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[2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

[Lieutenant (j.g) Alistair Leavitt | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Tae

In a comfortable little cafe on Starbase 12, it was remarkably quiet. There were only a handful of customers, all enjoying tea, conversation and the spectacular view of the planet through the expansive viewports. The Denobulan barista went about his work with a friendly smile, merrily teasing an elderly Tellarite couple as he served them some coffee. The soothing ambiance was by design. As large as the starbase was, it was still a bustling metropolis on most decks, so the café's owner had wanted to give her customers a break from the hustle.

For one customer in particular, this was perfect; it was why the computer had suggested this venue. Sat alone next to a vast window, he was quite unassuming, an ordinary human man. He wore an unadorned leather jacket with a red shirt, completed by bland brown pants, thoroughly uninteresting in such a cosmopolitan place. With his short black hair and sharp features, he was neither attractive nor unattractive. Nobody gave him a second glance.

Again, this was by design. Nobody was supposed to notice agents of the Department of Temporal Investigations. This particular agent wasn't even trying to be clandestine, and would've admitted his profession if asked. It was, after over a year of training, simply second nature to go by the DTI's unofficial motto: unseen, unnoticed, forgotten.

After the barista cheerfully served him some coffee, the agent thanked the Denobulan before returning his attention to his PADD. Keeping an eye on the entrance to watch for the person whom he was waiting for, conscious of when the barista left earshot, he started talking quietly into a large tablet in his hands.

"Start log, supplemental to case VAA-AL-1961-2368-2380-H2," he said, rattling off the numbers and letters with ease. "Identify case officer as Alistair Leavitt. Identify subject as Valerii Anhel Arkhipiv. The stardate is...uh..." Alistair frowned as he counted in his head, "56791 point...erm...45? 50? Well, it doesn't matter. Anyway, I'm at the meeting place now. Chief Arkhipiv should be here soon. I hope so, anyway. It'd be a shame to cross a hundred lightyears for nothing, although it was nice to be aboard the Pioneer again."

Alistair glanced at the pad. "Chief Arkhipiv seems like a nice guy on paper. I wish that I had access to his prior interviews and assessments, given his origins, but I get why the regulation exists. Knowing about his other check-ups would lead me to bias. Still, now, not knowing everything, I'm a bit...uh...nervous. If I miss anything, it'll be a year before anyone else from the DTI sees him again. Knowing that this man's psychological well-being might depend on me doing my job properly...yeah. This is a good first independent assignment. It emphasises why I'm doing this job."

After a moment of thought, Alistair sipped some coffee. "Anyway, I'm hoping that this casual setting is the best choice for Chief Arkhipiv. Former soldiers can be difficult to talk to. I'm opting not to record this interview for Chief Arkhipiv's comfort. My chosen modality is the Sally-Sparrow model. Hopefully everything goes well. End log."

Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #1
[PO3 Valerii Anhel Arkhipiv | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Griff

Another year, another visit, another brief leave while his ship was in port, and yet he'd woken up with an 'urgent' meeting scheduled on his PADD, not urgent, at least not to Valerii, not anymore. When he'd first awoken from his 'long sleep,' these meetings had lasted for hours and led to many questions and hours of discussion about how things worked and how history had progressed. Today, though, over a decade after his awakening, the man drug himself out of bed and dressed, all the while muttering under his breath in his mother tongue, curing the day that the  Department of Temporal Investigations had been created and all of his interviews that had taken place, at least they weren't monthly anymore, even those had been tedious near the end. But, well, this was part of why He'd preferred these deep-space assignments. It delayed the meetings, sometimes by months. But whenever his ship was in port, these meetings happened. And so it was that with the Oneida in port, it was time for his annual check-in.

Valerii took his time getting to the meeting, and despite his ire for it, he showed up to it precisely on time. The one constant in his life was punctuality, but due to that deep-seated contempt for these meetings, a subtle snub that his Investigator for today was sure to pick up on. Since he didn't want his foul mood to rub off on any actual person, he stopped briefly by a replicator getting an 'Irish Coffee' sans any real alcohol since he didn't want to be drunk in front of the person he was meeting today. Consulting his PADD again, looking at the contact information he'd been provided, Valerii lazily scanned the cafe, and finding the man, plain looking, just like the rest, he sauntered over and sat down, just as he would technically be three minutes 'late' to sitting down at the table across from Alistair.

Valerii didn't speak first, his rumpled hair and only very slightly disheveled appearance. The overall countenance he presented was one of weariness. So Valerii'd likely be forgiven for slowly sipping the creme-infused coffee until it was nearly dry as his green eyes drilled into Alistair's blue ones. Setting down the now barely steaming mug with a clink against the counter, he sat back. He straightened up, finally appearing to actually regard the Investigator for the first time, giving the slightly taller man an impassive look. Once he finally spoke, it was with only the barest hint of curiosity.

"So, how are we doing it this time? Is this a performance review dressed up as a check-in, or is this another interview with the fossil that added a paragraph to history books?"

 It wasn't amicable, but there was a resigned nature to the words; he'd been through dozens of these interviews, and the last several had been drawn out and boring. Maybe Alistair would be different? He didn't know and wasn't sure, but he'd already set a poor tone for the meeting so far. Maybe it was salvageable, or perhaps this was just more drudge work for another bureaucratic drone?

Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #2
[Lieutenant (j.g) Alistair Leavitt | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Tae

Alistair appeared entirely unfazed by Valerii's hostility. He didn't smile, didn't frown; indeed, he barely reacted at all. He merely raised an eyebrow.

"Honestly, Mister Arkhipiv, I was just going to start with 'hello' and figure it out from there," he said mildly, profoundly grateful that he had opted not wear his Starfleet uniform for the interview. Valerii's hostility was at least honest and open, and might've been less obvious otherwise. "So...uh...hi. I'm Alistair. My boss encouraged to be myself, so I'm just going to be direct and honest, if that's okay."

He glanced at his own coffee cup, now cold, and gestured at the barista who waved back merrily in acknowledgement. Alistair then looked at Valerii directly. "I'm here because...well, uh, because it's my job, really, but mainly because I want to help. I don't know how other agents have done this, we're all told to have our own approach, but mine is simple: I'm here to talk, to listen if you have anything that you want to get off your chest, or just chat over some coffee. That's all. If you don't want to talk, that's fine."

The barista smoothly replaced the cup of coffee, and Alistair thanked him with a smile before refocusing on Valerii. "I'm serious. Here." He slid the PADD over. "That's everything I've been told about you, plus my personal notes and my DTI file. Read it if you like; you can even take it with you. You can walk out the door right now and I'll tell my boss that you seem fine. You won't see another DTI agent until next year. If you're really fed up, I'll recommend that we switch to check-ins every three years instead."

Alistair shrugged. "It's up to you. What do you want to do?"

Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #3
PO3 Valerii Anhel Arkhipiv | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Griff

   Valerii went silent as the PADD was passed over to him; with a soft grunt, he picked it up, furrowed his brows, and after playing with the settings to set it to 'Ukrainian-Cyrillic (Archaic)' he began to read and took his time processing the information on it. Most of the data was things that he knew about himself. After all, one didn't reach his age without some self-awareness, or maybe one did. Still, looking at his official DTI file was an opportunity that he wouldn't pass up ever; it was like looking at his old KGB file. Sure, he didn't like some of what was in there, but he was deemed stable and capable of learning, so that was good.

   With another soft grunt, he passed the PADD back over to Alistair, setting the device back to the default language settings before doing so. Looking over to the Barista, he waved and jiggled his cup, signaling for a refill, before honestly smiling at the man across from him.

   "You, Alistair, are unlike the other tayemna politsiya* I have had the displeasure of speaking with. I believe that we may become cordial. You offer a thing that I feel I am ready for, but I know it is not yet ideal. The breadth of time between now and when I come from is nearly as great as when Ivan the Terrible ruled Russia and when I lived. So there are many things to get used to. To begin, I think I've finally learned that I'll likely never become an Officer again. I think I will have to accept that. As the Yankees used to say, I am starting from far too back behind the eight ball."

A self-deprecating smile was given to Alistair as he raised his mug of black coffee and spoke softly, toasting with a wry grin on his face. "Zahublenym u chasi, nekhay hodynnyk nikoly ne zastane nas."**  After that little toast, he put his coffee to his lips and breathed a heavy sigh.

   "I'm still trying to get used to the warfare at this time, at least most of it. It is like being in the Navy more than in the tin cans we started in. Tell me, how much do you know of early space travel?"

*= Secret police
**= To the lost in time, may the clock never catch us.

Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #4
[Lieutenant (j.g) Alistair Leavitt | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Tae

And that's a win for honesty.

With relief, Alistair toasted with Valerii, momentarily bemused by the unfamiliar language, although the universal translator did its job. Being called the 'secret police' was more than a little unsettling, if only because it was painfully accurate. The Department of Temporal Investigations had an inocuous name and was theoretically subordinate to the Federation Council, but in practice, they had a frightening level of authority and power. Very few people outside the DTI understood its true nature; the handful admirals in Starfleet who did were extremely wary of their sister agency. Managing the clandestine rivalry between Starfleet and the DTI (or, as others put it, the 'military' and the 'secret police', inaccurate though the descriptors were) was a perennial headache for the Federation government.

That Valerii, a former soldier of a totalitarian government, understood it instinctively was alarming, and worth considering at a later date.

At the other man's question, Alistair shook his head. "Just what I learned in school and for meeting you. Sputnik, Vostok 1, Apollo 11, the Ares missions, Europa, the Phoenix, the NX program...there's a lot, to be honest." He paused, then smiled ruefully. "I did once observe a rocket launch on a pre-warp world. I scanned the vehicle, and I just...couldn't believe it. Four people strapped to a giant bomb, then riding an explosion into space! Navigating just with maths and the most rudimentary computer imaginable! I couldn't conceive of the courage that it took to do that."

Alistair smiled ruefully, meeting Valerii's eyes. "The captain, though, he reminded us of something that happened during the war. We were on our way back from a raid deep in enemy territory, had heavy damage, could barely make warp nine, and we had four battlecruisers on our backs. Our warp core was stressed to the limit, closer to a warp core breach than I even thought was possible, but we kept going all the way home. The captain said that...uh, what was it...'there are always madmen willing to ride a bomb, and you're all just as crazy as I am.'"

He chuckled under his breath. "I know that it's very different to the Soviet military, but is there anything about Starfleet that feels familiar from the old days?"

Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #5
PO3 Valerii Anhel Arkhipiv | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Griff

Valerii practically preened at that, the man breaking into a bit of a grin. "Da, we were very much a different kind of crazy, both us and the Americans. They did things safer; we did things for results, though. It cost many lives and many, many rubles." Valerii shrugged at that and took another sip of his drink.

   "Now isn't the time or place to actually discuss such things, I'd much rather have a holodeck to actually show you. But suffice to say, being in one of these capsules alone is a terrifying and exhilarating prospect. And your Captain was right, there are always madmen willing to ride bombs. Speaking of bomb riding, this came out about the same time as my flight, but I didn't see it until recently. You must watch the film 'Doctor Strangelove,' it puts the horror of those days in an interesting light. Also, it takes that phrase literally."

He shrugged a little and looked at Alitarir for a moment, smiling cheerily. "You know, absolutely, of course. Times change, the weapons change, but you know what never changes? Soldiers. We may have different reasons for fighting individually or nationally. But the day-to-day proceedings? The same gripes. Uniforms that chafe or don't fit right, complaining about wives, husbands, partners of all sorts. Honestly, war may change, but the soldiers never do. At least the food is more reliable, even if the majority of it is from reclaimed matter. Trust me, organic food tastes better than stuff that wasn't ever a real potato."

Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #6
[Lieutenant (j.g) Alistair Leavitt | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Tae

Alistair grinned. "You'd like my family. Every time that I talk to them, the first thing that they always say is 'are you eating properly?'. I didn't eat anything replicated until I was fourteen, and even then, it was like I had committed a mortal sin."

At that, the pair fell into a comfortable pause. Outside the large viewport, a gigantic freighter sailed serenely by on its way to dock. It was an ugly craft, blocky and ungainly, its hull a faded green. The enormous symbol on the hull identified it as a Klingon ship, but even the symbol was scarred and pitted. The comparatively tiny nacelles attached to the stern looked woefully insufficient to propel such a massive craft through the galaxy.

"That thing has to be at least a hundred years old," Alistair mused. "Maybe more. It'll probably outlast us both, though. The Klingons overengineer those ships like you wouldn't believe. Our modern freighters are faster and more efficient, but not as robust. I'd love to get onboard one of those old buckets one day, see how they operate, their computer systems, how they unload..."

Realising that he venturing off-topic, Alistair smiled apologetically at Valerii. "Sorry, I go off on tangents sometimes. My first real job was all about logistics,, I get too deep into it, sometimes, even now." He hesitated, considering Valerii. "You know, I don't think that I've ever met anyone in Starfleet who said that they were a soldier. Not since the war, anyway."


Re: [2380] Starbase 12: Conversation with a Cosmonaut

Reply #7
PO3 Valerii Anhel Arkhipiv | Tammy's Joy | Deck 285 | Starbase 12 ] Attn. @Griff

Valerii looked to the Klingon ship and sighed wistfully looking at the dented and pitted hull, regarding the ancient ship still plying the spaceways. Seeing such an old ship brought to mind a story that he'd read, and he sung a bar from the it, his voice soft and wistful, trusting Alistair's universal Translator to pick it up. "Ми молимося за останню посадку на земній кулі, яка породила нас....*" The bit of song cheered him, and he wagged a finger in the direction of the ship. "That ship reminds me of the fanciful ideas that we had about Spacetravel, so much of what was imagined never came to pass, but I slept through it all. Heinlein was a visionary, but he'd never have imagined this sort of world."

"Tangents are fine, we all have plenty of hobbies and habits and interests. Though I would say that you're still in logistics, you just went into the personnel side of it. And yes, I will never not claim to be one. My flag may have changed, but I still serve. I'm not a scientist, and I'm no longer a leader, but sadly what's important is that I'm still a mechanic, something I had to be even when I was a Squadron leader, I am still an engineer. Anyway, regardless, whatever we are my friend, and minder, we shall be drunk, now, it is time for Vodka." With that said, Valerii called up an order for actual Vodka, inputting whatever codes he needed to to get the real stuff, not something synthetic.

* = We pray for one last landing on the globe that gave us birth.

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