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Georgetown University: Washington D.C., Earth

Stardate: 53433.2

Crestia breathed in the cool autumn air of the campus. She zipped up her fleece jacket and adjusted her backpack. She had fifteen minutes for the quick walk across Georgetown's quad from the library to her next class. She always looked forward to her early Federation history class, though she definitely had some questions to ask her professor about the Xindi War. So much of it didn't make sense.

As she approached the center of the grassy expanse, she noticed six upperclassmen standing on the edge of the sidewalk. Two of them were Vulcan, but the other four were humans. They chanted in unison:

"OUT OF CARDASSIA, OFF THE NEUTRAL ZONE! OUT OF CARDASSIA, OFF THE NEUTRAL ZONE!"

Crestia slowed down to read the large, colorful pieces of poster board they held high over their heads. Her heart sank when she saw the words written in black and red paint.

"Cardassians are the real victims!"

"One Galaxy, No Borders!"

"Exploration, not Exploitation!"

"Stop Starfleet Imperialism!"

She increased the volume of the music in her headphones, averted her eyes, and tried to walk past. Just when she thought she was home free, one of the humans ran up to her with a PADD in his hands. He wore a black t-shirt with a human's face on it she didn't recognize. The image was a man wearing a beret with a red star on it. The student's jeans were torn and his hair was pulled back into a pony-tail.

"Excuse me?" he said. She could barely hear him over the sound of her music. She pulled out her earbuds. "Can you sign our petition?" he asked.

"What's it for?" Crestia asked nervously.

"It's a demand from the student body for the campus administration to immediately condemn Starfleet's imperialist and fascist aggression against the free peoples of Cardassia and the Romulan Empire."

"What?" Crestia asked in disbelief.

"Did you know that Starfleet and the Klingons murdered over 12 million Cardassians during the war? That the Romulan Empire only wants to be left alone, but Starfleet's aggressive stance forces them to maintain the Neutral Zone to protect themselves?" He said holding the PADD out to her. Crestia was shocked to see several dozen student names already on the list.

"I'm definitely following what's going on in Romulan and Cardassian Space…" Crestia said still trying to be polite.

"Then you must be outraged!" he said. "Starfleet is supposed to be explorers, but they have over thirty starships with their weapons pointed at innocent people. They create a fake threat so they can control us with their military-industrial complex. We demand that it stop immediately. Will you help us by signing?"

"I'm sorry," Crestia said shaking her head. "No, thank you."

She began walking away and was about put her earbuds back in when the student called after her.

"This is about justice! What has a Romulan ever done to you?"

Crestia froze. She felt blind rage rising inside of her as she turned around and faced the protestors.

"What has a Romulan ever done to me?" she said with an icy resolve. She walked right up to the student, but started yelling loud enough so the others could hear as well.

"Justice? What the hell do you know about justice!? Standing here in the middle of Earth lecturing people about imperialism," she scoffed. "If you really want to know what Romulans do, why don't you ask your mommy and daddy's permission to take a transport across the Zone? Why don't you experience firsthand what Romulans call 'justice'?" The other protestors slowly lowered their signs and stared at Crestia.

"Romulans have to act aggressively to protect themselves," one of the Vulcans replied. "Otherwise, they would have no reason to attack across the Neutral Zone. It is a logical response."

"No, of course not!" Crestia said sarcastically. "They would be too busy running their Empire! They would be too busy having fathers and brothers line up in stadiums so legionnaires can machine-disruptor them for entertainment! They would be too busy beating and starving mothers and sisters before selling them to the highest bidder like they were animals! You asked what a Romulan ever did to me? THAT'S WHAT THEY DID TO ME! I've seen it with my own eyes. I've lived the nightmare."

Her stare bore down into them all.

"And I'd still be in that nightmare, but Starfleet saved me. Now, I'm here…with you people…and I'm grateful every day for it! I'm grateful to live in a country with so much freedom and so few problems that we have to complement murderers to not feel guilty about our blessings. With all due respect, the only people here I see supporting fascist imperialism are you all. Now, if you excuse me, I'm running late for class."

Crestia spun around and walked away. There was blissful silence for a few seconds, but soon the chanting began again:

"OUT OF CARDASSIA, OFF THE NEUTRAL ZONE! OUT OF CARDASSIA, OFF THE NEUTRAL ZONE!"

Crestia sighed as she replaced her ear buds and boosted the volume to full.


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