In Case You Fail

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"Please, Lili, don't."

The fact that he didn't use the pet name he'd created for her did not go unnoticed, "All right, I'll just stay over here," Lili said, "Can I, is it okay if I ask how you were injured, and what your injury is?"

"I suppose so," he said, shifting from foot to foot, "It's better if I walk 'round a bit."

"Pace if you have to."

"Yes," he said absently, "I was, it was a shuttle crash. I was pinned and my pelvis was crushed."

"Oh my God," she said, "But they can fix that, Malcolm, right?"

"This is fixed," he said.

"Oh. When did this happen?"

"It was in 2174," he said, "On Andoria."

"Oh. Was anyone else hurt?"

He looked away, "Not, not hurt."

But it didn't feel like good news, "Because they didn't survive. Am I right?"

"Yes," he whispered.

"Anyone I knew?"

"Yes."

Lili took a handkerchief out of her pocket, "Go on. Tell me everything."

"It was, we were coming back from a treaty signing. I was the designated representative for the, the twenty-ones. You know what that is, right?"

"Yes. It's a radiation band. You and I belong on your side, where everything vibrates at twenty-one centimeters. Here, on the other side of the pond, they vibrate at twenty centimeters. Doug is a twenty."

Malcolm took a pendant out from his shirt. It was functional, nothing stylish, "See this bit of jewelry I now wear? This is a scanner. I can tell who is who. Our orders are to kill anyone who is not a Calafan but is a twenty. So I suppose it's a good thing that Doug went and I did not, for he would be shot on sight here. No trial, no questions, no remorse and no exceptions. Even children who are twenties are to be eliminated. It's a nasty, horrid business."

"I think the same is true here, in reverse, I saw a Xindi woman fail the test – they were table top scanners, not worn, and, anyway, she was just shot in the head. Nobody even debated it. They just did it."

He put the pendant back, "I despise what I have done, and what I have become."

"Tell me about the treaty," she said, "Surely Starfleet trusted you a great deal for them to make you their proxy."

"Not Starfleet. It was an alliance of us, Tellarites, Xindi, Andorians, Xyrillians, Denobulans, Calafans – such as they were; for them, it was a government in exile, Vulcans and another one. Wait, it was the Takret."

"Well, that's good. That's how peace gets started."

"If you're not in a constant state of war, that is," he said, "I was chosen. And we went. And the Empress, she sent her own emissary. It was Chandler Masterson's counterpart. We signed, we shook hands and it seemed like all was well."

"Was this to end the hostilities?" she asked.

"No. But, it seemed like a decent first step. We departed – four of us."

"Who was with you?"

"My pilot, my first officer and my communications officer. That is to say, Travis, Tripp and Hoshi."

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