2951-02-15 – Tales from the Service: The Desires of a Nuisance 

Svetlana Cremonesi met Raul Donovan and the trio of station constables at the hatch with a scowl. “Make this quick, boys. I have a schedule to keep.”

Donovan tried very hard not to wilt under her glare, clearing his throat and adjusting the green collar of his Survey uniform. The holographic Lieutenant’s pips over his shoulders flickered as he did so. “I do apologize for the inconvenience, Captain.” He gestured to the constables, then pointed inward. “Unfortunately, I must take this tip as credible.”

Without even a formal request to come aboard, the three men stomped past Svetlana and fanned out into her ship. She tried to glare at each of them, but they ignored her completely, even though they were now on her deck. The idea of those three goons pawing everything she owned all over the fantastic claims of a mere Nuisance made Svetlana’s bile rise, but there was nothing to be done about it except have it done quickly.

A diminutive, brown-cloaked figure ducked back behind Donovan’s legs as Svetlana turned back to the station’s Alien Sapience Welfare Officer. “You brought it with you, I see.”

Donovan shrugged, then stepped aside to reveal the very same Nuisance which had tried to wheedle itself onboard Svetlana’s ship earlier. “Yes. The Yixhari don’t often lie, especially not in easily falsifiable ways. This one at least thinks you a kidnapper.”

Svetlana discovered with satisfaction that her glare worked far better on the troublesome Nuisance than even on Donovan himself; as she stared it down, its quartet of ears quivered and then fell limp like the leaves of a plant sprayed with herbicide, and its whole body seemed to tremble on the verge of flight. “I don’t care what you want today. If you take one step onto my ship, you’re going in the trash compactor.”

The creature emitted a hissing squeak and padded several steps backward in the umbilical’s short tunnel. Donovan rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. “It really is most unkind to threaten-”

“Unkind, Donovan?” Svetlana whirled and leveled a finger at the Survey man. “That little wretch accused me of some pretty serious crimes. When those bobbies prove it’s a liar, I want slander charges, do you hear me? I will be demanding prosecution.”

Donovan, too, took a step backward. “Captain Cremonesi, do you really think that’s fair? To put a Yixhari in the dock over-”

“It’s your theory they’re our fellow sapients.” Svetlana turned her accusing finger at the cringing Nuisance. “Admit they aren’t and get them out of everyone’s hair, or let it stand trial. If the station authority declines to prosecute, I will invoke my rights under Kastner.”

Donovan visibly paled. “You cannot seriously-”

“I can, and gladly.” Svetlana knew her rights, generally speaking; anywhere in Confederated jurisdiction where local law enforcement declined to investigate or prosecute an offense, the victim could not be held liable for any crimes committed as part of any personal reprisal against the offender. The so-called Kastner Principle came from a centuries-old court case Svetlana knew little about, except that it was a popular defense in murder cases across the frontiers of the Reach. The popular version of its logic was that it was the ultimate answer to the corruption of lawmen and bureaucrats, especially when the two worked together. “If the Nuisance are beyond the law, they are beyond its defense.”

The Nuisance, doubtless understanding nothing of this exchange, took a step forward. “Aswo, I want-”

“It can wait, friend.” Donovan held up a hand, knowing that now was not the time for the creature to dig itself in deeper than it already was. He probably felt guilty for taking the claim seriously and exposing the Nuisance to consequences for its craven slander. Svetlana had no pity for the Nuisance, but she did feel a bit sorry for Donovan; after all, he had probably trained in xenosapience relations for years, and herding Nuisance in Sagittarius Gate had to feel like a punishment.

“No, no, no wait.” The Nuisance wrung its paws together, its beady eyes flicking between Donovan and Svetlana. “I want friend Captain Cremonesi.”

Donovan blinked and turned slowly toward the Nuisance. “It’s, uh. A bit late for that. Half an hour ago you wanted me to have her arrested. What do you think she wants because of that?”

The creature slowly turned its muzzle toward Svetlana. “Want put me in trash compactor. So said?”

“Hey, at least it was paying attention.” Svetlana flicked both of her thumbs toward the overheads.

“If you lied about her being a kidnapper, she wants you arrested. And she’s kind of right, that would be fair.” Donovan held up his hands. “I’d say now’s the time to come clean, but it’s a bit late for that.”

“Not lie!” The Nuisance shook its head rapidly, and the whole body shook in sympathetic motion, like a dog shaking off water, only mostly bipedal. “Not lie. Not lie. Why lie?”

“Because you wanted to board my ship, and I wouldn’t let you.” Svetlana pointed behind herself, to where the constables were still searching. “Maybe because you thought I’d let you help them search.  What do you think they’ll find, anyway?”

“No what! Find who!” The Nuisance held up one paw. “Find Wsir-Virh. I want find Wsir-Virh.”

Svetlana shrugged. She knew in some vague sense that Nuisance had individual names, but she’d never bothered to learn any of them. “Whoever that is, they’re not on my ship. Any of you would’ve got the same reception you did if they’d tried.

The Nuisance froze for a long moment, then turned to Donovan. “Aswo, I want search trash compactor.”

Nojus here again. We’re still aboard Martikainen, and most of our vidcast equipment is still in stowage. The purpose of this delay isn’t clear; if we were waiting on a ship out on patrol, you’d think Fifth Fleet wouldn’t have started our transfer until that ship was back in-system. It’s all very inconvenient, really, and one imagines this has to do with some damnfool idea of Naval information security.

Svetlana Cremonesi’s account of interspecies relations in the besieged Sagittarius Gate system has provoked quite a bit of discussion on our datasphere hub. Apparently a lot of people weren’t aware that there were so many already-contacted sapient species in the Sagittarius Frontier. The density of sapients there does seem quite interesting, though I’m not sure what to make of these Yixhari, which Cremonesi and many other spacers seem to call the Nuisance. They don’t seem to mean any harm, but neither do Naval Intelligence spooks or government bureaucrats, and they make untold amounts of trouble anyway.