Case Study of the U.S.S. Oslo's Final Mission
Posted on Wed Jul 31st, 2019 @ 6:10am by Lieutenant Wakeham Paul Alasia PhD
Edited on Sat Aug 10th, 2019 @ 2:35am
TO: Federation Diplomatic Corps Senior Staff
RE: Case Study of the U.S.S. Oslo's Final Mission
To Whom It May Concern:
I apologize for the delay getting this information out to you. I filed this report on a former ship but was never able to get final dispensation to share this widely with the FDC. I was also waylaid by my research transfer. However, I am finally able to send you my preliminary thoughts on the U.S.S. Oslo's final mission and a case study involving the inhabitants of Hester II: the Keelman.
This case is worth reviewing, in my opinion, because it shines a light on some critical shortcomings in our understanding of citizenship in the Federation. The relevant historical discussion takes place in Hester and the crux of the main issue comes down to a vehement difference of opinion about what constitutes an “alien” and whether a planet that has humans on it is, by definition, a Federation colony.
In 2118, a ship carrying a Luddite movement that called themselves The Keelman left Earth. The Keelman were a large group of people furious about, or fearful of, the new world order caused by rapidly expanding technology in a post-warp world. This was a very widely-circulated news story at the time: given that there was no practicable way to opt out of the technologies and societal realities of a unified Earth, the Keelman stated an intention was to establish a colony on another planet where they could commune with the soil and return to a simpler, more naturalistic way of life. To that point, they had been openly recruiting members and putting together resources to launch their own colony ship for nearly 20 years and in 2118, they finally succeeded and left Earth’s atmosphere – we lost telemetry shortly after that and they cut off all contact. We had no idea what happened to them for nearly two centuries.
Now, everything from this point forward is sketchy since there is almost no way to verify the veracity of accounts.
Their stated intention before they left was to dismantle the ship once they arrived wherever they were headed, and use that as the basis for the new colony. Beyond that, there was to be no modern technology. They were to live off the land. Moreover, and very important for our purposes, we think they purposely scrubbed their history of any mention of Earth. Now, that doesn’t mean memories of Earth didn’t make their way to the present inhabitants through – I don’t know – probably oral histories or a shared mythology. My understanding is that they regard Earth is a sort of after life or heavenly place. There’s no way to know for sure but I think there are many in the society that believe Earth is real but we have no idea how many of them or what the nature of that belief is.
By the time the Keelman were re-discovered in 2303, they had become, for all intents and purposes, an alien society. At least that’s how Starfleet chose to classify them. The initial report on the Keelman described them as “biologically human, but pre-warp and agrarian. “ The people on the surface had no real idea what existed outside of their world. In a way, it was kind of an extraordinary feat of purposeful ignorance. Attempts by the founders to hide the true origins of the colony were wildly successful. In any event, it was recommended at the time that first contact not be undertaken. For a few decades the matter was closed.
Now to understand why all this became a problem, you have to understand the geo-political context in which the Federation operated 50 years ago. These “former humans”—or just humans depending on your perspective—had stumbled upon one hell of a planet right in Earth’s backyard. Hester was rich in rare-Earth mineral deposits, pockets of rare climate suitable for luxury cash crops. A gem of a natural prize. For the first 200 years of Federation expansion, we found more useful planets than we knew what to do with. But by the mid-24th century, we had discovered the Klingons and Romulans to one side, the Breen, Tzenkethi and Cardassians to the other and all the second tier powers that surround the Federation. The Galaxy was rapidly starting to seem like a much smaller place. By 2340, the prevailing sentiment in Starfleet was that any available class M planet was far too valuable to pass up.
By the mid 24th century, the Federation had undertaken terraforming of the vastly inferior Volcanic planet on Hester I. But, terraforming is a long, painful process and colony could not sustain a large population. Hester II, on the other hand is a bountiful, beautiful planet. Even given the relatively modest technology the Keelman utilized, the society had grown to more than 400,000 in just 8-10 generations. In short this was a gem of a planet and a lot of people in the Federation wanted it. Even more galling, our desire to allow the Keelman to develop naturally hindered already slow terraforming progreess. We couldn’t expand the colony on Hester I too far too fast for fear that someone of the Keelman would notice the difference. The Keelman and their anti-technology beliefs were becoming a thorn in a lot of sides.
This touched off a decades long, and fierce debate among those in the Federation government and in academic circles. Had the Keelman become an alien society or were they just human? If they’re human, then Hester II is a colony that can be annexed by the Federation and brought under the rubric of Articles 1 and 2 of the Federation charter. The Prime Directive, of course, could not apply since they were not an alien society. At the very least, the planet surface could be shared: on some continents a Federation colony and on others a Keelman colony operating independently of the Federation. Half or a third of Hester II and open communication for possible membership was a lot better in some people's eyes than the status quo to that point.
However, if the Keelman are aliens then things get much, much more complicated. If we treat them as aliens, then they are a pre-warp society afforded all the protections of the Prime Directive. And, even worse, since the Keelman are purposely and specifically making no progress toward discovering warp technology we have no real hope of bringing them into the fold at any point in the near future. So, basically if the Keelman are aliens, no contact with the colony is possible, which means no membership and the planet is totally out of reach for expansion
As far as I can tell, that’s where the Oslo comes in. The Oslo was dispatched on a mission of extremely hazy provenance with mission objectives that have been very much lost to history. Based on a two year survey of available Federation documents and the remaining records from the Oslo, their “diplomatic” mission (as it is listed in their records) was, I believe, actually a surreptitious and illegal technology sharing mission. I am of the belief that the Oslo Captain had been, either on his own or at the behest of someone in Starfleet, trying to get warp technology to some contingent of the Keelman intelligencia who are aware of the Federation and want to leave their Luddite past behind them. This would be in obviously blatant and direct violation of the Prime Directive - again, if we think the Keelman are aliens.
At some point, and for obvious reasons the record gets spotty here, there appears to have been a crew mutiny, led by the ship's XO. The Chief Engineer who would have to be intimately involved assisting the Keelman to understand this warp technology, but given the illegal nature of any such operation, it would stand to reason the Captain was playing his cards close to the chest. It's possible the XO didn't even know what was going on, or if he did, perhaps he disagreed with it. So, I would guess on the one hand you have the Captain and his Chief Engineer and on the other, you have an XO furious that he’s being shut out of his own ship’s power structure and asking a lot of questions as to what the Captain is truly up to.
What is clear though, is that as soon as the Keelman demonstrate any possession at all of warp technology then the powers that be have justification to make “first contact” if that phrase even has any meaning in this context. Once contact is made, I predict there will be thriving Federation colony on Hester II within ten years – basically the greatest nightmare of the Keelman forebears.
Any further insight will require the declassification of key documents. I am available at any time to continue review of this most fascinating case.
Wakeham Alasia, PhD