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The Dangers of Caring Too Little/Too Much

“The Dangers of Caring Too Little/Too Much”

Scott Coleridge



The strangest thing about this place wasn’t the smell. Or rather, it was the smell, in that there wasn’t as much smell as one would expect. Existing almost entirely below ground in these impressively wrought cavernous chambers, the settlement must have relied on an equally impressive array of scrubbers to keep the air clean and breathable. As such, the ordinary scents that permeate a cosmopolitan mining settlement like this one weren’t so much in evidence, and it was beginning to get on Scott’s nerves.


They lingered on Q street, worrying about Tarisa’s fate. He had bitten back a quick remark when Dacia offered that scanning device, half-remembered, well after it might have been useful in finding their missing companion. It was all he could do not to snap. But that wouldn’t have been fair to her. No, it wasn’t her fault that he had been hurled from a suborbital spacecraft, collided with the planet below, nearly broken two limbs, and now trekked through sand and stone to this desolate backwater excuse for a mine. And for what? So they could figure out why some Pakleds had been so excited to bring a bunch of rocks to Aegis? So they could figure out what a Horta was doing making the trip?


Scott believed these questions were becoming increasingly academic. He was tired and hungry and very nearly broken. He had not come here to play the spy or the agent provocateur; despite all presentations to the contrary, he was not enthusiastic about this role he was trying to play. And now a member of their team was out there, alone and vulnerable, and that was partially his fault.


In the dim artificial night it was hard to see very far down the length of Q street. Scott tried nevertheless, hoping that if he squinted he might somehow will Tarisa to round a corner and approach them. But it was not to be.


What do you care, anyway, engineering man? a voice sneered inside him. It’s not like you took the time to get to know her, or even to say hello.


Well, voice, that was probably true. Scott had never been the most outgoing of personalities, and lately his enthusiasm for getting to know the newest arrivals had diminished even further. Partly this was an effect of life on a space station. The stability that had drawn Scott to settle on Aegis concealed a fragility to the relationships aboard the station. Unlike a starship, which could be posted to deep space missions that might last the better part of a year or more without resupply or rendezvous, posting to Aegis could always be temporary and transitory. Even now, in its remote location, when it felt like Starfleet forgot about them in every other way, personnel regularly rotated. If you like Aegis like Scott did, then you could stay forever--but if you craved reassignment, getting out was not particularly difficult.


So Scott was used to the comings-and-goings of engineers and other staff. He learned not to worry too much about remembering birthdays or names of children or partners. If they stayed, then they stayed, and he would get to know them--slowly, more gradually, but inevitably. If they went, well, then someone new, fresh-faced and on their first tour or dour and lined with the years of experience leading up to this one last assignment, would step in to fill the void. They called him “Sir,” and “Commander,” (at least to his face), and he called them by their rank, and life went on.


So no, Scott had yet to get to know Tarisa as anything more than “that new Mithraan scientist.” They had exchanged few words outside conversation related to work.


Now she was out there, attempting to recover their key to unlocking the mysteries of this place. And there was little he could do to help, except wait and hope for the best. Would she prevail and find her way back? Or was she already captured—or worse? The worry, which had begun as a complacent note of concern steadily throttling up towards hysteria was now a twisted knot in his gut. Scott thought he might be sick.


Give him something broken. Give him something to be built, no matter what parts or time are available. He can do it; that was his thing. But to ask him to stand by and wait while someone else--someone he had barely taken the time to know--risked herself for them and the mission? Scott would never get used to that, not in all his years of service.

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