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LtCmdr. Viego & Lt. Satan | The Philosophy Of Logic, part 1

Posted on Sun Mar 10th, 2019 @ 8:16pm by Lieutenant Satan & Lieutenant Commander Tristan Viego PhD PhD

Mission: Permutations
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241903.10

It was the closest mess hall to his quarters, a selection made with convenience as the only metric. It was a generic space, no different from any of the other such halls scattered throughout Cold Station Theta's primary saucer, lacking in the kind of individualistic decor and cuisine offered by the station's many bars, restaurants, and eateries. There weren't even windows, such luxuries reserved instead for crew accommodation in a structure such as this. It was bland. Formulaic. Inescapably Starfleet.

That sentiment filled Tristan with amusement. While it was true that Starfleet and the Federation at large had a certain style that remained consistent across starships, starbases, and other facilities, he had served with the organisation long enough to see that design mentality morph and evolve. He remembered the times when computer terminals would render in shades of blue and green, when starship hulls had been bone white, and their doors painted in shades of red. He had lived through the warm and autumnal pastel shades of the Galaxy-class era, the sleek greys and blues and softened corners of the Intrepid era, and the bold angular lines of the Sovereign-class. In that regard, the mess hall was far from Starfleet generic, indicative of design conventions that were merely years old, not decades or centuries.

"That's an unfortunate name you have there, Lieutenant," Tristan commented to the Vulcan opposite, breaking the silence of concentration that had settled over the two of them. It mingled with the greater silence of the mess hall, sparsely populated at this particular time of day, the few diners and their associated conversations seated a respectful distance from the selection of tables set aside at the edge of the room for competitive recreational games. A selection of such activities from at least a dozen worlds had been available to him, but today he was in a nostalgic mood, and it had felt like a kal-toh sort of day. "For someone working in an environment so populated by Terrans, that is."

Carefully, Tristan lifted his chosen piece from the tangled mess of kal-toh rods, setting it gently into place at his chosen destination. The structure shimmered and transformed, creeping its way slowly back from the chaotic disorder of entropy, and towards the soothing structure of order and logic. During his years at the Vulcan Science Academy, Tristan had once likened the game to the crystallization of matter, the disarray of a liquid state transforming into the orderly arrangement of a crystalline structure as the substance cooled. It was a comparison that he personally was fond of, a sentiment that his Vulcan colleagues had not shared. Indicative of emotional sentimentality, his research assistant Shian had once said. Not what I would have expected from a race as reputedly wise and enlightened as yours.

Tristan fought the smile that memory brought him. For a species notorious for their emotional suppression, the Vulcans he had encountered had proven to be scathingly witty when they needed to be.

"Then again, in the native dialect of Ikarrēs III, I believe Viego translates as sired by goats, so perhaps I'm not in the best position to comment."

"Unless you are planning to serve there next, I doubt you will have any trouble with your name in the forseeable future." The Vulcan spoke calmly, only lifted his dark eyes for a moment to meet Tristan's own, then he returned his full attention to the game of kal-toh hovering between them. If Satan would ever would allow himself to feel emotions, he would have been excited and possibly even delighted to find such an expert opponent. As it was, he only admitted to a certain satisfaction to have met a sufficiently capable mental stimulus. It would have been more satisfying still to have the game conducted in silence, but like so many races, his opponent insisted on talking. At least he hadn't resorted yet to 'small talk', this nonsensical lubricant of social interactions necessary for people who were not ruled by logic. "However, I must say I find the human fixation on my name to be somewhat obsessive, indeed."

"I imagine that most aren't even familiar with the origin of the term," Tristan proposed, equally calm, a faint furrow of concentration gracing his brow as he studied the way the kal-toh pieces had restructured, trying to gauge his opponent's chosen strategy. The concept of satanic, in a demonic context, or of Satan as a singular individual, is actually a fairly modern conflation of concepts. In the original texts and associated apocrypha, a Satan, rather than the Satan, identifies any number of figures, encompassing mere mortals, fallen angels, and others. In fact, the Book of Enoch describes a collective of five Satans, whose chief crime seems to be cohabitating with, and educating the human populace in a manner not unlike Prometheus from Greek mythology." Tristan offered a small flicker of a smile. "Many would say that puts you in excellent company."

A decision made, Tristan carefully extracted the next kal-toh rod, his hand hesitating for a moment with last-minute indecision over where to replace it. His eyes focused on Lieutenant Satan once more. "In its purest form, it translates simply as 'accuser', or 'adversary'. The former seems somewhat apt for a scientifically-minded Vulcan, and the latter, well -"

He trailed off, the rod placed carefully towards the outer edge of the structure. "You're certainly my adversary, for at least a few more moves."

Satan absorbed the information with the same attentiveness as he watched the semi-chaos which was the kal-toh game. While Tristan's last move appeared to have made the structure more chaotic, he could see the underlying structure, already waiting for the next piece to bring it closer. It was a symbolic game. Knowledge adding to knowledge could often bring seemingly more chaos about, and possibly confusion. Until one or more critical pieces, sometimes a single datum, brought the whole structure in focus and made it complete.

"Ancient Vulcan mythology does also have its share of demon figures," he remarked. "As a people, we never developed a monotheistic religion, so there was not one single adversary, either. There were, of course, dualities within the pantheon: a god of war and a god of peace, a god of fertility and one of death." He slid the next piece in place as he talked. The structure quivered, almost coalesced. But not quite. Two, three moves and the game would be finished. Unless one of them made a critical error. It would be unlikely, but not impossible.

"A logical arrangement," Tristan commented, deadpan, providing no indication of whether it was meant as an agreement or as a verbal jab. "We should be careful, however, as advanced and enlightened beings, not to summarily rule out such mythological insights as trivial and backwards. In amongst the broad themes of war, or death, or fate, lie glimmers of genuine reason and logic, packaged in the only way comprehensible to their level of understanding. Take the Nordic peoples of Earth, for example. The Vikings. In amongst their one-eyed and one-handed gods of war and wisdom, there is a minor goddess, a shieldmaiden, whose sole purpose was to kneel before the sun and shield the Earth below from its scorching intensity. For all their seemingly primitive ideas -"

Tristan grasped a rod seemingly at random, and set it into position equally swift, his movements designed to be sudden and unexpected.

"- an Iron Age culture intuited the existence of an ozone layer and a magnetic field, even if they didn't possess the science or language to accurately describe it."

Satan contemplated the new formation, and the words, then gave a slow nod. "Though there is always an inherent danger in ascribing motives to a culture or people which can no longer tell you the precise reason for their belief – if it is, indeed, possible to ascribe reason to beliefs in the first place – you are correct in that the number of correct correlations is often too large to be ascribed to mere coincidence." One hand reached out for the t'an. Only three or four were left on the table for each player. He studied the display for a while longer, then once again flicked his eyes up to meet those of his opponents. Slowly, his hand moved up, removed one of the rods from the structure and moved it to a different place.

Slowly, smoothly, the structure collapsed into its completed form. Satan folded his hands and leaned back. "Kal-toh."

= To Be Continued =

Lt. Commander Tristan Viego
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Cold Station Theta

Lieutenant Satan
Chief Science Officer
Cold Station Theta


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