Khan's arrogant behavior could leave a bad taste in his companions' mouths, which it did in the previous instances. However, the last statement carried something different that hit the audience in their deepest instincts.
The idea that a single man could subdue an entire tribe with his mere presence was simply unreal, especially from a human perspective. Humans didn't think through their senses, so even considering that outcome bordered madness.
Nevertheless, Khan was unique in ways the audience couldn't help but acknowledge. His steps were graceful and light, almost non-existent, but Celeste and the others heard them in their chests. His attention often wandered to the ship's attractions, but his intense gaze seemed always wary of them.
Moreover, a strange vibe accompanied Khan, surrounding his figure and expanding whenever it suited him. It was as if he owned a different kind of energy, something very real in the audience's eyes but also invisible.
That vibe triggered something inside the audience. A primordial instinct awakened, warning Celeste and the others about a shocking truth. The idea was unreal and impossible, but Khan could be the exception to the rule.
The stupor lasted a few seconds, but the audience found nothing to say when they recovered. Khan had merely voiced his opinion, but the actual plan had yet to take form. The specialists would have to discuss it together, and it was too early for that.
Khan didn't show any interest in continuing to argue with Celeste either. He didn't seem to mind her open challenges as he calmly resumed studying Randall's improvised schedule. He had said his piece and his interest had moved elsewhere now.
That stance felt like an authorization to resume the different duties, and the specialists did precisely that, albeit with some initial hesitation. Marcus rejoined Kirk, Celeste continued reviewing her software, Amy occupied one of the consoles, and Randall checked various functions in different parts of the ship.
As for Khan, he inspected Randall's open schedule for a while before occupying the pilot's seat. The mission was still in its initial stages, and he had to use that free time to acquaint himself with the ship's commands. Group activities would follow once everything was ready, and he couldn't afford to miss them.
The loading process lasted multiple days. The Global Army wanted the ship to be packed and obtained exactly that. Afterward, the team gathered to inventory every item, and their sheer quantity shocked those who had been partially absent due to different duties.
Khan was one of them. His lessons were still ongoing, so he couldn't always be in the hangar. Yet, the thorough inventory filled every gap and forced him to take notes to remember its results.
The issue was more than just a matter of quantity. The items' variety was also shocking. They could go from provisions to weapons, scanners to spare parts, software to hardware. The ship had everything the team might ever need and more, which could help in eventual trades with the Scalqa.
The inventory wasn't the last step before the mission, but it came close. Each teammate, including Khan, still had a lot to set up, but reaching that point in the preparations made another task mandatory.
The plan for Baoway had yet to take shape, and now was the time to devise it. Depending on the strategy, the team might need additional and specific equipment, and that decision had to arrive before it was too late for the Global Army to act.
The ideal place for such an important meeting would usually be the embassy or the hangar with the ship itself after kicking out random soldiers. As much as the Global Army had enforced a strict policy, taking precautions didn't hurt. It was better to keep certain matters private, so political buildings were preferred.
Yet, the Harbor was Khan's home. The mission involved the embassy's offices, but the Headmistress' authority still held some value. Khan had also earned many points with his lessons, so his request went through.
The idea didn't come from Khan. He didn't want to mix his job with his private life, especially with the danger it could bring. Still, he needed a second opinion, and Monica was his most trusted confidant.
When the weekend started and the lessons ended, Khan and the rest of the political envoy gathered in the second district and headed into his building. The elevator was spacious enough, and a familiar, elegant expression welcomed them once the doors opened.
'That's a rare sight nowadays,' Khan thought, seeing Monica dolled up and donning her public persona. Monica performed an elegant bow, lifting the corners of her pink jumper dress and revealing the heeled black boots that reached her knees. Although it was a relatively casual outfit, Monica made it appear far from ordinary.
Khan was the first to leave the elevator. He stepped forward, reaching Monica's side before turning toward his guests. He avoided the polite greetings, but one announcement remained mandatory.
"I believe you have all heard about my fiancée," Khan announced, placing a hand on Monica's lower back. "Monica, these are my teammates."
"Pleasure to meet you," Monica followed. "Thank you for coming. It's reassuring to meet you all before Khan's departure."
"The pleasure is ours," Randall said, taking the lead and leaving the elevator. The others followed him, forming a line before the couple.
"We didn't expect this invitation, Miss Solodrey," Celeste added. "Do we have you to thank for taming the Major?"
"Oh, he tamed me," Monica giggled. "Although, he does spoil me. Inviting you here is part of that."
"How caring," Celeste commented, amused by the look Khan gave at Monica. Some sweetness had tainted his usually stern and intense expression, showing a different side of him.
"Major," Randall said once it became clear the stalemate was unsolvable. "Do you have more proactive suggestions? I believe everyone would appreciate your input."
Everyone's attention inevitably fell on Khan. Although all the specialists had real-life experience in the field, Khan's feats remained superior in relevance, so he was the only one who could break the stalemate.
"I do," Khan admitted. "However, I wouldn't opt for either plan."
"Do you have a third option?" Celeste didn't miss the chance to ask.
"It's more convoluted," Khan revealed, "But still leans in Mister Perelli's idea. I'd simply limit the risks."
"How?" Randall questioned.
Khan stretched his hand toward the holograms above the interactive desk. The device showed a simple map to simulate the landing on Baoway, and Khan moved icons to help explain his idea.
"The main ship can land farther away," Khan explained, "Outside eventual domains. We can burn more fuel to make sure the Scalqa notice us anyway."
A few pairs of eyes moved toward Kirk, who was lost in his thoughts. Calculations were happening in his mind, and a nod arrived once they ended.
"We have enough fuel," Kirk confirmed.
"Afterward," Khan continued, "We can send one of the shuttles closer and apply a version of the original plan."
"We have a small team, Major," Randall reminded. "Splitting ourselves into ever smaller teams isn't wise."
"At worst," Khan said, "We'll lose one shuttle, though that's unlikely."
"The shuttles don't have defensive capabilities," Kirk commented when eyes fell on him again.
"I'd be there," Khan calmly stated, his eyes still on the holograms. "The defenses are unnecessary."
"Do you plan on going to the frontlines by yourself?" Celeste asked. "My apologies, but it's too dangerous. I have faith you'd be fine, but the same can't be said about the integrity of the mission."
Celeste's worries were multilayered. She didn't trust Khan's intentions, and that was only the first problem. Since Khan wasn't an all-rounder, eventual technical issues could be catastrophic, and the team needed Marcus and Kirk to remain in the backlines.
"Miss Padridge would be with me," Khan reassured. "She would take care of the equipment and communication, other than sharing relevant information."
No one questioned that detail. Amy was the team's scout, so her place was on the frontlines. Actually, she and Khan would make a powerful pair among the Scalqa.
The complete idea had many advantages and limited the flaws as much as possible. It wouldn't put the main equipment at risk, and a single shuttle was easier to accept than an entire ship. The team would have its show of force while lowering the chances of triggering unwanted reactions from the Scalqa.
The only real disadvantage would be on Khan's and Amy's shoulders. The plan would leave them without immediate support, which wasn't ideal for either.
Amy's place was on the frontlines, but her scouting missions required careful planning and knowledge of the environment. Discovering and sharing new information was her job, but blindly throwing her into the enemy territory wasn't wise.
Khan had an even bigger role. He needed to help Celeste and Amy in their roles, and the Global Army hoped his talent with alien species would secure stable relationships with the Scalqa. Moreover, the interspecies treaties required his presence since the Empire was using him as its Ambassador.
Substituting one scout was annoying but doable. Yet, Khan was irreplaceable. The mission couldn't happen without him, and the Global Army wanted to maintain its priority over the planet.
The issues and advantages silenced the specialists. As always, the best option didn't exist. It was only a matter of choosing which risks to face.
Nevertheless, Khan's idea was safe in most areas, and its greatest flaw had a huge lifeline. As much as Khan's safety was paramount, no one could protect it better than himself. He was the best solution to the problem, almost eliminating the issue altogether.