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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 14 – Echoes of the Past

EOTP 006 – Beyond the Edge

USS Mackenzie
8.06.2401
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“This is the revised list?’  Captain Wren Walton was in shock.  ”Five colonies that are willing to accept our help?”  She tossed the PADD onto the table, “Goddamn New Maquis.”

Hasara sat across from her in the briefing room. “It is not any better on the Cardassian side, Captain. Despite my exile status, I’ve been contacted by a few old friends. It’s worse for them—the New Maquis are particularly unhappy with the Cardassians. I do not blame them.”

Wren scoffed, “The Federation is not blameless in this scenario…but you can’t think this is the best solution?”  She was frustrated.  They had the power, crew, and equipment of an Excelsior II class starship ready to lend a hand or two.  Out of the numerous colonies scattered around the Demilitarized Zone, they’d had positive responses in the single digits.

Hasara pointed out, “Captain Walton, you forget this part of the universe has never known the Federation for long, and they’ve found out the Cardassians’ mode of operations the hard way.  The best solution to their problems and troubles is neither party.  No matter who they’re told to trust, it’s always broken.  One group has kept their promises.  And it is not the Cardassians or the Federation.”

Commander Park found it hard to argue with their Cardassian advisor.  His experiences in such a colony as a Gul granted him the authority to speak about the issue.  His knowledge of the Maquis years and those that followed helped the crew of the Mackenzie hear a perspective they might not have otherwise.  There was still an issue at hand.  She answered, “We can’t just ignore them.”

The Cardassian pointed at her and said, “Commander Park is correct. They are not unwilling to engage the Federation, but it isn’t their primary goal. They want Cardassians out, and they’re going to do everything they can to make it uncomfortable for them. Ignoring a slow-growing cancer in your body is just as bad as ignoring a fast-moving one.”

The door slid open, and their Chief Diplomatic Officer slid into a chair, “I’ve heard back from a few more colonies.  Four more do not wish to have us darken their doorstep.”  Charlie Hargraves took a long drink from his coffee.  He was coming up empty, even with his lists of inducements at the ready. “At least these were respectful in their reply.”

Park scrolled back through the list of friendly colonies. “Do we think they’ll be willing to give us any information about our new friends?”  She had spent most of her downtime last night reading up on the old Maquis and examining the new details, which still lacked depth.

Hargraves shrugged.  “I haven’t directly asked in any of my conversations.  I sense we won’t be walking into open arms with the friendly list.  There’s enough discontent among the general population in each that we will need to find a way to show them we’re here for the long term.  That they’re willing to let at least us land and talk to us – that’s a win in my book.”

Walton stood from her chair, “Charlie, pick one that’ll get us started.  Park, alert the department heads we’ll be moving within the hour.  Hasara – find out what you can about the ones on the friendly list.  Nobody likes surprises.”

 

“You don’t understand.”  Marcel Polk stood at the edge of the Fallow Colony, speaking with the Starfleet officers who had landed a few yards away. “We’ve kept to ourselves. We haven’t tried to get involved or put ourselves on the side or the other.”

Hargraves could see the fear and worry in Polk’s eyes.  The rebirth of the Maquis had complicated the situation.  For those in the Fallow Colony, they’d managed to stay outside of The True Way’s interest.  With the addition of another group, there was a greater chance of the sector getting stirred up and the True Way’s eyes casting a wider vision.  “We don’t want to make things harder for you…but we will be around the demilitarized zone for a while.  We’re here to make up for the mistakes of the past.  If nothing else, just let our doctors do some medical care for your people.”

Polk kicked at the ground, “Nobody else comes in. You only ask me questions about anything other than their medical needs.”

Hargraves took the compromise, “I’ll get our teams in motion.  Thank you, Marcel.”  Polk wearily waved his hands as he walked back to the colony.  Charlie sent a message to the Mackenzie.

Park pushed off the side of the shuttle where she’d been observing, arms crossed, “Polk’s scared.” 

The Chief Diplomatic Officer asked, “Wouldn’t you be?  You’re at the mercy of The True Way, The Cardassians, and whoever else decides you need some lesson taught.”  Hargraves scrolled through his PADD as the data came through from Polk, “It’s going to take longer than a day or week’s worth of work…we’re going to have to stand with them in the long term.”

She grimaced.  The New Maquis were an irritation.  They were also getting into the middle of Cardassian and Federation relations, which pushed several of her buttons in rapid succession.  “Sometimes I question being assigned to this part of space.”

Hargraves glanced over as the transporters activated and the arrival of the medical team.  Doctor Longfellow and Hiro, the charge nurse, appeared with a large team of orderlies.  “There are few places in the universe that are straightforward, Commander.  Take it from me – there’s a reason you have me on your ship.”

Longfellow ambled up and accepted Charlie’s PADD, grousing, “Hopefully, our medical outreach will help tip the scales. Looks like they’ve been without modern medicine for a while.”  He shook his head as the details scrolled, revealing how desperate the situation had become. “Admitting you need help with stuff like this is hard.”

Park resisted the urge to interject.  Longfellow had lived long enough to see and live more than she had.  She was working on keeping her less-than-thoughtful ideas to herself.  As if sensing her argument, Hargraves gave her a warning look, “I’ll escort you onto the colony proper to meet with Marcel Polk.  Commander Park, I’ll be back shortly.”

She watched them leave and returned to leaning on the shuttle side.  She wondered how long it would take for them to change the hearts and minds of the colonies.  Good things took time, she reminded herself.

And the work they were doing was certainly a good thing.