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The Audacity of Youth

Back Then


Elijah Katanga was absolutely convinced that he had hit the jackpot when he had chosen the relatively unknown world of Yura II as the shore leave destination for himself and is close friend Dezwin Sigus.

After all who could argue with the marvelous azure, cloudless skies, the pleasantly warm weather—just a little bit on the hot side—and the mild and refreshing breeze. And then, of course, there were the seemingly endless, sandy beaches, the water just as azure as the sky above.

More importantly perhaps were the people. Even though they were not used to many alien visitors, after having endured a dictatorial and xenophobic regime for the better part of half a century, which had only recently been disposed of following a long and bloody civil war.

None of this was obvious from the welcoming manner Eli, Dez and a small group of other offworld visitors had been received by not just the officials looking after the local region they had chosen for their shore leave but also by everyone else they had come in contact with from the shop vendors, the waiting staff in the restaurants and the hotel to the random people they encountered on the streets.

“According to this, Yura II was ruled by the Kindred, a religious minority with control over the military. The Kindred were able to maintain a kleptocracy for over two hundred years. A state of virtual civil war had existed for the last twenty years or so and came to an end only five years ago when the rebel forces took control of the government. Since then the transitional leadership has invited foreign delegates to help reshape their government, which is currently heavily modeled after a technocracy with the formerly repressed technical elite in power. According to Federation guidelines, all visiting Starfleet personnel is strongly advised not to interfere with any political activity or otherwise get involved in strictly internal affairs as defined by the Prime Directive or face disciplinary action.

Reading this, I don’t know if coming here was such a great idea considering this planet’s turbulent, recent history. We could have gone to Trill for shore leave. That’s a world a lot less complicated,“ Dezwin said without once looking up from his padd.

Eli rolled his eyes, having grown tired of Dez reading from the padd he had brought to the beach while they were lying next to each other on two comfortable deck chairs. “Every time we go back to Trill we spend half our time helping your parents on their farm. That’s not what I call shore leave.”

“I always found a bit of manual labor quite cathartic. Besides, it's fun to operate all that heavy machinery. And there is more than enough time to check out all the great sights on weekends.”

Eli reached over to him and with two fingers slowly pushed the padd downward. “There are plenty of great sights right here.”

“Hey, I was reading—“

That’s as far as Dez got until he spotted the two pretty young women who stood directly in their line of sight, in ankle-deep water, wearing revealing swim wear and watching the two offworlders with amused giggles.

“What does your padd say about the locals?”

“Friendly,” he said without having to double check and giving the two women a beaming grin. “Very, very friendly.”

“I think we should put that to a test,” said Eli and jumped out of his chair to head towards the two women.

“Never could say no to you,” said Dez and promptly followed.

It turned out the two women, Melna and Derla, were indeed extremely friendly and curious about Eli and Dez, intrigued by the human’s dark skin and the Trill’s leopard-like spots. And while the Yurians were humanoid and a fairly close anatomical match to both humans and Trill, dark skin and body markings were unknown on their world.

The two pairs quickly connected, Melna and Derla just as happy to talk to the two alien visitors about their world as Eli and Dez were to answer questions about the Federation and the galaxy beyond Yura II. They spent most of the morning and afternoon together, first on the beach, then exploring nearby caves, until they found themselves a local restaurant in the later afternoon where the two young women introduced them to the strange and exciting, new cuisine.

“So you’re both doctors?” Melna asked over dessert as the conversation had drifted to their respective occupations.

“Not exactly,” said Eli. “Dez here is training to become a doctor. I’m just a lowly corpsman.”

“With high ambitions,” the Trill quickly added. “Still thinking about nurse training, aren’t you?”

He just shrugged. “Maybe. We’ll see.”

“Such a noble profession. Being a doctor, a nurse or just any occupation where you are helping people,” said Derla

“Don’t be fooled,” said Eli with a smirk. “Dez here has been putting off taking his final medical admissions test for two years now. Some days I think he’s only studying to be a doctor so he can meet and impress women.”

“Hey,” Dez protested, “those tests are not easy, one needs to be prepared. Just because you’ve done yours already doesn’t give you the right to throw this into my face.”

Melna sidled up closer to the Trill sitting next to her, a wicked smile on her full lips. “Well, if the plan was to meet women, it seems to have worked.”
He reciprocated the smile with one of his own. “It does help.”

“That and being from another planet,” said Derla who clearly had taken a liking to Elijah.

Dez nodded. “And it would be a shame to end our joint, interspecies exploration so early. The night is still young. What’s up next? A walk on the beach under the moonlight?”

“Moonlights,” corrected Eli, referring to the three moons already visible in the darkening sky.

“Whatever you have in mind,” said Derla and stood, “I’m afraid it will have to be without me. At least tonight.”

“Say it ain’t so,” said Eli, clearly disappointed by her departure. “Is it something I said?”

She quickly shook her head. “Not at all. And I’m still eager to learn more about your Federation. But it’s my turn to look after my father tonight, I’m afraid.”

“Is he not well?” said Dez.

She shook her head sadly. “They say he’s got the Crimson Flu.”

“Oh no,” said Melna quickly. “I’m so sorry. Is he on the list.”

Derla nodded slowly. “Yes but not very high. We don’t think he’s going to hold out,” she forced a smile onto her lips. “I’m sorry, I wouldn’t be very good company tonight either way. It was a pleasure to meet you both and I hope we will see each other again. Have a good evening all.”

And with that she quickly left the restaurant, leaving the others behind.

Dez, his medical curiosity piqued, turned to the friend she had left behind. “What is this Crimson Flu?”

“I’m not entirely certain. It’s a disease that’s been around for a long time, I think. It’s gotten worse over the last few years.”

“But there is a cure?” asked Eli.

She nodded. “Yes, a vaccine. But it is rare and strictly rationed. If you have the Crimson Flu you go on a list for the vaccine. But unless you are part of the Technologist sect, your chances aren’t very good. They are even worse if you are a former Kindred like Derla’s family. It’s not fair, they never even supported the government during the war, but now they are being punished just by association.”

“Not just unfair,” said Eli, “sounds outright criminal if you ask me.”

“Maybe,” said Dez, “but keep in mind this is a different culture and we know very little about it”

But Eli shook his head. “Fair is fair, here or anywhere else. And this isn’t.”

"We thought it would be different after the war with the old regime gone," said Derla. "But sometimes it feels nothing has changed except the names of the people who make the rules.”

“Sounds about right,” said Dez.

“How can you say that?” Eli protested. “Nothing about this is right.”

"I know that. I just mean that I have heard about this kind of thing before. In a lot of places. After a big war, the common people are the last ones to ever benefit,” said the Trill.

"And in the meantime, they are left to die?"

"As much as I enjoy a philosophical discussion, particularly one about my own people, from the perspective of outsiders, no less, I think I really should go and look after Melna. Help her any way I can."

As she stood, Eli and Dez quickly followed suit.

“Please, accept my apologies. I didn’t mean to be judgmental,” Eli said quickly after realizing he might have been at fault for her decision to leave.

“No, that’s fine. And for what it’s worth, I do believe you are correct about what you are saying about our ways. We should catch up again soon and before you leave. Thank you for a wonderful day.”

“The pleasure was ours,” said Dez before she too left them behind.

The two of them sat back down and remained silent for a moment until Eli stood suddenly and walked off with a determined pace.

“I don’t think I like that look on your face,” said Dez and then followed him outside. It turned out that his friend was making a beeline back to their hotel room and by the time he had caught up with him, he found Eli already sitting in front of their desk and the computer terminal that had been provided for their use.

“What are you doing?”

He didn't speak straight away, to preoccupied with trying to figure out how this alien technology worked. But it wasn't long until he found what he had been looking for. "They have a publicly accessible information network here. Just wondering what they may have on this Crimson Flu.”

“Where are you going with this, Eli?” Dez asked, unable to mask the suspicion in his voice as he looked over his friend’s shoulder.

“We are medical professionals. At least one of us is trying to become one,” he added. “I think as such we should research a potential viral epidemic on the very same planet we are currently staying on.”

“Right,” said Dez, sounding unconvinced.

“Here we go,” said Eli once he had found what he was looking for, searching through the publicly available records. “The Crimson Flu is apparently caused by a negative-sense, single-stranded, segmented RNA virus which causes mild to severe influenza symptoms with a fifteen to twenty percent fatality rate with elderly persons most at risk.”

“Okay, that sounds a lot like a type-A influenza virus. Very common on most worlds with large humanoid populations. The fatality rate is high though."

"Well, listen to this. Apparently, an antiviral inhibitor is available for treatment but the distribution of the drug is strictly controlled and waiting times to receive the medication can be from six months to two years."

Dez moved closer to the screen. “Six months? That is way too long for an influenza virus like this.”

“Yes, it is. If untreated, the Crimson Flu virus can become terminal after three weeks of exposure. These records are not very clear but since this outbreak, it seems more than five million people have died from the Crimson Flu.”

“That’s a full-blown pandemic. At least class six,” said Dez as he glanced over the screen and trying to make sense of the translated text there. “Maybe even class seven. Is there even a class seven?”

“I don’t know but if there wasn’t before, there is one now. Right here on this planet.”

Dez sat down on his bed. “How did something like this not make it on our official Starfleet brief?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yurian government has been keeping this piece of information from the Federation. It also looks as if this region doesn’t appear as badly affected as some of the larger population centers on the northern hemisphere.”

But the Trill shook his head. “Hardly an excuse.”

“None at all as far as I’m concerned,” Eli said, doing little to hide his outrage. “And the fact that the government is doing nothing about this virus, hoarding the antiviral agents for themselves and their supporters instead of making it available to everyone infects, makes this nothing short of genocide.”

“That’s a strong word.”

"It's what's going on here," said Eli and stood, walking over to his large duffel bag and after rummaging through it for a moment pulled out a hand-held, gray device.

“You brought a tricorder on shore leave?”

Eli shrugged his shoulders. “You never know when it may come in handy,” he said as he began to manipulate its controls, the top section popping out and the device beginning to hum and blink. “The antiviral agents won’t be hard to find, they are based on protein inhibitors, something a medical tricorder should be able to pick up easily and—here we go. Found a large concentration just three kilometers from our location.”

“So what? You want to go and break into a medical store like some sort of drug addict and steal a whole bunch of medication? Have you lost leave of your senses? Who does something like that? Remember the Starfleet guidelines. Particularly the parts about the non-interference.”

“I’m not saying we’re going to steal it but at the very least I’m going to have a look what they are doing with these drugs. Dez, they are purposefully withholding medication to their own populace. You can’t tell me that you can sleep easily tonight knowing that people all around you are suffering because they are being denied the very treatment they need to survive. The least we can do is get somebody to explain to us the reasoning behind this. I’m going and that’s that. Up to you what you’re going to do.” Eli slung the tricorder around his shoulder and headed for the doors.

Dez watched them close behind him and then uttered a heavy sigh before he got up and slowly followed his friend. “I already know I’m going to regret this.”

* * *


Tazla Star leaned back in the guest chair inside the CMO’s office and scrolled through a padd. “Looks like all medical supplies are fully restocked, all facilities checked and operational and the latest crew rotations confirmed,” she said and then peeked over the padd to look at Elijah Katanga sitting behind his desk with his concentration focused on his computer terminal. “You have exactly zero patients, as to be expected while docked at a starbase containing the largest hospital in the quadrant, and none of your research requires any personal supervision at this point.”

The doctor simply mumbled an undecipherable response.

“So this begs the question why you are still onboard when the ship is almost deserted with the vast majority enjoying their greatly deserved shore leave.”

“Huh?” Katanga said but didn’t seem to pay attention to any of her words.

“Why are you not down on Earth?” Star said more forcefully.

Katanga, startled by her tone, turned to look at her. “Why aren’t you?”

“Don’t deflect. Besides I’m due to join the captain on his diving expedition in Australia tomorrow.”

“Right,” he said with a smirk. “You and the captain. Looks like you’re getting all chummy, spending your shore leave together. You sure have come a long way from the days I first got here and you couldn’t stand the man.”

Star quickly shook her head as she took her boots off the desk. “That’s not true. I mean, yes, we are much closer now but I never disliked Owens. If anything I’ve been incredibly grateful for everything he’s done for me.”

“Oh please, from what you’ve told me he had no choice in keeping you on. And for the first year or so you were a first officer in name only the way he kept you on his leash.”

She nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “There were… trust issues. But I don’t blame him for that. I had some baggage. Still do.”

“Whatever you say. At least he finally sees your true value.”

She offered him a wide, almost overdone smile. “So touching the way you look out for me. I remember a time when things were the other way around.”

Katanga uttered a little laugh to that. "You, looking out for me? When was that ever the case?"

“I can think of a few instances when you would have gone off the rails if it hadn’t been for my calming and reasonable influence. In fact, I wanted to speak to you about one of those times.”

He shot her a quizzical expression.

“Yura II.”

“Must we?” he said with a groan. “That was a million years ago.”

“Close. Sixty-two.”

“That’s a lifetime.”

She shot him a sweet smile. “Yes, but see for us Trill one lifetime is actually not such a big deal.”

“Lucky you,” he said. “Still, the less said about Yura II the better. Hell, I hardly even remember most of it.”

Star became more serious as she sat up straighter in her chair. “Looks like we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. The captain spoke to me about this earlier this morning. It looks like there are some important mining rights that are due to expire and the Federation really cannot afford losing these to another bidder right now. Apparently the Yura system possesses dense gallicite deposits which are critical for the Starfleet rebuilding effort.”

“What does any of this have to do with us?”

Star hesitated for a moment, trying to find the best words for what she needed to say next. “Certain influential persons on Yura II appear to have better memories than you do. They remember our visit there quite well and will not agree to resign the treaty until certain concessions have been made."

Katanga fixed her with a dark scowl. “What kind of concessions?”

“An apology.”

He looked dumbstruck. “An apology for something that happened over sixty years ago that most people—who are not Trill—have long since forgotten? This is ridiculous.”

“I completely agree.”

“Good,” he said and then turned back to look at his terminal as if this had put the matter to bed.

Unfortunately, Star knew better. “They expect us to issue a formal apology for our actions,” she said after he hadn’t said anything further on this. She stood from her chair. “Seeing that you don’t recall any of the details, I figured I just draft something for the both of us. I'll let you have a quick look at it when I'm done."

“Wait a minute,” he said before she could slip out of the door. “I didn’t agree to issue any kind of apology.”

“You implied it yourself, this is nothing more than silly political posturing by an old man who holds a grudge. We’re both above these kinds of things. Let’s just hammer something out quickly, get it issued and everyone’s happy.”

“I’m not happy,” he said with an exasperated sigh. “Who put you up to this? It’s Owens, isn’t it?”

She shrugged. “Honestly, it’s not a big deal.”

“Yes, yes it is, Dez,” he said, calling her by the name of her former host as he was sometimes wont to do. “What we did back then, it was the right thing. We were right and they were wrong. I’m not going to apologize for being right.”

“I thought you didn’t remember.”

“It’s coming back to me now,” he said. “And I stand by my actions. All of them. If you want to apologize for yours, that’s fine, but I encourage you to stand by your principles, I know I will. And I won’t compromise them to satisfy a starship captain who wasn’t even alive back when all this took place.”

“It’s not just that, Eli.”

“Really? What then if not to ingratiate yourself further with that man? I bet you didn’t even bat an eyelash when he asked you to do this. He probably mentioned this offhand and you just agreed, not considering for even a moment that what we did back then made a difference for a lot of people. That it was the right thing to do and if we were placed in that exact same position once more, we wouldn’t hesitate to make the same choices all over again.”

Star hesitated for a moment when she realized the truth of his words. At least as far as how Owens had approached her about the apology that had been demanded from her and from Elijah Katanga. And he was also correct that she hadn't thought much about it at the time. Maybe he was right, after all, maybe she had been too eager to please her captain to even consider turning down the request.

He carried on as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. "Don't compromise your own ethics just to humor others, Taz. If there is one thing I've learned over the many years practicing medicine, this is it. And you know who taught me that? A very good friend of mine," he said and pointed at her stomach where he knew her slug-like symbiont lived. "Why don't you go ask him to see what he would do?"

* * *

Back Then

With the help of his tricorder, Elijah had been able to track down a surprisingly large stockpile of antiviral medications and other drugs to a warehouse located not very far from the hotel, but on Dez' insistence they had detoured to the seat of the local government instead, seeing what they could glean from the officials in charge of theses seemingly disastrous policies which exposed a large swath of the population to fend for their own against a deadly virus for which a cure seemed to exist.

The administrators they encountered were more than happy to meet with two representatives of the Federation, and were courteous and helpful, at least so far as to get them seen by somebody who had some real influence.

That somebody was a man called Horas Rah, currently serving as the chief alderman of the local province they were staying in.

“I’ve read about Rah,” said Dez quietly as they were being led towards his office. “He was one of the leaders of the rebellion against the government, practically a folk hero amongst the people. Probably just the man we need to talk to about this.”

“If he was so important, how come they put him in charge of a small seaside province half a world removed from the center of this planet’s power?” Eli asked.

Dez had no response to this but the answer to this mystery became a little more apparent when they stepped into what looked like a workshop of sorts—not an office, as they had expected—and came face-to-face with Horas Rah.

His most obvious feature was his youth. Handsome, by human standards, tall, square-jawed but also unlikely to be a year older than Eli. If he had indeed been a hero in this world’s revolution, it hadn’t been for long, which of course also must have meant that he had distinguished himself from an early age, and doing so very rapidly. Dez didn’t miss a certain intelligence in his bright, green eyes which seemed put him slightly apart from most Yurans they had met.

He was also clearly a hands-on kind of a leader, his sleeves rolled up, he was working along with other men and women on a large device of sorts, outfitted with numerous pipes and what looked like pumps and cylinders.

“Mister Katanga, Mister Sigus, welcome, welcome,” he said with a beaming smile as he turned towards his guests. “We are very much honored that you have come to our world, and this very province to enjoy all we have on offer.”

“You have a beautiful world and a great province here,” said Dez, “great people too from what we’ve seen.”

He nodded with a certain pride. “I am glad that you have been enjoying your stay here and I would very much like to take the opportunity to talk to you in a more … appropriate setting about your stay,” he said. “We’re all a little busy working on our latest project here but I’m sure I can take a few minutes to talk to you,” he added, pointing at the machine behind him that was still being tended to by a small army of workers and engineers.

“What is it?” Eli asked with curiosity.

He beamed, obviously proud of his accomplishment as he turned to look at it. "This is a prototype salt water filter. We are hoping to build dozens of these and place them near the ocean to provide fresh drinking water to most of the province." He turned back to his guests, allowing them a moment to look over the machine. "If you'd like to follow me, there is an area nearby where we can talk in private." Rah led the two off-worlders out of a workshop and into a currently empty rest area with tables and chairs. He poured each of them cups of water and handed them out. "Here, please have a taste."

Dez took a sip with Eli watching and when he didn’t immediately keel over dead, he followed suit.

Dez nodded. “Very refreshing.”

"Yes," he said, "you may even taste the faint hint of the added minerals the prototype infuses into the end product to fortify the immune system and general health and well-being."

“I’m relieved to hear that you are so concerned about your people’s health seeing how that is the reason we’ve come to see you,” said Dez.

“Is that so?”

Dez nodded. “We have encountered a few people who have been indirectly affected by the Crimson Flu and since we are both working in the medical field, this has piqued our interest.”

"In fact, you could say we are somewhat surprised that visitors haven't been made aware of this health issue before hand," interrupted Eli, "considering it is a serious pandemic affecting a significant percentage of the population."

Horas Rah nodded slowly, his facial expression pained. “Very sadly so. But let me assure you that as long as you stay within this immediate area, you are completely safe.”

“That’s not actually why we are concerned, Alderman,” said Dez. “We understand that there is a vaccine available. One with a very high rate of effectiveness, even to already infected patients. But it is not being made available publicly.”

Ras turned his back to the two men for a moment.

“Is this true?” Eli practically demanded.

“I would be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t,” he said, still not facing them directly.

“People are dying out there,” Eli said, doing little to hide the frustration he felt over this. “And from what we have learned, it is even more difficult to obtain the vaccine if the infected person is associated with a certain religious group or if their standing in society is not high enough.”

Rah very slowly turned back around. “You must understand, these are difficult times for all of us. We have just emerged from a century of oppression by a government whose primary purpose was to enrich itself and a few selected individuals but cared little about the common good of the people. We fought long and hard to bring about change and it cost us dearly. Not just in those who gave their lives for the cause of the people but also in vital infrastructure and technology. Many of the most basic systems to ensure our people’s welfare were destroyed when the government realized it was about to lose control and adopted a scorched earth policy. They wanted to make sure that when they were gone, we had to start over from scratch.

That is the unfortunate reality of the situation we find ourselves in and it means that we all have to make sacrifices while we slowly but surely rebuild our broken world.”

Eli looked at the man as if he had spontaneously grown a second head. “So what? You are saying this is sanctioned policy? That you are content with withholding life-saving medicine to the people?”

Rah quickly shook his head. “Of course I am not content with this. My heart bleeds for every single Yuran who succumbs to the Crimson Flu and many of my fellow colleagues feel the same way.”

Dezwin exchanged a quizzical look with his friend before he considered the young official. "I am not sure I understand. You claim that you don't like this policy, that most in your new government don't, and yet you withhold the vaccine to those who need it the most. Why?"

"Despite what some would have you believe, our supply of the vaccine is not limitless and its production is difficult. It must be strictly rationed. The Crimson Flu is a disease affecting this entire planet, not just my province."

Eli nodded. “I can understand that. What I don’t understand is why you make it so difficult for people who are in dire need for it to obtain it. Why are certain segments of the population considered less favorably when rationing the vaccine?”

Horas Rah looked at the two men as if the answer to Katanga's question was inherently obvious. "First and foremost we must secure the long term survival of our people and our society as a whole. In these difficult times, we cannot afford to consider the well-being of individuals. Our priority must be the entirety of the Yuran people. As such the vaccine must be made available to those members of the society who play the greatest role in securing its future. That means our architects, our engineers, our scientists, our policy shapers and our peace officers. All those people without which our society would collapse."

Elijah Katanga’s dark face noticeably reddened at hearing this. “And everyone who doesn’t fall into the category you have deemed to be vital to your society is considered expendable, is that it?”

“Expandable?” he said and then shook his head. “No. But certainly less valuable. And trust me some of the people who occupy the halls of planetary power have even more extreme views on this matter with which I strongly disagree. It is one of the reasons why I am working very hard to improve my own station and to one day be in a position to affect real change in planet-wide policy myself. I want to make sure Yura will one day be able to make a significant contribution to the intergalactic community and take its place among the many societies reaching out towards the stars.”

Eli couldn't believe his ears. "I'm not sure that you'll make it very far with those kinds of beliefs. And if you don't consider your current system extreme already, God help the people of this world once those other folks you mentioned get their way."

"How is any of this any better than what your old-regime practiced?" asked Dezwin. "From everything you have told us all you have done is replaced one form of government tyranny for another. What was the point of this war if in the end, only a select few prosper?"

Rah looked downright disappointed. “I see you still do not understand that we are trying to secure a better future for all our people.”

“Oh, we understand all right,” said Eli with obvious disdain. “It’s a great new future you’re all working towards. Except for those thousands, probably millions of people you left behind on the way to this great new future and who will never get the chance to see it because somebody in power decided that they were not important enough save.”

“I don’t expect you to understand what my people have been through over the last hundred years or so. I don’t expect you to like what we are forced to do in order to heal as a people but I do expect you to respect our ways and leave your moral judgments and politics back in the Federation where everything is handed to you on a golden platter and where struggling for survival is a purely intellectual concept.” Rah’s tone had taken a harder edge now. “Don’t presume that the two of you can come here and judge my entire people because the way we have decided to run this world offends your sensibilities.

Nobody made you come here, you’ve chosen to visit this world for our great hospitality and its natural beauty. So if you cannot enjoy it without restraining your moral outrage and self-righteous indignation, I am more than happy to arrange transport to take you back to your precious Federation.”

“I just want to be clear about one thing,” said Eli. “You were considered a hero among your people during the war, is that right? The very same people who trusted you to bring real change to this world.”

“And we did,” he said angrily. “And part of that change is to make difficult decisions others are unable to do. To decide whose life is more valuable than somebody else’s and act accordingly. For the common good of all of Yura.”

Eli nodded slowly as if the truth had finally sunken in. "I know of quite a few so-called leaders on my world who used a very similar argument to justify very similar decisions. For what it's worth, for the common good of all of Yura, I sincerely hope that you will never be in a position to lead anything more significant than this province. And should this world be unfortunate enough for you to succeed in becoming its leader, the lesson I would impart on you from the history of my own world is simply this: Those people I mentioned you remind me of, it never ended well for them."

Rah just stared at the human with a blank expression.

"I think you are right, Alderman," added Dezwin. "I think perhaps it was a mistake for us coming here. And as long as you continue to propagate these self-destructive policies, we'll be doing everything we can to convince anyone else in the Federation to book their vacations elsewhere." He continued before Rah could respond. "Don't worry about showing us out, we know the way. Have a nice life." With that Dezwin grabbed Eli's arm and pulled him along as he made a beeline for the doors. Of course, his friend offered little resistance, just as eager to put as much distance between him and this so-called hero as possible.

“What a totally insufferable jerk,” Eli said once they had left the building and then stopped to look at his friend. “I can honestly not believe half the things this fool was blabbering about. In fact, I think it made me physically ill just listening to that man talk.”

“You and me both.”

Eli considered him carefully. “Well, we did what you suggested and we talked to the powers that be, for all the good that did. Now what?”

“Now?” the Trill said. “We go find that warehouse where they keep that vaccine.”

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