Portar, the Benzite scientist, emerged from the turbo lift. He quickly walked around the bridge looking over the shoulders of the on duty crewmen as he evaluated each of their efforts. He passed in front of Captain Dorra d’Hexplora before taking a seat beside her. He leaned towards her and said, “The experiment is ready. It’s time to begin, Captain. May we proceed?”
Dorra wasn’t sure how long they had been left alone in their cells, but it seemed like hours before Finley was dragged back. He seemed more dead than alive. Getting upset, Dorra demanded to know what happened to her crewman, but the guards refused to even acknowledge her. They simply deposited her science officer on the slab that they called a bed and promptly left.
She turned her attention to her science officer. “Are you alright, Mr. Finley? What did they do to you?”
He mumbled incoherently before losing consciousness.
Dorra began to pace around her cell. She didn’t like this one bit. They had been locked up for hours, while they tortured her crewman and left her completely in the dark. When she boarded the shuttle, she had hoped to try and salvage this first contact despite the disastrous circumstances preceding their meeting, but she was starting to question her decision. She had already lost one crewman, another was unconscious, and she still had not had a word with the commander of this vessel. She was starting to doubt if there was anything about this first contact that could be salvaged.
Scorpius entered the detention level with five guards following him. He approached Dorra’s cell, waved his hand in front of a sensor, and opened the lattice that isolated her. He stepped inside the cell and waited for the door to close. He casually wandered over to the bed and sat down. He patted the seat beside him.
Dorra glared at him from the center of the small room. She didn’t want to go near him, unless it was to strangle him for what he has done to her crew.
“Come now, Captain. We have much to discuss,” he replied calmly as he once again patted the seat next to his. “I insist.”
Reluctantly, Dorra approached the bed, and sat down as far away from him as she could. “What did you do to my science officer?”
“I merely asked him a few questions,” Scorpius replied innocently.
Dorra looked over at Finley, before stating, “It appears to me that you did much more than just ask him a few questions.”
“As I’ve said, I asked the questions. The Aurora chair did the rest.”
“The Aurora chair?” Dorra asked, unsure if she really wanted to know.
Scorpius smiled, scooted across the bed closer to her, and lowered his voice to a whisper, “Among other things, it checks the veracity of an individual’s response.”
“I believe that he’s told me all he knows. However, there is one person, that I have to talk to, and apparently he is still on the … what was it called? The DaVinci?”
“Portar … You want Portar.”
Scorpius smiled and bared his rows of needle like teeth. “My dear, Dorra, you are as intelligent as you are beautiful. Yes, I want Portar. And, I’m willing to allow you and the rest of your crew to return home, in exchange for him.”
Dorra laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of his request. “I can’t do that. I won’t do it.”
“Be reasonable, Captain. Five lives in exchange for one. It seems more than equitable to me.”
“I came here on a diplomatic mission to establish a peaceful relationship between our two peoples, and to apologize for the circumstances of our first contact. But, every interaction that we’ve had leads me to believe that we have very little in common. In my culture, everything you have done since we have met would be considered an act of war.”
Scorpius jumped to his feet, enraged. He was angry and his voice lowered several octaves as he growled. “War? We’ve been nothing but hospitable to you and your people since your arrival.”
“You call this hospitable?” Dorra spat back.
He took a deep breath to calm himself before answering. “Considering that Peacekeeper regulations would have required us to destroy your vessel the moment it appeared. Yes, I do. However, you did us a great favor by destroying the Scarran Dreadnaught for us with your mighty wormhole weapon. So, all has been forgiven”
“Wormhole weapon? The Federation does not have wormhole weapons.”
“I know all about your Federation and its mission of peaceful exploration. Your Mr. Finley made that perfectly clear. He also informed me that what you were developing was a means to enable that mission. However, you have also inadvertently demonstrated the destructive power of such a weapon, and we must control it in order to maintain peace in the galaxy.”
“Weapons of mass destruction do not make peace,” Dorra responded.
“This is where we disagree, my dear Captain.”
Dorra shook her head. “I won’t give you Portar. I won’t let his research be turned into a weapon.”
“Then, you will sit here, until you change your mind,” Scorpius replied as he strode across the small cell to its doors. He waved his hand in front of the sensor. The lattice responded by pulling to the side. He stepped through and waved his hand on the other side to seal the cell. He took a few more steps away from Dorra, before stopping. He didn’t turn around, when he said, “The Aurora chair is so much more than a truth detector. It can be used to inflict great pain. I hope you will reconsider before I return.”
“I won’t,” Dorra replied.
Slowly, Scorpius looked over his shoulder with an evil smirk upon his face that sent shivers down her spine. “I had hoped that you would say that. Bring one of the red shirts to the Aurora chair.” He walked out of the room with conviction.
Dorra lunged for the cell door and stuck her arms through, hoping to grab him as she yelled, “You monster!”