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Youth Initiative

Posted on Fri Apr 12th, 2013 @ 9:56am by Lieutenant Commander David Burkeson & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh & Major Michael Finn

Mission: Part of the Team
Location: Marine Quarters

Haqtaj was stopped at the door to the Marine quarters by two armed soldiers. She had got so used to going where she pleased on this station that at first she was confused.

"Out of my way, I need to see your CO," she said curtly and moved to push past.

She was met with a firm, yet polite shove back, "This is a restricted area. No admittance without authorization from Major Finn."

Haqtaj ground her teeth. She pointed to the Starfleet security uniform visible under her own armour and the rank pins on her neck.

"I am Chief of Security on this station. That means I am authorised to go wherever I want. Now step aside before I have you arrested for obstruction of a Security officer in the pursuit of their duty."

There was the ever so slight click of weapons being armed, and if Haqtaj hadn't been such a trained warrior she may have missed the slight shift in their stance to prepare for a fight.

"No admittance without authorization from Major Finn."

Haqtaj found herself in a quandary. Here were real warriors ready to follow orders, even in the face of a real danger. She was impressed, more than she wanted to admit. And yet, they were stopping her form doing her job, and that could not stand. Fortunately her years of Diplomacy came to her aid.

"Is," she asked very evenly, "Major Finn available to speak with?"

"One moment, Ma'am." the guard said. He made a quick, three-directional movement with his head, then said, "Sentry Post One to Major Finn. Station Security Chief requesting access to restricted area."

There was a brief pause, then....

"Aye, aye, Major. Ambassador, you are cleared for access to this area, effective immediately. The proper notations will be made in the log. Major Finn is not here at the moment, however. He requests that you join him on the Upper Promenade, section 14."

Haqtaj turned on her heel and left. These marines were brief and to the point, with an entirely un-Federation tendency to avoid small talk. They reminded her of Klingon warriors, and she liked it.

Upper Promenade was full of people trying to avoid the various blocks on the lower floor where the Romulans were being channeled. Finn saw Haqtaj standing out above the crowd long before she spotted him.

"Major Finn," she called as she approached him and his team. "I need to speak to you but would prefer to do so in a secure location. Will you join me in the security office downstairs?"

"Of course, Ambassador," Finn said, "Lead the way."

He accompanied her to the Security office and took a seat, allowing her to take the lead.

"Major Finn, it has been brought to my attention that a number of the refugees who pass through here may be considered 'at risk'. They are displaced, and often without family or other social structure to support them. In my experience people like this will join a gang or other form of community just looking for support and socialization. We could absorb some of them into station life. The benefits to the individuals in question would be insurmountable.

"The benefits to the the station are three fold. Firstly, we can put them in support of a reduced security detail that deals with refugees. They will be more likely to respond well to their own people. Secondly, the diplomatic advantages of being supportive of Romulans which will eventually return and re-integrate into society. And of course there is the benefit of the Romulan refugees being able to observe the care we are giving their people and be more likely to trust us. So, trust, diplomacy, and reduction in security drain."

Finn's brow furrowed and he regarded her carefully.

"What sort of structure are you thinking of here?"

"Put simply, a small group of young refugees with no ties to any other support structure or family. So maybe a dozen under the age of thirteen. Left on their own their survival is doubtful. We house them, train them in basics of crowd management, maybe get them some work experience with the Romulan on station. It should be an invitation only, and they are under no compulsion or accept or remain if they have another option."

Finn's look turned scornful.

"Ambassador, while I can certainly see the social and diplomatic benefits of such a program, do you honestly think a dozen children trained in crowd control are going to make a difference in managing this refugee population?"

Haqtaj sighed heavily. Why was it the Federation insisted on inflicting their cultural norms on that of others, 'Yes. Major, I do. Otherwise I would not have suggested it."

"I'll admit I'm no expert on the subject, but thirteen year old and younger children carry very little authority in Federation society. Klingons and Romulans being significantly longer-lived than humans and many other races, I would imagine the same is true. And I certainly wouldn't authorize Federation children still of primary school age to perform Security functions, much less Romulan refugees of questionable background. As you know, I have issues with the level to which your people have penetrated the management of this Federation facility and I certainly trust the trained warriors of House Maith more than a bunch of Romulan kids."

Haqtaj held her tongue. The man was on a rant. Best to let it finish.

"Don't get me wrong." he continued, "With the exception of the security enhancement element, I think your idea has merit. It's well beyond the scope of my team to manage, of course, but certainly something the station command structure could set up. Certainly, by and large, the youth of a species tends to lack many of the prejudices of older, more thoroughly socialized members and integrates more smoothly. Outreach to the refugee youth and, through it, the community has a great deal of merit. I'd recommend it be approached in a manner more suitable to children rather than trying to press children into adult duties. There is a large amount of such work needed, as I'm sure you know. Entire sections of the station need to be rebuilt and/or re-purposed to the refugee support mission."

Hataj said, "I felt that giving them access to sections of the station outside the direct interaction with their own people was more of a security risk. It would not take much to plant a youth who could do some serious infiltration and damage on the station, unless they were constrained to work on those areas that only affect their own people."

Finn thought a moment, then added, "In the Federation Starfleet Academy sponsors the Junior Cadets, a youth organization that encourages children to explore, learn and develop social consciousness. I myself am an adviser to a JC squadron back home. I say 'adviser' because they are self-directed by cadets, under the supervision of adult advisers.I have my team doing research right now into areas where personnel reinforcement is needed to help manage this crisis, with an eye toward making a request to Starfleet for assistance. Perhaps some of them would be willing to bring their JC children along for a bit, to help serve as cadre to forming a similar group among the refugee children. It would make an excellent experience for them as well and children almost always relate better to other children."

Haqtaj drew a deep breath and let it out slowly, "Permission to speak candidly, sir?"

"Of course." Finn said, "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Haqtaj nodded, "You are a militant, not a diplomat. I know how hard it is to think outside the box when one is forced to do so. You have admitted you have no expertise in this, so allow me to highlight a few things for you that you have missed."

Finn nodded, "Go on...."

"Firstly, you constantly refer to 'children' but I may remind you that in Klingon culture is a person of age 13 is considered a full adult and may hold a chair on the high council. We feel no compunction about lending them the authority they have earned. Mind you , we have much more direct and efficient ways of dealing with inept leadership than the Federation. In this situation, a person of age 13 is considered a full Adult in Romulan circles, not a child. I propose to get youths and train them so that when they reach their Age of Ascension, or Romulan equivalent, they may then be put to work immediately.

"Nor am I suggesting giving them Security training. Most of what my people are doing is crowd control. There would still be Security on hand to deal with any violent or disruptive elements, but the majority of the work involves telling people, 'Stand here', 'Wait a few more moments', 'Do you have any health issues to declare?'. All of this can be handled by the youths in question, and we are more likely to get good answers from Romulans who feel easier talking to their own, as I am sure you would if you were in a Klingon internment camp.

"At the end of the day, this does not directly affect you. This is a call the Commander of the station should make about the management of the personnel under his command. I come to you as a courtesy only, knowing if you took a dislike to it you could make life difficult. However, to actively block this wold require you to take command of the station, and its management of resources and personnel, completely out of the hands of Commander Harrison and into your own. I know you have the authority to do this, I just do not believe you have the will. Is this the issue you use to take command of the station? Is it not a minor issue, where the youths in question are contained within the areas that Romulans would normally be restricted to at any rate. Do you want reports that you are blocking humanitarian efforts of Starfleet and the KDF to filter out?"

Finn barked a laugh, "Ambassador, I could care less what reports filter out. As long as I know I'm doing the best job I can on this lousy assignment, that's all that matters to me. Honestly, I'd love nothing better than for Starfleet to decide I'm the wrong man for the job out here and recall me, returning me to my hard-earned retirement and the grand-daughter that is all the family I have left. My honor as a Marine prevented me from refusing the call-up and prevents me from doing a shoddy job in the hopes of getting 'fired', but I'm certainly not going to soft soap the situation to please superiors who don't understand reality."

Haqtaj nodded. She was locked here by an honour bind as well, and longed to be able to return to her home.

"I do understand that this is a station matter and appreciate your courtesy in seeking my opinion. You now have it. You and Harrison act as you see fit and, unless I feel that security is being compromised, I'll stay out of it. If I do, I'll stop it. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that I will not be taking command of this station unless there is no other choice and then not for a minute longer than absolutely necessary. It may be necessary to replace him, but not with me if I can help it. As a matter of fact, I have already selected his replacement should that come to pass."

Haqtaj sighed again, "You use authority and strength of arms as an indomitable force. They are not. Politics can leave you floundering here in red tape while the civil servants are getting all the real work done. I have learned this at some cost. With the possible exception of yourself there isn't a person on board this station I could not best in combat. According to my traditions, I should be in charge. And yet, due to politics, I am no longer an Admiral in the KDF, but a mere Lieutenant in some nothing station. Heed my warnings and pick your battles. When they come I will be there to fight at your side, if I am able."

"And no matter what our respective opinions about specific issues, Haqtaj, Daughter of Matlh, I would be proud to fight alongside you should that day come."

Haqtaj stood and showed Finn to the door, stopping him at the last moment, "Do me one favour, Major. If it comes to replacing the CO, don't ask me. I still need to find a way out of being CSO, let alone CO."

"Agreed, Ambassador." Finn said.


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