For a Refugee, Refuge.
Season 2: Mission 2.A: R&R
Location: Deep Space Nine - Promenade
Jessica had been ready to delve into more of the food but followed Estelle’s advice not to overdo it with the sugary treats, especially not after decades of malnutrition. “People here are just so nice, I wish we could all live like this.”
“Well, maybe someday.” Anje offered, “In the meantime, how do you feel about getting the ball rolling with the Ambassador?”
“I’m ready, absolutely”, Jessica agreed. “But… uhm, well, what do I say? I had time to rehearse, and that journalist coached me well. But how do I speak to an ambassador?”
“With Ambassador Zhukov the best advice I can give you is speak plainly and be honest.” Anje replied, she knew her aunt well and knew how to talk to her.
“A politician who appreciates honesty?” Estelle grinned. “That’s refreshing.”
“She’s a lot different than your average politician, I guess.” Anje shrugged, “But if you’re honest and put your concerns out there in the open, along with the relevant facts, you’ll get pretty far with her, I promise.”
“I’ll even behave, for a few minutes”, Estelle offered.
“That… that would be good, yes”, Jessica agreed.
“Don’t over-promise, Estelle.” Anje sighed, not sure if the daffy doc could deliver on that one. She began inputting the code to her Aunt’s personal communications console, bringing up the UFP Ambassadorial Service’s seal first, followed by the face of Ambassador Zhukov. Anje smiled at her aunt, nodding to Col. Tate in the background, glad to see Anje the Elder had been able to keep her Embassy’s security chief on, “Good afternoon, Madam Ambassador.”
“Anje.” Ambassador Zhukov nodded, happy to see her niece was apparently doing well away from the nest, “Is this a personal or business call?”
“Business.” Anje immediately replied, “Serious business.”
Jessica waved into the sensor and gave the ambassador a nervous smile, not the best impression she could have made. “Hello”, she said, not sure when it was her turn to speak up fully.
“Hello.” Zhukov nodded, “Anje, who is your friend? Someone special?” It didn’t look like the child across the screen from her had eaten in weeks…
“Well, in a way, yes.” Anje explained, “Madam Ambassador, this is Jessica Clarke, she’s a Turkanian refugee and she’s asked for a chance to speak to you about what’s going on on Turkana IV.”
“The situation on Turkana IV has been of concern to me for nearly four decades.” Zhukov stated, “I was still Admiral Zhukov then, so very long ago. Please, Ms. Clarke, tell me what’s on your mind.”
“I have come to ask for help”, Jessica said, keeping it to the point. “The criminals on Turkana are killing or enslaving us, and we have no place to go. We can’t leave because we have no ships and we can’t stay because that’s not a life. Some of us have tried building their own spacecraft but they’ve just been intercepted by Orion pirates. We need someone to help us get off that rock, and let us build a life for ourselves.”
“So, essentially, refugee resettlement.” Zhukov said, steepling her fingers. It wasn’t the solution she wanted, she knew damn well it wasn’t the solution Tate wanted; they’d both long agreed that the only solution to the Turkanian problem was full and swift military intervention, they did it with Orion pirates, she didn’t understand why they couldn’t do it with Turkanian warlords. However, convoys of refugee ships were merely a hard sell, military intervention with an increasingly spineless Federation Council was no sale at all, “It’ll be easier for me to push that over other options, but, I’m not going to lie, it will be hard to do nonetheless.”
“Madam Ambassador, what about asking the council to allow private vessels to render humanitarian aid?” Anje offered, it seemed reasonable.
“Selling that to the Council would be easy.” Zhukov replied, sadly adding, “But getting the Turkanians to allow them to land and take on refugees is another thing altogether. Plus there’s still the issue of pirates in the region, private vessels are lightly armed, when they’re armed at all, they wouldn’t have a chance.”
“I’ve asked for help to give us a working government”, Jessica said. “It’s what we’d really need. But everyone I’ve spoken to tells me this is impossible. But ships in orbit, they could contact people by dropping combadges, beam up anyone who asks. They wouldn’t even need to land.” But they would need to be able to defend themselves, Jessica agreed. She didn’t think she needed to say that, though.
“There’s no way to install that working government without full scale military intervention against the warlords.” Zhukov shook her head, “And the Council won’t allow it. I’ve been blowing the bugle on that one for nearly forty years, almost had the Council sold on launching the operation in the late 60’s or early 70’s when a ‘refugee’ was rescued by Enterprise, then when it turned out she was actually trying to use Starfleet to gain an advantage over a rival cadre they scrapped it. Subsequent councils have always refused to bring the idea to the floor again.” ~For almost thirty years….~ She remembered, the Ishara Yar debacle had been the reason they put her out to pasture from Starfleet Intel, led her to the diplomatic service in the first place.
“This might happen again”, Jessica admitted. “But most of us want to just live in peace. And there aren’t enough of us that we can disrupt another world or something like that.” She was reaching for what to say, and suddenly it sounded a lot less like something she had pre-arranged in her mind. She didn’t know about that intervention, it wasn’t like there were functioning news services on Turkana IV. “It’s the only way, though.”
“And your desire to live in peace is a human right.” Zhukov stated, the fact that that had somehow become a privilege in some sections of the galaxy nauseated her, “And I will beseech the Council again to open negotiations for the rescue of refugees from Turkana IV. I don’t know what, if any, good it’ll do, but trust that I’ll fight this fight until they drape the flag over my coffin.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Jessica asked. She had zero experience with how the Federation worked. Her parents had told her stories, they had been born before the fall, but they had always sounded more like romantic ideals to Jessica, not something that could actually be true.
“There will be at some point.” Zhukov answered, “There may come a time when I send for you to appear with me in front of the Council, but for right now keep doing what you’re doing, I’ll take care of the rest.”
“I will, thank you.” Maybe if she worked hard enough, she could be a positive example for others? She might even be able to persuade Gleg to hire her as a deck hand, at least that she had some experience with.
“What are you going to do in the meantime, Ms. Clarke?” Zhukov asked, she couldn’t afford to lose contact with this woman, she also needed to guarantee her safety.
“Find a job”, Jessica said. “At this point, anything really. I know how to do things on cargo ships now, or maybe someone, somewhere, needs help farming?” Not that Turkanan farming methods were in any way competitive with what the Federation was doing. Turkanans had regressed to the point of using pesticides, and that was a definite no-go on civilised worlds.
“You’ll need to find a job somewhere safe.” Zhukov remarked, “We can’t afford for your voice to be silenced, Jessica.”
“I’m open for advice”, Jessica said. “I don’t know the first thing about where is or isn’t safe.”
“At this point, I believe I’ll put that in the hands of Lt. Brett.” Zhukov responded, “She knows the region and what’s going on in real time, she’s the best choice. Do you feel comfortable in her care?”
“Yes, of course. She and the doctor have been nothing but amazing”, Jessica quickly agreed.
“Okay, so there we go.” Zhukov nodded, “I’ll start the process of getting in front of the council, Lt. Brett and the Doctor will see to your needs until it’s time for you to come to Earth.”
Jessica fought back the impulse of refusing other people to take over for her so quickly after gaining her freedom, as she understood they were well-meaning and that it was probably necessary. She didn’t want to cause any trouble, especially not if that made attaining her goals harder. “Thank you”, she simply said.
Zhukov could pick up on her discomfort easily, she was over a century old and had raised a daughter of her own, young women were an easy read, “Don’t misunderstand, you’re your own boss, they’re merely there to assist you in the transition you’re facing and provide for your safety. Think of them as friends.”
“Is Deep Space Nine such a dangerous place?” Jessica asked. “People here seem friendly, or at least they ignore me.”
“Since we booted the Cardassians, no.” Zhukov shook her head, “If you can find a job there and a place to stay there, that’s a good option. If not, don’t be afraid to ask one of them to help. Or call me. Either myself or Colonel Tate will assist in any way we can.”
“Dai’Mon Gleg might have a job for me, too”, Jessica smiled. “Can’t say I like food that bites back, though.” But she had eaten it anyway. Food was food, after all.
“That’s one option.” Zhukov said, her voice flat though she found this option far less than attractive. Sure, this Gleg had done Ms. Clarke a service, but it wouldn’t be long before the Ferengi acted like a Ferengi and who in frack knew what that might cause Jessica to do, “Though DS9 would certainly have more opportunities due to its size.”
“I know how to handle cargo, and repair some ship systems”, Jessica said. “Plus, he’s a really nice guy.” From personal experience, Jessica didn’t understand why people reacted so negatively to the Ferengi. They seemed a lot more likeable than people ruling her homeworld.
“That’s good.” Zhukov smiled, somehow in spite of all she’d been through Jessica had an inherent innocence inside of her, ~Never let that go.~ “Well, you don’t have to decide tonight, either way. I’d suggest a good night’s rest and a good meal in the morning, you’re still recovering after all.”
“And we will have to look at nutrition”, Estelle added from outside of the focus of the sensor. “All these years of hardship will have left their marks on your health in ways not as plain to see.”
“I did get a few hypos when I arrived here”, Jessica said.
“That is a good start”, Estelle agreed.
“Okay, so that’s settled then.” Zhukov stated, “Anje, you and the doctor will see to helping Jessica along. Jessica, I’ll be back in touch with you with some more questions after you’ve had a couple days to get yourself on track. Zhukov out.” With that the Ambassador vanished and was replaced by the UFP logo; having never been one to drag her butt on an exit.
Anje turned to Jessica and immediately said, “That went very well.” She smiled brightly, wanting to assuage any fears the other woman had; she knew her aunt well enough to know that she was in for Jessica from the word go, no matter how it might seem to those who didn’t understand that maddening woman.
“Why does she care so much, while others don’t?” Jessica asked bluntly. Despite her anxiety, she understood that this was the best she could have hoped for, from any single Federation official.
“I guess you’d say it’s in honor of a fallen friend.” Anje replied, she didn’t know how much she could say about it, but that seemed safe, “Just cross your fingers and keep hoping for the best.”
Jessica nodded slowly. “I suppose I should start looking for a colony that has space to take everyone who wants to leave. Should be tens of thousands, if given the chance.”
“That’ll be the hardest part, but not insurmountable.” Anje said, though she had no idea where the Hell they would put everybody.
“They don’t all have to go to the same place”, Estelle suggested. “On hundreds of worlds, we’ve got space for thousands of people, and nobody will even notice. I wouldn’t worry about that. Some will want an agricultural world, others might look for a cloud city on Venus, or a burrow in the ground with the Tellarites.”
“So we’ve got options.” Anje added with a smile.
Jessica smiled. “You’re giving me hope.”
“Just remember, you’ve got a life to build for yourself. Helping others is great. I, for one, love my job as a surgeon. But don’t forget your own, personal needs over it.” She looked at Anje. “I was going to spend these two hundred credits on tea, but I suppose I can life off the replicator for a bit. Have you got some to chip in, we could secure a small cabin for a few weeks. That should be plenty of time to look around and see all the options.”
“I can do that.” Anje nodded, matching Estelle’s two hundred with two hundred of her own, “Though I’m sure if we need anything beyond that the Ambassador can arrange something for us.”
“Well, the Elysium leaves later today, but we should be back soon”, Estelle said. “This is our home port, after all.”
“You are very generous”, Jessica smiled. She was determined to show herself worthy of the trust put in her. She knew she was going to serve as the example of how others might behave, however unfair and inaccurate that might be.
“I’m leaving you my contact information.” Anje began, handing the other woman a holo-card with everything on it, “Get with me if you need anything, okay?”
“Thank you”, Jessica said, taking the card, also accepting the credit chit from Estelle. “I will put both to good use.”
“And promise me you’ll go back to the infirmary to make sure you’re good on essential nutrients”, Estelle reminded her.
“Yes, I will. I’ll have to pack on a few kilos”, the emaciated woman admitted.
“I recommend the Russian cafe on level nine.” Anje laughed, though the food would definitely put weight on Jessica… Or anyone else for that matter.
“Now, let’s hurry up and get it done”, Estelle said. “I don’t want to miss embarkation and be forced to room with Quark until the Elysium gets back.”
“I’d put on a space suit and walk first.” Anje shuddered, turning to Jessica, “We’ll be back soon, Jessica. You know how to find us, no matter how small you think it is, okay?”
Jessica nodded. “I do, and I will as soon as you come back.”
“Even if you need us before we get back.” Anje reminded, “And if you can’t get us call Ambassador Zhukov, she’ll see to anything you need.”
“Anje, she’ll be fine. This is Deep Space Nine, not the Badlands”, Estelle said, wondering why Anje seemed like she was worrying a bit too much.
“Of course.” Anje nodded, “And you will be fine. Just don’t lose the number, huh?”
“Memorise it, and eat the holo-card”, Estelle suggested.
“Not necessary.” Anje laughed, “Though it would probably be better than racht.”
Jessica let out a light-hearted laugh, something she hadn’t done in a long time, and it felt great. “I’m not a picky eater, but I think I’ll pass on this one.”