Douglas sat in his cabin and pondered the situation. The Ark Royal was back on standard patrol. The Quad system had been quiet in the few days. They'd visited all the three major planets and even the remains of New Ireland, but there were no further signs of any of those black ships. Kelly was back at her old station in engineering, fit and well.
Ark Royal was a typical size for a corvette, 160 metres long and 120 metres at its widest point. They'd had to do quite a lot of manoeuvring around the New Ireland disaster area and no matter how many times they'd done it, he marvelled at the agility of his ship. He tried to imagine doing the same drills in an old earth force cruiser.
He'd ordered all crew to keep quiet on the subject of the prisoner. He wanted to find out a little about this Minbari before reporting him. Captain's discretion was always allowed but he was unsure it would stretch to cover up a being that could be interested in genocide of the whole human race.
The prisoner had recovered and been put into the brig. The medic said he only had mild concussion. There was a knock on the door.
Clanwellin walked in and stood to attention.
"The prisoner has awoken up."
Douglas knew what that meant and he really didn't want to go through with what he had to do. But he knew the meaning to the word duty. He stood up and put on his dress uniform.
"Are you well are you rated Mr. Clanwellin?"
"Very well, you'll be my backup. ", he sighed, "and inform Mr. Smith to stand by."
Mr. Clanwellin disappeared from his room. His enthusiasm really made Douglas feel old. He was still a P-5 but that would change in time. He was quite relieved that everybody in the commonwealth was all rated at least P1. The longer you served the higher you P rating got. He'd got his booster last year, bringing up to the level of P12. He was now the equivalent of an old earth Psi-Cop.
There was a natural limit that meant that most people did not reach his level of ability. He didn't know how high up the scale he could go but he looked forward to finding out. Everyone got the training and it helped to form more of a community. You cared more about your fellow man when you could feel what he's feeling. He would not dare to intrude into someone else's mind without permission. Everybody, even P1s, could make it an unpleasant experience and unless you could divide your attention properly, they could also damage you.
In order to perform this interrogation, he was going to have to go into a Minbari mind. He hadn't done that since the war and if there was any other way to do it he would. He finished up his collar and left the cabin.
He arrived at the brig to find Clanwellin and Smith waiting. He peered into the holding cell.
"Right. This is my call." He said to both the men, "If you see me act strange. The standard orders apply, but I'll handle the interrogation alone."
"Aye Aye Sir." Said Clanwellin.
Smith looked doubtful but whispered his reply.
"Oh and Mr. Smith, I'd like a word."
Clanwellin got the hint and walked towards the cell door.
"Alex." He started. "I know, this is difficult but…."
Smith jumped in before Douglas could finish.
"There is no need to Sir! I know my duty. But I don't like it."
"Damn Alex, that wasn't an order. I though after knowing you for almost twenty years you'd know that."
"Look Phil, I'm trying to deal with this. Even though they murdered my family and left me dying, I'm still going to follow your orders. If I didn't that would make me as bad as them."
That was the most Commander Alex Smith had said on this entire cruise so far.
"I know. Right, you will monitor both Clanwellin and myself, if needs be and come in shooting if anything goes wrong. Acknowledged Mr Smith?"
"Aye Aye Sir." Mr Smith looked strained but Douglas knew he would keep his word.
"Let me in Mr Clanwellin."
He walked into the brig. It was a small room 2-metre square, with one bench to sleep on and one small table and one chair. The Minbari just sat on the bench with his legs crossed. It looked as if he was meditating. He had a lot of bruises over his face and probably a lot more over the rest of his body. The shock of the explosion must have been quite bad. Douglas walked over and picked up the chair and there was still no movement. He put the chair round the back of the table and just looked at him.
He knew the Minbari was awake and probably aware of him but he also knew that he wasn't a telepath. There wasn't the same kind of feeling you get when another telepath was near. He sat down on the chair and just looked at the other. He was wearing dark clothing, but not Warrior Caste dress. He had a name in English on the right side of his chest and what looked like a broken broach on his left.
"I'm going to assume that your name is Lennier," said Douglas.
The Minbari opened his eyes. He looked at Douglas for a second and then nodded.
"I must inform you that you are now a prisoner of the commonwealth navy and subject to inquiry and interrogation. This will take place immediately."
"I've already been interrogated by some of your crew," said the Minbari in perfect English and pointed to the bruises on his face, "You will not get any useful information out of me."
"I see. I apologise, if you could tell me which ones and I'll see they're disciplined. They were ordered to leave you alone."
The Minbari considered this.
"What is it you want?"
"Everything you can tell me about that ship you were attached to. Who you are and what you were doing."
"My name is Lennier and I was a Ranger."
True, Thought Douglas, he could feel Clanwellin and Smith's confirmation as well.
"Rangers? The only rangers we have in the commonwealth are football teams."
The minbari looked puzzled by this.
"Rangers help keep the peace for the Alliance."
"Oh? Between whom?"
"You have no connection with the Interstellar Alliance?" The Minbari asked.
"Who makes up this Alliance?" Douglas asked. The surface impressions were all true so far.
"Minbari, Drazi, Centari, Narn and the Earth Alliance. As well as plenty of other races."
"Oh under Minbari Rule are they?" Douglas felt a tide of anger rising within him.
"No." The Minbari seemed horrified by this. "The earth alliance is an independent state that has allied itself with us to face whatever external threats there are."
"Are you telling me that the Earth Alliance still exists?"
"Of course. It's always been there. There were some shake-ups after the war."
"I'd imagine so. Did the Minbari impose these changes? "
"No, the Earth Alliance did, to pull in with the I.A.!"
Douglas felt he was loosing the thread of the conversation. There was confusion and fear in the Minbari's mind, but he kept the fear off his face at least.
"Ok. Who runs this Alliance? "
Now there was a tremor from the Minbari, he couldn't work out what that feeling was. It wasn't enough for hate but there was a definitely some negative emotion there. There was only one Sheridan that Douglas knew of, a hero from the war.
"Is that John Sheridan?"
"He had to leave Earth Force to become the President of the Alliance, but yes."
Now Douglas thought of something.
"Your ships have been attacking our convoys..." started Douglas.
"They are not my ships! " said Lennier; "I was tracking stolen ships. I'd attached a pod onto one of them to see where they were being taken. They dropped out of hyperspace and attacked your vessels. I have recordings in my life pod."
"What do you know about galactic history for the last, say, twenty years?" Douglas tried a different approach.
"A lot. I was there for most of it."
Douglas stood up.
"I think we should discuss this later." He said, "Do you need any food or water?"
"I need some water." Said Lennier, "When will the interrogation begin properly?"
It was Douglas's turn to look puzzled. "You are already under interrogation. Just because I use the term, doesn't mean we get the thumbscrews out. If you could let me know who the crewmembers were who assaulted you, I'll deal with them." He left the cell.
Douglas looked at Clanwellin and Smith in his office. Smith looked pained. Clanwellin looked confused. They'd been there in this tiny office for the last hour.
"Kelly says that the recordings look genuine. That is definitely a life pod he was in. A ship that advanced doesn't need a sighting pod."
"So, no deception and no shields?" Douglas asked for the sixth time.
"He wasn't a telepath, that was sure." replied Clanwellin, "and if it's not true then he certainly believes it."
"The Earth Alliance still stands and we ran," Smith said. "I should have stayed."
"We were ordered out." Douglas rounded on Smith, "You were relieved at the time if I recall correctly."
Smith looked down at his feet.
"But, if we tell command and we rejoin them, doesn't that mean that the entire of the Quad system is claimed by the old Psi. Corp?" asked Clanwellin.
Both Smith and Douglas grimaced at the suggestion.
"That's not what I would want." said Smith.
"It's also not our choice." said Douglas. "This will have to be reported to command. But I'm going to go back in there and get him to bring us up to date with what he knows. A lot must of happened since we were ordered out. " He turned his attention to his second, "Smith. Bring Kelly up to speed about this, but as of now this matter is only discussed at command level. Make sure of that, Clanwellin. "
There were acknowledgements.
"Smith, set up a recording rig in the cell and start the tape rolling. I'll deal with the prisoner once I find out who assaulted him."
"Sir? You're going to discipline over an assault on a Minbari?" Smith sounded shocked.
"One, We do not assault prisoners, that's something the Minbari did all too often if I remember rightly," replied Douglas, "and Two, This is a subtle interrogation. If we need the heavies, we bring them in later. Now dismissed."
They both left.