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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 13 – The Edge of Hope and Despair and USS Mackenzie: Mackenzie Squadron : The Edge of Hope and Despair

EHD 005 – Upon the Balcony of Hope

Colony Gladas
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They were getting closer as they walked, following the signals their tricorders were tracking.  They had returned to their debate about the all-stars from command and diplomatic operations.  They stepped into a clearing and locked eyes with a teenage Cardassian girl in the arms of a Bajoran teenage male.  Commander Park muttered, “Well, that’s explains…a lot.”

Hargraves stepped into the clearing, hands on hips, “Well, that’s…different.”  The two made to run, but he cleared his throat, “Don’t.  I passed my physical with high honors…and Commander Park here can run just as good as me.”

The Cardassian girl groaned, “You’re not going to tell anyone, are you?”  She turned and embraced the Bajoran boy, “We love each other!”

Park chuckled, “That’s great.  I’m happy for you both. I am.  You want to tell me why you’re several hours outside of the colony doing…whatever it is you’re doing?”

“I’m Parica,” the young man explained, “And…my family would be really pissed off if they knew I was here with her.”  He kissed her on the forehead, “She’s my everything.”

The XO deadpanned, “I’m not an idiot, Parica.  Starfleet officers deeply understand the issues and relationships between your two species.  Why you two?”

“Kartika,” she introduced herself, “We met at the trade station between our worlds.”  She smiled as the memory filled her mind, “We were ordering the same thing from the Vulcan snack shop.  We got to talking…and well, you know.”

Park held up her hand, “I don’t want to know.”  She turned to Hargraves, who was stifling laughter.  “Don’t start.  I’ll tag you in with your Diplomatic Operations door title.”  Charlie stopped laughing.  She asked the pair, “How bad will this be if your parents find out?”

Parica grimaced, “My parents lived the occupation of Bajor with their parents.  Our colony is mostly Bajoran expatriates.  They’ve made a nice life.  They’ve never been able to forgive the Cardassians.  It’s not a simple disagreement or a right over dinner.  It’s…like an instinct thing that’s in their blood.”

Kartika blanched at the question, “My family hates Bajorans.  They’re part of an older group that still nurses the xenophobia against them.  I’ve never really understood it.  It was just…a thing they believed.  Then I met Parica.”  Her giddy smile returned, and they embraced again.  “I realized how stupid it was to believe it.”

Hargraves smiled wide at Park, “Well, I think they’re adorable.  A Diplomatic Miracle, if you will.  Lots to negotiate, especially if wedding bells are in the future.”

Park scowled at him while the two starstruck lovers giggled over the idea, “You see a miracle, I see a disaster between two worlds.  If either group finds out what these two have or have not been up to – we’ll have to get in the middle and talk them out of killing each other.” 

He looked to Parica and Kartika, “It can’t be that bad, can it?”

Kartika explained, “The older group is a vocal majority, making many decisions with our colony’s direction and rules.  Enough Cardassian camaraderie still holds our group on the colony together…they won’t hesitate to join the fight.”  She sighed, “I learned much in my history classes last semester. Everybody fights with everybody.”

Hargraves gave her an understanding nod, “That’s a reference, I understand, Kartika.” He tried to reason with Park, “Look…these two like each other.  They won’t let their two species get in the way of whatever they have for each other.  I bet there’s some rebellious love story in your past, Commander Park.”

She stared at him, her face warming at his swerving spotlight, “Don’t bet with Latinum you don’t have, Charlie.”  Park turned her attention to the two, “The problem our Chief Diplomatic Officer is, he’s not often wrong, including this time.  Rather annoying.”  Kartika and Parica giggled, their eyes darting from Park to Hargraves.  The XO ignored it, “We’ve got to figure out how to get you back home without anyone jumping to conclusions.  Kartika – your friends back home seem to think you’re out here doing things you shouldn’t with someone you shouldn’t.  So that’s already out and in the open.”

Parica suggested, “I come here every two months because I’m on a supply run to the trade station.  I could have had engine trouble…had to land out here…and ran into you searching for Kartika…and…together, we found her safe and sound?”

Park eyed the young man, “You’re a little too smart with the idea.”  He shrugged and confessed they’d worked on several cover stories if they were discovered.  “Well, it’s time we put at least one of them to work then.  Let’s find a way to make the engine trouble believable.  You stay here,” she directed at Kartika, “…the less you’re around him now, the better.  We will have to figure out how to make your relationship work in this black hole you’ve thrown us into.  Or else people are going to die.”

Hargraves turned to Kartika as Park, and the lanky Bajoran walked away.  She asked, “I wish the whole dying thing was pretend or imagined.”

Charlie sat on a log, “Well, between myself and Park…we’ll find a way.”

The young Cardassian woman sat across from him, “You like her.”

Hargraves felt his eyebrows reach for the sky above, “What?”

“You like Commander Park.”

“Do not.”

She smiled wide, “I may not know much about Starfleet, Starships, or humans…but I know that look…the way you talk to each other.  She might even like you back.”

Hargraves groaned, “I’d rather try and figure out how to sabotage a shuttle than talk about this.  It’s not there.  Nothing is there.”  She shrugged, leaning back on the stump to wait for Park and her love to return.