Part of USS Arcturus: Non Nobis and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Act II, Scene 2

Officers' Lounge, USS Arcturus
May 2400
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USS Arcturus, Captain’s Log, Supplemental. 

We are now underway with four of the Romulan ships that met us at the border. The remaining three were evacuated and scuttled. Arcturus is now home to 7,593 refugees for the duration of our voyage. With the warp drives aboard some of the ships still in an abysmal state of repair, we must make stops at impulse every eight hours to allow the fleet to rest. At this speed, it will take just over a week to reach our destination. Meanwhile, I have ordered Counselor Sharma, Lieutenant Commanders Holland, and Najan, and Lieutenant Galan to determine the credibility of Oban, one of our passengers, and his claim that he is the son of one of the governors deposed—and executed—during the revolutions in Romulan space.

It had been decided that Holland and Osho would go into the interview room first, both to avoid making Oban feel threatened and also to respect his rights as an asylum seeker. Though a diplomat first and foremost, Holland was a trained and qualified judge-advocate as well. The fact that he was handsome and charming was a bonus. Meanwhile, Osho was slender and unassuming, unlikely to intimidate him, and also possessing a decade’s worth of undercover experience on Vashti, with a perfect command of the Romulan language.

Jolan tru, Oban,” Najan said, smiling at the young Romulan from one side of the triangular table in one of the ship’s smaller lounges that they had commandeered for the purposes of their initial interview. “I hope your accommodations are satisfactory?”

“I grew up in a palace but have spent the last three weeks in steerage. Just having a working replicator is quite satisfactory, thank you,” Oban replied, not batting an eyelash.

Holland cleared his throat. “I’m Dorian Holland, the ship’s diplomatic officer, and judge-advocate. This is Najan Osho, our intelligence officer. This is a very informal interview—” he started.

“To see whether I’m full of shit or not,” Oban concluded.

“That is a… surprisingly idiomatic assessment of the situation,” Holland replied with a chuckle. He slid over a PADD which contained the full text of the Federation’s laws that pertained to asylum-seeking situations. “I’m here as your advocate to explain that under no certain terms does the Federation want anything from you. As a passenger aboard this convoy originating from the Velorum sector, you are already slated to receive refugee status based on your flight from a material change in your physical safety. You don’t have to tell Ms. Najan anything to enter our space.”

Oban nodded. “I understand that… Sub-Commander?” he asked, nodding towards Holland’s rank pips.

“We’re both lieutenant commanders,” Najan explained, smiling at him again. “The Romulan equivalent is centurion.”

Oban chuckled. “Middlemen, then. Well, Lieutenant Commander Najan and Lieutenant Commander Holland, I do understand my situation: the reason I am seeking political asylum status is that I have as much to fear from my fellow refugees as I do from returning to Romulan space. Namely, my father and brothers were responsible for a lot of their pain,” he said.

Najan tapped a control in at her seat, which put a hologram of a Romulan male in the center of the table. “Yes, I’ve done some research on your father. Federation records are very limited from your area of space, but all accounts show that he wasn’t well-liked by his people or by the Tal Shiar,” she noted.

“I didn’t realize the Bajoran talent for understatement was so… Vulcan,” Oban grumbled. “Yes, that is why I need to be on Earth or Bajor or… even Vulcan, not whatever camp you’re sending us to. If they figure out who I am, I am dead,” he insisted.

“How did you board Arcturus. You aren’t in our treatment database, and you weren’t aboard any of the ships that we evacuated,” Najan asked.

“You don’t have to answer that,” Holland reminded him.

Oban shrugged. “A critically ill patient aboard the ship I traveled on was beamed aboard, and I volunteered to help him onto the transporter pad. To preempt your next set of questions, I asked your ship’s computer where the captain was and what the best route through the access tunnels was to get there. Nothing was locked, and I haven’t broken any of your laws,” he explained.

Holland and Najan looked at one another for a moment.

“Your candor is appreciated,” Najan offered. “You’re not carrying any electronic devices or analog storage modalities. What form does the intelligence you’re carrying come in? Did you memorize it?”

The Romulan shrugged again. “That’s not a question I’m willing to answer without assurances that I can remain in protective custody,” he said.


Lieutenant Galan was watching in the next room over the security feed with Counselor Sharma. After hearing Oban’s most recent statement, he tapped the button that connected him with the earpiece that Najan was wearing.

“Tell him that you know he would have at least a taste of the intelligence for us to prove his credibility. He wouldn’t risk getting dismissed entirely without something important at hand,” Galan instructed.

“You have to give us something, Oban. We have no way of verifying your identity or that you have any valuable data,” Najan said.

“To be clear, the value of your intelligence is not what would impact our decision about your ability to remain in the Federation, but something that could help us verify your identity could make you eligible for extended protections,” Holland added on the other side of the screen.

“I can provide the encryption sequence for coded channel Zeta-Zeta-Zeta, which is used by the Romulan military to track mid-level personnel transfers,” Oban offered.

Najan slid over a PADD, and Oban started typing.

“You seem in an unusually good mood for someone who was combing through records in a Romulan engine room until an hour ago, Lieutenant,” Counselor Sharma observed as the two watched the meeting on the viewscreen.

Galan smirked. “I think there are two explanations: I’ve hit my third wind, and Lieutenant Sarcaryn found little ways of making our tedium more tolerable,” he noted as he was reading the code sequence coming in from Oban. “This is a legitimate decryption key.”

“I guess we have something to talk about at our next session, then,” Sharma chuckled.

“So, is he crazy or sane?” Galan asked.

“I don’t think it’s productive to use terms like that, but I don’t see any signs that he’s deceiving us,” the counselor replied.

“Well, he hasn’t said anything in Romulan for me to translate, so I don’t know how helpful I’ve been. Najan would have got that code out of him, too,” Galan said, flinging himself down into a chair and crossing his arms. “She probably has more insight into the Romulan psyche than I do, you know.”

“We’ll check this out and get back to you,” Najan noted.

“Do you have any questions for me?” Holland asked.

Oban shook his head. “No. Go verify my story. Do what you have to.”

Galan chuckled. “He’ll never get it. Not within the time we have him here, anyway. He’ll never get that we don’t want anything from him. Everything in Romulan society is quid pro quo,” he said when Sharma caught his eye. “That must mean he has something real if he’s being so… honest.”

Comments

  • This interview scene was put together quite well. I loved how Oban was all as a matter of fact about things, even to the point of throwing holland off guard at one point. The ending was quite entertaining as Galan point of fact pointed out that Oban was being straight up about everything that he said, and Galan hadn't even spoken to Oban yet. The vibe that I got from the story was static, meaning that it felt like just a filler story. Now don't take that the wrong way, filler stories are important in the movement of the entirety of the story and are just as important as all of the action pack chapters that come along with storytelling and you have done an awesome job of telling the story that you are creating so far. Keep up the awesome work and I look forward to seeing what happens next to Oban and the crew of the USS Arcturus.

    June 15, 2022
  • I love stories like this one that really take advantage of the deep dive Arturus presents. With such an expansive cast, filled with a diverse range of expertise, I'm intrigued by this novel scenario of the diplomatic and intelligence officer interviewing Oban's claim, while the communications officer and counselor assist. It's all such a beautifully Starfleet approach, especially Holland's advocating for Oban. That navigation of coercion and consent concerns kept this out of tropey places, and I really appreciate that consideration. Now, Oban is a lot. And I love that for him and my reading enjoyment. "I grew up in a palace," just tells us what we need to know from the start, and then calling them middlemen?? Not middlemen. I can't help waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering what Oban doesn't want Starfleet to know, but that may only be paranoia. Galan's assessment seems spot on to me and quite telling. "That must mean he has something real if he’s being so… honest" does have such a ring of truth to it. What DOES he know???

    June 20, 2022