DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated G.
Reflections – Fight or Flight
Greetings, cousin. Your communication was well timed. Your news and thoughts provided a welcome diversion, as the voyage had been uneventful. Naturally, the tedium of the trip did not distress me. But I cannot say the same for those I share this ship with. Well, most of those—Doctor Phlox appears to find the smallest aspect of life on board this ship intriguing, so I do not believe the lack of outside contact bothered him in the least. But my human colleagues became increasingly tense and irritable. Boredom coupled with anticipation, and in some cases fear, is an unfortunate combination. But boredom gave way to something else. That is what I wish to discuss, as I have found my thoughts have been drawn back to it repeatedly.
A few days ago we came upon a ship, seemingly adrift in space. Propulsion, comms, life support, everything was inoperative. A Vulcan ship would have continued on its way. We would not have even stopped to question our course of action, would have put any curiosity we felt at the sight aside and resumed our mission. Enterprise, however, is not a Vulcan ship. So of course we diverted to investigate.
I told Captain Archer that Vulcans do not share the human enthusiasm for exploration. Or for foolhardy missions. I know my colleagues view me as overly negative. Recently, I overheard two crewmembers discussing me. They used the term "wet blanket." I looked the term up in the database. It means one who quenches or dampens enthusiasm or pleasure. I have not fully ascertained if that term applies when the wet blanket is proven right in the end. I suspect not. Perhaps "voice of reason" might suffice. An apt term for a Vulcan. Reason dictated we should not have inspected that ship. But we did. And on this ship that we should not have entered, the Captain found alien bodies hanging from hooks. They were attached to a pump and were being drained of some fluid. Once we saw this, reason again dictated that we leave this place before whoever did this returned to collect the fluid. Our continued presence could do nothing for the victims and would put us in danger.
The captain listened to reason. For a while. But as we moved farther from the ship, he became increasingly tense. I found myself in the unlikely position of allying myself with our chief engineer, Commander Tucker, an especially emotional human, in an attempt to divert the captain from his mood. We were unsuccessful. In fact, I think all we accomplished was to strengthen the captain's resolve to return to the ship.
Logic was against this action. Reason dictated staying our course. Yet we did not, T'Kan. We turned around and tried to determine what had happened. In the process we were very nearly destroyed by the murderers' ship. It was a foolish choice to go back. It made no sense. At the most basic level, it was ill conceived.
Yet, it was not the wrong decision for this ship, for this crew. I can see you now, cousin, raising that elegant brow I have always envied and asking me how I arrived at such a faulty conclusion. I will try to explain.
Captain Archer asked me what I would have done if the ship had been full of dead Vulcans. I rejoined that they were not Vulcans. But he was speaking in hypotheticals. I have found myself revisiting this puzzle. Would a Vulcan ship have turned and left fifteen dead Vulcans hanging from the ceiling like so many slaughtered animals? Logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The needs of the complement of Enterprise far outweighed those of the crew of the alien ship. Any Vulcan would see that. Clearly, fleeing was the correct action.
But this is not a Vulcan ship. Captain Archer is not a Vulcan commander. His choices are often based on emotions. I tried to steer him toward logic. I pointed out that Vulcans had a code of behavior. He said that humans have a code of behavior as well. He did not say what it was, but by this latest event I can interpret it as: humans will take any opportunity to interfere, to insert themselves into situations in which they do not belong.
That would certainly be the rational interpretation. But again, it would be the wrong one. How do I know this? I have done something strange, T'Kan. I accessed a graphic of the corpses as they hung from the ceiling and replaced the faces of these unknown aliens with Vulcans. Not faces I knew, these were random images generated by the computer in response to my specifications. Then I laid the two graphics side by side and compared my reactions to the aliens and to my own people. And I found that my reactions were not the same. In fact, I had an emotional reaction to the latter. I can no longer say that I would not have chosen to stay in the way of danger in order to help my own people. It is not logical but it is true.
But the humans did not need to rearrange the faces of the victims to their own countenances. They reacted this way to strangers. Their instinct, their code of behavior, can perhaps be interpreted more generously then I did before. It can be stated as this: humans wish to help. It is not a logical code. But perhaps compassion rarely is?
I will still argue with the captain if this situation repeats. I will continue to be the voice of reason. That is my role on this ship as science officer and as a Vulcan. But when he disregards my counsel in the future, when he makes his next foolish choice, I believe I will know why.