SIM:Nadira, Chapter 8
The events in this SIM occurred in 2397. The SIM was originally posted on 17 May 2020 (stardate 239705.17).
((Gardens, Kaitaama Palace, Krios Prime))
Kells: What exactly is she asking you to do?
Rahman: To join her as an activist. She wants to reform the way metamorph education is done, and ultimately, how metamorphs are treated in Kriosian society. And being that she herself is not a metamorph… well, you can see how having one by her side would help with that goal. But the Prime Directive is clear. I can't get involved.
What Sana was asking her to do--to help lead a cultural revolution for metamorphs on Krios--was frankly overwhelming. That was on top of Roshanara still processing that it’d been her own mother who had smuggled her off her homeworld to eventually find her way to Earth.
She sat on the same stone bench near the stream that she and Jatann had visited earlier during their walk through the gardens, except this time next to her was the only person on the planet who could understand the moral dilemma and full ramifications of the choices before her: a fellow Starfleet captain and her former CO.
Kells: Well, there are precedents. The Prime Directive isn’t meant to constrain you -- any you, not just you -- but you’re not meant to abandon your culture because of your uniform. No one should have to do that.
Rahman: I get that, but is this really *my* culture? I know Sana thinks differently, but to me, I’d be an outsider intruding on another society. ::She sighed::
Kells: In which case, the Prime Directive might apply to you as an officer. But not, I think, as a private citizen. Which means that you have the ability to choose -- how you approach this, but also what culture and society you claim.
True. If she wanted to avoid a court martial, she'd have to resign her commission first. Then, she could entertain the idea of getting involved as a private Federation citizen. But even if she did resign to avoid the legal issues, was that really the right thing to do, morally?
Rahman: You know, it’s funny. I’ve never questioned the Prime Directive--or any Starfleet regulations really.
He answered back with a grin.
Kells: Maybe you should start.
Captain Kells might have been more comfortable with such an approach, but Roshanara had always been a "true believer" when it came to Starfleet and its institutional trappings. The first in her family to join the service, she knew she took some of its traditions more seriously than many other officers did, but it wasn't just about the pageantry and ties to Starfleet's history. Respecting those traditions was her way of showing respect to the values and moral code that she and the officers before her had all sworn to uphold. She'd rather leave the service than ever tarnish it by betraying one of its most hallowed principles like the Prime Directive.
Rahman: At the Academy, they’d bring up the ethical debates and case scenarios. You remember them.
Kells: Sure I do. Some of them were real experiences, too.
Rahman: And yet, unlike some of the other cadets--or past captains--I didn’t see the controversy. The Prime Directive protects us as Starfleet officers from becoming agents of imperialism.
For unlike the great navies and militaries from which Starfleet took many of its traditions, what separated the modern service from those historical institutions was that its first sworn duty was not to the defense of its mother nation or world but rather the protection of vulnerable populations that could be most harmed by its power.
Kells: Is that what you fear is at stake here? A kind of ideological colonialism? If you involve yourself here?
Rahman: ::she nodded:: I think so. That’s part of it. And yet…
She struggled, trying to find the words--and the permission to expose her own views on the situation to her fellow starship captain.
Rahman: Some part of me *does* really want to join her. I’ve seen the other metamorphs here. They tell themselves they’re happy. But a part of me agrees with Sana that they just don’t really know what’s out there. That there’s more to life than just being supportive to another person. Yet...
She let out another frustrated sigh.
Rahman: That’s the whole point of the Prime Directive, is it not?! Precisely to prevent one captain’s emotional sentiments from clouding what any other observer would see as a clear cut issue.
Kells: Maybe it is. But -- you know I’m a scientist. I don’t believe, as scientists on Earth did centuries ago, that you can study anything, from geological formations to the lives of other sentient beings, without changing them. No science exists without observer effects.
Rahman: Yes, but we at least try to minimize that change. That’s what the Prime Directive is for, isn’t it?
Kells: To minimize, I agree, but not to avoid altogether. The Prime Directive doesn’t apply to static societies or a static Starfleet. Everything’s always changing. If we were to apply the Prime Directive in retrospect to decisions that have already been made, that’s easy, because we know the results. But this change hasn’t fully happened yet, and the decisions haven’t been made.
Rahman: But to *intentionally* step in as an activist? Do you think that’s right?
She looked around the gardens and to the expansive city vista that sat in the distance beyond the palace walls.
Rahman: I don’t know if we could legitimately argue Krios is a static society.
Kells: There is a difference between intentional and unintentional change, for sure. I do think that Krios is dynamic and alive, much as this particular sociocultural institution would seem to imply otherwise. (beat, slight grin) And that’s what I think, as an outsider.
Not that he claimed the only outsider status, as he definitely understood, or at least empathized, with her status with relation to Kriosian society.
Kells: How do you view the Prime Directive here, Roshanara? How does it apply to this situation?
She chuckled, almost nervously, feeling a bit like she was a cadet again back in that lecture hall as they reviewed those case studies. Though a gentle soul, Aron Kells could probe his officers and mentees with sharp questions as deftly as any of the finest professors at the academy. And Roshanara knew he wouldn’t be shy to poke holes in a poorly-constructed argument.
Rahman: Well, it’s in the name, is it not? The Prime Directive is one of Starfleet’s core values--its most sacred, in fact. It’s what makes Starfleet *Starfleet*. Why we’re different from the Klingon Defense Forces or the Nyberrite Alliance.
Kells: That’s a good answer, but not for the question I asked. What does it suggest about what’s happening here?
She pondered for a moment, truly tackling all aspects of the situation.
Rahman: Well, as an independent world, Kriosians are directly responsible for their own development and entitled to that responsibility. As a Starfleet captain, it would be entirely inappropriate to bring in the Federation into this. Yet as a Kriosian…
That was it, wasn’t it? The heart of her dilemma. Was she a Kriosian really in that sense of the word? Or just a Federation citizen with a funny spot pattern?
Rahman: Do I bear some of that responsibility? Sana certainly thinks so.
Kells: Every Starfleet captain is biased. Every Federation citizen is biased. (beat) I think the question might be, in this case, whether or not you can claim any of the responsibility. As a captain and as a citizen.
She shrugged, her eyebrows raised..
Rahman: I mean… she’s my own mother...
Kells: And you’re a part of it, obviously. (beat) So consider the advice you might give someone else. A Vulcan captain, say, involved in Vulcan/Romulan reunification, who had to arbitrate a decision of a similar caliber. What would you tell that captain to do?
She rubbed her cheek as she considered the hypothetical scenario he’d posed to her. She shook her head. There still wasn’t an easy answer.
Rahman: I would tell them that’s not a decision I can make. They’d have to really look into themselves and decide what’s most important for them.
Her former CO, mentor, friend, and now colleague looked back at her with a slight smile.
Kells: Which is just what I would tell you.
Fleet Captain Aron Kells
Captain Roshanara Rahman
CO, USS Veritas