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Filler02

WHAT LITTLE GIRLS ARE MADE OF

 

  Most of the population of New Seattle on Penthara IV considered the suburb of Gale Ridge to be the bad part of the city.  It was home to drug dealers, thieves and gangs since the city’s earliest days.  It was originally built to house the transient population of new colonists to the world looking for a fresh start.  It had a shifting population of people, often down on their luck, which attracted a certain criminal element and it had developed from there.  It was said that all criminal activity in the city could be linked back to the Ridge.  To go there after dark was considered to almost be asking for trouble.

  Despite this Terri Renu walked alone through this rough neighbourhood after dark.  Not even the bright streetlights illuminating the street could drive away the unsettling mood that seemed to permeate the air.  It made it seem darker with the possibility that within any shadow there was hiding something of menace.  She tugged at her hood hoping that it would help conceal her and make her somehow invisible to others.

  Ahead of her a group of people gathered in a small alcove.  From their clothing she guessed they were a gang.  She stared down, putting her hands in her pockets and hoped that they would not notice her.  She was only fifteen and of small stature so it was easy to imagine that she would appear to be an easy mark.  As she approached she felt their eyes turn to her and the sound of their conversations died down.  She glanced up quickly and saw they were facing her and had moved more into the street.  Her eyes widened as she felt her fear rise.  However, a look of disgust came to face of one of them and she heard him mutter to the others.  They went back to whatever they were doing and let her pass unobstructed.

 

  Once safely past them she let out the breath she was holding.  From what she heard it was obvious why they had let her go.  They had seen the ridges on her nose and realised she was a Bajoran.  They no doubt thought she was a pathetic, penniless and worthless little girl.  What could they take from her?  Bajorans had nothing but a silly religion.  All they were good for were begging and praying, both which seemed to just irritate others.  It was probably her best defence.

  That said Terri still made sure she wasn’t completely defenceless.  She might not get mugged, but it didn’t mean someone wouldn’t just try to assault her for sake of it.  So in her pocket was a small personal stunner.  If anyone did try to get physical with her they would be in for a nasty shock. 

  The reason she was in this part of the city was because she was a Bajoran, or to be more precise because she was an orphaned Bajoran.  She had been orphaned when her parents were killed fleeing from Bajor.  At the time she was just a baby and remembered nothing of her parents.  She wanted to know about her past.

  She had been adopted by a Human couple serving in Starfleet.  They had named her Terri and raised her in the privileged life of a Starfleet brat.  Until she was twelve she had spent most of her life living on a starship with her parents.  They then left the service and moved to New Seattle.  It was here she started to take interest into her biological parents.

 They had tried several Federation services and departments, but the Cardassian Union that had annexed her homeworld years before she was born just blocked any attempt to probe into her past and family.  It was clear they had little interest in aiding her.  After a year of this she had decided to try and work around this problem by going outside normal channels.  That was why she was wandering the streets at night.

  She found the address she was after; it was a large apartment building.  It had been difficult to find the right person.  She had started with petty thieves and worked her way to more and more disreputable people until one knew of someone that could help her.  She had contacted him and he had sent back a simple message with contact details.  She came to the apartment number and knocked on the door.

  A voice called through the door, “Go away.  I don’t want whatever you’re peddling.”

  Terri was confused.  This wasn’t the response she was expecting.  She checked the address she had been given and confirmed she was at it.  She knocked again.

  “I told you to get lost,” came an angry reply.

  “I was given this address to meet a private investigator.”

  There was no reply.  She was about to knock again when the door opened.  Terri reflexively took a step back as she saw the person on the other side.  It was a Cardassian.

  “Thought you would be Bajoran.  Didn’t think you’d be a child.”

  Terri’s hand was squeezing the stunner in her pocket tightly.  She was not sure what to do.

  “You’re Dutain?” she asked nervously.

  An annoyed look came to the Cardassian’s face.  “Obviously.”  Terri just stood there not sure what to say.  “Well, don’t waste my time.  Do you want my services or not?”
She nodded.

  Dutain sighed as he gestured for her to enter the apartment.  She tentatively did so.  Terri wasn’t sure if it was nerves or the climate controls, but the room seemed hotter than she considered comfortable.  The Cardassian led her to the living area where he moved to a couch and sat down.  She took a seat opposite him.

  “You weren’t expecting a Cardassian, were you?”

  “No,” Terri replied finding her again voice, which was shaky.

  “If you want information from Bajor who else do you think can get it?”

  “But how did you get here?  The war…”

  “Your Federation is surprisingly accommodating to even those from its hostile neighbours.  Though I’m sure some agency keeps tabs on me.  However, I do what I do without drawing the attention of the Obsidian Order, I’m sure I can deal with whatever the Federation’s inferior equivalent is.”

  “And you’re a private investigator?”

  Dutain let out a sigh.  “Sure.  Or I’m an information broker or a smuggler or whatever the client pays for.  By the way I hope you have currency and I don’t mean that Federation credit rubbish.”

  That was one lesson Terri had learned fairly quickly when she started looking outside official channels.  Many of the people she dealt with preferred physical currency of which none existed for the Federation credit.  Though even getting Federation credits wasn’t easy as she didn’t have any personally.  She had access to credits though her parents, but accessing them would only raise questions.  Instead she had found other ways to get her hands on currency.

  “I have latinum,” she replied.

  “And how did you managed that little girl?” Dutain said with some surprise.

  Terri found it hard to look Dutain in the eyes, partly because of who he was and guilt over how her had acquired the latinum.  “Does it matter?”

  “In truth?  No.  Now, what is it you want me to find?”

  Terri took a deep breath and looked up at the large Cardassian and stated, “I want you to find out who I am.”

  “Well, I’m going to need more than that.”

  Terri pulled out a datapadd from her pocket and handed it to the Cardassian.

  “Here is information on me.  I was orphaned when my family fled Bajor.  We were part of a group smuggled off Bajor on the Lissepian freighter, Pyhapstan.  The ship was intercepted by the CDS Javok and damaged.  We were rescued when the USS Hammarskjöld responded to the freighter’s distress call.  I’ve included the actual Starfleet report on the incident.”

  “Federation date: 2344,” read out loud the Cardassian.  He glanced up at the ceiling as if figuring something out in his mind.  “That’s…pre-war with the Federation.  I doubt Central Command will just give me their records, but at least it should be easier to get than if this was during the war.”

  Dutain went back to reading the padd and the room went silent.

  “My parents died during the attack,” Terri stated to get rid of the silence that was increasing her discomfort.  “A couple on the Starfleet ship adopted me.  The other survivors weren’t in a state to look after me.  I mean, they didn’t even know my parents’ names.”

  The Cardassian just nodded.  It was clear he wasn’t really listening to what she was saying.  Terri went back to sitting quietly while he looked over the contents of the padd.

  “So, do you think you can find out details about me?” she asked after the silence again got to her.

  “No real name or birth details, but medical information including a DNA profile,” he said then paused, which worried Terri.  He looked up at her and continued, “I should be able to get you something with the information you’ve provided.”  He placed down the padd, leaned back and steepled his hands.  “Now, my fee.”

  “I’m willing to pay you one bar of latinum,” she said.

  The Cardassian scoffed.  “I hope you’re joking.”

  Terri was taken back by his response.  “Why? What do you think you should be paid?”

  “Three bars.  This information is very valuable to you; it should be worth that amount.”

  “I don’t have that much!” she cried.  “Do you know what it took to get the amount I have?”

  The Cardassian rolled his eyes.  “I don’t care.  This is what I get for dealing with children…you’re meant to bargain!  You start out low and then I go high, and we adjust until we reach a figure we agree on.”

  Terri swept her hair behind her ear feeling a bit embarrassed. “Oh, one bar and five strips.”

  “Two bars and ten strips.

  “One bar, ten strips.”

  “Two bars.”

  “One bar, fifteen.”

  “Two bars,” he repeated.

  “You said two bars before!” she cried foul.

  “I know.  I’ve hit my floor and I’m not going any lower.  You can either afford it or you can’t.”

  Terri was growing tired of these games.  She could just afford two bars.  “Fine.  Two bars.”

  “I’ll take one bar now and then the rest when I return; even if I don’t return with the information you want to hear.”

  “What’s stopping you from just taking my latinum and never returning,” she asked.

  The Cardassian smiled at her, causing her to shiver.  “You’d just have to trust me.  Plus I have a reputation to uphold.  In this business your reputation is everything.  So do we have a deal or not?”

  She had no choice.  If she wanted to discover anything about her past this was the only way she could.

  “How do we get back in contact?”

  “The soonest I can possibly return to this planet is in three months.  It will be then.”  He paused as he held out his hand.  “The latinum.”

  Terri handed over the bar of latinum she had.  Dutain briefly inspected it and was satisfied it was a real.  She sat there waiting for a minute before the Cardassian looked back up and noticed she was still there.

  “Now it’s time for you to leave.  Remember don’t tell anyone about our little transaction.  If I get a hint that someone else knows and I’ll make you wish you died with your parents on that freighter.”

  Terri just nodded.  By the look on the Cardassian’s face she did not doubt that he would do unspeakable things to her if he was given a reason.  She turned and hurried out of the apartment and back onto the street where she felt safer.

 

  For several nights after her meeting with Dutain Terri found it difficult to sleep.  Her mind raced with possibilities and thoughts of the past and the present.  Failing to get any sleep she got up and headed to the kitchen to get something to eat.

  As she sat at the counter eating jam on toast her father entered the room.

  “I thought I sensed someone eating toast,” he said as he walked over.  He grabbed the bread and spreads Terri had left out and started to make himself a sandwich.  He layered large quantities of jam onto his slices of bread.

  “Dad!  Mum said you have to cut down on sugar!” she remonstrated him.

  “Well, you’re mum’s not here right now,” he said with a wink as he took a big bite out of his sandwich.  The pressure from his bite pushed the jam out the sides of the bread and over his hands.  Terri gave him a look of disgust, but he just smiled contently before he loudly slurped the jam off his hands.  “So why are you up at this hour?  You’re not known for having midnight snacks.”

  Terri averted her eyes as she thought about what to say.

  “Come on, you can tell your old man.”

  “What do you think about Cardassians?” she asked.

  Her father took a seat.  “I thought this might come up.”  She gave him a look of confusion.  “The Federation News Service is abuzz with reports that Starfleet is mobilising the Seventh Fleet to reinforce the Cardassian border.”

  She had not heard that, but galactic politics were not her interest at the moment.  “So what do you think of them?”

  She saw him take in a breath as he measured his response.  “I don’t agree with a lot of the actions of their government and military.”

  “What about them as a people?” she pressed.

  “I haven’t met many face to face.  The ones I have met have been in the military.  They have the stereotype of being arrogant and the ones I met matched that.  Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t invite them over for a sandwich,” he said stuffing his mouth with more of his sandwich.

  “Few civilised species could handle watching you eat, dad,” she joked.  “Could you be friends with one?”

  “What happened to your people is wrong, dear.  Your parents’ death was a tragedy and the Cardassian military are responsible for it, but it doesn’t mean they’re all monsters.  I have no doubt that there would be people…many people that disagree with what has been done, but they live under a military dictatorship.  Their culture frowns on going against the system.  It doesn’t excuse their behaviour, but it makes it understandable.  Humans were once like that and probably Bajorans as well.  But we changed for the better and we have to hope they will recognise their mistakes, learn from them and are positively influenced by them.”

  She wondered how much of that her father actually believed and how much of it was just him being diplomatic.

  “Okay,” she responded not really knowing what to say.  She pushed her toast around the plate as she tried to make sense of everything.

  “Come here,” said her father as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders.  “I know you want to know about your past and don’t think we will stop trying.  It’s just going to be difficult and take time.  Just don’t lose hope, darling.”

  Terri leaned her head on his arm as her father held her reassuringly.

  “I love you, dad.”

  “I love you too, Terri.”

  The two just sat in silence for several minutes.  In the comforting embrace of her adoptive father Terri felt her worries slip away and the tiredness that alluded her before return.

  “I think I better go back to bed,” she said as she sat up.

  “I probably should be too,” agreed her father.  “A policeman needs his sleep.  I don’t want those criminals to get the better of me!”

  Terri stood up and put away the food.

  “Goodnight, dad.  And, thanks.”

  “Anytime.  You know me.  I never miss a snack opportunity.”

  Terri headed off to her room.  Her father was right.  It was going to take time and she knew how much.  Three months.  After years of looking she just had to wait three months to hopefully get all the answers she was looking for.

 

  Nearly three months after she met the Dutain she received a brief message.  All it contained was a date and an address.  As the three months counted down she had grown increasingly worried that the Cardassian would not return.  Part of that was due to her mistrust of him and partly due to intensity of the current conflict.

  Since the night she had the talk with her father she had paid more attention to the news.  On it she saw reports on the incidents on the border between the Federation and Cardassia.  It eventually resulted in the ongoing heavy fighting between Starfleet and the Cardassian military.  It was clear to her that the Cardassian’s aggression and greed was to blame and with every reported injury or death suffered by the Federation her anger grew.  Despite her father’s words she only saw a people that had no regard for the lives of others.

  On the day she had to meet him she sneaked into her parents’ room.  In the back of their cupboard was a small safe.  One that she was not meant to know about and she was definitely not meant to know the combination.  She had long ago figured it out and used it to unlock the safe to snoop at the contents.  It was immediately obviously why her parents did not want her to know about it or its contents.

  She inputted the code, praying that her parents had not changed it for some reason.  The safe popped open and she reached in and pulled out one item.  She looked at the device that she held in her hand and pressed a button, there was no response.  She looked back into the safe and saw the other component she needed and grabbed it.  She clipped it into place and was rewarded with the low noise of the hand phaser powering up.

  She closed the safe and quietly exited her parents’ room.  She had to leave soon if she was going to make her meeting with her private investigator.

 

  It was in the same building as before though the apartment was different.  A few moments after she indicated she was at the door it opened.  Dutain was not there so she made her way further in and found the Cardassian waiting in the main living area.

  Before she could ask he said, “I got what you were after.”

  “How much?” she asked excitedly.

  “More than enough.  Lucky for you none of the files were marked by the Obsidian Order.  If they had been you could expect the price to double.  The last thing I need is the Order after me.  Though I doubt you care.”  He picked up a padd and started to read from it.  “You are Letac Vari.  You’re mother was Letac Gigi and your father was Letac Marrus.  No siblings.  You and your parents were registered two weeks before you escaped at a refugee camp outside Hathon.  That is the only official record of you on Bajor.  A number of the others smuggled out were registered at that camp and I assume that it was a meeting place before you all travelled to Jalanda City where the Pyhapstan departed from.”

  “So was my family from Hathon?”

  “From that region, yes.  Records indicate your parents lived in a small village not far from the city.  Current records show that you have relatives there and in the surrounding area.  All the information is on this padd.”

  The Cardassian held up the padd.  It looked like it might be the one she had originally given him.  He placed it on the table and slid it closer to her.  She was quick to pick it up and look through the information.

  A sense of joy and relief flooded through her as she skimmed through the information.  “Thank you.”

  “Just pay me,” said the Cardassian dismissively.

  Terri paused and nodded.  She pulled out a small bag from her pocket and tossed it over to the Cardassian.  The throw was not very good, going off to the left of the Cardassian.  The bag hit the edge of the table and spilled its contents onto the floor. 

“Clumsy Bajoran peasant!” said Dutain angrily.  He moved to pick them up and saw they were in strips.  “You couldn’t just give me a single bar?”

  “It’s what I have.”

  He rolled his eyes.  “I guess I should be happy that you have any latinum at all.”  He knelt down to pick up the strips.

  “Is that the only reason you do this?  Money?”

  Dutain gave her a sceptical look.  “Of course.” He returned to picking up the strips.  “Do you want to hear something ironic?  The captain of the Javok was sent to a dead end assignment after this incident on suspicion he was a Bajoran sympathiser because he let some of you survive.  It seems they didn’t think much of him retreating when Starfleet showed up.  Regardless of the fact that a Tonga class versus an Ambassador class would have been suicide.  This is why I never joined the military, you have to surrender a bit too much common sense.  You no doubt see him as a villain for killing your parents, but by letting you live he is the villain in the eyes of his superiors.  I bet he didn’t make that mistake –”

  The Cardassian paused as the low whine of a powering phaser echoed around the room.  He slowly looked up and stared at Terri.  While he had been distracted Terri and moved from her seat and around the table to get a clear line of sight on him.  She had then drawn the weapon and readied it to fire.

  “What do you think you’re doing?” he asked surprisingly calm.

  Terri’s jaw set.  “I’m getting justice.”

  “I see,” he said slowly.  “Cardassians killed your parents, you kill a Cardassian.  You can’t actually kill the person responsible, but any will do.  I can’t fault that logic.”

  “This isn’t just about me.  I’ve seen the reports.  How many people have died in the latest attacks by your people?  How many more children are going to grow up without parents thanks to the Cardassian Union?”

  “If I’m going to be taking the punishment for the supposed wrongs of my entire race what about you?”

  “What do you mean?” Terri asked confused.

  “I thought you’d seen the reports?  The number of Cardassians killed by your people.”

  Terri realised he was talking about her people’s continuing fight against the occupation of their world.  “They are fighting for their freedom!”

  “Does that excuse murdering innocents?  Civilians?  Babies?  A bomb planted at the home of a Cardassian doesn’t just kill those in the military.  It kills their spouses.  It kills their children.  Where is their justice or is it because they are Cardassians that their lives don’t matter?  You Bajorans so love playing the galaxy’s victims.”

  “Shut up!” she shouted with venom, letting all the hate she had for the Cardassians come to the surface.  “And I’m not a victim.  Not now.  I have the power!  I have the phaser!”

  “Yes, you do.”  Dutain slowly started to stand.  Terri kept the weapon trained on him as he did.  “Very well.  Do you really think you have what it takes to pull that trigger?  Can you kill someone, Vari?”

  Anger burned through her veins as the Cardassian used the name her parents had given her.  Her parents they had killed.  “Don’t call me that!”

  “That’s your name.  This ‘Terri Renu’ is just a disguise humans gave you to make you think you’re one of them.  You’re not.  You’re a worthless little Bajoran girl that should be in a labour camp doing her duty for Cardassia.”

  The Cardassian took a step towards her.

  “Don’t!  I’ll shoot you,” she warned him.

  “Then do it,” he stated calmly as he again stepped forward.  “Show me what you are made of little girl.  A Cardassian your age would know what to do.  They would pull the trigger and kill their enemy.  We teach them to be strong and to be brave.  Killing a Bajoran isn’t a crime; it’s a privilege for us!”

  “Shut up!  Shut up!” she cried.  Her hand was shaking uncontrollably, she did not know if it was fear, nerves, anger or all three.

  With another step he was close enough that he was almost touching the phaser. 

  “Ah, Starfleet issue.  Which of your pretend parents does it belong to?  Haley or Mark?  My guess would be Mark.  He used to be a security officer in Starfleet; I doubt he’d leave without his favourite phaser.  How do you think he would feel if he knew you, his ‘daughter’ was going to use it to murder a Cardassian?  I doubt he’d lose any sleep over my death…but you will.”

  The Cardassian slowly leant down so the phaser was in line with his neck.

  “There, you can’t miss now.  This will kill me quickly; you won’t have to worry about me thrashing around screaming in agony as I slowly die.  Show me how brave Bajorans are.  Press the trigger.  Just a light touch and it will all be over.”  The Cardassian closed his eyes and waited.  “DO IT!”

  Terri jumped in fright.  The Cardassian opened his eyes a look of disgust back on his face.  “I didn’t think so.”  He roughly grabbed her hand and ripped the phaser out of it.  He then pulled her close to him.  He tower over Terri and his face was so close that his hot breath assaulted her face.

  “That’s the difference between us, between Cardassians and Bajorans.  You Bajorans are nothing but helpless sheep in a galaxy of wolves.  You try to be wolves, but it is just play acting because you are soft, weak-willed and simple.  The strong rule the weak and you Bajorans get what you deserve.”

  With a push he sent her sprawling onto the floor.  Terri looked up, her heart was thumping as she lay frozen, waiting for the end.  However, instead of firing the phaser Dutain pulled out the phaser’s power pack and tossed the weapon back to her.

  “You’re letting me go?” she asked with surprise.

  “Killing you for pulling a weapon on me would be deserved, but I didn’t survive in this business by letting my emotions rule me.  Despite the satisfaction I might get from teaching you a lethal lesson it would be a detriment to my reputation.  People don’t like or trust killers and that goes double for child killers, regardless of the circumstances.”

  Terri picked up the phaser and pocketed it before she slowly got to her feet.  She wanted to say something.  A cutting reply that would show him she wasn’t pathetic or scared, but nothing came to mind.  He obviously expected her to say something as he silently watched her and waited.

  When it became apparent she had nothing to say he made a disapproving grunt and threw the phaser power pack back to her.  He was completely dismissing her as a threat and even turned his back on her as he retrieved a bottle.  He sat down on the couch and pour himself some of the foul looking syrupy substance from the bottle.

  “If you ever need any more information from Bajor, contact me.  Though next time the price will be higher.  Think of it as a penalty for pulling a weapon on me,” he paused as he downed a mouthful of the drink.  “Now, run along home little girl.”

  Her face burnt with embarrassment and her heart pumped as if it was going to explode.  She took one last look at the Cardassian and then hurried out of the apartment and headed for home.

 

  Terri took a few days to go over what she had found out.  The final events played again and again in her mind.  She had found out who she was, but who was she now?  Who was she going to be?  Questions from her past had been answered, but it had resulted in new, unexpected questions.

  Her parents had realised something was amiss with her and she revealed to them what she had done.  She had edited some of the events.  She just told them she went through a private investigator, she left out that he was a Cardassian, and she shared the information he had given her.  Their final confrontation was also left out of her account.

  They were upset that she had not involved them.  Plus the fact she sneaked into the Ridge on at least two occasions nearly made her mother faint.  Her father was more interested in how she had raised the money.  She had to tell them about several of their items she had taken to sell or trade.  He was not pleased by her stealing, though she thought he seemed more impressed she had managed to raise over two bars of latinum.  She gave them the reminding strips and slips so they could replace some of the belongings she sold.

  Her parents had asked her what she wanted to do next.  She wasn’t sure.  They asked her if she wanted to go by her real name.  Again she wasn’t sure.  They had let her think about it.  That was what she was doing in her room now as she stared down at her hands as she fidgeted.

  She had decided that she wanted to join Starfleet.  The encounter with the Cardassian had filled her with so much rage and hatred.  She didn’t want more children to experience it.  The best way to do that was to help the galaxy be a better place for all and that was what the Federation was doing.  Starfleet was at the forefront of that.

  That just left her with her name.  She had to decide on what to do by taking into account her old life, no matter how short it was, and her new.  In the end that seemed like the right thing to do.  The only way to honour those she had not known and those she had only known.

  She looked down to the padd with her past on it.  It contained her birth name, her true name.  Her names swirled around her mind.  Did she want to change it?  She stood and made her way to the mirror in her room.  She stood in front of it and stared at her reflection.

  “Letac Vari,” she said.

  She then repeated the name a few more times.  It didn’t seem to fit her.  It didn’t sound wrong, but it didn’t sound right either.

  “Terri Renu.”

  This was the only name she had known until a few days ago.  Now it no longer seemed appropriate.  It was her, but it was not.

  She did not know which one to choose and she stood at the mirror repeating both names to herself.  Then she was struck by a very simple notion and in an instance she knew what her name was.  More importantly she knew who she was.

  “Terri Letac,” she said with joy and pride.  “I am Terri Letac.”

 

 

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