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But what do you believe in?

Kendra Eberhart

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But what do you believe in?

Cadet Arden Cain had long since forgotten that the training mission that he, four other cadets and a Lieutenant Commander, was on had gone horribly wrong. Or at least that was how Arden saw the mission, he could never really tell though when it came to the motives of the Academy instructors. What should have been a routine re-supply mission suddenly and violently become refresher course in survival. As it happened, a Romulan Warbird attacked the cadet’s shuttle on their way back to base. How they survived the initial attack Arden could only guess. What he did know however was that soon thereafter the group landed their battered shuttle on a devastated space station, which made Arden wonder how it was still in one piece, to affect repairs and hide till they could be rescued or escape safely. The station itself was abandoned and so provided a safe haven with tolerable atmosphere. It clearly wasn’t the best hole to hide in but it would do Arden thought.

Considering the state that the space station was in Arden wasn’t just sitting around waiting to be rescued instead he was working on repairing the shuttle. Even Arden’s supervisor, Lieutenant Commander Eve Harrington, recognized that it was their best chance at survival but it was also a way to keep Arden preoccupied. After two days and dodging many attempts by the Romulans to be located, the cadets were all on edge and even the Commander’s usually icy exterior was melting under the strain. Being the only engineer in the group Arden couldn’t help but feel the expectations of the other cadets as the third day began and crept by slowly.

Joined by a male Vulcan science cadet named T’Bol and a female Bajoran operations cadet who went by the name of Rista, Arden laid on his back with his head inside one of the shuttles control consoles. It was his hope that he would be able to physically reroute past damaged parts of the ship to get the shuttle operational. He preferred that idea to having to rewrite the shuttle’s computer coding. He was under no illusions that the bypasses that he was trying might not work even though he was already an expert in the art of jury rigging. The truth of the matter was that Arden was as desperate as the rest of the cadets and their commanding officer. Arden just chose to call on whatever stubbornness he inherited from his Father to help him through this mess as he always did.

Conversation had been light between the three Cadets up until that point. While Arden went about his slow repairs he gave instructions to Rista who wasn’t entirely useless with the shuttles systems, just not well versed at acting outside of standard operating procedures that Star Fleet schooled their future officers in. As she kept running into dead ends Rista occasionally murmured comments that Arden had concluded were prayers and requests for guidance from “the Prophets”. Arden didn’t find that odd at all, as T’Bol would say “it was only logical” for the woman to act as she did. The difference was that where Rista turned to her gods for guidance in the face of failure Arden was glad to hear what worked and what didn’t. It gave him direction for further attempts even if his spirits were dangerously low.

After what seemed like forever Arden finally inserted an isolinear chip and the console seemed to power up but after only a handful of seconds the whole thing went dead once more. Retreating from under the console Arden sat on the floor of the shuttle leaning against the console in question, a look of defeat on his face. He was too tired to hide his defeated expression just as he was unashamed to admit that he had tried pretty much everything he knew to no avail. After a moment T’Bol was the first to speak which surprised Arden as T’Bol hadn’t said much of anything. The Vulcan rarely did.

“You’re not a religious man are you Cadet Cain?” T’Bol spoke stating the question as if he already had the answer. T’Bol was like that, never asking questions that he didn’t already have the answers to. Arden didn’t know if that had something to do with logic or was just a personality trait. For some reason Arden was afraid to ask.

“No, I’m not. Although that isn’t to say that I don’t discourage others from believing in gods and the like.” Arden replied not knowing where his Vulcan comrade was going with this line of questioning.

“Of course, I would expect nothing less from someone training to be a Star Fleet officer. There must be something you believe in though?” T’Bol returned dryly.

Arden honestly thought about T’Bol’s question because the Vulcan did have a point as much as Arden hated to admit it. He always believed that matters of faith whether it be in logic, honor or some god was left for more private environments as it exposed a part of Arden that he didn’t like people to see. That is to say that he preferred to keep such conversations away from certain Vulcan class mates who were far to nosy, far to insensitive when their curiosity was peaked. For Arden completing the job was all that mattered and it didn’t require discussion about belief systems, whether he knew what his beliefs were or not. Now it seemed though that he would have little choice but to engage in the topic.

“One would think that what T’Bol asks is not a hard question. You must have something that helps you through dark times.” Rista mused idly. “I mean when I am troubled I turn to the Prophets just as T’Bol would seek logic. I suppose scientifically minded people have trouble doing that though.”

“I won’t deny that I have trouble believing in the idea of an all powerful deity.” Arden told them flatly. “Before joining Star Fleet Academy I traveled extensively, I saw many religions and belief systems but I could never relate to any of them.”

In Arden’s mind that brought him back to his first comment. While he could never relate to any one of the multitude of belief systems he had been exposed to Arden was accepting of people’s right to believe in what they choose to. As long as they didn’t start preaching to him, he would similarly let them be. That approach had served him well thus far surely it would continue to serve him when he eventually graduated from the Academy, if he managed to survive that long.

“Yes, but what do you believe in Cadet Cain? You never answered the question.” T’Bol persisted. “What inspires you to survive in times such as this?”

Arden paused taking a couple breaths to give him time to think on his response. Finally Arden did reply in a calmer manner then he was a few minutes again as if he suddenly found inspiration out of thin air.

“If I have to answer the question then I would say, I am what inspires me. I learned a long time again that I couldn’t rely on some unseen force to help me.” Arden told them. Looking at both their faces Arden could tell they were waiting for more so he continued. “The only force driving me through a crisis is me. Take now for instance, whether I give up or try something different is ultimately up to me as I am the only one that will be able to change my perspective on this dismal situation. You two might look to a higher power but me, I look into myself to find the answers I need. Who else can I depend on?”

Arden could tell that both Rista and T’Bol objected to his views almost immediately. Arden imagined that T’Bol would say that his approach was prone to error and that depending on only oneself was illogical. Meanwhile Arden thought that Rista would simply be offended by his bluntness and blasphemous attitude towards what could not be proven, even though that wasn’t strictly true. Neither of those potential opinions concerned Arden. T’Bol and Rista would think what they liked and if Arden did manage to make it off the space station by some chance maybe Arden might look into his beliefs again at some point. For the time being though, Arden decidedly inwardly that he had had enough moping, that he had a few other tricks that he could try. That was all that mattered.

Commander Arden Cain

First Officer

USS Mercury

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