Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Choice and Consequence"

By Christina Moore

Roijiana followed Zram out of the conference room, and stayed behind him as he walked down the corridor. Her plan was to confront him—not as the station’s senior counselor, but as a person, for he had been nothing short of hostile to her ever since she’d set foot on the station more than a month ago.

Okay, he wasn’t the only person who treated her like a pariah—a lot of the Starfleet crew looked at her sideways. Conversations would stop if she walked by. And the Cardassians? They definitely looked at her like she was something repulsive, at least the military officers did. The civilian Cardassians had been reserved, but they were at least cordial. She was even beginning to think that she and Dr. Messar were becoming…well, maybe not friends, but they were friendly, saying hello and actually meaning it when they each asked how the other was doing.

But Dilik Zram and Eton Kirek? They hated each other, that much was clear. More than any of the others, they were wont to hurl thinly and not-so-thinly veiled insults at one another, and being in the presence of the captain had no effect on curbing their attitudes—the only time she had seen them actually behave toward one another (and barely at that) was during Admiral Tattok’s stay.

Yet the one thing they apparently agreed on was that they didn’t trust her. Okay, so she had done the unthinkable—she’d gone rogue and defected to the Maquis in the middle of her mission. She would often joke that she’d been brainwashed, but the truth was that she had seen a certain logic in what the Maquis were trying to do. Yes, they had settled in contested territory knowing that hostile governments were trying to claim it. They’d been told that Starfleet would not be able to help them if the Cardassians decided to enforce their claim that the planets in question belonged to them.

But these people were still Federation citizens, and they had the right to be protected from anyone who would attempt to take their basic rights and freedoms away from them. Even though the Federation had declared a hands-off policy, the settlers had still expected that Starfleet would protect them if the Cardassians started a fight. They’d been wrong to hold onto that belief, and had been devastated when no help came.

So they decided to help themselves. They fought to protect their homes, their families, and they did what they could to make the Cardassians as miserable as possible.

Her job had been to infiltrate a Maquis cell so that she could conduct a psychological study of their motives, and then build a profile Starfleet could use to vet out which of their officers with connections to those colonies might be vulnerable to defection. Of course, the public story of her mission didn’t include that part—it was, naturally, classified. And no one, least of all Roijiana, had ever thought that spending so much time deep under cover would sway her to their way of thinking. As a psychologist, she was supposed to be immune to being so easily misled.

Yet, she had done just that. She’d found herself sympathizing with their belief that what they were doing was the “right” thing. They were only defending themselves, their homes, their families and their livelihood. They’d expected protection from the Federation that they had not received, and so they’d taken the burden into their own hands, even going on the offensive so that the Cardassians—and the Federation—knew they meant business. So she stopped reporting in and melted into the Maquis crowd.

By the time she’d been caught, she had been with the Maquis for ten months. The day of the munitions depot mission, she’d woken feeling like something was going to go wrong. She told her cell leader about it, told him she couldn’t shake the ominous feeling, and he brushed it off as nerves. After all, this was a big job they were about to do, and people could get hurt—even killed. Temmar Kenn, a former Bajoran vedek, actually did die in the raid. She’d often felt that as a trained cleric, he should have been more willing to listen to her, that he of all their group ought have been more receptive to influences beyond themselves, of messages that spoke to the soul. If nothing else, the fact that they were lovers should have given her opinion some weight.

Roijiana didn’t think it would matter if she tried to explain her motivations to Zram—to anyone. The one time she had, after she’d been turned over in a prisoner exchange three months after her capture—three months in which she’d been given reasons of her own to hate Cardassians—her reasoning had been laughed at. She’d been called a fool. Gullible. So she’d stopped trying to explain herself, because no one would listen.

Of course, many of the Maquis prisoners in Federation custody felt vindicated when they were the ones Starfleet and the Federation turned to, realizing that they were going to have to get down and dirty if they wanted to win against the Dominion-Cardassian alliance. Staid old Starfleet wasn’t used to employing guerilla tactics, but the Maquis were. In exchange for their services, the former Maquis would be granted amnesty—the rest of their sentences would be suspended and they would be allowed to go free when the war was over.

If they managed to survive, that is.

Once the war was over, she’d been cut loose with the rest of the Maquis survivors. But Roijiana didn’t want to just be cast into the stellar winds. Her time as a prisoner, and especially her time working side by side with Starfleet and Marine officers again, had made her realize that yes, she had screwed up royally. She still firmly believed that the Federation should have stepped in to protect their citizens and that the Maquis had a right to defend their homes, but they’d gone about it all wrong. Many more had lost their lives fighting a losing battle.

And so, after admitting to herself that she had indeed been foolish to throw her career away, Roijiana had petitioned Starfleet for reinstatement. Starfleet, of course, had resisted. They’d thrown up one roadblock after the next trying to keep from having to take a “Maquis sympathizer” and a “traitor” back into their ranks. But she’d fought tooth and nail for the privilege of wearing the uniform again, even going so far as to bring her case before the Federation Supreme Court. It had taken her nearly four months, but they had heard her, and they had ultimately decided in her favor, citing Starfleet’s almost desperate need for trained officers. She got her commission back, but she’d had to make concessions in order to get it: she had to accept a demotion to lieutenant (she’d just made lieutenant commander when she had taken on the undercover assignment), and she had to accept that she was ineligible for promotion for a period of five years.

She’d been disappointed, of course, but she’d accepted their terms, having held no real hope that everything would be as it once was. And as a further smack in the face, Starfleet had assigned her as senior counselor in probably the last place she’d have ever wanted to be: Cardassian territory.

—she’d take what they gave her and she would make something of it. She’d build a new life for herself, and in the process she would prove she was still Starfleet officer material.

Her new patients were not making it easy for her. Her first challenge had been to convince the Starfleet crew that they had to accept Dr. Nariska Messar as a physician, as Starfleet wouldn’t be able to send them one for weeks. To this day Roijiana wasn’t entirely certain how she’d managed to accomplish that. Maybe it was because she’d somehow won Messar over, and the sight of a Cardassian being friendly with a former Maquis had made the Fleeters take a good, long look at their own attitudes—or maybe it was her winning personality. Truth was, she thought Captain Natale gave her too much credit.

She’d been on Sanctuary since the third week of April, and now it was mid-June—so actually she’d been here nearly two months already. In that time, she’d endured the stares and the whispers and the abruptly ended conversations, but what she would not endure, what she absolutely would not stand for, was blatant accusations. Just because she had been a Maquis and taken part in acts of terrorism did not mean she was resorting to those tactics just because she didn’t want to be here. Hell, no one wanted to be here! The Starfleet crew didn’t want to be working with the Cardassians, and the Cardassians didn’t want to be working with Starfleet.

Of course, the Federation and Detapa Councils did not seem to care what their respective militaries thought. Military officers were expected to do what they’d been doing for centuries—follow orders. The Cardassians, she knew, weren’t exactly pleased to have to accept aid (“charity” they called it) and comfort from a former enemy—their conquerors, for all intents and purposes—and neither was much of Starfleet too comfortable with supplying that aid and comfort to a people who’d less than a year ago been trying to conquer them. But if not from the Federation, where would the Cardassians get the help they so desperately needed? No one else was stepping up to the plate and setting an example for the rest of the quadrant, turning the other cheek and proving they could be the better man.

At least, that was the line of bull being touted on the Federation news networks.

If Starfleet was willing to take back a former Maquis (albeit reluctantly, and it’s not as if she were the only former Starfleet officer who’d petitioned for reinstatement), then why couldn’t the rest of the fleet just accept that and move on? Why did they have to hold her past against her and accuse her of being the saboteur just because she’d been Maquis? While she could reluctantly admit that she saw their reason, it was, as Captain Natale had pointed out, not as if she were the only person on the station with reason to want to see this project fail.

So deep in thought was she that she didn’t notice Zram had stopped. Roijiana plowed straight into him, and the Bolian security chief stood stock still as she stumbled backward, making no move to help her keep her balance.

“Something I can do for you, Counselor?”

“Yeah,” Roijiana said as she righted herself. “You and everyone else can stop treating me as though I have the Iptaran plague.”

Dilik Zram snorted. “As if that’s gonna happen,” he said, turning around and continuing on his way.

The Boslic moved swiftly to catch up to him. “Hey, you don’t approve of what I did—I get that. I’m not exactly bursting with pride in myself. But who I was then isn’t who I am now, and I’ve just as much right to wear this uniform as you.”

Zram stopped and whirled to face her, poking one of his blue fingers into her shoulder so hard that it actually hurt. “Who you were shapes who are, and the only reason you’re wearing that uniform is because Starfleet Command lost the case to keep you out of it in federal court. Just means you had the lawyer they should have hired.”

Roijiana’s eyes flashed angrily. “Alright, you want to go that route—let’s talk about who you were, Dilik—”

“Only my friends call me Dilik—you’re not one of them,” Zram snapped.

“—let’s talk about how we’re not so different, you and I. How I happen to know that you’ve as much reason to hate Cardassians as I do,” she went on, ignoring his interruption.

Zram laughed bitterly. “Spare me your bullshit Maquis propaganda, lady. You didn’t hate the Cardies until you took up with them Maquis idiots—probably not until you started putting out for some lowlife calling himself a patriot, when he was nothing more than a two-bit thug.”

She wanted to hit him for that remark—could see in his eyes that he fully expected her to, how he was hoping she would just so that he’d have an excuse to arrest her. And it took all the willpower she had not to give in to the urge to strike him physically, to give him the satisfaction he so craved.

Instead, she hit back in a way she knew would hurt more.

“Setlik III,” she said simply, and watched with a satisfaction that gave her no pleasure as his eyes, his expression, his entire posture changed.

“It was a tragedy what happened there,” she went on in a low voice. “I understand you lost your mother and your youngest sister.”

“I wouldn’t say another word if I were you,” Zram said in a cold voice.

“Losing one person you love is bad enough, but two? Even the Cardassians admitting they’d made a mistake couldn’t begin to make up for the deaths of your family.”

Zram stepped closer. “I’m warning you…”

She took a step closer to him. “And I’m warning you. Don’t ever tell me what I do and do not hate—you spend three months in a Cardassian prison camp sometime, see if that doesn’t teach you a thing or two about hate. And don’t you dare ever accuse me of doing something unless you’ve got more than your dislike of me to back it up, understood? I’m not going to stand idly by and allow you and that Cardassian ass-monkey to smear my good name.”

Sanctuary’s security chief laughed mirthlessly. “Lady, you haven’t got a good name left.”

“It’s Lieutenant or Counselor to you, Master Chief. Like it or not, I am your superior and you will give me the respect I am due. Is that understood?”

Zram tilted his head to the side as he looked at her. “Alright—I’ll adhere to protocol, Counselor. But respect? You ain’t gettin’ that. A person’s got to earn respect, and you haven’t a snowball’s chance on Vulcan of earning mine. Is that understood?”

She nodded. “Perfectly, Mr. Zram.”


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