be a fly on the wall,” Brian said between fits of laughter, “How did your staff handle that spectacle?”

“A few of them got a bit jumpy in the middle when the man tried to tear his own arm off, but overall I think they handled it pretty well. Most people have seen the Captain around the ship enough to be used to him being around, but I think sometimes we forget just how fearsome he looks to people who aren’t used to a two meter tall reptilian being among a Starfleet crew, never mind the Captain of one,” Reli remarked.

“That is a fair assessment, doctor,” Sorreth nodded, “It was difficult for me to accept the reality that we were to be led by someone of such a unique heritage. When I was first informed, I had anticipated a great deal of friction between his ideologies and what would generally be accepted as logical and prudent to us.”

“Did your hypothesis withstand the realities of your experience?” the scientist inquired with a smirk.

“No, Mister James, it did not,” the Vulcan responded, “The Captain has proven on more than one occasion to be an exceptionally logical creature. While I have not always agreed with every conclusion he has reached during his tenure aboard the ship, I have not been able to find any inherent flaw in his reasoning when he has chosen to share it with us. His ability to act in a manner devoid of emotion while still being an inherently emotional being is a commendable ability.”

“Of course a Vulcan would like how cold he can be,” Abby muttered, rolling her eyes.

Sorreth turned to face the XO, “On the contrary, Commander, I do not find the Captain to be… as you put it… ‘cold’ at all. While there have been examples of decisions being made in a methodical and purely logical manner, there are just as many examples of the Captain acting on instinct and feeling alone. I cite his decision to open fire on the vessel that threatened the ship with violence as an example of an emotionally motivated response. Putting aside the question of whether striking first was the logical approach, the fact that it was carried out with split second precision and ended what might have been a much longer and potentially hazardous exchange could only be carried out by someone who was capable of allowing their emotional state to influence their decision making. If what the Federation does know of the Gorn is to be believed, their territorial nature is based on emotion rather than logic. It was that emotion that is responsible for his rapid and unilateral response to the threat of violence against our ship, and not one made through the filter of cold logic.”

“Huh…” Peters muttered, giving serious thought to what he’d just said.

Brian leaned back in his chair, “So what you’re saying, basically, is that because the Captain sees this ship and everyone on it as his territory, the only people who have to worry about getting eaten or clawed to death are intruders.”

“It is a crass generalization, Lieutenant, but it is not completely incorrect.”

James nodded to himself, “That could be a good way to spin it for folks who aren’t sure about where they stand with our Captain.”

“I believe the Ferengi would call that a marketing strategy,” Sorreth remarked casually.

“But can you really market a person?” James said before cocking his head to the side in thought, “I suppose you can, actually. That’s what all those public relations people do for a living, isn’t it?”

“You know who would be great for running point on a public relations campaign for the Captain,” Reli said, turning her eyes on her friend sitting across from her. The other two officers joined her in it, causing Peters to slump forward with her head in her hands.

“Ugh…”