Chief: Captain on deck! Sir!
Captain: At ease Chief. How is he doing?
Mukh: I’m fine! I’m a little tired of this macaroni and cheese stuff though.
Chief: ’Sir.’ -’Sir!’
Mukh: You don’t have to call me sir.
Captain: Drop the act. I watched the old Three Stooges videos a million times growing up. You do a fine Curly Howard impression. Your people wouldn’t have sent a moron for a cultural and military exchange.
Mukh: ... aye sir.
Captain: Mr. Tivk and Mr. Nok are remaining uncommunicative. But you confessed to setting the self destruct on Thule Base killing all personnel.
Mukh: I did.
Captain: There’s no way to prove this. The cybertools, your padlet, any equipment that might have had a record was destroyed after you returned from Thule.
Mukh: Yes. You had to do so to keep exposure to the Question to a minimum.
Captain: And a one giga-boom does not leave any evidence.
Mukh: Unless you believe in ouija boards you’re out of luck.
Captain: I’ve seen trials go south with far less evidence. You said you wanted a trial didn’t you? A public trial. Your government will demand it be public. Then this whole business will be out on the open. You want the human public to know what we did.
Mukh: I want to be heard.
Captain: I bet you didn’t even set the self destruct. You don’t look to have it in you. Your little plan was just a matter of opportunity. The Chief just happened to notice you had the means and opportunity but motive? This is pretty weak. You could have blown up our spot as soon as you stepped off the Tesla by going to any media in person or online.
Mukh: Captain ... I like your people. They treated my species right when they could have ignored or mistreated us. I know we can be annoying unhygienic eating machines. We want to work together. How would we do that if i broke my oath of loyalty? I’m ... I’m the first serving on a human ship.
Captain: ... well your carefully laid plan ran into a problem. We pulled into the fringes of the Thule system an hour ago to look for escape pods. The inner system has a half dozen Slug ships fighting it out. They haven’t seen us ... yet. So your confession is going to be disregarded. The self destruct was tripped by the Slug incursion.
Mukh: Interesting. Some of the ships must have been exposed to the question and somehow it had a record of where it was being held? It called the infected Slugs to come rescue it and spread it further? Maybe Thule Base had a purer form than my translation or the different iterations of the Question I programmed into the Slugs are fighting for ascendency?
Chief: Good Lord Mukh ... why didn’t you just download the phonebook into the damn Slugs? Why even use the real Question if you were that opposed to it.?
Captain: Because it wanted him too. It wanted him to leave clues pointing to Thule Base in his message to set it free. It wanted him to make up the story of setting the self destruct to have a trial with media and senior officers attending.He’s been compromised! Look out! Guards!
Chief: Clear the room! Sir, this way! Marines!! Doc!!
C.M.O.: I’m on it! Hold him boys! Ow! Take it easy Mukh. This won’t hurt!
Chief: Is he down?
C.M.O.: Yeah. Nearly twisted my damn head off. I was wrong. It hurt.
Captain: You gave him the shot?
C.M.O.: Yes sir. Amnesia drug. Liquid Yesterday Korsa called it when he bought his freedom with it. Mukh should wake up with no memories of the last three weeks, before we started this Question business, sir.
Captain: You earned your pay today, Doc. I hope it works. We need a better way of dealing with the Question than euthanasia or nukes. This is surely going to get in the open eventually. The Fleet has already turned a explorer ship back from Quaestor-3. Our allies are demanding answers.
C.M.O.: I don’t like playing God ... sir.
Captain: You don’t act like you’re playing God or anything else, Doctor. Neither am I. I can’t speak for the Chief of course.
Chief: Sir, God is above my pay grade. That’d be impersonating a superior officer.
Captain: ... I suppose God is a Marine.
Chief: Isn’t it obvious sir? Notice the capitalization convention used in both words.
Captain: ... you’re hanging around these aliens too much. I’m going to see about getting us out of this system without alerting our mucus covered friends out there.