Ambassador Phannah clutched the padd in her sweaty hands as if it were the key to the universe. As far as she knew, the little padd contained nothing of great value; in fact, from what she had gleaned from the first few lines of text, it was little more than a basic status report that was barely worthy of her attention. But as she traversed the myriad corridors of level thirteen, Phannah held onto that little padd as if her life depended on it.
Her life, of course, wasn’t hanging in the balance, but with Professor Eridar’s pending arrival, Phannah needed something to keep her fidgety hands occupied—and the padd seemed to fit the bill nicely.
Professor Eridar was a bit of a legend. Having negotiated numerous treaties throughout the quadrant—including the landmark treaty with the Rilnar—he was widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the galaxy’s vast political landscape. Additionally, if the rumors were to be believed, Eridar was very close to being named successor to his people’s throne. Clearly, this was no ordinary man… and in less than five minutes, he would step through the airlock to meet with Phannah.
The airlock seemed bigger today. Instead of the simple round hatch that Phannah was used to seeing, the doorway yawned before her like a cavern’s mouth. She suspected the change was more a part of her active imagination than an actual alteration of the structure. The arrival of such a noted dignitary was bound to fray the nerves, and Phannah suspected her imaginings would continue until her meeting with Professor Eridar was concluded. Of course, since she was presently struggling to recall her own name, Phannah suspected that her recollection of their planned dialogue would also be less than successful.
And she was about to find out.
Amidst a mechanical symphony, the massive door spiraled into the thick wall, dramatically revealing the legendary dignitary. Eridar stood patiently behind the door; he was clad in a hooded obsidian robe that draped onto the floor behind him. It obscured almost all of his features, but as far as Phannah could tell, he looked rather average.
The hooded Eridar remained in the airlock for a moment longer before finally glancing up to see his path no longer obstructed. “This is truly an impressive facility, Ambassador,” he said as he vacated the airlock. “In all my travels, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.”
Phannah couldn’t help but smile. She knew her station was impressive, but Eridar’s glowing review gave her opinion that much more credence. “My people have come a long way since the first Al-Bhed attack,” she said evenly. “If they were to attack this facility, they would have quite a fight on their hands.”
Eridar chucked. “They would indeed,” he agreed. “But hopefully, after today, the Al-Bhed won’t be of much concern to you any longer.”
The Al-Bhed would always concern Phannah. Ever since the first attack a thousand years ago, there had been concerned about this malevolent species, and there was little doubt in her mind that the concern would not fade until the Al-Bhed threat came to a decisive conclusion. But as Eridar so kindly mentioned, there was always hope.
With her free hand, Phannah motioned for Eridar to walk with her. He nodded and promptly took a few steps into the corridor, but paused after only a moment’s journey. At first, Phannah suspected something was amiss, but her fears were immediately quelled when Eridar removed his dark hood. There wasn’t anything wrong; in fact, everything appeared to be just right…
Much as Phannah had suspected, Eridar’s features were standard for his species. His skin was a deathly shade of pale blue, which contrasted considerably with the fiery green eyes burning beneath his eternally furrowed brow. He had long, nymph-like ears, and the grotesque, bony protrusion running the length of his nose burrowed into the pentagon-shaped plate on his forehead. The rest of his domed skull rose independent of the forehead, giving him a rather fearsome persona. “It has been a long trip,” Eridar explained wearily.
But no explanation was necessary in Phannah’s book. She was simply relieved that he approved of the accommodations. “If you would like, I can show you to your quarters. You are more than welcome to rest before we begin…”
Eridar promptly raised a dismissive hand. “It has been a long trip,” he said, “but I am nevertheless eager to see the rest of this impressive facility.”
A slight grin fell upon Phannah’s face. “I hope you’ve cleared your schedule for the next couple of weeks,” she said wryly. “I have been in command of this station for two years, and I don’t think I’ve explored more than five percent of it…”
The awe in Eridar’s face was apparent. Despite the advanced technology possessed by his people, not even they had the ability to construct such an incredible structure. “I may have to extend my stay,” he said. “At the very least, I want to see the command module—and the genetic research lab. I understand you’ve been working miracles there, as well.”
Phannah nodded, though her enthusiasm seemed to wane a bit. “Another surprise for the Al-Bhed,” she quietly confirmed. “Recent breakthroughs in genetic engineering have allowed us to create a new weapon to use against our nemesis. We have yet to use it against them, but our preliminary studies indicate the Al-Bhed won’t be able to defend themselves against an attack.”
“Then I am eager to see this marvel,” said Eridar. “My government has expressed some concerns about a few of the lesser species—the Elorg, for example… We don’t believe they pose an immediate threat, but if push comes to shove…”
Though Eridar’s words faded away, Phannah nevertheless caught his drift. “You wouldn’t mind having a few genetically created warriors to fight on your side,” she finished—but she knew his opinion would change…
Eridar still smiled. “And if we can arrange a little something,” he said warmly, “then coming days should prove interesting…”