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Part of USS Ride: Waylaid by Necessary Interdiction and Bravo Fleet: We Are the Borg

4 | Refusal and Hot Coffee

Admiral's Office - USS Ride
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“No, sir.” 

Admiral Niana Tondro looked up from her PADD at the Ride’s chief helmsman, a young Betazoid man with the telltale dark black eyes and thick dark hair. She sighed deeply, and set the PADD down on her desk, folding her hands and pressing her fingers to her lips. 

“Come again, Lieutenant Plaze?” 

“You ordered me to join you on Brunel Station while you interview her commanding officer. I read the report about what Commander zh’Dar saw down there, I read the preliminary report about why we’re here, and I read Commander Greystone’s bio. I have zero experience interviewing or interrogating witnesses, I have no experience with the Borg Collective, and I have no experience with the daily ins and outs of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. Sir,” the man replied. 

“I’m aware of your lack of experience, Lieutenant. But I believe your lack of experience will also mean a lack of bias, which I unfortunately cannot say I possess. In addition, your relatively junior rank to Commander Greystone will mean she won’t perceive you as a threat to her command, and might help assuage any concerns she might have.” 

“Admiral Tondro, with all due respect, cut the shit,” he replied. “When you want an assistant to aid you in an interrogation or an interview, you bring a security officer or a JAG officer, not a fly-boy. I’m a Betazoid. You want me there because I can read her thoughts and tell you if she’s lying or lying by omission. There is nothing that Betazoids hold more dear than the sanctity of one’s own private thoughts. It’s a moral precept on Betazed. It’s something drilled into any of us who want to leave our society, from a very young age. You’re ordering me to violate my own code of ethics, and while I can’t cite any of them I suspect a few Starfleet code of ethics as well. I am refusing your order.” 

Exhaling deeply, he continued, “You can throw me in the Brig, you can confine me to quarters, or whatever punishment you deem appropriate for refusing a direct order from a flag officer. But I will be filing a formal complaint, sir.” 

Tondro leveled a steel gaze at the man, and sat silently for a few moments. With a sigh, she said “Thank you for your candor, Lieutenant. You may return to your station. Send in Captain Nushif, please.” 

The man turned on his heel and walked wordlessly out of the admiral’s office. Moments later, the Ride’s Bajoran first officer, Captain Nushif Ejoma walked in, biting her lip in a very clear but poor attempt to stifle a laugh. Walking to the replicator, she cleared her throat, and commanded, “Pistachio breve.”  

Grabbing the mug as it coalesced, she moved to the Admiral’s desk, and sat down in a chair opposite her, blowing the steam off the top of her drink before she took a sip. 

“Forgive me for cutting to the quick, sir, but I told you he would refuse.” 

Shrugging, Tondro replied, “It was worth a shot. Something awful has happened down there. Commander Greystone filed her casualty report, and I filed my own report about the actions of the team in the Sphere. I was told, in no uncertain terms, to pound sand.” 

“Clancy?” 

“Clancy would have been more colorful,” Tondro replied. “Anyway, Lieutenant Plaze is going to file a report about what I ordered him to do, and he should. In any other situation, I would never have ordered him to come down with me. But it’s the Borg, Captain. We don’t have the luxury of idealism.” 

Captain Nushif stared across the top of her mug at the El-Aurian woman, and ran her tongue across her teeth for a moment, before responding. “You’ve asked me not to mince my words with you, my recent and rather embarrassing questioning of you about the Borg aside. So I’m not going to mince my words now, and I would appreciate if you would accept my feedback in that spirt. Agreed, sir?” 

“Absolutely,” Tondro replied with a nod. “I’ve come to enjoy your directness, Ejoma.” 

“Thank you, sir. You’re counting on my sympathies as a Bajoran. That the Bajoran Resistance did whatever it took for victory against an overwhelming force, and so I’ll agree with you. And tacitly sir, I don’t. When the stakes are high is precisely the time when idealism is important. You told Captain Holmes we needed to save as many lives as we could. We failed at that, and it’s awful, Admiral. But to whose lives were you referring?” 

Taking another sip of her drink, she continued, “And I understand and agree with you that there is some…very backwards shit happening on Brunel Station. They shouldn’t have a Borg ship, irrespective of the state it’s in. Where did it come from? What were they doing to it? Why do they have it? Maybe Commander Greystone knows the whole story. Maybe she only knows part of it. But she was sobbing when zh’Dar left the Sphere. She cared about those people that died, Admiral. And you treated them as a data point in your report to the Admiralty. A convenient reason to get the powers that be to divulge their secrets. It rings as callous at best, unspeakably and inappropriately cruel at worst.” 

“I will admit that when it comes to the Borg, I have blinders compared to a great many flag officers,” Tondro said. “My people were all but wiped out by them, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to harbor a deep hatred for them. These beacons are reportedly going off all over known space, and it can only mean that the Borg will be returning to investigate. It’s what they do, when these emergency beacons sound.” 

“But no one has seen more than a few stray drones, which parenthetically is terrifying in its own right sir, and I don’t need to tell you of all people that. This isn’t an invasion force, it’s a few stray drones coming to check on emergency beacons. And we disabled one of them. Our primary mission was a success. We’re never going to find out what they’re doing to that Sphere. We’re not going to stop them, and we’re not going to get to blow it up. We can chase these ghosts across the galaxy, and I suspect we’re going to find the same things we did here.”  

Setting her mug down on the desk, and folding her hands, she continued, “The Prophets have sealed the lips of the dead herein entombed. They shall not give up their secrets. Their stories shall remain theirs. May their names be forever remembered.” 

Comments

  • Wow, okay, Lt Plaze is ballsy refusing an order on the basis of a supposed subtext to that order. I mean, that may have been what the admiral was hoping for, but the reasons given for including Plaze are reasonable and make sense. He took a huge gamble refusing. I share the Admiral's frustration in not being able to find out what the station was doing with the sphere in the first place, not any answers with the apparent shenanigans the scientists were up to. Oh, and Ejoma's parting words were eloquent and poignant both.

    November 8, 2023