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Not Like You

Posted on Jun 24, 2017 @ 11:53pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Romulan Way

"NOT LIKE YOU"

(Continued from "Myth-Take")
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Captain's log, supplemental - the evening draws on, with conversation and entertainment in equal proportion. I wonder if any genuine connections are being made with our guests?

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Location: USS PHOENIX, en roundabout route to Romulus
Stardate: [2.17]0624.1600
Scene: The Vulgar Tribble


The guests had assembled and taken their seats around the horseshoe-shaped table. The two captains were seated in the centre, with the Romulans and the Phoenix senior officers alternately mixed with one another. It meant that Herut, Deleem, and Ratal had the opportunity to meet new people, but for Michael Turlogh Kane, it meant finding new topics of conversation to engage Commander Jaron. Fortunately, that was a lot simpler now that Tomas' Vukovic had given vent to the performance artist inside him. The Romulans had been impressed by his story-telling, especially Centurion Ratal, who seemed to be viewing the Borg in a whole new - and discomfiting, if you asked Kane - light.

Jaron was somewhat gingerly eating a salad that Calvin had delivered to the table a few minutes ago. It was plain to see that their guests were somewhat overwhelmed by the diversity in the room - facing the four Romulans were representatives of no less than a dozen different worlds of the Federation. From the diminutive Bynars to the hulking form of Malin-Argo and everyone in between, it was a splendid show of diverse inclusion.

"An interesting performance by your pilot," remarked Jaron to Kane, after another mouthful of salad leaves. "And his is only one of the range of Human cultures, correct?"

Kane nodded. "Yes. Humans are one of the most culturally diverse people in the Federation. Other Federation members have variables in their cultures, of course, but all of us are unified worlds and part of a greater whole."

"Do you feel that Humans have lost their uniqueness by joining the Federation?" asked Jaron suddenly.

Kane was taken aback. It seemed to be a honest question on Jaron's part - at least, the Romulan commander kept eating nonchalantly - but he was unsure how to answer it without referring in some way to the recent Neo-Essentialist crisis, which might be where Jaron was leading. Eventually, he decided that there was no getting around it. "I can see why some Humans would think so. They think that we are diluting our own diversity as a species when we take on yet more diversity. The Neo-Essentialist movement believed that, and were prepared to destroy our homeworld in order to sever the link between Humans and the Federation. But I don't agree with those people. Now that Humans are one united people, the richness of our many cultures gives us strength and adds new perspectives to how we see ourselves. It may be that, centuries from now, there will be one single generic Human culture, and if so, that will only be a loss if we forget our history."

Jaron thought about it, then smiled. "A people who do not know their own history are like trees with no roots." He thought of something then, and brightened. "There is a Tal'Shiar file on you, Captain Kane, did you know that? Not just you, of course, on all your officers. I read them in preparation for this meeting."

Kane raised his glass. "I hope I live up to all the bad things in it."

Jaron laughed aloud. "Well said! Not only are you a naval tactician of note, but you also hold civilian degrees in history and literature, correct?"

"Yes."

Jaron looked at him sidelong. "Tell me, how familiar are you with Romulan history and mythology?"

Kane stopped. "The honest answer, Commander, is that I am not."

"Would you care to hear about it? They might only be childrens' stories, and I am not much of a story-teller, but it might help in understanding us a little more."

Kane shifted in his chair and turned to face the Romulan commander. "Commander Jaron, I would love that."

Jaron looked pleased. While the murmurs of conversations carried on around him, and the hospitality staff kept up their to-ing and fro-ing from the kitchen, Jaron paused a moment, as if he was calling up the memories of old ghosts in his mind's eye. When he spoke, it was in a thoughtful tone. "We Romulans are often considered by outsiders to be creatures of contrasts. They say that we are capable of both great savagery and great tenderness, that we are both passionate and emotionless, and this is all true, but to us it is not contradiction, it is authenticity. You see, Captain Kane, we embrace our emotions but do not let them control us. Is this not true mastery of the struggle between head and heart? Whereas our Vulcan cousins fear their own natures, we have made ourselves one with the fire in our hearts. Perhaps we have more in common with Humans than either of us might be prepared to admit."

"Perhaps," nodded Kane.

"Our ancient god-creators are those of our Vulcan cousins. We were created by these beings at the wellspring of all creation, a place called Vorta Vor, and given unto the planet Vulcan to live. Those ancient Vulcanoids were a savage, bloodthirsty people, possessed by the spirit of war and controlled by powerful emotions. So central to their life experience were these emotions that our primitive ancestors created a pantheon of gods for the strongest emotions - lust, anger, fear, that sort of thing."

"This was before the Romulans left Vulcan?"

"Oh yes, long before. Life on Vulcan was horrific then. Tribe fought tribe in petty wars over the slightest provocation. Families murdered one another in internecine conflicts that went on for generations. When Surak appeared, and began his teachings of logic, rejection of the gods and the suppression of emotion, those of us who could not live that way renounced Vulcan and took to the stars. We Romulans have not abandoned our true natures, Captain. To us, our Vulcan cousins are living a lie that is so shameful that no reconciliation with them is likely to be possible. We Romulans carry the fire, while they have extinguished it."

"Hmm." There wasn't really much to say. Surak had converted all Vulcan to his pacifist cause some seventeen centuries before Humans achieved warp speed - it wasn't like Humans had ever been able to debate the merits and flaws of the pursuit of logic with their new-found allies. It had simply been a matter of accepting who Vulcans were, how they behaved and how they chose to live their lives. A thought struck him, and he gave voice to it. "If Romulans embraced their passions, including the making of war upon one another, how was the empire formed?"

"An excellent question," mused Jaron. "You will already know that the exiles from Vulcan who took to the stars eventually found Romulans and settled there. This was about two millennia ago, and for first century after our planetfall there was war, as many factions fought amongst each other to determine who would lead our people. But then we invented warp drive, and voyaged back into the stars, and conquered everyone we met. With the stars teeming with life, it became inconceivable to for a Romulan to kill another Romulan, when there were so many aliens we could fight instead. About four centuries after that, we had met, conquered or eradicated so many aliens, and had expanded into several new solar systems that we were no longer a petty republic - we were an empire."

"The Romulans eradicate those who they conquer?"

Jaron met Kane's stare evenly. "Sometimes, yes. Sometimes the conquered world becomes a vassal. Vassals are generally confined to their homeworlds and not permitted to travel around the empire." Jaron held up his hands. "It is easier to exterminate a pre-warp civilisation than to spend time civilising them."

Kane kept his expression neutral, but inside he was helplessly angry. There was a lot of arrogance in what Jaron was saying - who gave the Romulans the right to play at being gods, deciding who lived and who died? If the Romulans had gone in the other direction when they abandoned Vulcan, and came across Earth, at the time when the western Roman Empire had just collapsed and the early Medieval period was settling in across Europe, would they have exterminated Humans rather than allow them to grow up and take their place on the galaxy's stage? He paused a moment to steady himself. "The Federation believes all life is sacred. We do not arbitrarily exterminate pre-warp civilisations. We study them instead."

"We also study them," said Jaron, taking a drink of water. "Their existence is preserved on record before they are eradicated and their planet colonised by Romulans. In my younger days, I participated in the elimination of the native species that lived on the third planet of the Ranhara system - that system lies deep inside the Beta Quadrant, far from where we are now. It had been determined that the Ranharans would not be useful as vassals, and so the decision was taken to end their existence before colonisation of their world. We made sure to accumulate as much data as possible on them - cultural, physiological, that sort of thing - before bombarding them into extinction from orbit. They had a wonderful word for death - sis'terral - which translates as 'the long sleep'. Today, our archaeologists are able to study the ruins of their civilisation and put their findings into better perspective, all because we took the time to preserve their culture in our records. So you see, we are not altogether uncaring." He stopped talking, and looked at Kane. "I see you do not approve, Captain Kane."

"As I mentioned, Commander Jaron," said Kane neutrally, "Federation policy is different with regards to pre-warp civilisations."

"You realise that, to us, the Federation is a deeply flawed society?" said Jaron. "Consider, Captain - the Federation is predicated on the gathering of knowledge for its own sake, is it not? The Federation is committed to exploration and the mutual defence of its members. Those policies stultify the individual in favour of some nebulous idea of a whole. Each Romulan works on behalf of his own people, not some off-worlder whose values may bear no resemblance to his own. The Federation whitewashes the individual spirits of its members in favour of a bland co-operative that is dominated by a few powerful core worlds. You believe that all species in the galaxy are equal?"

"Yes," said Kane, more sharply than he meant.

"We *know* they are *not*. The Federation has been irrevocably tainted by its contact with the Vulcans and their insane logic. We are the *true* Vulcans, Captain Kane - never forget that." Jaron stopped and thought for a moment. Something had changed in the conversation, and Kane couldn't tell what it was. When Jaron spoke again, there was no trace of a smile on his face. His voice was as cold and hard as adamantine. "Let me be clear, Captain. Romulans are a warrior people, and everything we do is toward that end. The Romulan Way is a more than a psychological urge - it is a profound metaphysical principle that has shaped us all for two thousand years. Devotion, fidelity, allegiance, discipline - these are more than mere words to us. Our science is calculated to be a tool for conquest, our art is a herald to our victories. Do not try to anthropomorphise us, Captain Kane. We are not like you."

Jaron stopped talking, and turned back to his food. After a moment, Kane did the same, wondering what had happened.

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NRPG: Food for thought...?


Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer
USS PHOENIX


"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act, Scene 1.117

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