Part of USS Al-Batani: 001 – Uncertainty at Alim and Roosevelt Station: 001 – The Hunt

10: The Needs of Cardassians

Lamek Manor - Back Sitting Room
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Trem swallowed as she settled into a seat. The room was… oppressive. The windows were small, the art images of stark architecture, and the shapes of the space were…

They were Cardassian. They had the look, though softened for living in, of the places she’d visited as a child as she learned about the Occupation.

Berta regarded her for a moment. The Cardassian governor’s eyes were expressive, almost kind, but it was difficult for Trem to meet them. She was afraid of what Berta might see in her expression – the emotions, too many to separate any out but the anger and sadness, that filled her.

She swallowed them down. If she didn’t get control of them soon, the captain would feel them from wherever she was.

“Our work needs to be toward an equitable solution,” Lira was saying. The Andorian tucked some of her white hair behind a long antenna, looking at a PADD. She looked as relaxed as Trem had ever seen an on-duty officer, her long lab coat open around her crossed legs as she half-reclined in her seat. Her eyes, though, were alert. She made Trem think of old Resistance fighters, though her record had no mention of combat duty – loose but ready.

“That’s the trouble,” Berta said with a sigh. “To the Kolamites, survival is the highest virtue. To us… it’s our families, and too many of my people rely on their work here to support those families. And that means that whatever solution we reach, someone loses something they can’t tolerate losing.”

“So your people would watch the Kolamites starve to keep their work safe?” Trem felt how short her voice was, tasted the anger in it, no matter how hard she bit it down. She was Starfleet, this was diplomacy, there was no excuse…

“Many would,” Berta said. “I’m not going to deny that. Not all, but too many.” She sighed. “I don’t want to see that happen. I also don’t want my successor to start attacking Kolamite fishing boats days after I leave my position. That’s why I agreed to Starfleet arbitration… hopes that you could find a solution that would keep the peace in the long term, and would protect both Kolamite lives and Cardassian families. That a Starfleet guarantee would hold that solution in place.”

She’s trying to save her own neck, and will let the Kolamites starve or Captain Enigma burn to do it. Trem suppressed that thought. “Do you have any suggestions?”

“None, I’m afraid.” Berta spread her arms. “Commander… my people value our independence. We wanted a clean break from Cardassia, from the infighting between Central Command and the Detapa Council, the lying and injustice. But it isn’t that simple… not when we have families who wouldn’t or couldn’t come with us. I chose to contact Starfleet because the other choices were to give up, to let the homeworld in, or to fight. And even this… we lose some of our freedom by bringing you here.”

Trem and Lira regarded each other a moment before the doctor spoke. “I think that I understand,” Lira said. “I’ll approach this from another angle. What would your people be willing to give, to keep peace?”

“Whatever was needed,” Berta said. “But we would need to get enough in return to satisfy our needs.”

And the needs of Cardassians… Trem forced herself not to finish the thought. “And therein lies the problem,” she said instead. “If the Kolamites have nothing to offer…”

Then war. Or a permanent peacekeeping force to prevent it.