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Old April 7 2013, 11:52 PM   #51
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

Thanks CeJay. I do like to use one-off or relatively unused races that interest me from the shows, literature, or maybe even games. Not only did the psychoprojective telepathy of the Halanans intrigue me, I also thought-and still do-that Salli Richardson was very hot on that DS9 episode.

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Dominion War Memorial Observance Station

Nitsa hated fidgeting, but she couldn’t help herself. It was an involuntary reaction, brought on by a host of things. This time it was jolted by anxiety at the presence of the Jem’Hadar among them.

She knew it was unbecoming of a Starfleet officer, a counselor no less to have such an adverse, prejudicial reaction, but the Mizarian couldn’t deny it. And she knew it was better to be honest about her feelings than to bury them or pretend her nervousness stemmed from something else.

Unlike many of her colleagues Nitsa had been spared facing the dreaded soldiers on a battlefield or across a starfield. She had spent the war posted at Starbase 337, and her ideas about the butchers had been formed from countless recollections from her patients.

She had shamefully come to detest the Founders and their minions. Nitsa had once harbored similar animosity for the Cardassians, but that toxic bubble had burst once she had learned about the pogrom the Founder had ordered on Cardassia Prime, which had resulted in the extinction of that planet’s population.

The thought of such genocide shook her. The Mizarians practiced a form of pacifism man others thought extreme. Their principled belief in peaceful non-resistance had resulted in her home planet being conquered six times in the last two centuries. Others scoffed or derided the Mizarians for being naïve idealists at best or cowards at worst, but all at least her people had survived each occupation and weren’t on the doorstep to extinction like the Cardassians were now or completely erased from the pages of history like so many warlike species.

“Counselor Nitsa, isn’t it?” A musical voice interrupted her reverie. Nitsa swung her head around quickly, in the direction of the speaker. As she did so, she hoped it wasn’t the Vorta.

She sighed internally. The Romulan liaison, Velen, stood in front of her now, with a full glass of a blue liquid Nitsa assumed was Romulan ale.

The woman took a sip before continuing. “I hope I wasn’t disturbing you counselor, but you seemed all alone by yourself in this corner. I thought you might like some company.”

I was perfectly fine being alone, Nitsa thought, but she said, with a hint of a smile and a slight dip of her head, “Why thank you for being so considerate Liaison Velen.”

“Please, call me Livana,” the woman offered. The Mizarian obliged her and the Romulan smiled in return. “It appears the crowd is thinning,” she remarked, giving the smaller gathering a once over. Nitsa followed her lead. The Mizarian noted that many of Rushmore’s senior officers had departed. Her eyes widened in surprise once she realized that Dr. Zammit had left too.

Usually the amiable Bzzit Khaht was the last person to leave a social function. “Today was a good day,” Velen nodded, more to herself it seemed than to Nitsa. “It’s a start, hopefully of a new era of peace between our peoples.”

“One can only hope,” Nitsa replied. Velen nodded in agreement.

“It is a shame that the Cardassians decided not to attend,” the Romulan said.

“I am sure that you can understand their reasons why,” Nitsa replied.

“Of course,” Velen nodded, her gaze taking no a glint of understanding. “But still, if we are to forge a new future together, we must confront the past.”

“I agree,” Nitsa found herself really doing so.

“Well, Mizarians are known for being agreeable aren’t they?” Once Velen smiled, Nitsa understood that the woman was trying to make a joke.

“At least six times in the two hundred years,” the counselor cracked. The Romulan laughed.

“Very good Counselor,” Velen said. “For a person who looked like they would’ve gladly hitched a ride on the warbird that left with Procurator Harmost, you recover quickly. The Mizarians truly are an adaptable species. There is much your kind has to teach the rest of us.”

“Why do you think I’m wearing this uniform,” Nitsa tugged at her gold-embroidered collar, “First the Federation and then the Star Empire.”

Velen held her glass up to Nitsa. “If it was up to me I would leave the clear the Neutral Zone for your safe passage.”

The two women shared a laugh before Velen said, a bit sadly, “However it is not up to me.”

“First it is up to the Benzites,” Nitsa said, “And I think our nations’ governments will proceed from there.”

“Yes,” Velen nodded, “A wise assessment.”

“It is my fondest hope that we all return here next year to commemorate this monument,” Nitsa said.

“I hope so, though it is my fear that we will be erecting new ones, for the war between our nations,” Velen said darkly. “I will do everything within my power to prevent that. I want you to know that.”

“Why me?” Nitsa balked, “I’m just a counselor.”

“There’s an old Earth proverb,” Velen paused, as she stroked one of her tapered ears, struggling to recall it, “about the journey of a thousand miles starting with one step. I would like to believe that this social function is that one step and the more Starfleet officers can see Romulans as sentient beings, with the same desires for peace and prosperity, and vice versa, we won’t have to build more memorials like this,” she stopped, to gesture at the gracefully turning ship fragments.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Nitsa nodded, warming to the liaison.

“And this memorial maybe is a testament to our leaders finally grasping the fallacy of intergalactic war,” Velen said. “I am surprised that both our governments acceded to the Benzites request that the corpses not be removed from the ships, that they bear silent, eternal witness to the horrors those brave souls were forced to endure.”

From what Nitsa knew of the issue, it had been hotly debated between the Federation Council and Starfleet Command. Command had wanted the corpses returned for proper burial, but the Council seeking not to antagonize the Benzites further would not go along with Command’s wishes.

“The memorial will be complete once the wreckages left from the Romulan vessels that liberated Benzar are added,” Velen remarked, “And then our peoples will be united in death, and maybe that might scare Ki Baratan and Paris enough to prevent such a thing from happening due to their actions.” Nitsa agreed.

“I’ve talked your ears off enough,” Velen said, punctuating her statement with a yawn, “And I don’t think they are as long as mine,” she flicked one of her pointed ears. “And the hour grows late. And I have to situate my new quarters aboard the Ra’kholh,” Velen said. “It will be taking me to Benzar.”

“I understand,” Nitsa said, and gave the woman a slight, respectful bow. “It was a pleasure talking with your Liais…Livana.”

“The pleasure was mine,” Livana said, downing the rest of the drink without as much as a wince. Nitsa watched her gracefully part the remaining participants. As she did so, Nitsa thought about the centuries-long enmity between the Romulans and the Federation.

Granted both had finally allied to defeat the menace of the Dominion, and even the Earth-Romulan War hadn’t wreaked half the devastation that the most recent war had, yet the tensions and distrust remained, enough to possibly have each nation at the others’ throats soon, if not over Benzar then some other flashpoint.

However, with all that being said, Nitsa, knowing that history of blood, was able to have a thoroughly engaging conversation with Velen. Maybe she could plant similar seeds for peaceful coexistence with the Dominion, in addition to confronting and beating back some of her own biases.

Welling up her courage, Nitsa moved from her spot. She scoured the room, looking for a Jem’Hadar soldier to chat with. She sighed with relief when she saw that Hereth had returned.

Not only did she owe the Vorta an apology, but the counselor knew she wasn’t quite ready to look into the eyes of a Jem’Hadar.

The Vorta was talking with a Benzite, but perceptively felt Nitsa’s eyes on her. She turned smoothly from the Benzite, a slight smile on her face. The counselor was surprised that there seemed no hint of suspicion in her light purple eyes.

“Counselor,” Hereth said, with the appropriate respectful tone, “How might I help you?”
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