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Edited by The Radio Rancher

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Chapter 21

Vincent stepped into the briefing room and noticed that the Captain was the only person there.

"Crewman Winters reporting as ordered sir." Vincent said as he stood at attention.

"At ease crewman. Please have a seat." Captain Byrne said seriously.

Vincent took the seat to the Captain's right.

Captain Byrne considered his words carefully before saying, "The Okudai are a relatively peaceful people. They are not members of the Federation, but they have maintained a non-aggression pact with us for many years. We received a distress call from the Okudai transport ship 'Dorsa'... it was in desperate need of assistance. We were able to dispatch her attackers, but not before their ship sustained significant damage."

Vincent watched the captain with interest, trying to guess at why he was being told all this.

"The Dorsa was being attacked because they were transporting 'The Holy One', the Okudai's highest religious leader. As I understand the Okudai traditions, when 'The Holy One' returns to Okuda Prime after being away for longer than one sidereal year, he has the authority to depose the political leader and call for a free election." The captain said seriously.

"Um, I'm sorry, but I don't know what a sidereal year is." Vincent said shyly.

"It's simply a year measured by the traditional method as opposed to a Starfleet standard year. In this instance it would mean one complete revolution of Okuda Prime around it's sun which is approximately fifteen months by our method of measuring time." Captain Byrne said carefully.

Vincent nodded that he understood.

"The captain of the Dorsa has asked that we bring 'The Holy One' aboard the Yorktown because the Dorsa is no longer safe." Captain Byrne said in thought.

"Excuse me Captain, may I ask a question?" Vincent asked carefully.

"Go ahead crewman." Captain Byrne said in thought.

"What were the O'Cooties doing so far from their world? I mean, if we're over two days away." Vincent asked carefully.

"It's pronounced Okudai, and that is a very intelligent question. When the ship was originally attacked, they were within their own system. They were set upon by some three dozen ships in an ambush. The Dorsa had no hope of defeating so many in direct combat, so they fled. Their attackers have been driving them away from Okuda Prime which is why they are so far from their world now. Apparently the ship has been trying to outrun it's attackers for two days at maximum warp and has managed to outrun all but five of them before we received their distress call." Captain Byrne said seriously.

Vincent nodded.

"They have requested that one member of our crew be assigned to act as a cultural guide while 'The Holy One' is amongst us. If you would be willing Crewman Winters, I would like that guide to be you." Captain Byrne finished carefully.

Vincent looked at the Captain with surprise.

Captain Byrne saw Vincent's surprised expression and added, "By our measure of time, 'The Holy One' is ten years old. His high priest suggested that one of an equal or lesser age would not be psychologically threatening to him."

Vincent nodded, then said, "I understand. It would be my honor to be a guide."

"Very well then. Crewman Winters, for the duration of the stay of 'The Holy One' amongst us, you will be assigned to be his personal guide. Remember that you will be representing not only the Yorktown in this matter, but also Starfleet and the entire United Federation of Planets."

"I understand sir." Vincent said as he sat straighter in his chair.

"Very good. Commander M'Butu and Lieutenant Simms will be taking a travel pod to visit the Dorsa. The Okudai are aware that we have transporters but believe that transporters might somehow taint or pollute 'The Holy One'." Captain Byrne said seriously as he stood.

Vincent nodded his understanding as he walked to Captain Byrne's side.

"Report to the flight deck. The others await you." Captain Byrne said as he led the way to the turbo lift.

Vincent smiled and said, "Yes sir."

* * * * *

"It's hard to believe that there's anyone still alive on that ship." Lieutenant Simms said as he looked at the extent of the damage through the view port.

"Scans show that over half their ship is hard vacuum. They must have lost a good share of their crew." Commander M'Butu said as he stared at the horrific sight.

Vincent couldn't find any words as he surveyed the damage to the alien ship.

He knew that for as long as he lived, the horrible image would be burned into his mind.

* * * * *

"Dorsa, this is the Yorktown's travel pod requesting permission to dock." Ensign Smith said seriously.

"Our automated docking system is not functioning, but you are clear to dock at our uppermost hatch." A staticky voice said in frustration.

"Confirmed." Ensign Smith said intently.

"Rotating 180 degrees on the Y axis." Ensign Marin said in concentration.

After a moment, Ensign Smith said, "I have visual alignment on the docking clamps."

"Slow and steady... that's got it." Ensign Marin said in a voice of accomplishment.

"We don't get to do that every day." Ensign Smith said with a smile.

"Not since the academy, and that was a simulator... Docking complete. Magnetic seal is confirmed. I show acceptable atmosphere... barely." Ensign Marin said with concern.

"Docking complete." Ensign Smith said into the intercom.

Commander M'Butu looked at Lieutenant Simms and Vincent seriously before saying, "Gentlemen, remember this is their most holy and respected leader. No fart jokes."

Vincent's eyes went wide at the statement then he broke into laughter.

"Good. I thought you were being too serious. You need to be respectful, but also be yourself... we wouldn't want 'The Holy One' to think that Humans don't have a sense of humor."

Vincent nodded as he joined Commander M'Butu and Lieutenant Simms at the door.

* * * * *

Commander M'Butu stepped through the hatch first and was immediately concerned by what he saw.

He could see the bodies of two of the ship's crew on the floor just a few feet from the hatch and there were people working franticly on equipment, obviously fighting for their lives. The air was difficult to breathe and stank of ozone.

When Vincent stepped through the hatch, the first thing that caught his attention was that these people looked fully human. There was no characteristic that he could see that would make him suspect that they were of any other species. For some reason he had expected them to appear 'alien' to him.

"Please come with me. 'The Holy One' must judge you to be acceptable before he will go with you." An elderly man said in a nearly hysterical voice.

Commander M'Butu motioned for his team to follow.

"'Holy One' may I present the representatives of the Federation ship that came to our rescue?" The elderly man asked into something that appeared to be a comm unit by a closed door.

"Yes. Please show them in." A young voice said calmly.

The door opened to reveal a bright room filled with elegant furnishings and beautiful murals painted on all the walls. The air in the room was fresh and clean which was a definite contrast to the harsh fumes that they had been breathing in the hall outside.

There was a small boy with fair skin and long jet black hair sitting on a small couch. He was wearing a flowing robe made of multiple nearly transparent layers.

The first thing Vincent thought of when he saw the boy is that the robe looked like one of his mom's nightgowns.

"'Holy One, may I present..." The elderly man began to say, but was stopped as the ten year old boy raised his hand.

"No you may not. Oluf, you are dismissed." The boy said firmly.

"But 'Holy One'..." the elderly man began to say.

"Will you defy me? Oluf, you are dismissed." The boy said firmly.

"Yes 'Holy One'." The elderly man said quietly, then withdrew from the room.

After the door had closed, 'The Holy One' looked at the three before him and quietly asked, "Why are you willing to offer to protect me?"

"Because your Captain said that you are very important to your people and he can't promise that you'll remain safe here." Commander M'Butu said frankly.

"What do you expect in exchange for the protection you offer?" The boy asked cautiously.

"Perhaps the good will of your people at some future time." Commander M'Butu said carefully.

The boy considered the words, then said, "I am not a political leader, but I do have some influence in our government. I will promise to use what influence I have to promote the good will you seek... provided that I am returned to my people."

"Thank you 'Holy One'." Commander M'Butu said reverently.

The boy considered the response for a moment, then said, "I feel that you speak honestly. I approve of you. Let us leave quickly so the people of this ship can attend to their own safety and well-being. Their concern for me has cost them dearly."

"We're docked at the airlock just down the hall." Commander M'Butu said seriously.

"Come then. Every minute that I remain here only causes more hardship for them." The boy said as he walked toward the door.

* * * * *

As soon as the door opened, the elderly priest appeared and said, "I have arranged for your belongings to be loaded onto their transport. It will just take a matter of minutes."

"No. It is thanks to you and everyone on this ship that I continue to have my life. I need nothing more. I will leave immediately with these people who have agreed to keep me safe. It is my wish that you focus on the well being of the ship's crew now." The boy said firmly.

The priest led the way to the airlock and began to step through when the boy said, "I am going alone."

"'Holy One', please reconsider. I cannot allow you to go with these strangers without any protection. Please 'Holy One', allow someone to accompany you." The priest begged.

'The Holy One' looked around and spotted a member of the crew who had one arm hanging useless at his side and was working one handed, trying to get a panel opened on the wall.

"Him. He can accompany me. No other." The boy said firmly.

"Yes 'Holy One', thank you." The priest said and ran quickly to the young man.

"Let's hurry before he thinks of something else." The boy said as he stepped through the hatch.

Commander M'Butu, Lieutenant Simms and Vincent quickly followed.

* * * * *

"The High Priest Oluf said that I was to protect you..." The injured young man said as he hesitantly walked onto the shuttle.

"Yes. Please be seated. We are leaving." The boy said firmly.

"Yes 'Holy One'." The man said and sat down in the nearest chair.

Commander M'Butu closed the hatch, then pressed the comm button by the door and said, "Ensign Marin, we're ready to leave."

"Yes sir." Was the immediate response.

"Please excuse my abrupt behavior... my high priest takes his duties very seriously." The boy said in a low voice.

"I understand that it was necessary." Commander M'Butu said formally.

Vincent looked on with concern at the man beside 'The Holy One' as he cradled his injured arm.

There was a slight sensation of movement as the shuttle broke away from the Okudai ship.

"I am Commander Oliver M'Butu, this is Lieutenant Wayland Simms and Crewman Vincent Winters." Commander M'Butu said formally.

"I do not understand the meaning fully. Is Lieutenant a title or a name?" The Holy One asked carefully.

"It is my rank. It simply says that I have the training and experience to lead those of a lesser rank than myself." Lieutenant Simms said carefully.

"I understand. I am unfamiliar with such things... Crewman Winters, may I presume that your rank is the least due to your age?" The Holy One asked in thought.

"Yes, my rank is the least. But I'm new to the crew of the Yorktown. If I work hard and learn my lessons, then I'll get a higher rank. Age is just a number. I already outrank some of the people back on our ship." Vincent said seriously.

"May I assume that your presence here is at the request of my priest?" The Holy One asked as he looked Vincent in the eyes.

"Yes. He thought it would be good to have someone close to your age to explain how we do things." Vincent said and finished with a smile.

"If he had not requested your presence, what duty would you be performing now?" The young boy asked seriously.

"I'd be working in Deflector Control." Vincent said simply.

The Holy One shook his head and said, "That has no meaning to me. I do not understand starship operations."

Vincent looked out the view port, then pointed and said, "Do you see that round thing on the front of the drive section under the saucer?"

The Holy One looked where Vincent was pointing, then nodded.

"That's the deflector dish. It puts out an energy field that keeps rocks and dust from hitting the ship as we move through space." Vincent said as he sat back in his seat.

"And you are the one who is given the duty to operate that device?" The Holy One asked in surprise.

"I'm part of the team that makes sure it's working right." Vincent said proudly.

"That is a very important duty." The Holy One said thoughtfully.

"Captain Byrne says that every member of his crew has a purpose. All of our duties are important because we depend on each other." Vincent said carefully.

"It sounds like a harmonious arrangement." The Holy One said in consideration.

"Yeah, it is." Vincent said happily.

"It is one of my duties to see that the members of the crew are working in harmony. If there is a problem of some sort, then I make adjustments in schedules or personnel to restore the peace." Commander M'Butu said carefully.

The Holy One thought about the statement carefully, then said, "I see the importance of your function. What is your function Lieutenant Simms?"

"I'm in charge of security. I help keep the peace by enforcing the rules that we all live by." Lieutenant Simms said in thought.

Ensign Marin walked through the travel pod and opened the hatch.

"That was a smooth docking Ensign, I didn't even feel it." Commander M'Butu said with a smile as he stood.

"Thank you sir." Ensign Marin said proudly.

"If you'll follow me, I'll take you to meet the Captain." Commander M'Butu said as he stood by the travel pod's door.

The Holy One stood and walked toward the door.

Vincent quickly stood and hurried to his side.

"Right this way." Commander M'Butu said as he led the way to the turbo lift.

"Briefing room one." Commander M'Butu said when they were all aboard.

The Holy One jerked when he felt the turbo lift move.

"It just takes us where we want to go on the ship." Vincent said quietly.

When the lift changed to horizontal movement, The Holy One flinched again.

"Don't worry. We're almost there." Vincent said with concern at The Holy One's reaction.

The boy looked curiously at Vincent, then broke into a smile as he said, "I am not worried. This is fun."

Vincent returned the smile and said, "Yeah, it is."

* * * * *

The turbo lift doors opened to reveal the Captain standing, waiting to greet them.

Commander M'Butu stood forward and said, "Captain Leland Byrne, may I introduce The Holy One of the Okudai."

"It is an honor to meet you 'Holy One'." Captain Byrne said sincerely.

"I thank you for helping my people in their effort to keep me safe." The Holy One said seriously.

"About that. Our sensors show that your ship is very seriously damaged but your captain will not accept our help." Captain Byrne said with concern.

"Do you have the capability to contact my ship? Perhaps I might be able to persuade him." The Holy One said carefully.

"Yes. You may use this view screen if you wish." Captain Byrne said as he walked across the room.

Commander M'Butu walked to the comm station by the door and pressed a button before saying, "Open a channel to the Dorsa. Put it through to briefing room one."

"Yes sir." Was the immediate response.

"'Holy One', it is good to see that you are well." The captain said with relief.

"Yes. I am well. Captain Marr, you have succeeded in keeping me safe. Now to complete your mission, you must conduct me safely to Okuda Prime. To do that you need a functioning ship and crew. I have judged these people to be sincere in their offer of aid. Please accept the help that these good people have offered so you may complete your mission." The Holy One said seriously.

"It is forbidden to associate with outsiders... but if you, 'The Holy One', say it is acceptable to do so, then I will accept the offered help." The captain said humbly.

"I thank you for your loyalty and faith Captain Marr. Be expecting help to arrive shortly." The Holy One said carefully.

Captain Byrne pressed the button to end the transmission.

"I'll see to the repair and medical teams." Commander M'Butu said quickly.

Captain Byrne nodded, then turned his attention to The Holy One.

"I don't know how I will repay you for this generosity, but the universe has a way of making all things even. This act of kindness will return to you." The Holy One said in an introspective tone.

"It is my hope that you will feel welcomed and enjoy your time on my ship. We will make every effort to see to your comfort." Captain Byrne said reverently.

"Thank you Captain." The Holy One said calmly.

A sharp inhale of breath drew everyone's attention.

They all turned to see the crew member from the Dorsa holding his injured arm protectively and an obvious expression of pain on his face.

"Lieutenant, perhaps you could take this gentleman to sickbay?" Captain Byrne said professionally.

"Yes sir." Lieutenant Simms said immediately.

"I would like to go too." The Holy One said seriously.

"Are you injured?" Captain Byrne asked with concern.

"No. But I am interested to see the methods of your healers." The Holy One said serenely.

"Captain, I can take them to Sickbay if you want." Vincent offered quietly.

Captain Byrne looked at Vincent, then said, "Yes Crewman Winters, please escort our guests to the medical facility and see that they get a proper tour."

"Yes sir." Vincent said with a smile.

Vincent walked to the turbo lift, then stood aside to allow his guests to enter first.

* * * * *

"Sickbay." Vincent said to the ceiling of the lift.

"Does this machine understand your spoken words, or is there a person who listens for someone to enter this device?" The Holy One asked curiously.

"It's a computer, a machine that understands certain words." Vincent said casually.

The Holy One looked at the injured crewman for a moment and got a distant look in his eyes.

When he seemed to come back to himself, he said, "Audge, son of Heliak, will you allow their healer to treat your injury?"

The injured man's eyes went wide and he seemed to pale, then hesitantly said, "If you wish me to 'Holy One'."

"I wish it. I want you to be healthy and without pain." The Holy One said firmly.

"Then I will be." Audge said as his pained expression changed to one of peace.

The lift doors opened and Vincent said, "It's right over here."

* * * * *

Vincent led the way into Sickbay and spotted T'Lani at the far side of the room.

"T'Lani, this is Audge, he's hurt. Where do you want him?" Vincent asked quickly.

"Have him lie down on the first biobed. I will notify Dr. Perry of his presence." T'Lani said quickly.

The Holy One watched as T'Lani left, then asked, "She is of a different species, is she not?"

Vincent turned his attention back to The Holy One and said, "Yes. She's from Vulcan."

"Oh yes, of course. I have heard of the Vulcan people but I have not previously had the opportunity to meet any... Please forgive me, we rarely have contact with people outside our own solar system." The Holy One said in thought.

"Dr. Perry is organizing medical teams to visit the Okudai ship. She will be here to assist you shortly." T'Lani said seriously.

"T'Lani, this is the Holy One of the Okudai and Audge, his protector. This is my wife, Ensign T'Lani." Vincent said in his most formal voice.

"A pleasure to meet you." T'Lani said as she started working the biobed's controls.

Vincent looked around, then said, "Holy One, if you would like, I could show you around sickbay while T'Lani and Dr. Perry are working on Audge."

"Yes, I would be interested to see your medical facility." The Holy One said in a considering voice.

"Audge, we'll be right back. I just want to show The Holy One the rest of the sickbay." Vincent said more quietly.

"'Holy One', I am supposed to remain with you to protect you." Audge said desperately.

"Stay and allow their healer to help you. Then you will be much better able to protect me should the need arise." The Holy One said firmly.

"As you say 'Holy One'." Audge said with resignation.

"Audge, we're just going through this door and down the hallway to the next room. We'll be right back." Vincent said as he pointed to a second door leading out of the sickbay.

"I will remain." Audge said, sounding slightly relieved by the assurance.

* * * * *

"The room we were just in is main sickbay. Dr. Perry's office is right there." Vincent said as they approached the window.

"It looks like she's busy talking to someone on her terminal right now, so I'll show you the convalescent ward first." Vincent said, then turned to walk toward the other door in the hall.

"I do not understand that word." The Holy One said carefully.

"I think convalescent means something like 'getting better'. If someone needs surgery or something serious like that, they do it in the sickbay. But after the surgery, they go to the convalescent ward so someone can take care of them until they're well enough to take care of themselves." Vincent said as he led the way into the convalescent ward.

"So many people can recover with one or two people to watch over them." The Holy One said speculatively as he looked around the room.

"That's right. My wife is one of the people who does that." Vincent said proudly.

"It is the custom of my people to wait until adulthood to choose a mate." The Holy One said quietly.

"Yeah, that's the way it is on Earth too. But I'm a Vulcan citizen, so my family elder chose my wife for me." Vincent said, then made a gesture back to the door they had just entered through.

The Holy One slowly followed Vincent back into the hallway and said, "I do not understand. You are one of the Earth people yet you claim to be a Vulcan."

"It's a really long story. Dr. Perry's gone so she's probably with Audge. Let's go back to the sickbay so you can see her work. I'll tell you about me later when we have more time, if that's okay?" Vincent asked hopefully.

"Yes. I would like that." The Holy One said with the beginning of a smile.

* * * * *

Audge smiled with relief at the sight of The Holy One and Vincent entering the room.

"How is he Dr. Perry?" Vincent asked as he led the way to Audge's bedside.

"Not too bad, all things considered. He has a compound fracture. It will need to be splinted for at least two days to properly align the fractures before I can try the knitter on him." Dr. Perry said professionally.

"Will he be able to leave sickbay when you're done with him?" Vincent asked in his mature voice.

"Yes. I'm going to give him some pain medication that might make him a little sleepy, but he'll be free to leave." Dr. Perry said with a fond smile at Vincent.

"What is that device?" The Holy One asked as he pointed to the head of the biobed.

"This is the scanning unit of the biobed. It has many functions, but basically it scans the person on the bed and attempts to detect anything abnormal." Dr. Perry said professionally.

"Would it be possible to see it in operation?" The Holy One asked curiously.

"Of course. Audge, if you will lay still for a moment, I'm going to do another scan." Dr. Perry said as she worked the controls.

After a moment, she pointed at the monitor and said, "Do you see that? The bed has detected the fractures in his arm."

She pointed at the scaled readings in the center of the unit and said, "These indicators show his breathing, heart rate and neural activity."

"Thank you Doctor. It is an impressive machine." The Holy One said in a considering voice as he looked at the biobed's readings carefully.

"It's one of many tools we have to evaluate and treat whatever illness or injury might affect us on our missions." Dr. Perry said professionally.

"Here is the splint you requested." T'Lani said as she walked into the room.

"Thank you T'Lani. Are you familiar with the procedure for splinting this type of fracture?" Dr. Perry asked, indicating the monitor.

"I am familiar with the procedure, however I have not had the opportunity to splint this type of fracture before." T'Lani said carefully.

"Go ahead and I'll observe." Dr. Perry said seriously.

"Yes Doctor." T'Lani said as she stepped forward to put the splint on Audge's arm.

"Let's step back and give T'Lani room to work." Vincent said in a whisper.

The Holy One slowly took a step back to stand with Vincent by the next biobed.

"Do you think it would be possible for us to visit the place where you work?" The Holy One asked carefully.

"Yeah. That's where I wanted to take you next." Vincent said with a smile.

"Dr. Perry, would you look at these scans and give me your opinion?" A voice called from the terminal.

Dr. Perry walked to the terminal and looked at the scanner readings carefully.

"He's going to need surgery. The internal injuries are too severe to heal otherwise." Dr. Perry said gravely.

"That was my conclusion as well, but their medical facilities don't have the support equipment that I would need to perform the surgery and the crew of the Dorsa refuse to leave their ship." Dr. Raul said quietly.

"I suppose you can't force someone to receive medical treatment, but make sure they know that if you don't perform the surgery within the hour, this patient will die." Dr. Perry said firmly.

"Doctor. If you would like, perhaps I can convince them to accept medical attention." The Holy One said quietly.

"If there's anything you can do, please do it. I hate to see a life thrown away for no good reason." Dr. Perry said seriously.

The young boy nodded, then walked to stand before the terminal.

"This is 'The Holy One'. It is my wish for all those who require medical attention that is beyond our ability to provide to come to the Yorktown to receive medical care." He said firmly.

"But the law..." A voice said hesitantly.

"I AM THE LAW! It is my command that those who need medical attention receive it. Those who are fit to work, repair the ship so we may be underway as soon as possible." The Holy One said in a strong, authoritative voice.

"Yes 'Holy One'. It will be as you say." The timid voice responded.

"Dr. Perry, this patient isn't stable enough for transport. Can you send a shuttle for him?" Dr. Raul asked hopefully.

"Yes. I'll send T'Lani with the shuttle so you won't have to leave your other patients." Dr. Perry said seriously.

"Thank you. Raul out." He said with relief.

"Perry out." She said absently, then looked to see how T'Lani was doing.

"Very good. As soon as you have the arm immobilized, take a shuttle over to collect Dr. Raul's patient." Dr. Perry said professionally.

"Yes Doctor." T'Lani said as she worked a strap around the back of Audge's neck.

"If you'll excuse me gentlemen, I need to check in with the other medical teams to be sure that everything is going well." Dr. Perry said seriously.

"Thank you for taking care of Audge." Vincent said with a smile.

"Yes, thank you. You are providing a great service to my people." The Holy One said reverently.

"Just let me know if there's anything else I can do." Dr. Perry said with a quick smile, then hurried to her office.

"Return to sickbay before you retire for the evening for additional pain medication." T'Lani said as she finished putting his splinted arm into a sling.

"I will, thank you." Audge said timidly.

"You are free to leave." T'Lani said as she stepped away.

"T'Lani." Vincent said quietly.

T'Lani stopped before her husband and gently caressed his cheek with her thumb.

"Be careful." Vincent whispered.

"I will take every precaution so I may return to you without delay." T'Lani said softly.

Vincent put his hand over hers, then turned to place a kiss in her palm.

"I must go." She whispered with regret.

"I know. I love you." Vincent said as he released her hand.

"I love you as well, my husband." T'Lani said quietly, then hurried out of the room.

"*This* is what a marriage should be." The Holy One said to Audge in a serious voice.

"I agree Holy One." Audge said with a tender smile.

Vincent turned away from the door that T'Lani had walked through and said, "Are you guys ready to see Deflector Control?"

"Yes. I would like that very much." The Holy One said with a look of admiration at Vincent.

* * * * *

"Ensign Thaelan, would you mind if I bring some new friends in and show them where I work?" Vincent asked from just inside the door.

"As long as your friends won't mind if I put you to work for a few minutes." Ensign Thaelan said seriously.

"Okay, but I've been assigned to escort these guys while they're on our ship." Vincent said as he walked slowly into the room.

"Understood. But, if in the course of your escort duty, you could do a systems check for me it would be much appreciated. Your brother was called to the bridge a few minutes ago and I don't know when he will return." Thaelan said as he kept his focus on the main deflector.

"Sure, I'll do that while I'm showing the guys what I do on the ship all day. But I thought you could run these checks on the main if you needed to." Vincent said casually as he walked to station one.

"It is possible to run system checks from the main, but it is not advisable when we are at battle stations. I have to be ready to react at a moment's notice." Ensign Thaelan said seriously.

"Got it. The deflector is operating at optimum efficiency. Primary field generator is functioning within normal parameters. Request permission to bring secondary field generator out of standby and up to full power." Vincent said as he worked the controls.

"For what purpose?" Ensign Thaelan asked curiously.

"I'd like to switch the secondary control systems to active and shunt them to the secondary field generator. By doing that I can run a level three on the entire secondary system at once instead of having to switch over each of the primary systems to do the checks." Vincent said as he turned to look at Thaelan.

"Go ahead Crewman Winters. I don't recall hearing of the diagnostic being done that way before, but I can't see any reason that it wouldn't be an efficient way of checking everything at one time." Ensign Thaelan said in a considering voice.

"Yeah. And if we do run into trouble while the diagnostic is running, you can switch over to the secondary system with one button." Vincent said with a smile as he brought the secondary field generator online.

"This is your job?" The Holy One asked quietly.

"Yeah. I'm still learning, but this is where I work. My brother Darin is usually here too, but he's doing something else right now." Vincent said as he moved to station two.

"This seems a complicated task for someone your age." The Holy One said quietly.

Vincent chuckled and said, "Being the Holy One seems like a complicated job to me. I guess when you're doing it, it doesn't seem as big and scary as when you watch someone else do it."

The Holy One smiled at the statement and said, "Perhaps you're right."

"Okay. Everything is showing green except for the E1 conduit. I've started a level three running on the entire secondary system. It will take a while to run, but if it comes back clean, we can switch over and check the whole primary system the same way." Vincent said with accomplishment.

"Thank you Crewman Winters. I feel better knowing that the backup systems are on active standby." Ensign Thaelan said honestly.

Vincent started a system check on all the consoles then said, "Ensign Thaelan, I'd like you to meet "The Holy One' of the Okudai and his protector, Audge."

Ensign Thaelan stood from the console and gave a respectful bow, then said, "It is an honor to meet you Holy One. I had the honor of meeting the Holy One named Austir when I was a child."

"You're the boy who traveled to Okuda Prime with the Andorian delegation?" The Holy One asked with surprise.

"Yes. I'm surprised that you know about that. It was hardly a noteworthy meeting." Thaelan said as he turned to glance at his console.

"Well, it was notable in that it was the last." The Holy One said frankly.

Thaelan nodded and said, "It is regrettable that our governments could not come to terms. I liked your people very much, especially Austir."

The Holy One smiled at Thaelan and said, "He was quite fond of you too. When we take on the responsibility of being 'The Holy One', we rarely use our given names. It is a sign of his admiration that he told you."

"I was not aware of the significance of his sharing his name with me. I only know that I spent many hours with Austir walking through the gardens and talking." Thaelan said distantly.

"Yes. The tranquility of the gardens was a welcomed relief after all the meetings." The Holy One said with a quiet smile.

Vincent looked at The Holy One carefully and said, "You have Austir's memories, don't you?"

The Holy One looked at Vincent with surprise.

"I can see that you remember Thaelan. It's not something you were told, you were there." Vincent said with certainty.

"Yes... I have Austir with me. I have all the Holy Ones who came before." The young boy said quietly, then glanced at Audge to see his reaction.

"Kewl." Vincent said with a smile, then looked at the station three console.

Audge looked at The Holy One with wide eyes of wonder.

"This is not something that is common knowledge and I would prefer that you do not repeat it." The Holy One said quietly.

"As you wish Holy One." Audge said reverently.

"I've got a green board on the console status and the level three is still running. Do you need me to do anything else right now?" Vincent asked as he looked at Thaelan expectantly.

"No. I can't think of anything at the moment." Thaelan said simply.

"Then I'm going to show The Holy One and Audge around some more." Vincent said as he walked to the door.

"Crewman Winters, it would please me if you and Ensign Thaelan would call me by my given name. Before I was given the honor of being 'The Holy One' I was called Tyce, son of Jessub." The Holy One said quietly.

"Thank you Tyce. And you can call me Vincent if you want to." Vincent said happily.

"Yes. That would please me." Tyce said gently.

"My true name is extremely complicated, but you may address me as Thaelan if you wish." Ensign Thaelan said reverently.

"I remember when you told Austir your full name. It took almost ten minutes." Tyce said with a chuckle.

"Are you guys ready to go?" Vincent asked as he walked toward the door.

"Yes, but I would like to return later." Tyce said with a fond smile at Thaelan.

Vincent nodded, then took a communicator from the rack by the door and said, "I've got number seven if you need anything. I'll come back before the diagnostic is finished."

"I will call you if there is a need before that time." Thaelan said, then turned back to his console.

To Be Continued...