if they can show full respect to our ways,” Orator Ayret emphasized. “That’s the only way I would lend my support to this offer.”
“I think they will, Orator,” Burek said.
our ways does not mean they have to adopt
our ways,” Rekelen reminded the ranking member of the Chamber of Guides.
Leader Miput took that opportunity to clear his throat. Rekelen knew
that sound…she knew that meant the legislator wasn’t finished with his
objections. “The fact still remains, Castellan, that Vulcan refugees will consume resources. From what the intel reports described, they’ve been left with nothing but the clothes on their back. They’ll need housing, food, clothing—that’s a massive
“And not one that I intend, any more than you, to be the sole or even majority burden of the government,” Rekelen answered with a disarming smile. “We may have to help—some
—with housing, but the open hearts of the Cardassian people can be trusted to step in and provide most of the rest. And I’m sure the Vulcans themselves would have a hand in their own rebuilding.”
"As for resources,” Councillor Hoven piped up, “you might be interested to know that Vulcan culture is quite similar to ours in that regard. They may have had more in the way of minerals on their world…but water and foodstuffs were always at a premium on Vulcan. Not to mention some of the damage they did in the days before Surak.” That
part of Vulcan history was well-known to everyone—that like Earth and unlike Cardassia Prime, their planet had endured nuclear warfare. But not just once as Earth had…multiple
times, with weapons eventually designed to minimize damage to the planet but maximize damage to the people
. “So I think the last
thing you’d have to worry about is their coming here and bringing wasteful ways with them. Their culture practically revolves around minimizing their ‘footprint’ on their world. It has even longer than ours.
“If anything…I think you could expect them to show Cardassia the same care they showed to their own homeworld, once we explain what kind of home we have to offer them. And speaking of that…the areas of Cardassia Prime that are most like their world are not
our agricultural areas. Nor are they densely populated. They are the true deserts,” she said, using a Cardassian term for those areas that had been deserts even before the Cataclysm.
Rekelen nodded. Her husband, a native of Culat, had some Kurabda blood…Kekil-haaf, to be exact…therefore she herself was connected to one of those areas. “Rest assured,” Rekelen said, “that I will not make a decision on where the permanent Vulcan settlement would be until I’ve personally spoken with all of the authorities in those regions to see who is open to the idea, and most able to sustain it.” The non-Oralian tribes of Revakian, for instance, were highly unlikely to allow any encroachment upon their territories, for they held the land itself to be sacred. Such would be tantamount to an attack, and that Rekelen would not do. But Cardassia had no shortage of deserts; someone would undoubtedly say ve’
to the idea. She wouldn’t even rule out the Kekil-haaf saying yes, thanks to the old Culatda blood they had from the days of the Cataclysm.
Miput still made one last attempt. “There are those,” he said carefully, without specifying whether he
was one of those
, “who might be uneasy with the idea of the Vulcan population expanding if we end up becoming more to them than a place to stay while they survey worlds for colonization. If we become a permanent home
to some of them. That little drain of resources won’t be so little anymore.”
Castellan Rekelen had to fight back the impulse to snort and laugh in a way that would have been entirely unbefitting of the dignity of her office. Still, she couldn’t resist saying, “And our
Councillor Hoven was definitely warming to the idea. “And ours
expands at one of the highest rates of all the major intergalactic powers,” she contributed. “There are Federation worlds, like Denobula or Skorr, that match or exceed our birth rates—some dramatically so. Earth is in the middle. But when you average in Andor, Grazeri, and worlds like those, we still come out above them. We’re about as opposite to the Vulcans as you can get in that regard. We will always
be the ones, proportionally speaking, who continue to take a greater and greater share of resources.”
In other words, Leader
, Rekelen could hear Hoven saying, don’t you
dare try to make Vulcan resource usage into a piece of political latinum to deflect attention from what
we have chosen for ourselves.
Certain types of interference in reproductive processes, except where there was danger to the mother’s health, were strictly proscribed under the laws of the Cardassian Theonomy. Various Oralian sects believed in further restrictions, and as a whole, Cardassian society valued large families. As bad as things had become on Cardassia Prime at the start of the Cataclysm, the idea of reducing the birth rate had only entered the political discourse on the utmost fringes. Fringes even Rhirzum Akleen, in his misspent youth, hadn’t belonged to.
“Ladies,” the Castellan declared, “and gentleman,” with a nod at Leader Miput, “I thank all of you for our input. I intend to pray on the decision—but I am strongly
inclined towards inviting those Vulcans who wish to do so, to settle on Cardassia Prime. It’s simple, as far as I’m concerned: this is a critically-endangered, sentient species to whom a scattering of the population will be fatal
. Worlds like ours…where they can be truly
comfortable…are in short supply. We can help them find a suitable uninhabited world—along with the Federation—if another exists that would be suitable. But they need a home while they search...somewhere safe where they can go ahead and start the work of restoring their population. We may not have as much as some of the powers around us…but we still have a home
. They have none. Yes, they are different from us. But we have the chance to help them. And I believe we should.
“I hope,” she emphasized, “to approach Ambassador Sarek within the week. The sooner they have somewhere to settle, the better. Logistics can be worked out in concert with the provincial Prefect and the Vulcan refugees before we actually sign legislation, but I believe we can make it work. The Cardassian people say they want to help…and I believe they will, once they know there is a way.”
As Castellan Rekelen expected, Burek and Hoven nodded their agreement immediately. Orator Ayret and Leader Miput still gave no assent, but their expressions spoke finality—they knew their Castellan’s mind was made up, and she would have no problem, if a viable and willing location were found, appealing straight to their respective Chambers to gain whatever allies she could.
I understand now
, Castellan Rekelen thought to Oralius, what it means when you say that even our misfortunes can still be salvaged for your benefit. I never thought that our world, groaning with the pains of Cataclysm, could be exactly what an endangered people might need. We may have little, but let this gift still be found worthy in your eyes.
Sarek of Vulcan rose from his chair as the wall screen chimed, feeling a weariness beyond his years that the logical side of his mind attributed to the cold aboard the mostly human-crewed starship and the inevitable physical stress from the kinds of hours he had been working. But the side of his mind that had taken a human woman as his wife, and fathered a half-human son who seemed now to be acknowledging his human side more than he had since early childhood, had to admit it was the weariness of mourning. Of being part of a species where there was no ‘many’—only the few, and the one.
He switched on the screen, to find himself greeted by a woman with a grey, ridged face with somewhat reptilian features…therapsid
, his precise mind corrected itself…but long, elaborate black tresses woven into a sparkling hairpiece, perfectly coifed despite the utterly illogical
expenditure of time and energy such a thing would have taken to accomplish. The woman—a Cardassian—smiled with a bittersweet, gentle expression that Sarek recognized as an emotional being’s expression of what one human had termed misericordia
in his native language: to feel grief for the sake of the other.
Some of the other, more emotional mammalian races had expressed a visceral discomfort with their features, based on that of certain predators on their homeworlds, but Sarek felt not even a twinge of unease. Their reputation was that of a peaceful people—one thoroughly embracing the irrational, to be sure, but peaceful. Already the leaders of their religion had come to pray near the gaping void where once their world had been…a gesture Sarek himself would not have made, but which spoke well of the intentions of this woman’s people.
,” she began. “I am Castellan Rekelen, head of the worlds of Cardassia. I grieve for the loss your people have suffered, and I pray daily to Oralius on your behalf.
“I thank thee for thy regard, Castellan,” Sarek replied in his most formal Old High Vulcan.
“Ambassador…I’m not sure how familiar you are with Cardassia—but I believe we can help you. Parts of our world are not unlike your own…and I already have not just one, but three communities in those areas that have expressed a willingness to accept settlement by your people. We understand that you may already have plans to seek another world of your own, and we are willing to assist in that endeavor as well…but until that time, your people can have a home—together—with us if you feel, after we provide you with more information about our worlds and culture, that it will work for you.
Under ordinary circumstances, Sarek might have interjected to clarify that such a decision would not be made upon the basis of any sort of feeling
. This was not surprising phrasing from a Cardassian, from what he knew about them. But such feelings could well prove the way for Vulcan to begin their recovery from the catastrophic near-genocide inflicted upon their people—a people that could not be scattered to the winds like a lost katra
, if they were to have acceptable odds of survival. “Yours is a most generous offer,” Sarek answered, the words his culture allowed seeming wholly inadequate to this gesture. “Please send your information at your soonest convenience, and I will review it and take it to my people for consideration.”
“It’s already ready to go
,” the Castellan replied, that smile widening. “I’ll send it right away. I have instructed my staff to contact me immediately as soon as you’re prepared to respond—it doesn’t matter if I have to leave a meeting or if they wake me. I will be ready for your decision any time.
Ambassador Sarek ran through the various responses the modern Vulcan language allowed him. None of those expressions fit, so instead he switched to the Federation Standard that his son spoke most of the time. It was often said that one does not thank service…but this was far more than service
. This could mean life.
“I thank you, Castellan Rekelen.”