Lecturing To Vegetables
Prelude: Joining the Fight
Location: USS Trident, Arboretum
Timeline: 5 November, 2296, 21:00
David Arbroath was standing in a wide open space, facing a couple barrels of potatoes, some flowering vines from Risa--he thought--and other various plants from across the Federation. Clearing his throat, he began to speak words in a gutteral tongue:
I ask now, Memory
For that Fire which comes from your hand.
Let that Fire engulf me, taking my spirit
To that place where the creativity of thought flows free.
I ask that the Owl of Wisdom
And the night-black Raven,
Who, at both your shoulders serve, would
Strike me with the all-consuming Fire of Creation.
Let me sing of the Earth and the Stars,
Let me sing of deepest Sea and highest Firmament.
Let me fill the air with music—
Music to quicken the soul and make it glad;
Music to question and to teach;
In short, music to tell the story of life.
They met there, together, the two of them.
All their experiences, good and not good,
Near-past and long-past, ill-thought or well-thought
Prepared them for this day.
That day, that most important of days,
Shaped all the days that followed,
Near-future and far-future, for good or for ill.
Akamine was looking forward to a relaxing walk. The Arboretum was always a good place for that and to practice some of her martial arts forms. However, as she started to walk, she heard the rough gutteral Klingon tongue. Tensing up, Akamine looked around. Stealthily, she turned the corner, ready to pounce upon the Klingon invader when she noticed the Executive Officer.
She suppressed a growl and accused him, "What are you doing, speaking in that vile tongue?"
Arbroath jumped and turned, startled. "I'm sorry, Doctor... I am the chief of communications, and I'd rather stay in practice than come across a Klingon ship and not know how to communicate with them... If they're in a haling mood. I've not had a chance to practice much, so I'm rusty." He cleared his throat. "Bit rough on the throat, too, after so much long silence."
He softened his tone. "I'm sorry, Doctor. I should have perhaps not chosen an area so public to practice, especially if I knew you were going to be here..." He broke off.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Akamine asked, her eyes becoming more sharp.
"I should have realized that the crew might be uncomfortable hearing Klingon spoken so openly in a public space... The war, regrettably, casts long shadows, even if we're not directly involved."
"What do you mean, not directly involved?" Akamine asked sharply. "I am all too familiar with the Klingons and their animalistic behaviors." Her normally soft voice was noticeably much more hostile and somewhat shrill.
"As am I, Doctor." Arbroath's tone was reasonable, but an edge had crept into it. "However, we are not headed for the front lines, and while the threat of Klingon attack is nearly always present, it is not universal. Khitomer was a good-faith effort on both sides, but unfortunately, ill-meaning actors contaminated the process."
He faced her directly. "I am also aware," he went on, softly, "of your own... Personal history... with the Klingons, though only in a vague way. I know how painful something like that can be..."--he trailed off, his face becoming pained. "I have always been a man of peace, but sometimes, it is necessary to defend that peace by force."
"You know nothing of my history with the Klingons," Akamine replied, sure that the Executive Officer was bluffing. The Captain knew nothing. Why would he? "The Klingons are nothing more than pests. They merely need to be exterminated. We're the exterminators."
"I reviewed your file, as I did with all senior officers," Arbroath replied mildly. "While said file does not contain details--nor would I pry for such--you also carry yourself as one who..." He paused a moment. "I need to explain something to you, which will make this clear... Walk with me, Doctor, if you please."
Internally seething, she put back on her pleasant and calm face and started walking with the Commander. She said nothing, weighing her options carefully.
After a couple of minutes' movement, they came to a small bench. Made to look like stone, it sat beside the path, flanked by a tall vine of some Risian plant and a distinctive Terran holly-like bush. Wordlessly, Arbroath sat on it. "A month before my marriage," he began, slowly, clearly, softly, "my then fiance was in a low-level supervisory role in Federation government. One of her subordinates did not take kindly to her being placed in-charge of that particular section; he apparently felt he could do the job better than she could..." Arbroath paused, gathered himself, then went on. "He began to threaten her, anonymously. She reported the incidents, but this man was very good at covering his tracks. One night, we were out walking as we sometimes did, when he attacked us. I was knocked unconscious, and she was..." He broke off again, "We were both... Violated. He felt, somehow, that making her watch the violation, and then her own... Would be a fitting revenge, a fitting punishment..."
Akamine felt disgusted at what she was being told. How could such a person pass the screens in the Federation?
The man shuddered as if lost in memory. "It almost broke both of us. Even now, I still have an occasional nightmare. Tessa is good at hiding it, but to me, she'll confess the same... Its fear, pain, helplessness... A loss of control..."
He raised his head to look at the doctor. "It leaves a mark, for those with eyes to see..."
The doctor said nothing to confirm or deny the Commander's suspicions. "I am sorry to hear your tale. Should you wish any assistance from me, understand that I am always here to help."
"As I am here for you, Doctor," was his soft reply.
"I appreciate your concern," she told the Commander in a flat tone. She touched her cropped hair thoughtfully and then stopped, putting her hand back down. "But we should focus our attention on the Klingons."
"That's true," Arbroath responded. "But we can't very well just fight a war... We have to remember what makes us human, Doctor, both the good and the bad. We have to hold on to it."
Akamine smiled at Arbroath sadly. "If anyone is aware of what makes us human, Commander, it is me. I am a doctor. I could tell you about every single cell in our bodies: what is supposed to be there and how it is to function." She then shook her head and continued. "I know you may be speaking metaphorically, but just remember that to hold on to something too tightly and you will lose it, as well."
"True enough..." Arbroath rose. "I think I'll continue to practice in my quarters--less public, yes?"
"For the mental welfare of the crew, I think that might be a wise idea," Akamine agreed. It was still disturbing that he would want to speak the language of vile beasts.
"Indeed..." Arbroath turned to go. "I hope you find what you came for, Doctor."
"I did not but perhaps later, I will." With that, Akamine turned and walked away.