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Time to Move

Posted on Thu Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:09am by Pardek

Location: The Promenade

The Promenade was bustling which was pleasing to Harrison and worrying at the same time. Pleasing because it meant the station was becoming a vibrant, living community, not just another Starfleet base; worrying because if plague took hold it could spread here like wild fire.

Still, that was not his primary concern at the moment.

As he stepped through the door to Pardek’s Emporium, the first thing he noted was that although there were quite a few Romulans inside, they were outnumbered by the other races. That also pleased Harrison. He had expected Pardek’s main clientele to be his fellow Romulans. That other races were shopping there spoke well of the cosmopolitan atmosphere he was trying to build. Undoubtedly, Parkek stocked goods which appealed to more than just Romulans – he would not be a very good businessman if he did not – but having the goods and attracting the custom were completely different things.

He walked over to one of the sales staff, a young Bajoran woman. “Is Pardek in?” he asked.

“He’s in a back room checking inventory.”

“Might I speak to him?”

“I will check. Wait here, please.”

Harrison waited, inspecting some cans of pickled Chinese vegetables while he did so. He had moved through grass jelly to tinned rambutans before Pardek emerged.

Pardek walked onto the floor and over to where Harrison was standing. "That is a nice choice. We have some more in the back if you need more than you see."

“We have a potential problem,” Harrison said, without preamble. “There has been an outbreak of fleas and Commander Delrisa suspects they are carrying a plague virus. We don’t know how susceptible Romulans will be but I would rather not find out. The areas where the bulk of the refugees are housed were thoroughly fumigated before your people were moved in but they are living in close quarters so if plague does break out the effects could be catastrophic.”

Pardek arched his eyebrow. "What are the effects of this virus?"

“In humans, it manifests as a violent rage. That rage is usually taken out on whoever happens to be nearby but if the victim is alone it leads to self-harm. Annabella Delrisa, who is half-Betaziod, came down with it and exhibited anger and temper tantrums. She scratched Lieutenant O’Riely. Nonetheless, her symptoms do not appear to be as severe as in humans. Maybe it is her age, maybe it is her Betazoid blood; we do not know. Commander Delrisa is keeping her under observation. She is also monitoring Lieutenant O’Riely who is also half-Betazoid. We are also monitoring selected Bajoran and Klingon personnel. I am going from here to visit Legate Vadrek to see if he is manifesting any symptoms.”

Pardek nodded. He could imagine the refugee section going crazy with a virus enraged populace. "That does sound troubling."

“My primary concern at this moment is the Romulan refugees. I have contacted Admiral Bradley Harrison who is the Task Force 72 Commanding Officer. I have requested urgent transfer of the refugees off Deep Space 12.”

Pardek wondered if this Admiral Harrison was related to Commander Harrison. It would not be odd that they would work within the same chain of command in the Romulan or Klingon hierarchy, but he thought the Federation was different and frowned on such a thing. It did not matter to him one way or the other. What mattered was that the refugees were being moved. He wanted to know where even though he doubted that Commander Harrison would know or willingly answer. "Where would we go?"

“I do not know. Honestly, I have not given any thought to that yet. As I said, my prime concern is to get them away from here and out of danger. Where they go to from here can be considered later. My guess would be back to Qualor. That is still where refugee placement activities are still being co-ordianted from.”

"Starfleet does not have a plan to deal with us? Are we to be shuffled around until someone decides what to do with my people? Does Starfleet even care?"

Harrison did not have a ready answer to that. “I care,” he said instead. He was fully aware that he was dodging the issue but it was the best he could offer. “The Federation has undertaken to care for Romulan refugees so I trust they won’t turn their backs now. However, you must realise that our resources are stretched thin.”

Pardek nodded in agreement. "I agree that your resources appear to be spread thin. However, I have a hard time believing such a large and highly touted organization as the Federation could not accommodate us."

“We have taken all the refugees that we can and our facilities are full to overflowing. Most Starfleet installations are not designed to accommodate large numbers of people. Those that are already had most of their living quarters occupied by operational Starfleet personnel. We are lucky that Deep Space 12 had as much room available as it did.”

"You just said that Deep Space 12 has ample room for us. Are you concerned that you will not be able to cure this 'plague'?"

“Staying here is not an option. Yes, hopefully we can contain this plague. I have a science team working on the project and Commander Delrisa has her people involved too. Once we’ve found a vaccine we can replicate it in sufficient quantity to immunise all your people. At that point...yes, maybe they could move back here.”

He nodded. "I see. What is your time frame for creating a cure? Surely, a minor Cardassian virus is no match for the scientific and medical might of the Federation?"

“Honestly, Pardek, I do not know. My teams are good but they are not miracle workers. They might have a cure tomorrow; it might take them months. We know the vector; it is fleas living on Cardassian voles. However, eradicating the voles is not the answer, even if I thought we could achieve that. There are too many places they can hide and they breed like tribbles. But we know the virus is also spread by bodily contact. Lieutenant O’Riely, the station counsellor, contracted it when he was scratched by Annabella Delrisa. We think he was contaminated by some of her blood under her fingernails from where she had been scratching herself.”

"Your vaunted Federation sensors cannot detect these voles and teleport them out into space? After that it would be simply a matter of quarantining the infected parties until either you found a cure or they expired. Then there's the matter that, as far as I know, no Romulans have been infected. Why would that be? Is this virus merely a ruse to create an excuse to get the Romulans off of your space station?"

“We think your people have been spared so far because we thoroughly fumigated the areas they are occupying before they moved in. That will not keep them safe indefinitely. We think the vole population spiked when the life support systems malfunctioned and reset themselves to Cardassian temperatures. It is only a matter of time before population pressures force the voles into new territory. That means, where your people are living. I want them moved away to a safe haven before that happens and that means moving them off the station.”

"Following your line of thought, what assurance is there that some infected voles will not be transported along with us? Or even a Typhoid Mary?"

“None, which is another reason for getting your people out of here before they are infected. If we can get them out now we can contain the plague. We will use ships brought in from outside which means they will be clean. Using ships from Deep Space 12 could well just take the plague with us. And in answer to an earlier question, this is not some ‘minor Cardassian virus’. It is totally unknown to Federation science. It was brought in by a Rigelian freighter; where they picked it up is anyone’s guess. We have mapped its genetic sequence but that is the easy part. It has taken us no closer to finding a vaccine. As for transporting voles off the ship, there are areas of the station which are shielded against transporter beams. We would get a lot of the creatures but we can not guarantee getting them all. Many of the voles were brought in for gaming and the sort of people who trade in such a cruel ‘sport’ are the sort who would hold them in just such an area.”

Pardek at least respected Harrison's honesty on the matter, but then Harrison could afford to be honest. It was not like Pardek could refuse to leave the station, or could he? It was something that he would have to consider, although he did not think it best for his business interests for him to actively resist the Federation. He would have to think about the possible ramifications some more. "When do these transports arrive?"

“The first will be docking at 1730 hours,” Harrison replied. “It is only a small vessel. It can take no more than two hundred passengers but it was the best we could do at short notice. More will be arriving over the next week. I suggest the elderly and young children go first. I have no wish to break up families but I want those who are most in danger out of the way first. I will advise you when more arrivals are expected.”

Pardek nodded. "That is logical. What will the passengers be allowed to take with them?" Pardek was thinking ahead about his stock and supplies that he had built up during his brief stay at DS12.

“Only essentials. We want to get as many people aboard as we can. We don’t want space taken up with needless clutter.”

Pardek frowned. "You are proposing that what little we have managed to salvage of our former lives we leave behind. How can the Federation view this as acceptable. I know that I cannot."

“I’m sorry, Pardek. I know this will be hard for your people. They’ve only just got settled and here we are moving them again. But surely they knew all along that this was not a permanent home for them. They are living in cramped conditions on a base that was not designed to be civilian accommodation.”

"So rather than continue living on DS12 in cramped conditions, you are separating us and moving us into even more cramped conditions to the extent that we cannot take our property with us. I would rather stay on DS12. At least here, we have a chance to build a life for ourselves."

“Yes, point taken. It was designed to house a large population; as you say, larger than it currently houses. But they were slaves and lived in appalling conditions. I would ideally have liked them to be off here earlier than this but the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly and the Federation is having difficulty finding suitable locations for so many people. Some on other facilities have been resettled but they were on stations which were never intended for civilians. Believe me, Pardek, conditions here might not be ideal but they are far better than some refugees had to put up with.”

Pardek looked Harrison over. "I do not understand. What you are telling me is that DS12 is better than we could expect elsewhere, yet you are still requiring us to move off of the station."

“Pardek,” Harrison said patiently, “the refugees knew they would have to leave eventually. I would rather they stayed until we had something permanent organised. We could therefore sit here and do nothing and hope for the best. I would rather take action now than put my faith in blind luck. Do you want to see your people turning on each other in vicious, mindless rage? I do not. I do not want to see this plague sweep through them and I am very much afraid that that is exactly what it will do.”

Pardek sighed. "You are correct. If the plague were to sweep through the refugee area, then we would lose what little dignity we have left. I will do what I can to get my people to cooperate."


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