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Survival isn't a competition

Posted on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 @ 8:51pm by

Mission: Purgatory's Shadow. Season 2 Episode 7
Location: Following
Timeline: Biology Laboratory; Deep Space 12

The Chief Science Officer had positioned himself in the centre of the biology lab, haphazardly balanced on a stool with his feet crossed and resting on the central console in the middle of the room. One hand absently rested on the base of his skull while the other steadied the vast PADD, at which his attention was seemingly directed, across his lap. The PADD, a special issue device to stellar cartographers, displayed a detailed map of the sector with sensor data overlays. Aral occasionally tutted at the inaccuracy of the station’s aging Cardassian equipment.

The lab, like all rooms on the station, conformed to the Kell aesthetic. Upon entering Aral had spent ten minutes admiring the vaulted ceiling and support beams. The Cardassians, they had the temperament of wasps but the souls of poets. Aix had a noticeable distain for the life sciences and would normally preferred not to grace any biology lab with his presence, however he was waiting.

The lab, although empty, held evidence of research. Samples of organic matter rested in transparent baubles and several PADDs were scattered across the central console.

Aral heard the doors laboriously sweep apart and footsteps followed. Nevertheless his attention remained focused on his star charts and sensor data.

“You requested to see me?” Harrison said.

Harrison’s formal sentence construction brushed against the hairs on the back of Aral’s neck. Aral looked up and leaned further back on his stool, contorting his body so as to catch a glimpse of the arrival. It was almost miraculous that his balance was unaffected by the movement. “Hello. I love your pots of goo.”

“I have not yet acquainted myself with the facilities here. I was informed that the person in charge was only acting in the position; something I find to be all too common around here. I thought it proper to await the arrival of the new incumbent. I take it that is yourself.”

“Oh.” Replied Aral, scratching his chin. “These must belong to someone else then. I’d heard you’re a part time biologist and assumed they’re yours.” He discarded his large PADD across the central console with a flick of the wrist all too casual for such an expensive item. “I’m not interested in turf wars. Feel free to have the run of the place.” He gestured around the lab.

“I happen to find xenobiology to be a fascinating subject. Had I not been....” He decided against airing the family’s dirty linen for the moment. “Had I not joined Starfleet, I might well have made a career in the field.”

“Sit down if you like.” It was clear the Commander knew nothing about what was going on in the science department. With his original purpose defeated, Aral’s attention drifted to the man before him and he removed his feet from the desk. “I’m two-hundred and eighty-six.” Aral continued at a tangent, “The one thing I’ve learnt is that life is to short for the road untaken.”

“You certainly win the age stakes. As for the other.... Most of my roads are untaken.”

“Survival isn’t a competition.” Aral replied, ignoring the fundamental basis of biology. “After a while... you start to get bored. And if you’re lucky, just before you die, you realise how many things you could’ve done. The last couple of times I died, my last thought was regret.”

Harrison could safely say his whole life had been one of regret. Okay, here’s a chance to redress the balance a bit.

“Do you know what experiments are running?” he asked.

Aral shrugged. “I haven’t a bloody clue. They should be in the lab record book though.” He gestured to the glowing plastic balls that lined one of the walls. “Between us, my department handover was less than thorough.” He paused, “I’m more of a physicist.” Precisely an astrophysicist, warp field theorist and mathematician “So, I’m none too bothered about what happens down here and the department is so small you’ll barely see anyone whose toes you can step on.” Aral looked over at the existing experiment, "Any idea what they are?" He gestured with his thumb.

Harrison rose and walked over to the nearest bench. “I haven’t a bloody clue. But I suppose it’ll be in the lab record books somewhere.” He pushed and poked around. “I’ll speak to that petty officer they placed in charge pending your arrival. Maybe he knows something.” He didn’t sound hopeful.

Aix smiled, as his colleague’s demeanor slipped from the most formal of Starfleet traditions into that of a fellow scientist confronting a mystery. “Oh,” replied Aral, “I’m certain he knows something... trouble is, he’s not prepared to say.” He paused drumming his fingers on the console, “If you can get any information out of him, you’re a better man than I am.”


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