The man sat down in the chair across from the desk to the Captain of the current vessel he was on. Here he straightened out his civilian jacket some before pulling out the large padd from under his left arm. He then reached into his front left breast pocket, grabbing a small utensil and used it to tap away at the screen on his padd. The Captain across from him sat there in her seat, reaching for her glass of ice water to take a sip, waiting patiently for him to begin.
He cleared his throat before making one final tap on the padd. “Current date is December twelveth twenty-three ninety-nine. I am with Captain Zemaa-”
“Don’t try to pronounce my last name.” She interrupted him.
He smiled with a small nod, tapped the padd, used the utensil to remove what was picked up and recorded by her and then resumed where he left off. “-who is the Commanding Officer of one of Starfleet’s finest Akira Class vessels, the USS Thor. Joined Starfleet in the year twenty-three forty, made Captain in twenty-three sixty-nine, and was given command of the Thor in twenty-three seventy-one. My first question is, why are you not an Admiral?”
Zemaa took another sip of her water with a smile. “I feel that I contribute a lot more to Starfleet as a Captain than an Admiral.”
“I can respect that, it is just, you served in one of the longest wars AND in one of the bloodiest wars in Federation history. By which I mean the Cardassian War that started in twenty-three forty-seven and ended in twenty-three sixty-six. And of course the Dominion War that began seven years later, in twenty-three seventy-three and then ended two years later on twenty-three seventy-five.”
Zemaa nodded with a light clearing of her throat. “That is the official end date for the Cardassian war but we all felt like it never truly ended until four years later.”
“Which was when the Cardassians finally signed the treaty in twenty-three seventy?”
Zemaa nodded her head again. “Correct.”
“But you also answered the call for an immediate action against the Borg threat at the Battle of Sector 001.”
“Earth may not be my home, but it is a home for countless other species and it is the home of the Federation. I am a patriot, and I will always answer the call.”
He smiled, “I have no doubt that those who read this will understand that about you. So, I think what my readers are going to want to know the most right now, which is mainly why I am here, is we do not have a lot of interviews and answers from Officers who served in the Cardassian War. My question to you at this moment is, what was it like to be part of the longest war in Federation History?”
Zemaa grabbed her glass of water and took a sip of it before answering. “It may not have been the bloodiest one, all thanks to the Dominion for that, but it certainly felt like it. When we heard about the massacre of Setlik Three, we knew that a war was inevitable. Some say the war began before the massacre but I believe that the war really began after. Over my time in Starfleet Academy, I took the opportunity to read up on the history of you humans and discovered that every time there was a devastating attack on the country called the United States of America, or United Earth…War inevitably breaks out, and everyone is ready to be patriotic, to serve and fight those who have slaughtered the innocent.” Zemaa took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “The massacre of Setlik Three…what happened to all those innocent people…I was ready for the Federation to launch everything we had and head straight for the Cardassian Homeworld and teach them a lesson.”
“But that didn’t really happen, did it?”
“No. The Federation is not governed by a bunch of pacifists or by war mongers, but the primary goal of the Federation is exploration, discovery, science and peace. But the Federation is prepared to defend itself, and that’s due to the history and experience that the Federation has had in the past. But the Federation was not going to launch a full scale against the Cardassian forces and fight all the way to Cardassia like the Klingons would.”
“Is that why Starfleet never asked the Klingons for help?” He asked.
Zemaa shrugged her shoulders as she took another sip of her water. “There is no official record of Starfleet asking the Klingons, so no. I’m sure that Starfleet considered it but we also knew that the Klingons and the Cardassians had a long time feud before and if we had asked the Klingons, we would of risked the Klingons taking majority of Cardassian territory and the war would of certain been much more bloody if not just as bloody as the Dominion War was. I think that is the main reason why we never asked the Klingons, even though we knew that the war most likely would not have lasted for over twenty years if they had helped, but at the same time, we knew that if we did, the Cardassians would never forgive us. Because we know what the Klingons are capable of, we know that they yearn for battle and it would have allowed the Klingon Empire to expand and there would be nothing we could have done to stop them. Look into the record right now. Prior to the Dominion War, the Klingons declared war on the Cardassians and took quite a few systems, and when the Federation was able to stop the fighting, the Klingons refused to give up the territories that they took from the Cardassians.” Zemaa shook her head, “So no, we would not have asked them to help us in our war because the Klingons would never have stopped, would never have asked for a truce, or signed a peace treaty like we did. Plus I also believe that the Klingons would probably have refused, because if we did ask them to help us fight our own war, they would have considered it to be a weak gesture on our part and instead of fighting with us against the Cardassians, they could of thrown the Khitomer Accords out the airlock, like they had done so, and declared war on us and then the Federation would be fighting two wars on two fronts and I don’t think Starfleet would be able to handle it.”
“So you’re saying, if that had happened, we would have lost and we would all be speaking Klingon or Cardassian.” He asked.
“What I am saying is,” She took a quick sip of her water before continuing. “Even if we pulled every starship from other duties, from other borders with other empires, from exploration, surveying anomalies…even out of mothballs like we did for the Dominion War…we would have potentially exposed ourselves to someone else who may end up viewing the Federation as being weak. For example, if we pulled every starship from the Romulan border, Tholian, Breen, every border that we have with other empires, and fought off both the Klingons and the Cardassians, who is to say that the Romulans won’t take an advantage to that? Or the Breen? Or the Tzenkethi? So I reiterate. We would not have asked the Klingons to help us in our war against the Cardassians. From experience and history, we would not have risked it and clearly we had to show that the Federation can handle its own battles.”
“Even though it took over twenty years?” He asked.
She sighed and nodded her head, “Even though it took twenty four long years for the war to finally end and the treaty being signed by both parties, yes.”
“So, my next question to you is, where were you when the war began?”
Zemaa paused for a moment to think and smiled, only to lean back into her seat as she got herself comfortable. “About a year before the war broke out, I was made the new Chief of Security and Tactical Officer on board the USS Okinawa, commanded by Captain Jacob Hayes. And that is the posting I remained in for all those years, because Okinawa was my ship, my home and they were my family and I had zero intentions of leaving my family during times of conflict. Only time I would ever leave is if I had died at my post.”
“So you would have gone down with the ship if that ever occurred, which I know it didn’t. But hypothetically.”
She nodded her head with a smile, “Precisely. If we had sustained that much damage, I would have remained on board with the Captain, showing complete and full insubordination by defying his orders to abandon ship, and gone down with it.”
He smiled, “A true patriot to the end.”
She nodded once more. “Precisely.”
“But of course, as I said, that didn’t happen. And because you served on board for so long with such high honors, awarded numerous commendations during the war…you were essentially given command a year after the treaty was signed.”
Zemaa nodded once again. “When the truce happened, I was given the opportunity to be Captain Hayes First Officer for the duration until after the treaty was signed. The reason for being was, Starfleet felt that I, among others from the Okinawa, would have been suitable for Command. But they wanted us to have some time as a First Officer, to learn…to be mentored…by a Captain. I was lucky to be chosen by Captain Hayes after Commander Bates was given her own Command after the truce began. Others, not so lucky. They had to be mentored by others.” She grinned at that.
“You have a lot of respect for Captain Hayes.”
“Absolutely. Anyone who has served under him for all those years before and after the war, would have considered him a father. That’s just usually how it is for a Captain. They essentially become our ‘parent’. The Captain is responsible for the ship and the entire crew, and all those years in the war, we all had become rather close. We truly did feel like we were a family and the Captain did everything he could to treat us all like family, without overstepping any boundaries.”
“So you’re saying, you and the senior staff had like…meal time and parties?”
She smiled, “Precisely. Any chance we got for some downtime, we would all be in the briefing room enjoying a meal together. Whether it be just a normal meal of the day or some holiday from any culture. And we did celebrate quite a bit of holidays from a lot of cultures on board the ship.” She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “In all honesty, for your readers, my reasons for having a lot of respect for Captain Hayes is because he has saved my life a few times. One time I will never forget and I will always see him as a father figure…even if he is an odd looking pink-skin.”
“Oh wow. Haven’t heard that phrase in a long time.”
She laughed, “Yeah…just something I read up when I was going over past conflicts that Starfleet had to deal with. I gave myself a refresher before this interview.” She smirked.
“I can tell. So, my next question is about something we don’t have a lot of information on. Or at least…it’s not entirely clear. What happened at the Battle of Maka?”
Zemaa sighed, as it took no more than a second to remember that battle. She gulped down the rest of her water and set the glass down a little rough on her desk. “It was a shit show.”
“I beg your pardon?”
Zemaa cleared her throat. “To explain. We had suspected that the malfunction to the Nebula Class vessel that we were told was going to assist us in that battle due to its long range capabilities over all the vessels assigned to the mission, was strange. Well, we didn’t learn until a few weeks later that it was in fact sabotaged. Which explained a lot about how the Battle of Maka went.”
“So the Obsidian Order was definitely working against the Federation.”
Zemaa scoffed and shook her head, “The Obsidian Order. I hope they never return but they most likely will, without a doubt. Yes, they were responsible for the supposed engine malfunction that our Nebula support had, and also responsible for alerting the Cardassian fleet.”
“So they were prepared for your arrival?”
Zemaa nodded her head, “They indeed were. All five Hideki attack ships that were supposed to be in a defensive orbit around the planet were almost precisely where we dropped out of warp. They ambushed us. Even though they were just small attack vessels, our shields did not come online right away. So our forces suffered numerous hits to unshielded sections before they went up. One of the attack ships was even successful in disabling the shield generator on one of the two Miranda’s in our attack force. So they were completely exposed, especially when all five attack ships turned on it. Of course, that wasn’t the worst part.”
The man frowned, “It wasn’t?”
She shook her head. “No. It was what they had hiding behind the moon when we transported our troops down. That is what made it a lot worse.”