Last Call

Posted on Fri Mar 8th, 2024 @ 12:44am by Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Ingram Dr

838 words; about a 4 minute read

The Exeter Hotel, Chicago, Earth, Sol System...sometime soon

“Of course transwarp theory was never taken seriously, it wasn’t a Vulcan who invented the premise.”

That took some air from the room, and Benjamin Ingram allowed himself a satisfied smile. These conferences were so often seen as holy ground among the academic crowds who attended. And if someone had walked into a Catholic Church and posited the idea that Mary ‘might not have been visited by only the Agel that night’, the reaction would have been similar.

“Bold, given the resources Starfleet put into the Excelsior class,” someone else put in. Ingram eyed the blue-skinned Bolian, some little published professor from the McFuck-Where star system no doubt. Ingram gave the comment time to sink in, using the moment pause to sip from his glass of fine-aged pear brandy. The hotel bar where the conference was being held had an old-world charm to it. Leather-bound sofas and reading chairs, dark varnished wood floors and ceilings, the walls lined in bookshelves with actual books.

It felt homely.

“And out of it Starfleet still has a next-generation battle cruiser that still works. Do look deeper than the cover letter that comes with the academic publications,” Ingram chuckled. “It's no secret that the United Federation Council investigated the Excellsior incident and labelled the technology as unfeasible. Because who would know better how a faster-than-light drive works than career politicians? Especially given that two of them were Vulcans. That entire species has had a chip on its shoulder ever since Archer and his crew interfered in their internal politics and we dragged them into the Federation. So of course human ingenuity, and human insight, are automatically seen as wrong-think by the pointy-eared crowd. It's why I like these bi-yearly conventions on Earth.”

“The brandy?”

“That as well, but no. They always host them in these grand old hotels, as though trying to bring back the spirit of such august bodies as the Royal Scientific Society. Leather chairs, world globes in wooden frames, and old world wood,” Ingram chuckled and patted the arm of his chair. “Which not even modern cleaning and science can denature of nearly three hundred years of human habitation. I imagine a Vulcan would find walking in here as aromatically pleasing as you or I stepping into a pig pen. Like garlic to vampires. Or common sense to politicians.”

The conversation then devolved into a blow-by-blow commentary on the day's panels. There had been a rather charming seminar on Bi-lateral Photon Decay Spectrometry, a somewhat dry and perfunctory panel on the dangers of long-term warp field degradation on local space-time architecture. And then at the end, that one speaker who had to have their say about their private little conspiracy theory.

Not that anyone would, or could, do anything about it. After all, who would be the sacrificial lamb to walk up the Klingon Chancilor and tell them that their primary energy extraction source would explode with cataclysmic results for the Klingon home world?

Benjamin was about to settle in for the evening's main event, a duel of wits between a pair of Tellarite astrophysicists with very different ideas on Sobols Law when he felt the icy cold ball of dread enter his stomach. It started with a flash of crimson at the bar, a hand wave from the bartender directing someone…oh.

Oh no.

“Luetenant Commander Ingram?”

He sighed and looked up at the figure in the maroon vestments of a Starfleet officer. An Ensign by the rank pins on his lapels, so wet behind the ears he was surely dripping somewhere. Benjamin did not respond, and merely held up a hand, making a come-hither gesture for what the ensign was carrying.

The memo pad was put into his hand, and with a swipe of a thumb over the biometric reader it unlocked and began to display text in teal-on-black font.

“This can’t be right,” he muttered under his breath. “How can I be reassigned when I’m on assignment?”

“I wouldn’t know Sir. The Admiral; in charge of Starfleet Personnel doesn’t care to keep me informed.”

“I see they’re issuing the lower deckers with a sense of humour these days. No doubt it’ll be stricken from the service the first time you get sent to summon a Vulcan,” Ingram muttered flicking through the message's finer details. “That’ll be all Ensign.”

“I was instructed to escort you Starfleet Personnel-”

“‘At earliest convenience’, yes I read that too. And now is not convenient,” Benjamin said acidity.

“The Admiral said that if you read it as such, I was to correct as to meaning the Admirals convenience.”

“He has you in the fine print,” the Bolian scientist across the way said with a chuckle.

Benjamin smiled thinly and got up to leave. He’d remember the Bolian's name. He often remembered the names of those who irked him so he might…remember them for future purposes of spite.


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