Episode 1: A Lesson in Humility
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD 6
Ian was still getting used to sharing his cabin and his personal space on something more than a temporary basis. It was different and both harder and easier than he thought it would be. Elias was still on duty and wouldn't be home for a while. He was planning on surprising him with some cookies and had just started to gather some ingredients when his PADD started to beep, indicating there was a message from the Captain calling him to her Ready Room.
He didn't recall doing anything wrong, at least nothing that warranted being sent to her for a reprimand, or punishment, so he gathered his things, left a note for Elias and made his way to the Ready Room, where he pressed on the chime.
The Captain was staring at the image on the screen on her wall. The foggy object had consumed a lot of her thoughts recently. She doubted it would change until they actually arrived at the intercept site. Upon hearing the door, she continued to stare at the screen but spoke loud enough that it would be audible from the door. "Enter."
"You called for me ma'am," Ian said as the stepped into the room, "how can I help?"
"I did. Thank you for coming," Charlotte said, turning to face him. "I've been thinking a lot about our mission, and I thought we might want to brainstorm a bit about our plan for when we encounter this thing. This will be Starfleet's first interaction with anything like this. I'm sure it's the first for your people as well. I'm not entirely sure if our traditional first contact rules apply here either. It's on a whole different scale than we're used to. I just thought we might want to prepare for this first contact a bit more than most."
Ian leaned against a bulkhead, mostly to keep himself from pacing. "On the one hand, I would have to agree with you," he said, "It is vastly different in both scope and nature over what either of our peoples has encountered before. However, on the other hand, it may not be as different as we think. We, both our peoples, not just you and I, have a pretty narrow interpretation of what sentience is, it's not just reserved for beings that look like us."
In my opinion, we should exercise caution until we know their intentions, and we should gather as much information as possible. I may be able to help with that, to see if I can feel it. But at the same time, we should keep an open mind and approach it in much the same way that any First Contact protocol dictates."
"Agreed. I also think it'd be good to have a package of documents explaining our peaceful mission and intentions. I've sent a request to Starfleet Command. They should have something along for us soon," the Captain said. "I think it might not be a bad idea to prep a few officers though. Our Comms officer and Intelligence Officer being two of the key ones."
"Those are good choices, ma'am."
Ian cleared his throat, looked down at the deck before looking back at the Captain, "I know this is going to sound highly unscientific and far-fetched, but I have an uneasiness about this whole situation. Things just don't feelright."
"I wish I could disagree with you," she said, nodding a bit. "I don't know if its just lingering paranoia or what. But I keep finding myself feeling suspicious of this. The size of the object certainly isn't calming my nerves. I keep saying that our mission is to get out here and explore for exactly this kind of situation. But that's easier to say than to feel."
"There is always a fear of the unknown and certainly given what we've been going through paranoia is the norm. But I think what I'm feeling, what you're sensing as well, goes beyond that. At least in my mind. And what is the old Terran idiom it's not paranoia if they're really out to get you."
Charlotte nodded. "True enough. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, can you compile some documents and offerings? Let's look prepared."
"I will have something on your desk by EOD tomorrow."
"Thank you, Lieutenant," the captain replied, before turning back to her intelligence reports.