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The moment after the rush of pride that floods her veins and pulls a smile from her weary lips—after Damar gives an impassioned speech which could have come from the lips of Shaakar himself and his compatriots seize on his words, raise their fists in the air and pledge themselves to the cause of their liberated homeworld—Kira feels the foundations on which she stands shake from beneath her as surely as the Cardassian gravel.

Her, proud of Cardassians. Proud of Cardassia—the whole Prophets-forsaken race of them. She’d shot Bajorons as collaborators for less.

No, pride is a feeling. Feelings don’t determine loyalty—that had been one of the first lessons she’d learned in the Resistance. If someone helped the Enemy—no matter how guilty they felt, no matter what lies they told themself or half-baked cowardly justifications—if they aided the enemy, they were a Collaborator…and therefore an enemy themself. Feelings don’t matter, only actions. And if Kira examines her actions…wearing the uniform of a foreign power, aiding two Cardassians—at least one of whom was a member of the occupying force on Bajor—in a struggle to reinstate the Cardassian Union…if she examines those actions…

“But isn’t it the principle of the thing that matters?” Captain Sisko had asked her, when he first broached the subject of this assignment with her, when his advice to simply put her personal feelings aside proved somewhat ineffective.

“Say more.”

“You’ll be fighting for freedom! Self-determination! The right of an occupied people to exist autonomously on its homeworld! Are these not the causes to which you have dedicated your life, Colonel?”

No.” And despite herself, despite everything that was demonstrably not funny about the situation, Kira found herself laughing. For some time, Sisko had been more than her commanding officer, more than even her friend. He was the Emissary, a prophet, a link between her people and their gods. He was of Bajor. And so it was easy to forget, even during these past several long years of war, that he was not himself Bajoran. But then something like this would escape his lips to make the chasm between them so alarmingly obvious, some speech about principles, doctrines so abstract that they could only come from the mouth of someone from the Federation. Someone who had grown up in a world where one could afford to make decisions based on values.

“No,” she repeated, wiping the water out of her eyes. “I didn’t dedicate my life to some idea of freedom! I dedicated my life to the Bajoran people! It just so happened that for a long time, that meant fighting for our freedom!”

And now, Kira iterates to herself as she stands in the shadows of this alley on Cardassia Prime, the interests of her people lie in defeating the Dominion, which just so happens to require aiding these people whom she once would have been willing to die to defeat. There is no contradiction here, just a deep irony.

And if the causes seem similar, if seeing a group of people pump their fists in the air and cry out in commitment to freedom stirs the same feelings in her that it had when she did that herself…well, any resemblance to principle is either a product of the fact that she’s wearing a Federation uniform, or merely a coincidence.