........Damn! That was close. The Borg scan was off by a mere point-zero-two. As such, it passed right over us. In range, we would have been discovered. There's little a Delta Flyer can do against a Borg Sphere. Yes, I knew the risks. But the data acquisition was essential and necessary. The risks were irrelevant. Lieutenant Commander Det Kel, Major Lorixes, and myself hid within an asteroid's crater while having the Delta Flyer on minimum power. Every few minutes, Major Lorixes fluctuated the power modules of the Delta Flyer to mimic natural radiation. It was a trick he learned in his war with the Tal Shiar.
........We sat and waited for the Borg Sphere to leave. I'm pretty sure it hadn't actually detected us. It may have picked up some ionization from our warp trail, but it couldn't have had anything definitive. We just had to wait until the Borg determined their investigation was inefficient. Shuttle missions are risky business. As captain of a federation starship, I do my best to weigh the risks in relation to the officers who accompany me. I use these occasions to get to know crewmen better. Since both Major Lorixes and Lieutenant Commander Det Kel were recent additions to the crew, it seemed fitting to take them with me on this particular shuttle mission to the B'Tran Cluster deep in Borg Territory.
........"Major Lorixes," I said. "Tell me something about yourself." I took a reading of the Borg scan as it passed over the top of the asteroid's crater. Point-zero-one. The Borg have adjusted slightly. It was almost like they knew we were here. Impossible.
........"My wife was killed by a Tal Shiar hit squad," the Reman soldier stated matter-of-factly. He adjusted the power modules yet again.
........"Tell me about her," I said.
........"Hmmm," Lorixes mumbled. "She was a good mate." He volunteered nothing more.
........"Why did the Tal Shiar kill her?" The Breen asked, the tone of his voice sounding synthesized.
........"She knew things," Lorixes stated.
........"The sphere has launched class-one probes," Det Kel warned. He touched the console and it beeped in compliance. "Four of them, to be exact."
........I sighed in frustration, banging my fist on the console--not hard, but enough of a tap to convey my disgust. "Lieutenant Commander," I said to Det Kel. "Tell me something about yourself." I slid the control of the hull plating's polarization from a nine-two-three grade to a nine-one-seven. The gesture was to mimic radioactive decay and fool the Borg's readings, another Reman trick. The probes flew overhead, oblivious to the Delta Flyer.
........"Captain," Det Kel said. "Is this really the time?" His voice was broken and monotonous, distorted by his helmet.
........"Yes," I answered.
........There was silence. Several seconds passed. Then a full minute.
........"That's an order, Lieutenant Commander," I said.
........"Fine," Det Kel said. "I am an outcast, shamed by my thot, and all because I hesitated."
........"What do you mean," Lorixes asked. He adjusted the power modules, increasing by a few microjoules. His touch was delicate and deliberate. I had set to mind to ask him later how many times he had done this.
........"I was ordered to kill a Deferi slave for defying an order," Det Kel stated. "I didn't fire right away. It was a stupid order. My thot then shot the Deferi and ordered me to back to the base. I..." He didn't finish the thought, but shook his head from side to side.
........I studied Det Kel momentarily. The Breen people had no mercy, no compassion, no care for anyone, not even for another Breen. It was part of their culture, to be detached. Yet, I sensed in that moment Det Kel's inner struggle. It wasn't hesitation due to a weakness. It was conscientious deliberation.
........"Well, Lieutenant Commander," I said to Det Kel. "The Superior's officers are apt to see such qualities as admirable." I took a moment to check my readings on the console, and then turned back to him. "Our humanity is defined by compassion, by mercy."
........"Breenkind," Det Kel interjected, "see such qualities as..." He paused. "The Borg have retrieved their probes. Scans have ceased. They are powering their engines."
........I breathed a sigh of relief.
........The three of us watched our consoles attentively and monitored the Borg's retreat from the area. It only took seconds for the sphere's signal to disappear from our readings.
........"Finish your thought, Lieutenant Commander Det Kel," Major Lorixes stated as a formal command.
........The pause was brief. "Cowardly," Det Kel said. "Breenkind see such qualities as cowardly."
........Lorixes said nothing further. I may have observed a shaking of his head from side to side, as if in disapproval. I studied his body language. I saw pride, confidence, assurety of character typical of Reman freedom fighters. I looked over at Det Kel. Not so with him. He was slouched and dejected, his revelation bearing a heavy burden. He was wounded and surrendered, as if he was merely going through the motions and waiting for whatever was fated. So this is why they haven't been able to get along.
........I realized the three of us were going to need more of these types of shuttle missions.
~Vice Admiral Ceol A'Brian, Superior Memoirs