(OOC: This takes place on a different day than the awards ceremony)
((Promenade, Starbase 104))
::The size of Starbase 104, last bastion of the Federation in the galactic south, meant that there was something for everyone, if you walked far enough. Or at least the potential to be, even with the bustling Promenade, Hinji Bazaar, shadowy Sink, and exotic Nightshade, there were areas of the station with empty shop fronts and unformed potential.::
::The Promenade featured the latest in design theory. Two standard stories high with visuals on the ceilings and open garden areas, it was intended to mimic open space on a planet. Despite the odd freighter-brat, most sentients still spent their formative years planet-side, and research had demonstrated the positive psychological effects of at least giving the illusion of that kind of space. Various establishments stood in ‘buildings’ along the Promenade, on either side of the broad walkway.::
::The camera zooms in on two figures in Starfleet uniforms. Both tall, male and older than the fresh crop of Ensigns out of the Academy, though that was more apparent in one than the other. Both with a collection of pips on their collars, they walked in easy companionship.::
Saveron: I had not previously travelled to the Shoals. ::The taller of the pair was saying.:: The planet Esperance is well managed with significant areas of preserved natural environment, which I anticipate you might find aesthetically agreeable.
::It was also not a member world, but an independent colony.::
Traenor: You have me figured out there. I’ve never truly appreciated completely urbanized environments, I was spoiled with large tracts of natural environments during my youth.
::Still, there was something that was comforting about large starships and bases like the Constitution and Starbase 104. Perhaps decades of exposure were enough to shape and change points of view.::
Saveron: That was on Alpha III, was it not?
Traenor: That’s true. One of the original Earth colonies, and distinct enough in its own right. But in these days of the galactic community, is any place ever really distinct anymore?
Saveron: An interesting question. ::He allowed.:: Given the interconnectedness of the entire Federation one could argue that cultural distinctions have blurred to a degree, yet most cultural influence comes from one’s immediate social associations, which for the majority population are those within geographical proximity, and thus I would suggest that despite a ‘Federation culture’ overlay, each colonised world - and indeed region within that world - hold its own cultural distinctiveness that influences the views and habits of those native to those regions. And that is not detrimental to society. ::Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.:: Yet cross-cultural influence is perhaps at its peak, pending further technological advancements.
::After all, Terrans drank Raktajino and Bolians watched Betazoid soap operas. But how much was a veneer of convenience, and how much actually had real cultural impact? Such intellectual discussions were stimulating. Both men pondered the matter for a moment in companionable silence.::
::It was satisfying to engage in esoteric conversations about topics of great import and no import at all, something that Maxwell had missed in the intervening months that Saveron had been gone. As a verbal sparring partner, a Vulcan was second to none - unless you liked being insulted in the process, then you would search out a Tellarite for the apex of debate.::
Traenor: Fair enough, but sometimes “distinctiveness” equates to “divisiveness”. Take your work at Vireinn Colony, for example. Now there is a large influx of Romulan diaspora, with their attendant culture, morals, and views. Does that make that part of the Marchlands ‘Romulan’ now? Will the Romulans surrender what defines their identity to conform with their new home? Or is it irrelevant in the grand scheme of the universe, as I posit, and the assigning of labels as to identity and ownership simply a temporary divisive tactic against the inevitable melding of disparate ideas to become a new, homogenous one? They will still be Romulans, and it’ll still be Vireinn Colony’s host world, but they will be a sum greater than their parts.
Saveron: It is Romulan, but also automatically a Federation member. ::Which had certain legal implications.:: One would suggest that they are already a part of a greater sum, being the same species as myself. ::He observed.:: But it is a question of great relevance, given the Hobus disaster and subsequent impact on the Romulan people. One might argue that, given their situation, the Romulan culture is now in danger of extinction, and thus worthy of preservation efforts. The situation is further complicated by their fragmentation; those determined to live out the ideals of the Star Empire, caught between the Klingons and deep space, and those refugees who value survival above pride; if only just. ::Those were the ones who were coming to the Federation, often grudgingly.:: Cultural homogeneity may be considered preferable in order to reduce conflict, but it also reduces flexibility in the face of challenges.
Traenor: I hope survival comes before pride, though history often presents otherwise. War, imperialism, subjugation, annexation… a futile attempt to grasp at imbalance. I truly believe that the mathematical constants of the universe strive to attain balance, from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest galaxies. Life in its infinite forms, in its infinite expressions, is no different. Culture is simply a flavor, like a component of cooking, that is meant to enhance the entire pot, not overwhelm the whole taste profile.
::The Vulcan gave him a sidelong look.::
Saveron: I do not ‘believe’ the universe has any particular drive to balance. ::Such was akin to religion.:: But there is much that we still do not understand. Survival of the fittest dictates what continues, but variety provides adaptability. Culture may be only a flavour within a species, yet I would argue that those different flavours facilitate different modes of thought and thus different approaches. However, between species the differences are more significant than cultural.
::Yes, Terran and Vulcan might walk and talk together, looking almost alike save for skin tone and shape of ear, but that just showed how easy it was to build an ideological bridge, and forget how different they were on the inside.::
Traenor: I’ll assume you mean physiologically instead of metaphysically. Dad told me the easiest way to devolve civil conversation was to invoke politics or spirituality. ::chuckling:: Though we’re flirting dangerously with both. ::regrouping:: Yes, life is found in infinite diversities, but life still travels the cosmos; finds other life; converses with other life; strives to understand and relate with other life. Life strives to find commonality. It strives to be itself, but it also strives to be a flavor in part of a greater stewing pot in the universe.
Saveron: One will note that you have utilised a preponderance of food-related metaphors. ::He added dryly::
Traenor: ::chuckling:: Guilty as charged! My stomach does the heavy thinking for me when I’m hungry. So where are we going to satiate that hunger?
::Their travels had brought them to the culinary epicenter of the Promenade, where several restaurants and eateries representing numerous cultures congregated in a small area. On a station as large as Starbase 104, visiting itinerants were spoiled for choice when it came to dining. Maxwell stopped, surveying their choices, not certain if Saveron would hold a preference - past spicy, of course, to entice a pallet genetically programmed for hardiness.::
Saveron: I understand that Rydges has received excellent reviews. ::He mused, regarding the nearest directory.:: they offer a range of Boslic and Ktarian cuisine.
::Which meant that it was going to be robust, flavourful and the deserts indulgent.::
Traenor: I’ve never shied away from a challenge. I’m game!
::The time of day afforded them little pedestrian traffic and no wait times for a table, so their journey to their destination was a quick one. Once seated, Maxwell stared cursorily at the menu, but was infinitely more interested in conversation despite his hunger pangs.::
Traenor: This might be a personal question, but your efforts on Vireinn Colony… are they purely altruistic, or is there still a wish among you and others to see progress towards cultural reconciliation? The Reunification efforts of the 2370s and 80s fell apart, because of Romulan duplicity if I recall, but an outsider might be forgiven in thinking that the Romulan’s latest, er, difficulties might make it a more attainable goal nowadays.
::Setting his menu aside, the Vulcan pushed the vase holding a bunch of bright blooms to the edge of the table so that he didn’t have to look at Maxwell over the top of them. It was, he would freely admit, a diversionary tactic, as he considered how to answer. Maxwell demonstrated once again the perceptive mind behind his amiable demeanor.::
Saveron: More attainable, yet perhaps more questionable. ::He suggested.:: The Reunification movement has roots as old as the separation itself; perhaps now that the Empire is focused on self-preservation rather than expansion, we may see more progress. ::He allowed, confirming Maxwell’s carefully expressed suspicion.:: What I believe is important is that reconnection does not involve cultural subsumption; in either direction.
::Previous reunification efforts had failed because the Romulan Star Empire saw them as opportunities to try to conquer Vulcan, or objected to becoming part of the culture they had left to avoid. Now, following the Hobus Supernova, the Romulan survivors were in danger of losing that which made them unique.::
::The server came by, and the two paused briefly to place their orders. Maxwell requested the daily special, which coincidentally was a stew of Ktarian origin, while Saveron chose a Boslic-style salad. After the server excused themselves, Maxwell continued.::
Traenor: That’s important, certainly in consideration of what you mentioned earlier. Facing cultural fragmentation, even annihilation, any Romulan colonies might be fiercely or even unreasonably strident in preserving their cultural hallmarks. Facing that feeling of threat to identity, there could be a serious pushback against any conceived usurpation of those hallmarks.
Saveron: That was the intention of establishing the colony on Kleeia IV, rather than re-settling the refugees on an already inhabited world. ::He explained.::It was controversial, both for the additional resources required and the reluctance of some to support Romulan cultural preservation. ::Perhaps not that surprising, given the Federation’s history with the Romulans.:: I would be interested to know your thoughts.
Traenor: ::considering carefully:: A double-edged sword, perhaps. On one hand, it could be construed as respecting their need to reestablish themselves in a safe setting, free of interference and influence. On the other, it could be construed as us segregating them, isolating them from influencing our culture, just as easily as assuring undue influence on theirs. It could send a message of “out of sight, out of mind”, a lack of true interest in their well-being within Federation borders. ::capitulating:: Though I have faith that these differing factors were considered fully, and the decision on the placement of Vireinn Colony was subsequently based on the best outcome to appease these contrasting messages.
::The Vulcan tipped his head and shrugged one shoulder in a ‘mostly true’ kind of gesture.::
Saveron: I was amongst those who argued for the colony. ::No surprises there, he was certain.:: The Romulans are a proud people, they do not take charity easily. The fact that the planet is currently only semi-habitable means both that they can ‘earn’ their world by terraforming it themselves, and that they have an enemy far more immediate than any grudge against the Federation.
::Contrary to what some Romulans seemed to think, generosity didn’t mean stupidity.::
::The server returned then, placing their respective dishes before them. Maxwell nodded a distracted appreciation, while pushing the bowl of stew aside for a moment. The steam emanating from it was enticing and intoxicating in its headiness, but it was too hot to consume immediately. Saveron’s salad by contrast was a cool but colourful mixture of exotic fruits and vegetables, and the Vulcan picked up the long, narrow eating implement perched jauntily on the edge of the plate.::
Traenor: ::rueful smile:: Tactically sound. Allow them to earn their keep, while keeping them busy and out of trouble. Hopefully it works out that easily. At the end of the day, though, Romulan ideals haven’t always aligned with Federation ideals, and to have a Romulan-populated world within Federation borders could spell trouble at some point.
Saveron: Those who settle there must accept and uphold Federation law. ::He agreed.:: That does not mean that they do so gladly, and the situation is perennially delicate. Time will tell whether they too will acquire a Federation veneer to their culture. ::Which went some way to explaining why he was a regular visitor.::
Traenor: If they adopted even just a Vulcan veneer, however slight, it would go a long way towards making the average Federation citizen more receptive to having Romulans within our borders. I would support further efforts towards reconciliation between your two people on that grounds alone.
Saveron: Many Romulans would avoid adopting any Vulcan cultural conventions on principle alone. ::He pointed out.:: I would prefer to see cordial relations between my people and our cousins, whilst maintaining our cultural distinctiveness, but then I have always been an advocate of the IDIC principle. ::He paused.:: Commandant Vorana is a moderate individual; should the Constitution be in the vicinity, you might be interested to meet her. oO And she, you. Oo
A JP by
Counsellor and Second Officer
LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor
Executive Officer, USS Constitution
=/\= News Team Facilitator =/\=