828: The Second Slowest People

by Rada Dengar
Time: A Day After The Summit

-=Main Engineering; USS Serendipity=-

It was starting to feel now like it’d been ages since Kellyn and Salvek left for Vulcan and Rada really wished that it actually had been because not only might he be used to it by now but they might actually be coming back soon. He couldn’t believe that of all places Salvek had chosen to go to Vulcan to get healed. He was sure it was going to take an eternity before they came back or at least a significant proportion thereof.

Salvek could have been treated by Klingons; one swing of the bat’leth and they’d lop off whatever part of his body or brain Taris was residing in and send him back within days.

Or he could have gone to the Borg, sure they’d have tried to ever so slightly assimilate him in the process but they’d have at least healed him quickly. Rada didn’t understand what Salvek really objected to about the Borg anyway, they just rob the people they assimilate of their emotions and any identity beyond what is rationally required of them; most Vulcans spend their lives working for that but it seemed Salvek was determined to be a rebel.

Salvek had to go to Vulcan where the people live for centuries. If they want to spend a decade of two meditating on how to help someone then they can spare it. That’s certainly not what Rada would want from a doctor. He’d want someone religious who knows they’re going to die soon so has to cure him within the time they have left or risk him dying and complaining for all eternity that they left before the job was done.

In Rada’s opinion Vulcans were the second slowest people Salvek could have thought of going to. The Ferengi were by far the slowest at least as far as healing the body and since with the exception of one unfortunate incident Vulcan’s minds tended to be attached to their bodies Rada thought they’d be slowest here as well.

Rada had heard stories of a Bolian who went to a Ferengi hospital complaining of a cold and never left; dying there forty years later of old age after the doctors refused to let him go until they were sure the symptoms had gone. It turned out they were charging him by the hour. Legend had it that his doctor spent three days pounding on his chest in a hopeless attempt to bring him back before shedding a tear as he finally accepted that the income stream was no more.

Going to Vulcan didn’t make any sense as far as Rada was concerned anyway. From what he knew of Vulcan culture Salvek was sure to want to do a lot of meditating and such and Rada didn’t understand how Salvek expected to get that done on Vulcan. Vulcan was a class M planet and like most of them everywhere you went was dark half the time, simply standing outside for long enough got you burned and the surface is covered with billions of other people. Surely no one could get any real concentration done somewhere like that.

Rada had brought this point up with Kellyn who’d claimed that where they were going was secluded. Rada still didn’t get it, if Salvek had wanted to be secluded then he could have done so here on this ship where they could all be alone together. They could easily swing by Vulcan, beam up a Vulcan Master or two and then be on their way. If Salvek really needed to be alone with this Master then they could have set them up in a shuttlecraft which they could have towed behind the ship; Salvek was certainly going to receive a much more concentrated dose of healing if he was inside one of their shuttlecraft rather than in one of those huge temples where all the healing could get diluted in the air.

If Salvek didn’t want to worry about the shuttle controls and watching out for approaching vessels then it wouldn’t be a problem, they could just keep the shuttle inside its bay.

Rada knew that really he was just trying to find a non-selfish way to justify the fact that he wanted them here even though Salvek needed to go to Vulcan. Being the most senior Engineer on board the ship wasn’t an experience that he was enjoying; it wasn’t even one he was really experiencing. It was actually a very peaceful time at the moment and not at all what he’d been worrying about. It’s large scale shore leave time, when a young Engineer’s fancy turns to thoughts of recalibration of the ship’s life support systems. It was relatively stress free to do this when this ship was so empty because if he messed up then only a small number of people would have to learn how to live without oxygen. Rada still felt stressed though because he’d yet to face any problems which made him sure that one was coming.

Every corner he turned he worried that there’d be someone there demanding he help them solve some major engineering emergency. Other than planning the journey from his quarters to Main Engineering with as few turns as possible he was out of ideas as to how to fix this. If he messed up then the results were quite predictable; he could destroy the ship, the Earth and the Utopia Shipyards effectively both crippling the Federation’s government and destroying any chances they have of defending against the impending anarchy. Rada could cope with that, as far as he was concerned that was a possibility every time he shaved.

The thing that scared him was what might happen if he didn’t mess up. If he did well then there was every risk that it’d be decided he should spend more time alone and unsupervised. There’d be more challenges and if he didn’t mess those up then he’d really be in trouble.

There’s every risk that he could face promotion, most officers aspire to that but as far as Rada was concerned it’d happened too many times already. It was like an obsession with Zanh Liis, when he first shook her dirt covered hand he was a simple Ensign; never been promoted in his life and completely alone, but she put a stop to that. In the time that he’d known her he’d jumped up three ranks, become a Chief Engineer and ended up with a girlfriend and her child. If he didn’t do at least some small amount of damage to the ship while he was on his own then there was every risk this trend would continue. Within ten years he could be a Fleet Admiral, Commander of Chief of Starfleet and the Klingon defence force with seven wives and thirty three children. He didn’t even want to imagine the risk when he shaved then.

He certainly didn’t want to consider the possibility that Kellyn and Salvek might not come back. The responsibility for Kellyn’s research would fall to him which meant so would her lab. This was the lab right next to Dabin Reece. Rada could just imagine Szechuan chicken every day for the rest of his life which he could conclude wouldn’t be long. He still didn’t believe that the replicator was really supposed to make it that hot, no matter how many times he checked for a design fault. There was simply no way any living being could be expected to withstand repeated consumption of what was essentially fire in chicken form without their taste buds turning on the rest of them and destroying the body in the resultant war.

To make sense of it Rada did some reading and discovered that there was actually a tradition on the Earth of people known as fire eaters. Effectively these people would light something on fire and then decide it made perfect sense to place it in their mouth. It made him question the safety of living on a ship with such a high Terran population. He tried to assure himself with thoughts that perhaps fire eating evolved out of necessity, a natural part of the training so that you could one day be ready to eat the food.

Just thinking of it he needed to get a glass of milk to cool off and so he ducked into his Office. Approaching his desk his eye was caught by a message on the screen and he could feel his mouth burning already as he saw it was from Kellyn. They had to have said there was nothing they could do; she couldn’t be getting back to him this quickly otherwise. In the back of his mind he thought he heard the pitter patter of thirty three tiny feet. Then he realised it was likely to be double that; either way his shoe budget would be about to go through the roof.

In one smooth motion he clicked the message and forced his eyes to stay open long enough to read:

I won the bet, and don’t you forget it.

He actually laughed when he realised what that meant; they were coming home.

LT. Commander Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012