Thread: Heresy (story)
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,035
# 3
12-07-2013, 05:46 PM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding, IGV Spirits of Earth NCC-93884.

Earth is so damned hot.

I stand at the window of my hotel room and look out at the wide green-brown river as it flows beneath a swollen sun. I can almost see it steaming, but I know, intellectually, that's just my imagination. Across the water, on the other bank, I can see the ornate, centuries-old building with its square clock tower. In times gone by, the destiny of a significant chunk of this planet was directed from that complicated, gothic edifice. It seems strange to think of that now. Behind the building, along the skyline, more modern buildings tower up to the skies.

I turn around, and fiddle with the air conditioning. It's already at maximum, but I keep hoping I can crank a little bit more cold out of it.

Three weeks into my leave, and I should be used to Earth's temperature... but I didn't get used to in in four years, at San Francisco, and San Francisco is even hotter than this place... but, still. I'm wearing a loose bathrobe, and my hair is still damp from a lukewarm shower, and I still feel too damned hot. I sigh, sit down on the bed, and feel the air with my antennae. There is a strange taste to the atmosphere in this city: crowded, complicated. I can almost feel the layers of history here. For this is a city with a great deal of history, as much as any place on Andoria, even....

The communicator chimes. I stand up, and make sure the bathrobe is properly secured. Not that many humans would be turned on by the sight of an Andorian shen - "Screen on. Shohl here."

The face on the screen is Andorian, though, and it's one I know. I raise my eyebrows. "Osrin?"

"Hello, Tylha," Osrin Corodrev says. There seems a tension in his artificially handsome face - the product of genetic engineering by his insane father, and I have to remember not to hold that against him. Especially as his insane father was also my insane great-great-grandfather, and he edited the insanity thing out of his son's genome....

Osrin, so far, has not proven any too insane; last time I saw him, he was working for a civilian disaster relief agency. There's an anonymous metal wall behind him on the viewer screen; he's aboard some spaceship or station, at a guess. "Well," I say, "this is a surprise."

He smiles. "Good to see you, anyway," he says. "You're on Earth, I gather? Somewhere hot?"

"Earth doesn't do not-hot," I say with a scowl, "except maybe at its poles, and I'm not so sure about those. They told me this place had a mild temperate climate - was famous for cold weather, even. Well, maybe it's temperate by human standards, but not by mine!"

"Where are you?" Osrin asks.

"City called, um, Lun'dun," I tell him. "On the trail of my musical idol. Gustav Holst. He lived and worked in this city."

Osrin frowns. "Gustav Holst? Sounds almost an Andorian name...."

"Well, he was human," I say. "But his music speaks to this Andorian's soul, regardless. I've never been to this island before - it was a major nation on Earth, once, had some insanely long name... let me see if I can remember it...." I take a deep breath. "Goes something like Yunaitudkiindumuvgreetbritininaerlan. At least it did in Holst's time. They've changed it quite a bit."

"I don't blame them!"

"Mostly, it seems to be contracted to Ingalan. Don't ask me how that works. And then I'm looking out on its principal river, now, and that's called the Temz. Just the Temz. Humans, who can figure them?"

"Not me, certainly." Osrin's face takes on a serious look. "Though it's not humans who are my problem just now... it's Vulcans."

"You have a problem with Vulcans?" I pull a chair over, and sit down at the console. "Better tell me about it."

"I can't think of anyone else I can tell - who might help, that is. You know I'm still working for IDRA, right?"

"Disaster relief, yeah. Don't ask me what the acronym stands for, though."

"You already said half of it. Interstellar Disaster Relief Agency. Well, we've got a disaster on our hands, or what I think is a disaster, only the victims don't agree."

"Well... wouldn't they be the ones to know?"

Osrin shakes his head. "You'd think so, wouldn't you? But they're stalling us, insisting we follow their procedures before we can send help and medical aid... it's weird. Vulcans - you expect Vulcans to be reasonable, right?"

"You expect them to be logical. It's not always the same thing."

"Well, I'm not following their logic here, that's for sure. I'd better give you the details. Do you know Chara?"

I think for a moment. "Yes. Yellow main-sequence star in the local neighbourhood, right? About eight or nine parsecs from here?"

"That's the one. Two class M worlds, one colonized and heavily populated, one kind of marginal and neglected. It's that one, Chara V, that the situation's blown up on. Vulcan archaeological survey team landed there about three months ago, on a different continent from the only permanent settlements. I don't know what they're surveying, but it must be pretty absorbing, because last week a supervolcano blew, about two hundred kilometres from them, and they've stayed put."

"Casualties? Injuries?"

"Quite a few, from what I can gather. The permanent settlements are no help - on a different continent, remember, and they have their own troubles, what with subsidiary tectonic activity, and all the ash and dust in the sky. The main agency relief effort is concentrated there, in fact. But Kon and I were sent out with a ship to pull the Vulcans out -"

"And they're refusing to be pulled?"

"You've got it." Osrin frowns. "Of course, they're free to do as they like, I know that. But something about this situation bothers me. I know they've got casualties, they sent a message asking for medical support. But you'd think they'd move, wouldn't you? They'd get out of the area?"

"Vulcans are logical." I'm frowning too, now. "They'd need a compelling reason to stay on...."

"Right. And I can't imagine what it might be. Whatever's there must have been there a thousand years or more, you'd think it could wait another couple of months. But they're... well, like I said. Stalling."

"OK, so they're stalling. What can I do to help?"

"I thought of you... because you're the only real contact I've got in Starfleet," says Osrin. "IDRA is a civilian agency, we're financed by the Federation Council, but we have no official standing. Starfleet is different. A Starfleet ship, say, could issue orders, cut through the - the bureaucracy. And besides, you're bound to be better than me at dealing with Vulcans."

I laugh. "Maybe you should ask Commander Sirip about that. Or my boss, Admiral Semok."

"You're still certain to be better than me. I know it's a lot to ask - I just thought, well, you're high enough up in Starfleet, you can set your own agenda, a bit, right?"

Vice Admirals have fairly wide-ranging discretion - that's why there are so many of us about, in a way; the galaxy is big and full of crises, Starfleet needs lots of people with the resources and the ability to act. In an earlier, more peaceful time, individual ship captains had that sort of role. Now, it has to fall to people who can call in squadrons to support them... maybe it's progress. "I could help out, I guess. I'm supposed to be on leave, but frankly I've had about enough of it - I'm more than ready to get back into harness. I hope your Vulcans can cope with the sight of an Andorian ship, though."

"Your King Estmere isn't Andorian enough to bother them."

"King Estmere's in drydock right now. Refitting."

Osrin raises his eyebrows at that. "I didn't think you took that much damage in the fight at the gateway."

"What - ? Oh, no, nothing like that." Osrin had been involved, briefly, at the start of the Bercera business; he must have heard, like everyone else, of the final battle where we tracked down the Klingon renegade Klur in an illicit transwarp gateway network. "No, this is just part of the routine for the Experimental Engineering group. We're swapping out some of King Estmere's defensive systems, installing new gear from the MACO operations unit. And refitting the hangar bays - we're mothballing the Scorpion fighters and rigging them to hold full-size Tholian frigates. Mesh Weaver class. We can only support four of those, instead of the twelve Scorpions, but they're big and mean enough to make up the difference. When she's ready, King Estmere will pack quite a bit more punch. But she's not ready yet, so I've transferred my flag to the Spirits of Earth. Charal class escort."

"Charal class?" Osrin looks frankly incredulous. "Are they still making those things? They were antiques even in my day."

"It's a design classic," I growl at him. "Anyway, she's got some experimental subtranswarp capacity, so we can be out at Chara a lot sooner than you'd expect." I let my face go serious. "It sounds to me like you could use the help."

"Thanks, Tylha. It's - more than I was hoping for, to be honest. Damn it, you'd be well within your rights to tell me to stop bothering you...."

"It sounds like a job for Starfleet. And you're family - well, sort of."

"It's not much of a relationship to presume on. And when I think about the way I talked to you, the first time we met... well, I wouldn't blame you for not wanting anything more to do with me."

I sigh. "I just guessed you were... confused, and angry, and defensive. I was pretty confused myself, at the time, remember?"

"I remember. You keep doing me favours, though, Tylha - maybe one day I'll be able to do one for you."

"You're getting me off this over-heated planet and back into action. That's enough of a favour for one day!"

Last edited by shevet; 12-08-2013 at 02:12 PM. Reason: scrambled by previous efforts to fix typos