Canopus Station
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A Meeting Of The Minds

Posted on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 @ 9:05pm by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Commander Calida

Mission: S1E2: A Temple To New Gods
Location: USS Resolute, enroute to Carpathia
Timeline: MD4 5.00AM

Benjamin regarded the captains quarters afforded to him on the Resolute. By his usual standards they were Spartan accommodation, and yet by the benchmark of a Fleet berth, they were palatial. Was it so wrong that he was able to hold both opinions firmly in his mind, without the resulting paradox bringing about a nose bleed?

He eyed the bed he had not slept in, and then glanced out of the window at the streaking stars. If you looked close enough you could see the blue tinge at the tip of the streaks as they raced past, and a dull red glow as they receded. Such terrific energies made so only by the fact of altering the relativistic properties of local space-time.

Which reminded him about an altered space-time event he was on a first name basis with.

"Computer, place a call through to Cargo Bay 4. Audio channel only," he mused over that choice for a moment. An audio signal would transmit his voice, but as for returning the sound wave of a disembodied consciousness he had no dought Calida could accommodate.

The coalescence of subspace manifolds into conjunctive axial matrices that lower dimensional lifeforms designated "space-time" was disturbed by a new vibrational frequency. Calida long knew this frequency to be a comm channel. She could trace its source, but that would lose her anchor point and prevent her from responding. That wouldn't do. She did so enjoy company.

"Greetings, Benjamin.." The two words were loaded with an ecstatic motherlode of jubilation. "It is good to reconnect with you once again.."

"A reunion I did not think was in the cards. Imagine my surprise to find you stowed away in a shuttle pod made up to look like the Diplomats Bag. As you can well imagine, an unexpected turn of events," Benjamin said. He walked to a comfortable lounge chair and settled into it. "I didn't think Canopus Station warranted a representative of the Medusian people? Opening a trade mission? Surely you're not to be your people's local factor?"

The frequency attenuated for an instant. "I represent Starfleet. Based upon the Traveller's logs, I was one of the primary candidates put forward. And when I learned you had finally attained your first command, I could not refuse."

"I'm sure," Benjamin did his best to keep the acidic tone from his voice, but the truth was a hard thing to bury. "The Travellers log does paint a rather brief and startling picture of Messier 4, as do our own second-hand encounters with the Concordance. I am not entirely sure if talking out our differences will be an option this early in our tenure here."

Lumbering waves of mirth floated alongside the audio transmission. "There was a time when Benjamin Ingram was the last man to rattle his saber. I wonder where that man has gone."

"Left behind with the majority of the Starfleet," Benjamin chuckled. "You do the math. We are, at present, one solitary light cruiser, a fixed installation not yet up to full power, an inhospitable colony and a missing heavy cruiser. I think that neatly surmises our tactical resources in this area. Against which are arrayed a veritable cornucopia of threats in the form of the Myriad and the Concordance. The former at a race of hyper-advanced 'uplifted' machine intellects with a taste for organic servitude, and the latter has a weekend hobby they enjoy called planetary genocide."

He set his lips in a thin line.

"Let us just say, that when we announce ourselves fully to both parties I would like to do so from a position of strength. Once the Canopus phase space relay is an operation, it will act as a navigation beacon to the Milky Way Accelerator. We should see something of an influx of traffic, if only in older designs until we can figure out a way to Myriad proof our command and control network," he squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his fingers into them. "Do feel free to do as you usually do and point out anything I might have missed."

Calida was silent for a moment. "Tell me, Benjamin. Do you recall the Odyssey's first mission? The Romulan colony of ch'Kraven was said to be the victim of the Iruhe, an ancient spacefaring terror that devoured ships and planets. Where was the rest of Starfleet then? Did they hand you a solution, or did we defeat the so-called Iruhe and save the Romulan colony on our own?"

"No, but given the Romulan lunatics were toying with a black hole gun of their own devising, I feel confident in saying a band of Boy Scouts could have accomplished the mission. Possibly without the Marine body count. But the fact of the matter was the Fleet was to hand. If something had gone wrong, they would have been at our backs. Here...well until the Beacon is online any reinforcements from the Milky Way might land close by or might land days or weeks away at high warp," Benjie countered. "Besides we're not dealing with the Romulans, or the Klingons though at times I wish I were. Their motivations are at least fairly well known. These Myriad, these Concordance...well, they are named at least."

"You have certainly rationalized a solid situational fear'' Calida said. "From where I sit, there is no material obstruction to building your beacon, connecting the modules, and bringing everything online just as was planned. I wonder what new target your newfound jingoism will find at that time.."

A narrow beam of chiding amusement shot through the latent link the two of them shared. It manifested like deja vu, a future moment viewed in memory.

"The future cannot belong to cannons. That path leads to a swift end. Return your mind to the pursuit of greater mysteries, Benjamin, the deep things that allure only the brightest, lest you lose it. I should like to keep company with your mind awhile longer."

Benjamin let out a low chuckle, his eyes ascending to the ceiling.

"Oh, we've played this game long enough to know I am of little interest to you other than as a proxy, regardless of my motivations. And fear not, my mind is keenly aware that a much grander game is afoot than the one presently in need of my attention," Benjamin said with a smile. "Would you like to know something secret? You might not have a physical body but that should only make the bait of knowledge all the more alluring to you. What say you, Ghost Of Service Jacket's Past?"

"When have I not indulged you?" Perhaps there was an inside joke therein if one knew where to look.

"True to a certain point, one imagines. So imagine my surprise that not a month ago, I am reminded of a suggestion given to me in the heady days of my youth. The mere utterance of a single word brings to me the scent of chalk, the feel of Risan sand beneath my feet. And at that moment I remember the phrase spoken to me: 'Touch Canopus'," Benjamin closed his eyes and smiled. "I knew upon the surfacing of that old memory that I was meant to be here. Meant to lead this mission. Preordained, predetermined, or just willed to it by means unquantifiable. Well, quantifiable in one respect. What is the Medusan ruling on the nature of a soul? The essence by which a person can be judged one way or the other?"

"You know not yet the alphabet of a language high enough to convey the answer to such ponderings," Calida said. "Though I expect we will get there. Some things that were shall be again, and some things that are will be removed and reborn. That you recognize this on an unconscious level is not fate as your people reckon it. When you simply glimpse the universe as it truly is, then you simply know without the redundant confirmation of sense data.."

The Medusan's amusement came to a head. It bordered on condescension. "It pleases me that you have come to possess this knowledge despite your kind's blind dependency on empirical constructs.."

"My kind..." Benjamin said ruefully, rolling the word around on his pallet as though tasting a vintage of a wine that had begun the turn towards vinaigrette. "I gave up on being kindred to them a long time ago. Their small questions and delight in meagre answers grew quite tiring. Every conversation a constant battle of translation, breaking apart knowledge into ever diminishing blocks of reason until understanding dawns in their eyes but all meaning is lost. I have held a truth in my hands the likes of which I think only you and your kind could understand. I have let that true knowledge burn me, and I have passed through those flames..."

He stopped, conscious to the fact his hands had moved to scratch at the back of one sleeve covered wrist. He drew his hands back to the arms of the chair.

"The scars I carry are worthy to the price, badges of endurance," he said with a hint of pride reaching his voice. "They brought me here. To this new sea of stars, this new...pool of knowledge out there somewhere. I intend to drink quite deeply."

Satisfaction. A mission accomplished. "There you are. It is good to finally see you again, old friend." The sense of irony was inexplicable yet nonetheless there.

"Friends are we?" Benjamin said to the ceiling. "I here I thought we were being honest? After all, you only want me for my mind."

"And just what of mine do you value, Benjamin? You said you have held truth that only I could understand. I should think that makes us friends." The undertones were far more terrible than the sanguine emotions carried upon them. "Surely better than the alternative.."

"As I have said, I have held a truth I think you alone could understand. Understanding and comprehension are two very different things," Benjamin said. His eyes glanced across the room to wall chrono and sighed. "As much as I have enjoyed this conversation, the time has come to return to the role of commander. There will be time enough for philosophy in the coming weeks and months. I assume somewhere on Canopus Station, there is a facility built to your specifications? Some secret place that shall be your residence?"

"Place is such a restrictive concept. I confess I lean too much on mortal perceptions to properly understand it. If you refer to my pod, there is likely an arrangement where it can be kept from interfering with station operations. Where makes little difference to me. In a vast sea of minds, I can be everywhere."

He stood from his chair, usng a hand to flatten the front of his uniform tunic, and nodded as he stepped towards the door.

"Very well. Though I would advise cauion, there are currents even a leviathan like yourself might find troublesome."

Infectious giddiness nearly made the air quiver. "And you would think to be the one to warn me? I fear you have confused our roles yet again, Benjamin. But we have plenty of time to work on that.."

A weight slid away, as if an ascending elevator began to drop. The comm channel deactivated, leaving naught but the starkest silence


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