“The Cardassians are the devils. They have done unspeakable things to our people.” Governor Gideon Rosser sat at the head of the table in the Hall of Liberty, surrounded by his staff. “Their very presence is an offense to us and those that died at their hands. You can promise us all you want, but the last time Starfleet made promises, we suffered a genocidal occupation.” Those around him nodded and muttered to each other, reflecting on the suffering endured by the people.
Captain Wren Walton sat at the other end of the table, her XO standing behind her. They’d asked to meet with Rosser and his people to attempt a negotiation at cooperation with the remaining Cardassian ships. She had known it would be a challenge convincing the people of Janoor III to accept the offer of assistance from their former occupiers. Wren tried again, “We’re working on reviewing the records of the captains and crews….”
Rosser stood, pounding emphatically on the table, “To what end? To make sure none of them were allied with The Dominion?” His words echoed in the large meeting room. “You cannot be certain of the feelings of each Cardassian officer. We’ve heard of sympathizers that still infest the Union government and military. Twenty-five years isn’t long enough for our memories to fade, Captain. It isn’t long enough for the darkness in the hearts and minds to be cleansed.”
Wren felt her anger bubbling from her heart to her throat. Her diplomatic officer, Hargraves, stepped out from the background, “Governer Rosser, I understand you don’t believe this Dominion threat is real.”
Gideon didn’t sit down and pointed his finger back at the man, “Task Group 514 hasn’t seen anything to suggest this is more than just a Breen border action. Your Federation News is sayings the same thing! The lies from the outsiders have made it harder to swallow whatever is fed to us.”
Charlie offered a PADD, “Task Group 514 has reported several starships have been lost in the last few days. Several larger class ships. I’ve read their past performance reviews – they have competent and strong crews. Their track record up to now has been sterling – very few losses.” He walked the PADD down the long table and placed it on the table in front of Rosser, “This section of space has been notoriously devoid of significant open combat.”
The governor read through the various reports Hargraves had highlighted, “What are you trying to get me to see?”
Charlie left the PADD and returned to his place in the rear of the room, speaking as he went, “514 has suffered losses against something powerful and motivated. There are scattered reports of encroaching engagements with increasing regularity. Something is out there, Governor, and it is pushing its way here. You cannot deny that.”
Gideon glanced around at his staff, looking back at him with renewed worry. The diplomatic officer argued logically, and the governor’s tried and true retorts failed him. He sighed in resignation, “I’ll take the PADD. We’ll discuss it as a group.”
He stood as his staff followed suit, as did the Starfleet officers. Wren, Park, and Hargraves waited until the large doors to the council chambers thundered shut. The CO turned to the group, her face shifting from placid to frustrated, “We’re not making good progress here.”
Charlie disagreed, “It’s our first sit down, captain. They needed to get out their feelings towards the Cardassians in the open. Do you remember the studies on the war?” Wren glared at him, and he shrugged, “Give me that look all day, captain, but the truth is we’re dealing with a colony that has seen the horrors of a brutal occupation up close. We’re maybe a generation removed – those memories are still very fresh. They teach it in schools. Some students have parents with scars still healing – the literal and the metaphorical.”
Park said, “Given what they’ve seen…you’d think they’d be willing to fight.”
The diplomatic officer shrugged, “The 514 has been telling them all is well. Federation News has been telling them all is well. Hell, Starfleet Command is nearly outright denying the Dominion is back.”
Wren contemplated while the two of them went back and forth. The oddness of the situation was slowly becoming concerning, and she wasn’t sure how to feel about it. The Fourth Fleet seemed to be the only ones taking the situation seriously, and the pushback from everyone else was no longer a novelty – it was painting a picture of what she would have called a conspiracy fever dream in the past. Now? She was starting to feel the usually even floor under her feet starting to tilt. Walton had usually been the one working with others to stabilize the metaphorical floor. Control of the floor now felt like it was being slowly pulled out of her hands. She didn’t like it. “We’ll have to wait on their deliberations.” She checked her chrono, “Park, head back to Mackezie and see what progress our Gul has made with our Cardassians.” Once she vanished in the light of the transporter, Wren warned Hargraves, “If we can’t find a way to help them see the benefits of Cardassian help, there’s not much else to do but blunt force the solution.” She nodded at his grimace, “I know, I know. Let’s take a walk outside…see if we can talk to some people. Might give us a better picture of what we’re up against.” He agreed, and they walked out into the sunshine.