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About Jeralla

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  1. For those interested, the Edosian orchid is a connecting thread in my earlier log Scene of the Crime (February 2005) and picked up by Sorehl in Lessons and Mysteries earlier this year.
  2. This is a joint log with Sorehl, with my parts in color, following the end of the conference during the last Aegis sim. Jeralla beamed inwardly, pleased at the turn of events. It looked like the Ferengi blockade was over without bloodshed. She knew she had played a part. She hadn't known why her adoptive father had summoned her back to the Alpha Quadrant from Camelot, but he reminded her of a promise he'd exacted years earlier, so she'd come. On her way to Canar II, she'd heard about the crisis at Cardassia Prime. Although she had been born there, it hadn't been home for most of her life. Canar II was home. When she got there, her father told her things were about to boil over at Sky Harbor. D'Mysus Ramson retained a healthy interest in all things associated with the name Aegis. Other familiar faces had already gathered there. Sorehl had met with Ambassador Drankum in on Starbase 405, but admitted he had learned nothing. Ambassador T'Salik was urging him to seek another audience at Aegis, although it was under Ferengi blockade. It was her dual citizenship that had offered the means. After her birth-father's death during the brief Klingon invasion of Cardassian space, she had been secreted across the De-Militarized Zone to her godfather on Canar. After his marriage to Saraina, D'Mysus had formally adopted her, making her a Federation citizen. She had worked with the diplomatic service after the war, rising to the rank of junior envoy, but never lost her status as a Cardassian subject. It gave her connections to ask permission to try again on behalf of the Cardassian government. The Foreign Ministry, afraid of another battle over Prime, had agreed to letting Sorehl try since he was a decorated "Champion of Cardassia" in the Order of Damar. The Castellan had insisted on economic specialists to strength ties with the Ferengi. He had also sent a prominent leader of the Oralian religious sect, whose occupation was listed as gardener, probably to belie his former association with the Obsidian Order. They were milling near Kith Ghemor, at the moment. Successful in avoiding the immediate conflict, the diplomatic meeting was ending. Sorehl folded the Cardassian aesthetic robe over one arm as he tried to quietly leave the gathering. His arrival had been in secret, and he had expressed a desire to leave the station likewise. He looked toward her and approached. She felt her heart swell, seeing at the unassuming Vulcan. Kallah had asked her if she'd ever outgrown her teenage crush on the captain. Up till now, she was sure she had. As he walked toward her, she felt a flush in her neck ridges. She knew he would continue to downplay the impact of his contact with Drankum, but Sorehl had used the emotional impact of his personal friendship with the Ferengi to help him see reason. He walked toward the young Cardassian woman, carrying the borrowed robe and conscious of her gaze on him. He maintained his equanimity. She had no reason to know how, years earlier on Aegis, the results of a Greek god's influence made such attention discomforting. Nor would she ever, he reaffirmed. It was an unfulfilled quest of his to relocate the being and remove that particular burden. But one pursuit at a time. He bowed to her slightly, offering the robe. "It would seem our peaceful aims have been achieved," he surmised. She smiled back at him pleasantly, taking the outer garment. "Whatever you said, it worked. And you say you're not a diplomat." His tone was self-depreciating, "This was not a maverick negotiation. The value in my presence was that it was trust, not diplomacy, that Drankum needed in order to share his government's real motivations." He looked to the UFP representative. "And I suspect the apology extended by Envoy Delain will build further trust." Jeralla smoothed the harsh fabric of the robe on her arm. "Maverick or not," she cautioned, "you may see some criticism that we didn't exactly make this a team play, even if the results were satisfactory." Sorehl straightened, as if invoking a quote, "It is a small thing to suffer insult or debasement in the cause of peace." Jeralla had heard Ambassador T'Salik offer similar sentiment and wondered if it were a Vulcan adage. She knew it was an adage he'd lived. "The courier shuttle is still docked," she explained. "I'm sure we can arrange transport back to Canar or Bajor." She knew he planned to catch up with his wife, who was on her way back to Camelot Station in the Gamma Quadrant. "Many thanks, but I intend to seek another means of conveyance," he explained, glancing in the direction of the Klingon ambassador, who was also leaving. He raised his hand in the Vulcan salute, bowed slightly, and set off after Governor K'Vorlag. Jeralla watched him recede from sight. "Well, you've made quite an impact, young lady," came the pleasant voice of one of her fellow Cardassians, now walking toward her. His smile seemed genuine. "You saved the day. Local girl makes good." She searched for the words to deflect his complement, but he continued. "Oh, don't bother to deny it," the gardener insisted with slow, careful diction, "I'm an excellent judge of character." "I only brought the players together," she countered. "Perhaps. But the illusion is much more fascinating," he observed. "I find the truth is a usually just an excuse for lack of imagination." He looked at her as if recognizing someone else. "Your words to convince the Castellan were just as important," she paused, wondering what title was appropriate for a member of the Orallian religious order. She realized she was still holding the robe. "Oh, Sorehl returned this," she explained, offering it back to him. His smile continued as he accepted it. "I'm glad to be of service." He rubbed the material between thumb and forefinger. "It's a rather harsh fabric, dull color – but then, I doubt Vulcans spend much time in front of the mirror picking among their robes." "I admit I was surprised to see you take an interest in this negotiation," Jeralla confessed. "My dear," he answered in silken tones, "Cardassia's best interests are served if this station moves on. Deserved or not, Aegis reminds us of our losses, just as Terok Nor reminded Bajor of the occupation. Placed elsewhere, they can serve new purposes." "No," she corrected, "I meant I was surprised that you would promote a private audience with the Ferengi so actively." He looked thoughtful. "I've learned not to underestimate Ferengi motives. As for you and your Vulcan friend," he paused, "even a plain, simple gardener can appreciate the work of unsung heroes." From under the robe, he produced a single colorful flower and rested it in her hands. His pleasant smile still evident, he bowed slightly and withdrew, leaving the conference room behind. Jeralla recognized the rare Edosian orchid. Turning it over in her hand, she mused on how the universe had strange ways of connecting things together.
  3. A joint log with Muon, related to tonight's sim. This log is subject to update, based on further feedback... Muon Quark entered her office with an exasperated sigh, still fuming about the encounter with Drankum. She knew her people could be devious, occasionally argumentative, but this reaction to the station move was totally unacceptable. Drankum had ignored her carefully crafted talking points and simply repeated the party line. Rudely. Had the Grand Nagus let reforms get so far ahead that he’d lost control of this resurgent backlash? His own son was a Starfleet officer. She doubted he would sanction such belligerence, especially toward the Federation. Maybe it was out of his hands? “Captain,” Porter’s voice rang out, interrupting her thoughts. “Incoming message from the Cardassian government.” Muon collapsed into her desk chair. With so much at stake, there was no way she could avoid taking this call. “In here,” she replied wearily. A vaguely scorpion-shaped symbol appeared onscreen, indicating the source was within the Presidium of the Cardassian Union. “Captain Quark,” began the officious-looking Cardassian onscreen. Muon identified him as the Foreign Minister, although his name escaped her. “I’m contacting you on behalf of the Castellan, who sends his greetings.” She tried to look pleasant, or at least not fatigued beyond caring. “Thank you, minister,” she answered, then decided to drive on. “Kith Ghemor just conveyed your concurrence to allow our fleet to enter your space.” The Cardassian looked away briefly. “Yes,” he replied, “I’ve been asked if you would consider one last request before summoning them.” Muon continued to smile, knowing she’d advised Porter to alert the fleet just moments ago. “What is it?” “The Castellan granted a petition to open one more dialogue with the lead Ferengi negotiator,” the Foreign Minister explained. “We’ve already dispatched a diplomatic courier toward your station. It’s unarmed, of course; it shouldn’t violate the Ferengi blockade.” Muon bristled at the notion of a blockade. “I’m not sure Drankum is looking to do any more talking,” she advised. “I suspect you’re right,” the minister admitted, “but there are those who don’t think they want to go to war, either. If the alternative is another battle in our beleagered space, we think it best to exhaust all our opportunities.” Exhaust was probably the right word, she considered. “You don’t really need my permission, but you should know Drankum just managed to insult a whole gaggle of diplomats, including your own. I’m not sure what you think you can achieve.” “A different strategy has presented itself,” the minister explained. “I’ll send you a manifest and put you in touch with the courier.” # # # # # A few minutes later, Muon scrolled through the incoming list of passengers. The lead negotiator was a Cardassian only in her mid-twenties. The young woman held dual citizenship as a Federation diplomat and had some shared history with Drankum. There was a metal ore magnate, an escavation specialist, and a… gardener? Her eyes narrowed, recognizing the name of a former member of the Obsidian Order. Just what were they planning? She scrolled to the last record and stopped, suddenly puzzled and illuminated at the same time. And all at once the difference in the Cardassian strategy was clear…
  4. And was clearly written by people who knew and loved Trek, not just obnoxious anti-Trekkies. Dr. Lazarus: I see you managed to get your shirt off. Guy: I'm not even supposed to be here. I'm just "Crewman Number Six." I'm expendable. I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I've gotta get outta here. Gwen DeMarco: Ducts? Why is it always ducts? Brandon: But I want you to know that I'm not a complete brain case, okay? I understand completely that it's just a TV show. I know there's no beryllium sphere... Guy: I know! You construct a weapon. Look around, can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe? Fred Kwan: Hey guys, I just wanted you to know that, the reactors won't take it; the ship is breaking apart and all that... Just FYI. These writers should be simming with us.
  5. A joint Jeralla / Semil log on Camelot Station. Jeralla folded her hands neatly in her lap, smoothing the vestigal scales along her wrist as the image of Camelot Station swelled in front of the runabout. It was night on the planet Avalon, some 30,000 kilometers below, and she could see the signs of growing civilization in the scattered jewels of light. Although it was comfortable in the aft section, she never missed a chance to watch an approach from space. In front of her, Specialist Alee moved his blue-hued hands over the controls. The Bolian petty officer had been assigned to relay his diplomatic cargo safely back to the starbase. In an effort to keep Excalibur's mission a secret, he had used a meandering route that had added a couple days to the trip. Jeralla understood the need. Paranoia was practically a virtue among Cardassians. "You must have a lot to tell Admiral Day," Alee remarked excitedly, lifting one hand toward the station, "and the ambassadors!" Like many Bolians, Jeralla observed, her pilot had been quite a chatterbox. He gasped with a slight startle at his own statement. "Do the Klingons and the Romulans even know about our mission to find the Founders?" Jeralla's smile carefully concealed some calculation in her thoughts. During the lulls in flight, the young pilot had given her an expansive account of his family life, Bolian cuisine, and his duties aboard Excalibur. He also asked a lot of questions. He was particularly fascinated that she had spent so much time in conference with the Vorta. He had also offered his own surprisingly insightful perspectives on the fractured alliances in the quadrant. True to her species' virtues and her training under Ambassador T'Salik, Jeralla had known better than to answer the sensitive comments. "It will be good to be back aboard," she said, once again diplomatically evasive. "Of course, Mr. Alee," she added, still smiling sweetly, "you know you shouldn't discuss the particulars about Excalibur with anyone on the station except the command staff." Secrecy was still precarious. Even the runabout had a falsified transponder, identifying it as attached to the starship Enforcer. The Bolian pursed his lips. "Oh, no, no," he assured her, waggled his hands. "I've been on classified missions before," he explained, then close his mouth suddenly. "But you won't hear about them from me." He turned toward the console as the comm system chimed. "This is Camelot Operations," came a recognizable voice over the channel. The voice of Lieutenant Commander Corris Sprint had been a fixture in her life for ten years: first, on Aegis, then Empok Nor, then Camelot. "You're cleared for touchdown in shuttlebay four." The Bolian confirmed the order cheerfully, then aimed the craft toward the central hub below C-Ring. The bright blue sparkle outlined the runabout as it glided through the protective shield and set down gently. Through the cockpit window, Jeralla could see an Efrosian in civilian garb standing expectantly. Alee swiveled his chair around. "Thanks for flying with us, Ambassador," he beamed. Jeralla nodded deferrentially, deciding it would deflate his enthusiasm to correct him. She was merely a sub-consular attache to the Dominion, not a full ambassador. As was typical, Starfleet tended to lump the whole of the diplomatic service under the one title. Still, Alee didn't use it like an insult. As she got to her feet and stepped toward the hatch, Alee added, "I'll be here on the station when you're ready to head back." Jeralla paused, wondering if this next information was sensitive. She pressed on, determining it was at least need-to-know. "That… hasn't been determined yet," she admitted. "We may not be heading back." Alee looked surprised at first, then pressed his lips together. "Well, that would explain why they didn't give me a rendezvous point," he thought aloud. "I wondered how we were going to find them without a flight plan." He paused a beat. "Secret mission and all." He raised a finger to the bifurcated ridge above his lip. Jeralla nodded, then stepped out into the pleasantly warm shuttlebay. It was a hotbed of activity, with sparks and repair crews working on fighters similar to those in Kallah's flight wing. She hadn't realized the station had taken them on. Her adoptive father would have loved it here. As the Efrosian approached, she saw he wasn't alone. With a mild shock, she saw a familiar Vorta beside him. She hadn't seen Semil since their encounter at the planet Excalibur had dubbed Citrus IV, after which he had threatened to reveal not only the loss of the Founders, but the Federation's role in seeking to find them. Suddenly, all the sense of secrecy seemed to evaporate. Had he made good on his threats? "Welcome back to Camelot," the Vorta greeted, his voice dripping with sweetness. The Efrosian, a functionary from the onboard Federation embassy, looked apologetic. Clearly, the Vorta had not been invited to this reception. "I'm sure it was a long journey," Semil added, looking back toward the runabout, "from wherever you were." Jeralla offered her thinest of smiles. The Vorta knew full well where she'd come from, which meant he hadn't shared his news with the Quadrant. His being here was to emphasize the power it gave him. She'd always known he was shrewd, but her admiration of his diplomatic skill had increased. Without a threat, what he hadn't spoken had offered volumes. "I'm afraid I can't offer you a formal audience at this time," she declared, taking the tones of her mentor. "I have business with Admiral Day." "Of course," he replied. Whether his graciousness was real or feigned was unclear. He stood in place as Jeralla and her escort moved away. A few paces away, the Efrosian leaned in, "I'm sorry. I don't know how he…" "It's alright," Jeralla assured him, "the Hundred seem to be at least as resourceful as the Dominion when it comes to knowing things." Semil watched the two diplomats walking away. He wished he paid more attention to the girl as a youth, in those days before the war had broken out. The loss of her dissident father during the Klingon invasion had eased her into a life among the Federation. If only the Founders had chosen to deal with the more rational Cardassians like her… His thoughts were jostled as a Bolian pilot brushed past him. Glancing back toward the runabout and the busy repair crews, Semil found himself rushing after the enlisted man, who was leaving the shuttlebay. No doubt it would look like he was attempting to ply the Bolian for information. There was no such need. "She's really very lovely," Alee stated over his shoulder, as they reached the corridor. "A credit to her race. She actually thinks the solids can learn to forgive the sins of the past. It was unwise for my wayward brethren to try and wipe them out." By now, the blue skin was wavering, changing in color. Semil walked quickly, but kept a step behind. "What were you able to learn?" The orange-hue washed over the former Bolian as he morphed. They stepped on a turbolift. "From her? Nothing." He let the lift close, but didn't speak to it. "But…" "After weeks posing on their ship, I hardly expected to learn more from bantering with one of their guarded diplomats." Eloi, a governing member of the Hundred, now stood before him. "They're quite open in the perceived privacy of their offices. I was worried when that cross-dimensional incident had them screening for Founders – but I do a good potted plant." "Of course," Semil agreed quickly. Eloi had an unnerving sense of humor, which challenged his reverence. "To which, I should probably put on something less obvious," he said, looking down at himself. "Embassy Row, Hundred entrance," he finally spoke to the lift. Moments later, an ordinary-looking Jem'Hadar soldier stood there beside Semil. "It appears I'll be aboard Camelot Station for awhile."
  6. The warmth of the orange sun seeped down into Jeralla's light-gray skin. She’d picked a remote location on this planet they were using for shore leave. She picked the coastline of an inland sea with a rocky, volcanic beach. The moist, hot air would probably have been uncomfortable for most of the species on Excalibur, so she'd come alone. The sound of the waves crashing, steaming, and gurgling against the hot pumice was relaxing. After a swim that soaked the warmth down into her bones, she lay out on one of the larger rocks. Cardassia was far away, a whole quadrant away. Were there many worlds like this, unspoiled by the wages of war? At least there were no scheming Vorta. No threatening Scorpiad. She heard the crunch of pumice. Although she was modest enough, she pulled the towel to her chest and rolled to one side. A figure blocked the sun. Jeralla sat up, holding up one hand and squinting to see who’d surprised her. “Kallah?” she asked, wondering if her stepsister had managed to finish her flight duties. The figure did not answer. Was it Victria? Wouldn’t the Al-Ucard avoid a place with so much ultraviolet light? Instead, the voice was a familiar and unexpected one. “I need your help,” it said. Jeralla felt the inrush of warm air as she gasped sharply. “You…”
  7. I walked onto the bridge of this new ship and presented my diplomatic credentials to Commander JoNs. I was worried that the Starfleet crew would be concerned about having a diplomat aboard, even a low-level one like me. I've seen officers bristle at just being introduced to Ambassador T'Salik. She used to dismiss it as an emotional reaction to someone "invading their territory". I never saw her do anything to deserve some of the treatment she was given, except that time she laid into Rear Admiral Meve on his own Control Tower. I don't plan on doing anything like that. Not on my first solo assignment for the Federation. The captain, who I met once before, wasn't on the bridge. But the Caitan first officer was very pleasant. I read that she had a security background, so I was prepared for comments on how it was a risk for me to be aboard. But there was none of that. I was given permission to stay on the bridge. Since Kallah was there on duty, I did. We were able to talk. I noticed how many faces I didn't know, which surprised me after living on Camelot Station for so long. Most of them never made it down to Embassy Row, I guess, or maybe they're just new. It's been nice to see no one looking at me strangely for being a Cardassian in the Gamma Quadrant. With my people restricted from travelling here by the treaty, it sometimes makes me feel even more isolated from them. T'Salik said there were elements in the Assembly who appreciated the irony of sending a Cardassian as a Federation representative to the Dominion. I just wonder if they see me as a reminder of the mistake they made starting that war. But then, they did send a Weyoun to Camelot, and they must know how we'd feel about that. The ship seems to have found one of the first "breadcrumbs", as Kallah put it, on our mission to help the Dominion. I know they've restricted full knowledge of our goal to the senior line officers, but I wonder how soon it will be obvious to the whole crew. Once that happens, how long before others off-ship know? The Vorta are very concerned about it. They didn't even bring any Jem'Hadar as escorts. I can't be alone in wondering if we ought to be helping them. I know I feel bitterness when I think how their leaders laid waste to Cardassia Prime. They killed 800 million of my people in that last day of the war just as a punishment for our disloyalty. Eight years later and we still haven't recovered. Should I be helping put them back in control of that empire? I've listened to the Council debates over subspace. Current policy is to restabilize the region. What they can't say in open session is that a weak Dominion invites rebellions, which lures in the Scorpiad or the Hundred. And they know it would spill toward the wormhole. I'm more worried about what the Jem'Hadar would do if they knew. They certainly aren't loyal to the Vorta. The Commander has the ship on approach to this planetoid they've located. For now, she's asked me not to alert the Vorta. I'll follow her lead. I just wonder what will happen next.
  8. Name: Jeralla Ramson Gender: female Species: Cardassian Age: 27 Adoptive father: D’Mysus Ramson, Commander Adoptive mother: Dr. Saraina Ramson, Lieutenant Commander Physical Characteristics A mute from birth, Jeralla communicates through the use of a wrist keypad and vocalizer. Personal History Jeralla spent most of her early life on worlds other than Cardassia Prime. Her father Barak, a political dissident who objected to the Bajoran Occupation, was disliked by the Central Command and encouraged to remain offworld. His position improved after the civilian coup which overthrew military rule. Barak was appointed as governor of the colony he’d been living in exile, between the DMZ and Bajoran space. When a Klingon invasion seemed imminent, then sixteen-year old Jeralla was sent to live in greater safety with her “godfather” Lieutenant D’Mysus Ramson and his wife Dr. Saraina Ramson on Starbase Aegis (now SB405) in the Canar system. Her father Barak did not survive the attack on his colony. The Ramsons legally adopted Jeralla in the ensuing months. Jeralla spent the remainder of the Dominion War on Starbase Aegis, surviving hardships and witnessing several attacks. In addition to her godfather, she grew close to security officer K’Cavok and other civilians living there, including the Vulcan diplomat T’Salik and her children. After the war, she studied interstellar relations. For three years, she interned as junior attache to Ambassador T’Salik, who was serving as an Envoy to the Cardassian Union. In this capacity, she interacted with her people while helping rebuilding efforts in the Trivas system, then on the homeworld itself. She followed Ambassador T'Salik to her assignment as Envoy-General to the Gamma Quadrant, where she assumed a role as senior attache. During the ambassador's absences, such as extended missions off-station, Jeralla increased her role as the remaining diplomatic advisor on Camelot Station. In the recent reshuffling of alliances since the Scorpiad defeat, Jeralla has been asked to serve as Federation Subconsul to the Dominion under the guidance of other ranking diplomats. Whether lingering hostility over her Cardassian heritage will prove difficult in dealing with the Vorta remains to be seen. Through her adoptive parents, Jeralla has three younger siblings, including her stepsister Excalibur air group leader Kallah Ramson. She occasionally visits the ranch on Canar II owned by her Saraina and D’Mysus Ramson, who both remain stationed at SB405. Citizenship As the adopted daughter of Starfleet officers, as well as a Cardassian national, Jeralla holds dual citizenship. In addition, she holds diplomatic credentials as attache to Ambassador T’Salik, with the associated rights, freedoms, and immunities.
  9. Jeralla's origin and background can be found at Bio: Jeralla Ramson
  10. Beneath the expansive, multi-deck viewport on Deck 18, Jeralla Ramson watched from an unobtrusive table alongside the Replimat. Other patrons of the Midway milled about drinking their raktajino, nearly overwhelming the pleasant aroma of the hot fish juice she'd secured as her own morning beverage. She took a sip, avoiding eye contact with yet another Starfleet security officer as he slowed his pace, observing her in passing. He would certainly check her description against the terrorist database after finishing his rounds. As one of the few Cardassians aboard Sky Harbor Aegis, Jeralla found it hard to keep a low profile, especially in so public a place. The crewman would be disappointed, no doubt, to learn she was just an ordinary citizen who had already provided diplomatic credentials to their chief. Ambassador T'Salik had, as always, been officious in that formality. Unfortunately, the ambassador was no longer aboard. It had been an uneasy thing for Jeralla to stay behind while her Vulcan mentor returned to the dangers on Cardassia Prime. It reminded her too much of how, as a youth of sixteen, she'd been forced to leave her own father in the wake of the Klingon invasion eight years ago. She'd never seen him again. But T'Salik had left clear direction. * * * * * It had been days earlier, after a contentious encounter with Rear Admiral Meve. The ambassador had returned to their assigned cabin on Aegis. In few words, she made it plain she would be returning to Cardassia Prime with no promise of Starfleet assistance in monitoring the upcoming elections. "Against logic," she'd explained, "the admiral continues to observe a policy of non-engagement in Cardassian affairs. It is small wonder the Freedom Party gains such ground, asserting that Aegis exists merely to thwart progress on your homeworld. In essence, he suggested I return and enforce order myself." "We're going back?" Jeralla had tapped into her wrist pad. T'Salik stood, tucking a stray strand of blonde hair behind the delicate point of her ear. "No," she answered, dropping into typical terseness. "Remain aboard Aegis. Arrange safe passage to Starbase 405 for my daughters. I spoke with D'Mysus and Saraina beforehand. Your godparents have agreed to receive them." Jeralla had been uncertain as to why she shouldn't also go to Canar, but T'Salik had continued, "I'm concerned that Aegis has learned nothing about the disappearance of Ambassador Raumuk." It had been weeks since the noted Andorian had been scheduled to relieve her, but had never arrived at the Federation compound. "Avoid disrupting station operations," she instructed, "but do not hesitate to employ your credentials in making further inquiries. You are an official Federation attaché and a Cardassian citizen. My husband would chide me, but Starfleet occasionally needs to be reminded that they work for us, not the other way around." * * * * * And so she remained on Sky Harbor. Having already sent her three Vulcan charges to SB405, Jeralla spent each day on the Midway, noticing repairs, enjoying the familiarity of Drankum's, and keeping a clear vantage on the Docking Complex entrance where passengers were received. shiKatsu Raumuk had been last seen boarding a shuttle from this location. Perhaps her godfather's security training had worn off, but something compelled her to linger near "the scene of the crime." She almost didn't notice him. He was among the many undistinguished Cardassians disembarking off a routine shuttle from the homeworld, but he paused momentarily near the ramp beside Customs. The movement had been natural, but he drew something fragile from inside a fold of his finely-made tunic and set it on the deck. Jeralla took a lingering sip of fish juice, using the mug to cover her face as she watched him stand and move off. In a moment, he was lost among the Midway crowds. Her eyes darted back to the purplish object laying a few meters from her table. Certain she'd witnessed some fleeting glimpse of intrigue, she set the mug down roughly, spilling some of its contents on the Replimat table. With a few hurried steps, she crossed the Midway venue, ready to alert one of the Starfleet officers. But no sinister-looking bomb or well-placed sensor awaited her eager eyes. An Edosian orchid, she recognized. An exotic and rare flower, particularly in this region of space. She glanced into the crowd. Had he simply dropped it? Jeralla bent low, noting the careful placement of the blossom, where foot traffic would not crush it. A scrap of paper was tied to the stem. Gingerly, she pushed it open, noticing the Cardassian script inside: "In memory of an unsung hero. The never ending sacrifice continues." She pulled her hand away and stood, suddenly concerned she was defiling some hallowed object. Was the note a reference to the epic novel, she wondered, a real event, or both? Was it connected to the disappearance of Ambassador Raumuk, or did it have some other significance? With more questions than answers, she suddenly felt even further from the task her mentor had given her.