Meeting of Minds

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Captain Rolland Barron and Ambassador Erin Locke stood in the Excalibur's bay, facing the closed metal door of the adjoining airlock. Their eyes fixed on the red light above the hatch. Behind the enclosure they could hear whirring machinery and feel vibrations as the docking attachment fixed to the neighbouring vessel, the Muramasa, with its strange crew and cyborg captain. There was a a loud mechanical and a high pitched ding. The red light over the door became green.

"Time to meet our new friends." Rolland smiled.

The hatch hissed open to reveal the hallway to the Muramasa. A tubular walkway stretched twenty paces to the airlock on the other side, which side swung open to reveal the interior of the Muramasa. Captain Wojtek stood in the opening, flanked by three others. There was the blue alien prince Zoojin; the solid metal crew member who Rolland assumed was a cyborg; and, a middle-aged man that Rolland didn't recognize from the video link with the Muramasa.

Erin couldn't help but notice that captain Wojtek and the cyborg at his side wore combat armor, and had an assortment of energy weapons at their disposal, holstered to their bodies and slung over their backs. The combat gear furthered Erin's suspicions they were dealing with either mercenaries or pirates.

The two groups walked towards each other across the walkway, meeting halfway between the ships. Though an artificial gravity generator kept their feet firmly rooted to the ground, the starry view through the portholes reminded them they were mere inches from the coldness of space.

"Captain Wojtek -" Rolland waved ahead as he walked "- good to meet in person."

Wojtek nodded, extending his arm to shake Rolland's hand.

"This is Ambassador Locke -" Rolland motioned to her "- she'll be accompanying your guest for the meeting with the Catechumen."

"Oh?" Wojtek raised an eyebrow.

"That's right," Erin said. "We don't want to compromise our diplomatic position. It's against my judgment to go over there at all. But if we've gotta do it, then I'm gonna be there to make sure to make sure it goes smoothly."

"Ambassador Locke knows what she's doing," Rolland said. "I have confidence in her diplomatic ability. You shouldn't have a problem with her accompanying you," he said to Zoojin.

Before Zoojin could reply, Erin turned to him. "I understand that you're intent on stopping the Catechumen," she said. "But I want to make it clear that our meeting with them now is just a friendly discussion. I won't be responsible for jeopardizing our diplomatic position. Are we clear on that?"

"Yes," Zoojin answered. He spoke in an alien language, but the meaning was conveyed telepathically atop the foreign sounds.

"If things are getting tense over there," Erin continued, "if they're getting angry or upset, or if you're getting hostile in any way, I'm bringing us back immediately. Understand?"

"I understand." Zoojin nodded.

"Well," captain Wojtek interjected, "I should introduce you all. You already met Zoojin. And this is Lujain -one of our pilots." Wojtek motioned to the imposing metal figure at his side.

"You're a cyborg?" Rolland asked.

"The hell does it look like?" Lujain said. Captain Rolland, hearing her voice for the first time, recognized it immediately as a human female.

"I don't know." Rolland shrugged. "Could've been a robot, I suppose."

Lujain laughed. "I guess to someone from the Federation."

"So how much of you is -" Rolland searched for a word "- human?"

"You mean biological?"


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