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Ferri Emlott * Lt. Sherlock - Foreign Shores

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((Ashalla District, Starbase 118))

Ferri Emlott was somewhat certain that Zorkal disliked her - and that although he really had no reason to do so. She could, she supposed, understand that the Ambassador was not too pleased with how she had inserted herself into his life, but there was nothing that could be done about it now. 
He had it a lot easier than she did, but Ferri was sure that he had done similarly morally grey things to be where he was now. Of course she would prefer being both liked and trusted, but she could just as well deal with both not being the case. 
She did appreciate her friendship with both Tito and Trovek Arys - both of them of course had no idea who she was, and what she was here for. They wouldn’t understand. The Federation, so Ferri found, had a very black and white approach to how they thought of matters such as loyalty. Things were very different on Cardassia. 
For example, she wouldn’t get invited to a dinner by someone who then said they wouldn’t be part of said event, but send a proxy. That didn’t make any sense at all, and Ferri had been close to declining the invitation. But part of her was curious about these alien customs. 
Once she had finished her work, the Cardassian made her way to the designated meeting area. 

Aine was lucky enough to get a few days to recover. The night out with Arys turned out to be a little more than she was expecting, not unwelcome however. Though hangovers didn’t exist for her, some time to decompress was nice. She’d decided to stay on 118 for a while longer. There was no reason not to and there wasn’t a need for her to rush back to 224.

An invite from Arys for dinner, but more casual than their special night out. Thankfully this meant she could go in her normal flannel shirt and black leggings. No need to get fancy, not that she really did before. She liked this new friend. They seemed to think alike and have many similar values.

Aine sat waiting at the location Arys had indicated to meet. It seemed her new friend was running a little behind, which on a starbase this size didn’t seem odd to her. Scanning some reports from the prior day on her holo-PADD, she was suddenly interrupted.

Emlott: Excuse me. Are you Aine Sherlock?

Sherlock: Yes, I’m Lieutenant Sherlock.

The last thing Aine expected was a random Cardassian she’d never seen before to approach her knowing her name, of all things.
Emlott: I am Ferri. 
She looked at Aine expectantly. Surely Arys had mentioned that she asked Ferri to come here. Or didn’t she? Ferri wasn’t quite sure yet how many of those human customs worked. She had never been a proxy before.

Sherlock: It’s ::beat:: nice to meet you, Ferri. But ::beat:: I’m sorry, do we know each other?

Emlott: ::tilting her head:: I am Arys’ proxy. She cannot attend your meeting. She sent me instead - is that disagreeable? 
Sherlock: Proxy? I’m uh…
Emlott: I do not think we are obligated to ::looking for the right word:: proceed. I am unsure. 
Sherlock: I’m not sure either. And I don’t want you to be inconvenienced.

Aine’s first thoughts were that something had happened to Arys, but reasonably, if she’d sent someone to meet her she was ok. She thought the situation through. She had nothing else to do so maybe a tour with the young woman before her was ok.

Emlott: I came here. I think leaving again would be inconvenient.

Sherlock: Well, I’m still not familiar with the station. But if you’ve got ideas, perhaps you could show me around?
The Cardassian nodded, and motioned towards the bridge leading into the Coranum District. It lay adjacent to Ashalla District - the ‘Bajoran’ district - and had established as a sub-district not too long ago. 

Emlott: I would like to go there. I feel most comfortable there. ::pause:: Do you speak Cardassian? It would also make me feel most comfortable. 
Aine looked across the bridge towards the island in which was the Cardassian area. The cityscape looked grey and metallic. She had nothing against the Cardassian people despite being close to the Master Chief who served during the Dominion War and held strong opinions. She knew there was truth in the old maxim: My friend today, who is my enemy tomorrow, will be my friend again. And in this time, they were not enemies. But something about the city looked intimidating. But if she let everything that intimidated her stop her, she would be who she was now.
Sherlock: ::looking from the city to Ferri:: I don’t speak Cardassian, unfortunately. Just Romulan and a “tiny” Klingon. But I would love for you to show me around.
Ferri nodded, though she seemed a little disheartened at that. 
Emlott: We will make it work.
As they crossed, the tall spires throughout grew taller and taller. And perhaps it was just a figment of Aine’s imagination, but it felt as though it was getting darker as well.
Ferri did not seem to share that impression. On the contrary, she seemed to lighten up as they crossed the bridge. Perhaps she was feeling more comfortable in a surrounding that resembled home.
Sherlock: Do you live in the district?
Emlott: I do. I am not here long, but I like it here most. 
The road they were following seemed to lead into the centre of the District, or at least it was the impression Aine would get when looking ahead. Even from here she could see three large spires, clawlike structures that seemed to mark the heart of the Cardassian settlement. 
Sherlock: If I’m honest, it looks a little intimidating. I find that fascinating in a way. But, here I am in a Cardassian area, with a Cardassian I don’t know. ::with a look of mock curiosity on her face:: You’re not going to like, kill me or something are?
The woman halted her steps and peered at Aine. 

Emlott: Are you an enemy of the state? If so, I might have to.

Sherlock: I’m joking! I’m just joking. Trying to lighten the mood. Sorry, I’ve never been great at jokes.

Emlott: ::with a small smirk:: Me neither. 
Aine hung her head, but with a smile. Another kindred spirit.
Sherlock: That’s good to know.
Emlott: Do you also serve on the Starbase? You said you are a Lieutenant. 
She continued walking, but despite having spent the past few weeks here, she moved slowly, allowing Aine to admire the window displays of clothes, baked goods, restaurants and similar. 
However, Aine noticed less and less the shops and buildings and the previously foreboding darkness for the small light that was leading her.
Sherlock: I actually serve on a ship. The Excalibur. It’s stationed in the Borderlands, not far from here.

Emlott: Oh. And why did you come here? Is your ship also here? 
Sherlock: I was just on the station for a conference.
The young Cardassian thought about that for a moment, and then asked: 
Emlott: So you are important? Did you give the conference, or did you listen? What kind of conference? 
Aine took in a deep breath. It was almost as if she couldn’t escape the topic. But giving the young woman the benefit of the doubt, she would tell it once more.
Sherlock: I spoke at it. The conference was about Security procedures in the fleet. I was asked to speak because I took part in a hostage rescue a few months ago. Actually led the team.

Emlott: What kind of hostage situation? What did you do that was worthy of speaking at a conference? 
Sherlock: oO Got shot. Oo A doctor from our ship was taken hostage by Suliban terrorist on a research station. I lead a small team to get him back. The team was just made up of members of our away team. ::pause as she reflects on what went wrong:: Ultimately, we got him back.
Emlott: Your family must be pleased. 
Aine’s eyebrows shot up, for that wasn’t the whole story and ma and da were hardly happy with her. Especially when she chose to stay in the fleet.
Sherlock: Most definitely not.
The woman furrowed her brows and tired her head. That did not make any sense to her. Why wouldn’t her family be proud of her?

Emlott: Why?
Sherlock: Well, there’s a little more to the story. So, like I said, the team was a part of our away team. The other officers weren’t Security nor trained for hostage rescue. So, the tactic I used was to place myself in the most danger and hope it was enough that most of them would survive and get the hostage. Unfortunately, I was shot and critically wounded.

Emlott: You didn’t die. You took a risk and the risk was rewarded. It’s… hero-like. ::pause:: If you had a Cardassian family they would be pleased. Not so pleased had you died. But pleased because you did not. 
Sherlock: ::holding back a laugh:: I kind of look at it that way. The ends justified the means. No one died. Doctor was saved, who in turn saved me. Terrorist was arrested. But, my parents, besides being human, are also just worrisome. And to be fair to them, I haven’t always made the best choices.

Emlott: I understand, I think. I think your current choice is good. You saved people and arrested terrorists. That seems good to me. What not the best choices have you made? 
Sherlock: That’s another story or two…or ten. Maybe I’ll save that for another time. But tell me about you. How’d you end up on the station?
Ferri was disappointed that Aine wouldn’t tell her more. The younger woman likened Starfleet to the military, and on Cardassian, it was still a male domain. Perhaps she admired Aine a little - what she had done sounded very… hero-like.

Emlott: I am here for work. I work for the Ambassador. 
Sherlock: Wow. That’s prestigious.
Emlott: I… ::pause:: … write letters, sometimes. And I put files where they belong. It is not very exciting. 
Sherlock: Exciting isn’t always better. Trust me. I like to think I’m okay at what I do, but sometimes I wonder if it’d have been to become something like a scientist.
Emlott: Science is good. But exciting is better. ::she smiled:: Would you family be more pleased with science? 
Sherlock: I think my parents would prefer I stayed home and farmed or fished.
Emlott: I don’t quite understand human customs yet. It is very different to Cardassia.
Sherlock: Sometimes, I don’t understand them. It was hard convincing my parents to support my choice to join Starfleet. I think we fought more the week I told them than we had for years before. You say Cardassia is different? How? I’m not too familiar with your customs.

Emlott: Cardassia is not as rich on resources. It is important for us to strive upwards. Everyone has a place on Cardassia, and a function, but it is better to have a … better function. Is that understandable? 
Sherlock: I think I get it.

Aine thought there was a slight undertone of classism in what she was describing. She learned about Cardassians a bit at the Academy, but much of the information has since passed in her mind. The term “better function” seemed to stick. She wondered about those who couldn’t and what became of them. Even thinking of Ferri in that moment, she was a clerk. Was she limited in function by the standards of Cardassia?
Emlott: I have learned it was more so before the war. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Striving to uplift the family is important. 
Sherlock: There’s some families that are like that on Earth. For instance my ::beat:: ex-boyfriend. His family has a history of trade dating back almost six hundred years. He was expected to do the same. Instead, he joined Starfleet, and they were not happy.
Emlott: Will he change his ways? Trade seems preferable.

Sherlock: No, he doesn’t so much care what they think. I guess he just wants to be his own person.

The last part felt like she was unintentionally instilling an insurgency of sorts in Ferri’s mind, which was not her intention. She wasn’t there to change others views, but to learn from them.
Ferri considered those words. She was her own person. But she was also Cardassian. Even moreso tha she was her own person, perhaps. 
Emlott: Can I ask, how do you know Arys? 
Sherlock: We met ::beat:: oOAt a bar…Oo over lunch. Who do you know her?
Ferri: I met her through a human I met here. He introduced us. 
Sherlock: oO And now you’re her proxy…interesting…Oo Interesting.
Emlott: Can I ask, what do you know of her relationship to the Ambassador?
Aine stopped walking, looking at Ferri as she stopped and turned towards her. This information was new to her. Little flashbacks of what she could remember of her talks with Arys flashed through her mind. And nothing about an Ambassador.
Sherlock: ::looking around as if to make sure no one was in earshot:: I don’t know anything about that. I just know she was having some relationship issues. Is this Ambassador the same one you work for?
Emlott: ::nodding:: Yes. I didn’t mean to imply a relationship. I spoke to Arys and she said he did not share any bond with Cardassia, but the Ambassador mention she was connected to him. I was curious why she wouldn’t disclose it. 
In particular because the Ambassador was putting so much effort into making a possible adoption as easy as possible. 
Sherlock: ::shrugging:: I don’t know. She was pretty vague on details when we spoke.

Aine felt a little tinge in the back of her mind. Perhaps it was the training she’d been through at the Intel School, but something was up. She leaned in close, hoping to make it feel like they could trust one another.

Sherlock: Do you think they’re hiding something?

Emlott: I think perhaps they are close. Or were close. I am unsure. It’s not my place to speculate. 
Sherlock: I guess. ::tilting her head and raising her eyebrows::
Emlott: It would be a good match for her. But I think a lot of politics would be involved. 
Sherlock: I think this is where humans and Cardassians differ. I’m not sure I’d like complications like that in a relationship. Keep it simple, you know?

Emlott: It’s different on Cardassia. Complications are common. 
Aine noticed the subtle deflections, though wasn’t sure if that was just common of Cardassia like so many other things. Ferri was a tough one to figure out. She decided to change track.

Sherlock: So, what are your hopes and aspirations? I assume you don’t want to stay a clerk?
She seemed to think about that. While hopes and aspirations were important, they were rarely openly discussed as such. In particular with strangers. And then, of course, there was the part where Ferri couldn’t answer genuinely without disclosing that she wasn’t just a clerk. And she couldn’t do that. She settled on something that was safe to say. 

Emlott: Is it not a good job for humans? To work in an Embassy?
This time, Aine wasn’t sure if this was deflection, or cultural  misunderstanding. She was beginning to see how Cardassians were all about Cardassia.
Sherlock: It’s a fine job. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. I guess, we just differ. You see, we’re taught, humans, that a job isn’t always your aspiration. We’re taught to seek and desire. To grow and improve.
Emlott: I am improved. My family had different work than I have now. I like what I do, for now. 
Of course that wasn’t true. Ferri knew what she wanted, and she knew that she had to be careful if she wanted to get it. But perhaps she could give her new human friend a little more. 
Emlott: I… think perhaps I can become an assistant. I would like that. 
Aine smiled when it seemed like Ferri might be learning something from her.
Sherlock: I’m improved too. What does your family do?
Emlott: My father is working as a… ::looking for the right word:: tutor. For children. In an educational institute. 
Sherlock: That seems noble. Mine is a farmer. And my mother’s a writer. I’m actually the first in my family, that I know of, that’s been a spacefarer.

A brief memory surfaced. The Resolution and it’s encounter with a Q. There had been a moment when she had been transported to what appeared to be an alternate time. Aine was on the bridge of a dank old freighter, her father the Captain, and she an engineer in dirty coveralls. She still didn’t know what it meant, but there was a sneaking suspicion it meant she wasn’t actually the first.

Emlott: My mother was a …. ::looking for the right word once more, and once more settling on:: tutor. But not for education. For children when their mother had much to do. 
Maybe it was a language barrier, but Aine wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Tutor just didn’t seem like the right word.
Sherlock: She ::beat:: taught them chores?
Emlott: She made food. And… sorted their clothes. It doesn’t sound like much but it was for a good family in a large house. 
An uncomfortable word crept into Aine’s mind: servant. This seemed like it would not be the best topic to continue prying into given the idea of classism that had been presented earlier.
Sherlock: Ah, I see. Well, I think that’s a very noble thing to do.
While walking and talking they eventually got a clear view on the very centre of Coranum. While the district, for the most part, was relatively flat, this part seemed to stand at a small incline, which made the three clawlike spires seem taller than they already were. 
Emlott: It’s a good place to view the district. From up there.
Aine looked up at the tall spires with the artificial sky above them. An old impulse came over her.
Sherlock: ::pointing to the top of the spires:: Can you climb those?
Ferri’s features showed surprise. She looked at the spires, and for a moment she seemed at a loss for words. The reply, eventually, was an exasperated: 

Emlott: No.

Sherlock: I don’t mean like you personally. But like, has anybody climbed them?

Emlott: I… hope not. ::looking at Sherlock scoldingly:: It would be disgraceful. I don’t like that you suggest such a thing. ::shaking her head:: It’s vile. 
Sherlock: Vile?
Emlott: ::insisting:: Vile. ::pause:: It’s a memorial. For those who died in Coranum on Cardassia. ::another pause:: You can’t say things like ‘climb them’. 
Sherlock: Oh my god! I’m so sorry! I…I didn’t know that it was a memorial.

Aine looked away from Ferri. Her thrill seeking didn’t even allow her a moment to consider that something like spires would even be a memorial.

Sherlock: I’m sorry.

Emlott: ::still shaking her head:: It would be rude to climb it. Please do not climb it. 
Sherlock: ::snapping her head back to look at Ferri:: I won’t, I promise.
Emlott: There are many memorials on Cardassia. The one I have visited most is in the  University of the Union. It is for the students who defended it. It was… brave. 
And yet, futile. The older students had erected barricades to protect themselves, and the school. The younger students had been sent to hide. None of it had mattered, in the end. 
Sherlock: Did you attend there?
Emlott: Yes, I studied there. I graduated with good grades. I think my mother would have been pleased. 
Sherlock: oOWould?Oo Does she not know you went there? Your mother?
Ferri seemed surprised for a moment, but then remembered that, likely, the Federation did not care about what happened on Cardassia. Were Aine Cardassian, Ferri was sure she would easily determine her age, and what situation Cardassia was in when Ferri was born. 
Emlott: ::shaking her head:: No. After the war, Cardassia was… uh… it was difficult. For many years. Everything was broken. 
Perhaps she was prying too much? It was becoming clear to Aine that when Cardassian’s spoke, it was the implications of the words that was enough for them.
Sherlock: I’m ::beat:: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be nosey or pry. Look, I just want to say… oOI don’t know what…Oo …I uh, really appreciate you spending time with me when you didn’t have to. And I’m enjoying our talk. I don’t want you to think ::beat:: I don’t know. How do you say in a Cardassian way that you’re trying to get to know someone better?

Emlott: I also try to get to know you better. I am.. not used to people not knowing. It’s more present in Cardassia. But I am not disturbed by your question. 
Sherlock: ::smiling and nodding:: Good. Thank you.
Ferri smiled carefully, then motioned towards the spires. Now that they had arrived in the platform, Aine could see a single, large building with a pond in front of it, and surrounded by what perhaps was the Cardassian version of a park. There was no grass, but beds of exotic flowers, each of them perfectly and purposefully planted. 
Emlott: This is the Embassy. It’s also for, uh, legal matters. Such as registration of a family unit. 
Sherlock: By registration, do you mean marriages?

Emlott: Yes. There are celebration but the registration is what matters. Because it’s official.

Sherlock: I notice that Cardassian’s use a lot of grey in their architecture. But, the flowers, they’re very bright. They almost seem out of place. Do they have meaning to you as well?

Emlott: ::thinking about this for a moment:: It’s a symbol for wealth. Because flowers need water, and water can be sparse. It’s… art? It’s difficult to.. uh, create flowers like these.

Sherlock: I assume there’s no touching either? I’m kidding again…just in case.
Aine smiled, hoping the joke stuck this time. If it did, it’d be the first time in years.
Ferri smiled carefully. She hoped it was a joke. There was no touching the flowers, of course. She lowered her voice. 
Emlott: Sometimes I touch the fish. In the pond. 
A sly grin formed on Aine’s face. She heard loud and clear what water meant to them.
Sherlock: ::raising an eyebrow:: That sounds a little dangerous. ::leaning in a whispering:: Any other dangerous secrets I should know about?

Emlott: It’s not dangerous… ::frown:: And I just do it sometimes. ::pause:: It’s not *forbidden*.

Sherlock: It’s ok, any secrets are safe with me. ::giving her a wink::
The younger woman blushed, something that due to the texture and color of her skin was barely visible, but noticeable. She nodded, giving a half-hearted shrug, and quickly turned around, desperate for something to point out, and distract the human with. 

Emlott: Do you want to see the fish? They are called Kûpi. 
Sherlock: I would love too.

The pair approached the pond and Aine knelt near the edge. Peering in she could see a black fish with a slight gold tint coming from its scale. Flecks of orange and white. Long tentacles coming from the sides of its mouth reminded her of the Terran catfish, or an old man.

Sherlock: ::smiling at the memory of catching Blackfish back home:: We have some similar fish on Earth.

Emlott: ::almost offended:: But those are Cardassian.

Sherlock: They’re quite tasty.

Emlott: ::definitely offended:: That’s… horrible. Those are for decorative purposes. We predominantly eat the ugly fish. 
Sherlock: ::smiling deviously:: I know. I figured that since they were in a pond. Ours, I used to catch them in the open sea. And they’re quite ugly too.
Aine found a certain fun now in poking the Cardassian and wondered how many times she could get away with it.
Ferri knelt down at the edge of the pond, carefully poking her finger into the water. The Kûpi, it seemed, were either used to that, or thought the slender digit was a particularly odd worm. Either way, it quickly attracted two larger specimen. 

Emlott: They don’t have teeth. 
Aine watched as the woman carefully slipped her finger into the pond. A glint from her eyes showed just how much she was enjoying this small insurgency. Have just learned how much symbolism meant to Cardassians, how much class meant, there was something in this action that Aine admired. A small sense of self within Ferri. That small spark in a timeline that starts a fire and could burn an empire to ashes.
Sherlock: Only predators have teeth.

Aine gave Ferri another smile, but a softer one.
Ferri withdrew her hand, trying to hide a smile. Looking at the fish made her happy. Touching the fish was even better. One day, she had decided, she would own an aquarium full of the most beautiful fish on Cardassia. 
Emlott: I would like to show you the memorial. So you know why not to climb it.
Sherlock: I would love to see. I’m enjoying today very much and want to see more.
The Cardassian nodded and led the way towards one of the pillars. The platform was large, and they walked for a good few minutes in which Ferri seemed to be eager to explain more about the flowers and the way the grounds of the Embassy were organized. Eventually arriving at the spires, Aine could easily see that they were more than a more or less aesthetic structure. They seemed to be made from obsidian rock, shot through with gold that glistened in the artificial sun. Countless of Cardassian names were inscribed in the spires, each angle from which one could observe them, displaying a new set of names. Hundreds of thousands of names. 
Sherlock: Who were they?

Emlott: They were killed when the Jem’Hadar attacked. Those were the citizens at the time registered in Coranum, on Cardassia Prime. 

The closest thing that Aine had ever seen was on a school field trip. A memorial wall to those Federation citizens lost during the Dominion War. She remember that it seemed as though it stretch from horizon to horizon, in reality it did not and it was just the overwhelming sense of size. She looked up to the top of the spires, the light from the artificial environment drowned out the tops as if that was their horizon.
Sherlock: It’s quite touching. I can see why it upset you when I asked what I did earlier.
Ferri nodded. She hadn’t been born when the Dominion turned against Cardassia, but she had heard many tales about it. 

Emlott: Thank you. Those things are important to us. They…. Belong to the identity we are. 
Sherlock: I understand. We have similar displays. They’re important to us too. They remind us of the struggles we’ve been through and those we lost.
There was a sudden feeling deep inside, akin to grief. Part of this was unspoken so far. Here, Aine stood, learning from a Cardassian about their losses. She’d learned about their own. All from a time when a human and a Cardassian couldn’t stand in the same room together. They both were born after it all happened, so it wasn’t a part of their individual histories, but it was a part of their identities as children of a culture. Again, the words came to mind: My friend today, who is my enemy tomorrow, will be my friend again.
[End Scene]
Ferri Emlott 
Cardassian Visitor
Starbase 118 Ops
Lieutenant Aine Sherlock
Chief of Security
USS Excalibur
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