Stealth 101: Don't get caught (part II)
Shortly after arrival
Authors: Arthur Reynolds, Maya (NPC Arthur)
Last time, on Star Trek: Portland...
"I don't know," she verified while glancing over at her comrades and gesturing for them to take Arthur into custody. "But we're about to find out." With that, she signed out and replaced the communicator to her belt, ordering the two security guards to take him to 'processing' and find out what he was doing here. "I'll see what Drilith and Yildra found out. Oh--" She stopped short of the doorway after sheathing her phaser, an uncertain glance cast back at Arthur. "And if he is who I think he is... Maya will want to speak to him."
After one last nod, she left. The guards then 'led' Arthur back down the hallway - away from his present and deeper into his past.
And now, the continuation...
"Sounds like they found him and are coming back this way," Malbi remarked when she heard the security detail call for reinforcements over the comm system, "I suppose we ought to hide and make a plan to recapture Arthur, do you know of anywhere we could go?" she asked the other officer.
The path to his unknown fate led further into the building via turbolift. Next thing Arthur knew, they stood in the middle of a holodeck with a frail old figure sitting in a grandiose chair in the center. This stranger appeared to have many of his limbs and skin replaced with cybernetic prosthetics, and nothing recognizable remained. But as Arthur approached slowly, urged ahead by the weapons pointed at his back, he recognized one notable feature: an elaborate, silver earring which nearly every Bajoran wore.
Suddenly, a program activated, and his surroundings changed to resemble the enormous room he'd first been brought to upon being abducted as a child. The glazed, marble floor reflected a soft light that flooded in through the colossal, thin windows behind him. When he looked, he saw a sight he'd hoped never to see again: "Rigel..." Under his breath, he muttered as he looked out over the vast megacity, the soft, blue light of Rigel's star nearly blinded him. It had been too long since he stood on a planet surface and looked out at its sun. "Never thought I'd see this place again."
"Neither did I."
Arthur looked behind him to see a familiar old man, his nose wrinkled and a silver earring of unmistakable fashion on one ear, stare back at him.
"Then again, I don't expect to see it again either."
"Maya," Arthur exclaimed under his breath as he faced the man who started him on his path to an utter, living hell of a childhood: Maya Kesuma.
"In the flesh." Maya held his arms out to either side. Since he wore the typical robes of a monk, the effect reminded Arthur of the god-complex the man once had. If his choice of wardrobe was any indication, he hadn't changed. In fact, Arthur just noticed how the stained glass window behind the desk, and behind Maya, framed the man. It was orange, bronze, and red mixed into the familiar insignia of the Bajoran Republic. The circular portion at the bottom of the symbol framed Maya's head like an aura, further enhanced by the recognizable logo of the Alliance for Global Unity.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Arthur narrowed his eyes at the sight.
"I could ask you the same thing." Maya's hands patiently intertwined together in front of him, just like how a calm vedek would carry himself while addressing another. "Perhaps you will answer me first."
Arthur held his tongue, but knew Maya wouldn't allow that for long. His bodyguards would beat and torture any answers he wanted out of the former child slave, and that particular thought didn't appeal to either of them. Nothing would stop the only Bajoran leader in the Syndicate from ordering him to certain pain and humiliation, however. Not even the tearful begging of a child could soften this man's heart.
"Just thought I'd drop in and look around." Arthur tried to sound casual, uncertain as to how much Maya knew about him after their first - and last - encounter. "Funny coincidence I should meet you here."
"Bajorans don't believe in coincidences." Although Arthur wanted to refute that with cold, hard evidence, he knew it would be pointless. Once Maya had his mind set on something, it was either a fact or it would become a fact - if he had any say in it at all. "The facial recognition software in my optical implant tells me your name is Arthur. Arthur Couer-Reynolds, formerly brought before me by my assistant Vira, then sent to work in the mines on Vem'ir. Last we heard, you graduated Starfleet Academy and celebrated by murdering a fellow cadet... an Andorian, I believe?" He merely smirked and raised an eyebrow. "Did he remind you too much of Vira?"
"No," Arthur struggled to respond, his teeth grit until he calmed himself enough to speak with some semblance of civility. "It was an accident."
"Yet, here you are." Eerily enough, Maya's smile resembled that of a father's when doting his children, though his tone suggested a subdued, sadistic enjoyment toward Arthur's reaction. He started to walk around the wide desk, eyes on his feet. "The Federation makes some information on its officers available to anyone. You can even dig deeper with the right security clearance. Not that I needed it." He stopped at one end of the desk and raised his hands out to the side again. "It was in the news."
"Why don't we cut to the chase?" Arthur hoped to shift the direction of this conversation away from his past mistakes and on to the present. "Seeing as you haven't killed me on sight, I take it you've got a good reason."
Maya actually chuckled at that and continued to wander slowly toward one of the massive windows overlooking the holographic recreation of Rigel. He maintained a certain distance from Arthur, both literally and figuratively, as he did so. All he stared out at was the pristine upper levels of the city, below which Arthur knew from personal experience lied some of the worst conditions imaginable.
"It isn't quite like Bajor, you know." Maya narrowed his eyes as a ship flew by in the near distance. From what Arthur saw of it, it must have been an old Orion raider. "Neither of these planets are. But I guess... the Bajor I knew is long gone.
"Have you ever heard of the kohn-ma?" When Maya addressed that question to Arthur, the latter could only purse his lips and shake his head slightly. "I'm not surprised. Many of us were wiped out when the Bajoran Republic rose to power under their Federation masters. We had plenty of supporters on and off the planet, however. Those of us who lived on other worlds survived the purge and carried on the fight against Cardassia.
"One of my colleagues, Elva Bel, went undercover in the Federation a couple of weeks ago. She played a significant role in my particular cell before the arrests began. Last reported, she was on Trill." Before Arthur could ask, Maya interjected, "I can't tell you the nature of her mission. All I can tell you is she stopped reporting in a few days ago. I need to find her, but I can't risk my few contacts in Starfleet."
"Let me guess," Arthur began with an exasperated tone. "You want me to find her?"
Maya simply looked at him and grinned. "If it isn't too much trouble."
With another glance over his shoulder at the guards, Arthur knew he didn't exactly have a choice in the matter. But he felt it pertinent to ask:
"What do I get in return?"
That elicited another of those eerie smiles and brief silences that followed, before Maya decided to respond. "Tell me," he began, slowly stepping toward Arthur. "How long have you been in Starfleet?"
"Oh," Maya exclaimed as he stopped right in front of Arthur. Clearly, he felt disgusted to be so close to a non-Bajoran like this, particularly a human. Yet he took a deep breath and tried to ignore the sterile, Federation smell. "I only wonder how well you've fit in. Didn't your last commanding officer reassign you to that run-down little ship? What was it called? The Portend?"
Arthur wanted to say something to throw Maya off, just to maintain his cover. Unfortunately, it seemed at least his public Starfleet record left him an open book, free to be read by any decent facial-scanning software and anyone who once knew him. In his mind, he cursed himself for not foreseeing this in the first place. Even more disturbing was how Starfleet apparently didn't think of this before sending them on this mission. Then again, they probably didn't expect anyone on the surface to have access to that kind of equipment in the first place.
"I don't hold you responsible for the mutiny aboard my ship. You were just a child, easily swayed by a man who knew you'd be looking for someone to call 'father'." Then Maya narrowed his eyes and grew ever more serious. "But Starfleet wouldn't excuse your crimes so easily. Child or not, you took many lives as a renegade.
"It would be a shame to lose everything you worked for... just because word got out about your criminal activities."
That piece of--, Arthur thought as he grit his teeth for the second time that day. He knew this would come back to bite him in the ass at some point. Perhaps it was luck that it only happened here with a figure from his past than from Starfleet Command.
Maya's expression softened, a sure sign that the man's moods swung back and forth like a pendulum. "Arthur," he uttered in a soft, gentle way. "You know as well as I do that Starfleet isn't where you belong. You're a child of Rigel, born and tempered in the flames of hell. Since day one, you proved unable to meet the Federation's demand that you fit into their little utopia. Paradise isn't for you, Arthur. It never was."
Rather than dignify that with a response, Arthur merely turned and looked back out at the city. But he couldn't hold his head high. Part of him knew what Maya said was true. He always felt like he didn't belong, no matter how often he tried. Starfleet demanded he respect someone due to rank, rather than due to their actions. He'd been expected to conform to a dress code, a formal manner of speaking toward his superiors, and a strict, by-the-book method of carrying out his job. None of that happened aboard the Orion Dawn.
But wasn't paradise worth the effort? Ideally, he thought yes; but experience told him no. It wasn't so much the fact that it was too high a cost, but that it was a cost Arthur couldn't pay. Every single year that passed since he entered Federation space with that Vulcan ambassador, he continued to make the same mistakes while trying to fit in. It was nothing short of a miracle that he got through the Academy in the first place. Yet part of him wanted to believe in the Federation's utopia so much that he tried - even when his natural inclination was to act without conscience.
"You don't belong with them," Maya re-iterated, his gaze intensely focused on the man who could've been his prodigy. "You belong with me."
A lump grew in Arthur's throat, forced down only when he felt he could speak again. This time, however, he chose not to look the Bajoran in the eye, for fear it would spark that rapid shift in demeanor his former master was notorious for.
"What do you need me to do?"
To be continued...
Capt. Alenis Meru