Star Trek Hunter
Episode 8: The Bolian Web
Scene 20: A Dangerous Assignment

8.20
A Dangerous Assignment

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Lt. Kenny Dolphin was disconcerted to find himself summoned not to the captain's office, but to her stateroom. Justice Irons' stateroom was the same size as the executive conference room. It was the only one of the three staterooms on board large enough to have a separate sitting room. The area immediately around her couch and armchair was brightly lit, leaving the rest of her chambers in darkness and giving her rooms the illusion of depth, ambient space. Dolphin sat at one end of a brightly lit, simple, but plush green couch and tried to relax.

The justice sat across from him in a matching armchair. She was a distractingly beautiful woman, made even more distracting because of her penchant for black silk dresses that emphasized her taut, slender figure. Irons was a Star Fleet officer, but Dolphin had never seen her in uniform. She usually wore opaque black stockings with her almost scandalously short dresses, but not tonight. If Helen of Troy had a face that could launch 10,000 ships, Justice Minerva Irons had legs that would cause them all to veer off course and run into each other. Given her regal bearing, she managed to be simultaneously unbearably alluring and completely unattainable.

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"I want to send you into danger, Lieutenant. Alone. But only if this is a mission that you want to take on. I am not asking you to spy or provide any intelligence. Only to respond honestly to an invitation and while you're there, to speak your mind. I do not think you will be in any danger of bodily harm – more a danger of opening old wounds."

Dolphin didn't respond, simply awaited more information. The light fell brightly on Justice Irons' legs, the light leopard spotting along the sides of her legs that were evidence of recent trill ancestry, her hands folded elegantly in her lap, fingernails and toenails perfectly manicured with a clear lacquer that emphasized her natural colors. Her face was more dimly lit, making her eyes pools of darkness.

It was exceptionally difficult for Dolphin to maintain her gaze and his only way of dealing with that was to call on a reserve of self-control that had gotten him through very rough times during his professorship at Harvard. His last few years there had been hellish as his popularity and popular misconceptions about his writings had brought both more applications for enrollment and more controversy to the Harvard Philosophy Department than that department had ever seen since the founding of the university.

Irons allowed the silence to linger, watching her director of flight operations – evaluating and appreciating his display of resolve and self-control under duress. After two full minutes of silence – that seemed like two hours to Dolphin – Irons smiled slightly, then said, "Hunter, display the message for Dr. Dolphin."

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Another overstuffed armchair appeared near the other end of the couch – a brown leather chair that did not match the room's décor. Governor Emory Ivonovic was seated in it, wearing a simple but elegantly tailored gray suit – or rather, a holographic representation of the gray-suited governor was seated in a holographic representation of a brown leather armchair.

"Dr. Dolphin, I am certain I do not need to introduce myself. You may be aware that recently I have been interviewing relevant individuals on Subspace Radio Ivonovic. My followers have overwhelmingly asked for me to interview you and there is no one more relevant to the concerns of the naturalborn than you are.

"Very few people know that you joined Star Fleet, but there are some who do and word has made its way to me that you are actually part of the crew that arrested me seven months ago. I want to assure you that I bear you no ill will over that incident. I understand that you joined that crew on the same day that I was arrested.

"I am asking you to come to the Colony of New Hope and meet my representatives in the town of Pilgrim's Landing. There, they will take you offworld to meet me in an undisclosed location for an interview to be broadcast over Subspace Radio Ivonovic. I will broadcast the interview in its entirety, only redacting those parts that you want to keep from being broadcast. You will be treated as an honored guest and safely returned to Pilgrim's Landing, whence you can make your way back to your post.

"This is an invitation only, Dr. Dolphin. I am told you are a private man and that you stopped making public appearances to speak about your books after leaving Harvard University. Under duress as I understand it. If you decide not to come, I will respect your privacy. But a lot of people really want to hear what you think about things – now more than ever. This is an open invitation and it will remain open as long as I am producing Subspace Radio Ivonovic.

"Thank you for your time, Dr. Dolphin. I very much look forward to meeting you in person." The governor's image, along with his armchair, faded.

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Dolphin sat for a full minute, silently, head rolled back, eyes unfocused, thinking. He took a deep breath and looked over at Justice Irons.

"I'll do it…"

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8 - The Bolian Web