Trejon Prol had mostly recovered from his injuries thanks to Doctor Kyo. He had found himself on a ship called the Denver. It was far more cushy than what he was accustomed to aboard Cardassian ships. But these Starfleeters weren’t military-focused. Which, is probably why the Dominion was doing so well against them.
When he came to in sickbay the day before, Prol had told their intelligence officer everything he knew: from troop deployments, ship strength, and disposition. Everything. The Dominion needed to be expelled from Cardassia, and Dukat removed from power.
After his treasonous conversation with Lt. Nalam, he asked for asylum, which had been conditionally granted only a few hours ago. He still wasn’t given free rein of the ship; he would have been suspicious if they had, but he could still move about the crew levels. As a precaution, security disabled his replicator, which was an annoyance but understandable; they didn’t trust him.
He got looks, and people moved away from him when he entered the officer’s lounge on deck 10. He ordered a drink and a small plate of Bajoran offerings at the bar, and when the proprietor served him, he turned to scan the lounge. At one of the tables on the far side next to the massive windows sat a pair of familiar faces. With tray and drink in hand, he crossed the lounge to stand before the officers. “Excuse me, may I join you?”
Riandri was slowly finding her feet aboard the USS Denver after the last three days. Given a bit more time she thought she could fit in well; there were good people here. But she had to admit there was a challenge to slotting into a new ship, especially one that had seen and been through so much. She leaned back and rolled her head, sending her blond ponytail to swing behind her head before she looked over at Crawford, the Chief of Operations. She was still getting to know the senior staff, but for an ensign to hold such a position, he had to be good at what he did. Before she could carry on the conversation, she saw Prol approach out of the corner of her eye. As he spoke, she turned to him, “Fine by me, Prol. How are you settling in? Your quarters ok?” She had to admit, she liked the man, he was competent, and most importantly, he recognized the danger the dominion represented not to just the Federation and the Klingons but to every system within the alpha and beta quadrants. That and he was an intelligence goldmine when considered alongside the disabled cruiser and Gerot, who was in detention.
Prol slid into an empty seat sitting ramrod straight. “Thank you. As far as settling in… as well as one can expect, considering I represent your enemy. I would be suspicious otherwise, but it does not make this any easier.”
Peter Crawford gave Prol a polite nod. Things on the Denver were…interesting with him around. They were even more interesting with the new intelligence officer on board. Her record spoke for itself, and he was always leery of intelligence or even special operations folks – he kept to the mainstays of operations and wasn’t particularly interested in the darker sides of the fleet and its operation. He took a drink of his iced tea, “War makes friends and fiends of us all.” He shrugged, “The history of the universe shows us that enemies can be friends…and the other way around. Hell, it wasn’t that long ago in our history that we made contact with the Romulans. Kirk’s time isn’t ancient…and someday soon, this stuff will be the same thing.”
Prol spoke up. “The Dominion is not to be trusted. I am not the only Cardassian that feels Dukat has made a bad bargain that will lead us to ruin. But, after the war with the Klingons, there were too many who were willing to sell their souls, hoping to return Cardassia to its former glory. Those days are gone. Gone forever, and maybe that’s for the best. I admit that the Bajoran Occupation was an atrocity and a product of that old way of thinking. Bury the past, but you don’t do that by aligning yourself with a people who commit their own atrocities. We’re a proud people, so change is difficult, but that time has come.”
Crawford blinked and turned his head to the intelligence officer, who he hoped would have a well-thought-out response to the deep statement the Cardassian had laid out.
Riandri sat quietly and stared out the massive window as she listened to them both. Something about those words resonated with her and brought back images, memories she would love to have buried so deep she never thought about them again. – Pale sickly green light, cubes, screams, a burning red ribbon riping through space, her home and family, cold metal decks, her husband leaving for the last time, the borg… – She absently wiped a tear from her cheek and took a breath as she pushed the memories away. “Change may be difficult but it is one of the sole constants in the universe, I believe one of you philosophers, Heraclitus I think,” Riandri said as she looked back towards the pair, nodding towards Crawford. She paused for a moment as she tried to put her thoughts together, “Running from change, trying to hold on to what was, be it lost, taken, left behind, never replaces what was. Its memories just turn rotten and eat away at you, destroying who and what you are until there is nothing left.” A sad smile crossed her face, “You are right Prol to a degree, one must accept change and understand that everything, be it the empire’s glory, or whatever passes, changes. But it is important to never bury the past, otherwise, we are doomed to repeat it. Again and again.” She paused and took a sip of the coffee she had in from of her before smiling again at the two.
Prol stared at the intelligence officer for a moment, “You’ve experienced loss haven’t you?”
Riandri turned back to look out the window and didn’t say anything for a moment before looking back at Prol, “Loss fails to utterly comprehend the scope. But yes.” After a moment she let out a snort. “God, that made it sound dramatic. It’s not something I speak about often but in a nutshell yeah. It can be summed up with two words. The Borg.”
Prol nodded. He couldn’t think of a much worse fate, “You must be El-Aurians.”
“Not many people even know about my race,” Riandri said, a distant smile crossing her face. “Much less a Cardassian, though my people have crossed paths with yours in the past. How do you know of my kind?”
Prol shrugged, “My father was a merchant captain for the Brannanite Alliance, and his XO was an El-Aurian. I had an unconventional childhood.”
Riandri cocked an eyebrow at that, beyond the handful who she had travelled with and ended up on Earth with she had heard very little of others of her kind in the last hundred or so years. “Really, I would love to hear more about that at some point Prol. I know very few of my own people.” Riandri paused for a moment and looked at Crawford, “I assume you already knew, is that right?” she said with a smile.
Crawford chuckled and took a sip of his drink, “They’re listeners. Watchers of history. The vastness of the universe and history is their experience.” He nodded to Riandri, “I’m a reader…I study and explore in my spare time. The amount of loss you can experience in your lifetime is…unthinkable. The events you and your people have witnessed…I would have a hard time imagining reconciling experiencing the entirety that you experience…and continue to experience.” He gave a glance to Prol, “I’ve read stories written by El Aurians. They are the true witnesses and listeners of existence.” He raised his glass to the new intelligence officer, “To you, Lieutenant – to our shared loss and shared joys.”
Prol stared blankly at the odd gesture, but after a moment he raised his cup, “Indeed.”
Riandri let out a short chuckle and raised her cup, “I can drink to that. Thank you.”