Star Trek Hunter
Episode 22: Sacrifice
Scene 10: The Witness
There was no lock on the door – as was the case with most houses on Vulcan. This was a very small house in a very large garden. The windows were open, but the sea air, while not rancid, was not refreshing either. For nearly a thousand years, the dying biosphere of Vulcan had relied increasingly on enormous machines to maintain the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gasses in the atmosphere and the waters because there just wasn’t enough life left to do the job. The last great planetary war had poisoned the planet’s lungs. Vulcan was a dying planet on life support and the air smelled like it.
Under the leadership of the great philosopher Surak, the vulcan people had finally come to their senses. Too late.
“There is an enormous… I think it’s some sort of ant,” said Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper. She was looking at a greenish, vaguely ant-like creature about twice the size of her thumb on the open windowsill of a small room that served as a kitchen-dinette.
Justice Minerva Irons was in the other room – a sparsely furnished bedroom with two small beds. “How many legs does it have?”
“If it’s kind of a greenish black, it is a garden ant. They are very poisonous, but not aggressive. Just make sure you don’t sit on any,” Irons responded.
“That isn’t very comforting,” said Hopper. She carefully investigated the room, checking for any others. The ant on the windowsill retreated outside.
Irons walked into the room to find the young pilot pointing at the windowsill. “It just went back outside…”
Irons smiled and retrieved a glass of water. She sat at the table. “They were bred for docility. They’re hunters – they prefer the outdoors. And their primary prey are sand ants, which are just as poisonous, but far more aggressive. They’re also the principle pollinators. They were bred to provide that function as well after the nail bats became extinct.”
“Is it true? What Sela said about this planet being a dying planet?” Hopper asked.
“Most vulcans seem to have given up on their home planet,” Irons mused. “But there are tens of millions of human biologists living here now, trying to save the planet. They have worked miracles in the past few hundred years, but they haven’t been able to keep up with the chain reactions from the poisons used in the last war. Now there are more than a billion romulans here and they have brought biological resources from Romulus with them. Romulans are a passionate people – possibly even more passionate than humans. If they can work together, and if they have a lot of luck, and if the biological resources from dead Romulus are close enough to what is left of living Vulcan, maybe they can save this planet. Oddly, it is entirely possible that the fall of Vulcan to the Romulan Senate might be the only thing that possibly could save this planet. Did you notice our honor guard?”
“Honor guard?” asked Hopper.
“The guards outside that door are not Romulan Star Navy – they’re Praetorian Guard," Irons replied. "They aren’t stationed there to keep us. Their job is to keep us from harm. You might not have noticed because of the helmets, but one of them was vulcan and at least three more were some blend of human and vulcan. It seems the Senate is serious about reunification. I saw it in the propaganda posters at the entrance to the Romulan Star Navy headquarters. This installation feels less like a military headquarters and more like an embassy. The romulans have already become two people – the republic on Vulcan and the remainder of the old empire.”
There was a moment of silence, then Jennifer Hopper looked up. “I was expecting we would be put in a prison. Why are we being treated so well?”
“Propaganda for Federation consumption," said Irons. "There will be video of us being held here. And you will be released to return to the federation with stories of Supreme Commander Sela’s power, courage and magnanimity. And I want you to faithfully report those things. They will facilitate better relations which both our people will need. If the romulans must be our antagonists – and I am certain they will be for quite some time – it is better that they be an enemy we can respect and admire, just as the klingons were a hundred years ago.”
“But it is just a show…”
“Of course it is just a show, Jennifer. But what a show! Can you imagine any federation leader who would dare to treat a suspected terrorist this way? I can’t imagine Chancellor Martok getting away with it in front of the Klingon Council. The fact that Sela can do this and not risk a coup tells you just how powerful she is. She isn’t just doing this for our benefit. She is letting her own people know how powerful she is.”
* Special thanks to ProxiCentauri (PC) from An Archive Of Our Own (AO3) for allowing me to use the insects PC invented for PC’s story “Insects”, published on AO3. I will add notation when other PC romulan insects show up.