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Regarding Luddite Colonists

Posted on Thu May 21, 2020 @ 12:10am by Commander Jason Faulkner

Mission: Episode 1: The Milk Run
Location: Captain's Quarters
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1930

When Jason walked into his quarters, Ray was hunched over the dining table. An array of tools and paint bottles was spread out before him. As Jason came up behind him he was carefully applying streaks of rust using a tiny old-style brush to a model Klingon bird of prey not much longer than his index finger. Set out in a line were several other similar models, mostly later-23rd century light starships in various stages of drying.

"I see you've decided to take over my quarters for this too, now," Jason said, sliding into the chair beside him.

"There's more room," Ray said, not so much as flinching his attention away even as Jason pressed a kiss to his cheek, "and the lighting's better."

Jason groaned dramatically and put his hand over his heart. "You know, I always suspected you were only after a better bunk, but to have it confirmed aloud! How will I go on now that I've learned the truth?"

"Aren't I supposed to be the overly dramatic one?"

Jason shrugged. "Hey, I need to keep my acting skills sharp. You never know when we may need to go undercover and infiltrate a place again, right?"

That was enough to make Ray carefully set his brush down and turn his attention fully on Jason. "With respect. Captain."

"Yes, Warrant?" Jason replied innocently.

"The last time we infiltrated anything, your acting skills," Ray deployed the ancient art of the finger quote, "left us hiding from the Tal Shiar in the basement of an Orion whorehouse for a week."

"You enjoyed every minute of it. You love getting attention, especially for your culinary arts."

"Sure, it was fun, right up until they tried to kidnap me and make me their kitchen slave."

"They tried to buy you, and I'm pretty sure it was a joke." Jason shrugged. "Honestly, I've always felt like I should have taken the offer. I could have sent a team to extract you afterward and then we'd be rich."

"You're a Starfleet captain - hand me that tweezer, would you? - you're not supposed to care about material goods."

"It's not a crime to like nice things," Jason replied. "You certainly don't have much room to talk, either, given your collectibles fetish. Rocks, glass houses, et cetera."

"I'm just a poor boy from Hicksville, I don't pretend I'm one of you fancy ideologues debating philosophical bullshit."

"Speaking of Hicksville, did you see the gazetteer entry I forwarded you about our destination? It's going to be like visiting home for you."

"Jesus, yes," Ray said, with a theatrical sigh that suggested he was planning to retake his place as the rightful drama queen. "It looks terrible. These people flew  a thousand light-years out to the middle of nowhere just so they could revert back to the nuclear age like a bunch of barbarians. It's basically a prime example of why I hate frontier colonists."

"You hate people on core worlds, too," Jason pointed out.

Ray nodded enthusiastically. "I'm an equal opportunity misanthropist. You know my theory about why people join Starfleet, right?"

Jason rolled his eyes. "I've heard it enough times to have it memorized, yes. And before you ask, you're still barred from using it when answering letters from school children."

"Your loss. It's the same basic principle at work here. They could have stayed back on Earth or Betazed or wherever and done their whole purer-than-thou low-tech lifestyle. But no! That's not enough for these folk. It's not challenging enough. Anyone can go back to basics when you can get help instantly if something goes wrong. If you really want to show off your commitment and faith," Ray picked up a tubby Marathon-class troop transport, and swooped it around over the table, "you find a human-compatible planet, load up the dogs and kids, and fly off to show the entire universe just how self-righteous you are."

Jason grinned. "If I may propose an alternative?"

"Go for it. You know I get all hot and bothered when you break out the rhetoric."

"Oh, in that case." Jason stood and cleared his throat as he assumed a proper tutor-approved declaiming pose. "Consider if you will that there is a possibility that they are not, in fact, self-righteous assholes like one might find in the backwards mountain hollers of Kentucky."

"Seems fake, but I'll allow it for debate."

Jason flourished his left hand in a gesture that indicated agreement, but not too much of it. "And I will allow that they may indeed be overachieving assholes of the sort you would instead find in Starfleet were they not luddites. In any case, a high level of devotion to a cause or philosophy isn't inherently a bad thing, especially when it looks like they haven't put principles before people. They waited quite a while to find a planet that could support their lifestyle, and seem to have chosen well. There's plenty of temperate regions suitable for their preferred style of agriculture, while still having enough climactic variance for both expansion and biodiversity, and sufficient mineral resources to support light industry without the sort of exotics that would tempt them to break their rules for profit - or tempt unruly outsiders to try to set up shop. Speaking of which, they also chose a border that had been quiet for a century at the time, which is more than you can say about a lot of colonists."

"I'll give these technological throwbacks this much," Ray replied. "At least they weren't stupid enough to settle right next to a bunch of fascist lizard people, unlike some other dickweasel frontiersmen I could name."

"It does suggest they might be more reasonable than they appear at first glance. So does the fact that it was a local archaeologist who uncovered our mystery object - they may have an appreciation of history rather than the book-burning sort of religious fervour."

Ray looked skeptical. "You can't have a bonfire of the vanities if you don't bring them with you in the first place."

"Maybe. Let's just hope that they're not locked into the same sort of historically-obsessed cultural stasis as some other luddite groups."

Ray stood up and crossed his arms. "I feel like I'm being attacked right now."

"Ray, our fourth date involved the Star Wars prequels. I'm never going to not attack you for it."

"They're classics!"

"Only because your people have effectively banned all forms of mass media made after the Eugenics Wars as products of a fallen world. It's skewed your outlook."

"Your problem," Ray said, pressing a finger against Jason's chest, "is that you liked them and you're embarrassed about it."

"You're wrong, and even if you weren't, it's the Romulans' fault. Senate-related dramas were a key feature in my own upbringing."

"Sure, blame it on those dagger-eared bastards," Ray said with a roll of his eyes. "You're just as twisted as I am, but you don't want to admit it. Maybe you should talk to the counselor about your state of denial."

"That reminds me," Jason said with a slight frown. "Did you ever see the doctor about those headaches?"

A momentary grimace flashed across Ray's face, followed by a rakish smile. "I don't know what you're talking about. So have we flirted enough yet, or do you need more banter before you're ready to nail me to the mattress?"

"Ray," Jason sighed. "Just do it."

"Yeah, that's what I'm saying," Ray said, undoing his jacket as he turned and crossed the compartment to the bedroom.

"Rayland!"

"Endorphins are good pain relief!" Ray called back, throwing his pants back through the door as emphasis.

Jason threw up his hands but followed. Sometimes he wondered if he'd actually married a Caitian. Certainly Ray acted like he was an overgrown cat at times, complaining one moment and stoically pretending nothing was wrong the next. That and he had a pronounced tendency to metaphorically knock shit off tables whenever the mood hit him. Hopefully getting him to visit sickbay wouldn't require literally sticking him in a cage and dragging it there.  

 

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