As Benjamin paced in the small 'interview' room, he couldn't help but get more and more nervous. Despite being over four years ago, he still remembered vividly the debriefings he had gone through after he was rescued from the Tzenkethi. The fact that they had been trying to decide if he was a criminal or not wasn't helped by the fact that he was finally getting sober for the first time in a couple of years. And while this room wasn't entirely similar to those - the Klingon at the door was new, and the Andorian bringing the water had smiled at him nicely - the similarities were more than enough to make him begin to wonder if old wounds were being dredged open. Harkness and his men did all the drug running, he reminded himself. He had known, but had really only been there to tend to the engines.
He looked around some more, though there wasn't anything else to look at besides the very imposing, very muscular Klingon, who could probably break Benjamin in half if he even looked at the guard funny. He considered pouring himself a cup of water before reconsidering.
Of course, in the absence of other input, his brain began coming up with even more scenarios for this 'word in private' that he had been 'requested' for. A word in private, he thought, could've been at an out-of-the-way cafe, not a shuttle ride and a guard away. Maybe it had to do something with the events on Pomn? Has Nathan found yet another way to make me regret agreeing to help? He thought about that for a few minutes before dismissing the notion.
No, he thought. If there were legal or official repercussions, Captain Crawford would be involved. She may be rough around the edges, but he knew she looked after her own. If she didn't, Nathan wouldn't have even had a chance to drag Benjamin to that god-forsaken rock in the first place. And any unofficial repercussions would likely be from the Syndicate.
Before he could follow that thought even further down the rabbit hole, the door finally opened. He was surprised to see a young woman in a business suit enter and take the seat nearest the door. Not Star Fleet? She didn't have a badge or anything stating any official capacity to be here, but the Klingon didn't react to her at all. Obviously, she was supposed to be here.
She smiled politely and poured herself a glass of water, waving him to the other chair with her free hand. He did as he was asked, confusion at least overriding his paranoia for a moment, and then poured himself a glass as she referred to her notes. "For the record, please confirm that you are Benjamin Elias, currently serving aboard the USS Artemis as an engineer?" He nodded and started to speak when she continued. "And you were once the engineer on the smuggling vessel 'Aces Wild', correct?"
His stomach hit the floor, and he was glad that he hadn't tried to take a drink yet, as he wasn't sure his arm would hold the glass up. This was over, he thought. They told me that their investigations were over, and that the case was closed. Why in the frozen waters of Andor are we back at this again? For a moment, he felt as weak as a child being called to answer for something he hadn't even done.
But it was only a moment. He swallowed hard and did take that sip of water now, closing his eyes hard as he did to try and force himself back to something resembling calm. "No, ma'am," he said politely, fighting his artificial eye into staying still. "I mean yes, I am Benjamin Elias of the Artemis, but the Aces Wild wasn't a smuggling ship.
"The Aces Wild was a legitimate freighter, hauling into and out of the Ferengi Alliance to the Federation's border worlds, and I did serve on her." His hands gripped the cup, tightening as he dredged up the old memories he had done his best to run from for years. "The ship I assume you are referring to was the Longshoreman, operating out of the fringes and hauling cargo, legitimate and otherwise, into the Tzenkethi Coalition. It was lost four years ago after the Tzenkethi attempted to 'capture' it, and I was the only survivor.
"However, there were extensive debriefings on that subject at the time of my recovery and before I entered the service, records of which should show that I was innocent, if not entirely blameless." He stopped for a moment, realizing he had been staring at the water intently as he spoke as if willing it to be something else, or maybe just for him to be anywhere else. "So if I may ask, what exactly is this about?"