<<If you're following the dates you already know, however if you don't - this is a slight backlog >>
=/\= Shi'Kahr =/\=
9th Day in the month of T'lakht, YS 9022
Aria had expected someone to be waiting for her when she had arrived planetside. The senior marine to have arrived with the new marine forces - dubbed the Vulcan Expeditionary Unit - held a Lieutenant Colonel's rank and offered a salute as she arrived at the provisional office.
"General Sulla has asked that you take provisional command of the peace keeping forces on Vulcan until a more senior officer arrives."
"Where the fuck is our airsupport? Comm, get on the net and bring some kind of ordinance to bear." Aria shut her eyes and swore as a splat of blood hit her face, the marine next to her crumpling to the ground. Sporadic fire from the forth story balconies answered the lucky shot by the Romulan infantry. They had just ousted the Romulans from the Shikahr Academy on Vulcan and she wasn't about to hand it back over.
Aria didn't answer right away, the memory snaring her attention away from the present, but it faded fast enough to avoid inconvenient questions. "Who is he sending?"
"Major, heads up!" Captain Dr`chek pointed down at one of the intersections a block from the academy.
The Major swore under her breath. "Green Rover, right flank. Zip Rockets to the ready!" Green Rovers, the marine nickname for a hover-mounted Romulan artillary vehicle, could be one of the worst sights for a soldier trapped in a large building.
"Veximius, ma'am." The Lt Col replied. "But he's on his way from another theater and so will take some time."
Aria smirked. Not so much at the task, really, but more so at who was on their way. She had no desire to see Vex again. "So just long enough for me to do all the heavy lifting, and Vex can show up for the photo ops and press conferences?" If she sounded bitter, she was.
"Cover fire for the zippos in 3-2-1..." Dozens of Force Recon marines openned fire, muzzle flashes coming from balconies, windows and the miraid of puncture wounds the complex had taken. Two plooms of exhaust chased the zip rockets as they hit the Rover, cracking its hull, plasma stores rupturing in a gaseous explosion that washed the earth on all sides.
The Lt Col figgited as the discomfort over the question escaped. "General Sulla didn't say that," he tried to sound reassuring, "but he expressed the desire to have your prior combat experience on Vulcan be a pivotal part of the peace keeping effort. I think it would be foolish of us to assume the hostilities are over. My assumption is that he wants a line officer running the show before politics bears it's ugly head and takes over."
Aria threw up her hands to stop the man from continuing. Politics was the last thing she wished to discuss, not that she would have a choice in the matter soon. "Right, right...public image, rally the forces, show the Rommies we're tough. I get it." She sighed, not in the mood for a task like this. It wasn't a mission so much as a babysitting job for a bunch of soon-to-be bored marines and whiny Vulcan government officials.
"Shall I inform the Vulcans you have arrived?"
Aria gave the OK nod. This was what she had dreaded most, so might as well get it over with. "Dio mi aiuti...Yeah, go ahead and let them know I'm available to take all their big questions and concerns."
=/\= Gardens outside the Council Chambers =/\=
"Yel-Halitra Marines? For what purpose?"
"The request has been presented by the Federation council."
"T'Pir approved of this?"
V'Les stopped in her tracks, nearly causing the somberly clad male in her wake to barrel into her small, unimposing figure but he managed to sidestep such an unfortunate and undignified event with a dancer's grace, barely ruffling the tall grass that grew in abundance right next to the gravel path. Not that she seemed to notice, her grey-green eyes fixed upon the horizon while slanted mahogany brows furrowed thoughtfully.
"How many. Where. Who."
Rather than answer, Kerev held out the small red data padd containing just that information and for a split second seemed to exude the air of a male looking desperately for a foxhole. Managing that feat without his stoic, aquiline face betraying a thing was impressive, however went utterly unnoticed as well.
"Seleya? Khir Ahl? Unacceptable. And how do they propose to house a company at Xen'tal? There are Andorians listed." V'Les glared at the padd with something nearly approaching an expression and by rights the metal should have melted in her hand.
"Ha, T'sai." Well, he had tried to point out the illogic and been met with the usual incomprehension. If other races behaved irrationally as a matter of course, Marine Generals seemed to take special delight in it. "There is a representative."
Knowing the lady V'Les well enough by now, Kerev followed the unspoken request without delay and turned on his heel to stride down the gravel path, leaving the Vulcan woman to settle under a pergola overgrown with fragrant vines to soothe what was likely a headache. Or the equivalent to one.
=/\= Just a little bit later =/\=
"Madam Falcon?" Gazing down at the rather aesthetically pleasing human female, the tall, lean Vulcan gave a courteous half-bow of greeting. Another irate one. It was just as well he was used to it. "Welcome to Vulcan. May I escort you to minister V'Les? She wishes to speak with you."
"Madam?" Aria shrugged, not giving the Vulcan enough time to respond, it was a rhetorical question anyway. It began already, with the half-bow, she thought to herself; the court rituals of diplomacy. No doubt this would be a long meeting, no matter how short it actually turned out to be.
"Sure. No sense in delaying the inevitable." Aria held out her hand as a gesture for the Vulcan to lead the way. She had no idea who the minister was or an idea of what they were like. Vulcan's pretended to be all logic and no spark, but personally Aria didn't believe that for a second. "Before we set off, though, could you tell me...what is the minister like?"
Like? He thought the question over silently while acknowledging several greetings with a courteous incline of his head. Like. Hands loosely clasped before him, the Vulcan gave the perfect impression of a statue, or perhaps a monk contemplating the nature of the universe.
The words that came to mind were efficient, capable, occasionally unorthodox. But always reasonably so. However, dealing with outworlders for roughly fifty point seven seven years had made Kerev aware that responding to emotionally tinted questions with plain logic on occasion produced mutual confusion.
"The T'sai V'Les is what you would likely describe as a straightforward person with little tolerance for dissembling."
And a bit of a temper. But since she would rather apply as waitress on an Orion ship than let an outworlder suffer it, it was also quite unnecessary to mention that.
"If you are asking counsel on how to approach the minister, I suggest presenting facts, and if you must voice opinion do it without what is the phrase? Beating shrubbery?"
He made an inviting gesture in turn and glanced down the gravel path. It was quite clear the marine did not relish this assignment in fact, the exasperated energy she exuded could have been cut with a blade but as she had so suitably pointed out, it would not do to delay.
Striding off with his fluid, near soundless gait, Kerev made certain to not draw ahead of the woman which always required a few delicate adjustments when one was rather tall and had a preference for moving accordingly.
Aria couldn't say she was surprised to hear of the ministers straight forward nature; she was happy to hear it, in fact, as she had no desire for bullshit. She adjusted her urban BDU jacket and followed alongside the Vulcan, the gravel crunching under the marines boots. It might have been a satisfying sound had she not had other things on her mind. At least now she had an inkling of what to expect and she could begin to build her justification for even being there at all.
Respecting the woman's silence, Kerev led her through the gardens, past the tall grass that shuddered under the breeze left in their wake and the thorny trees defiantly blooming under Nevasa's merciless glare. Even succulent little Cir-cen grew in a small cluster next to hardy yellow desert flowers, not planted by anyone but cropping up wherever they found a spot to take root and no gardener would shun the desert traveler's one and only friend.
They reached the shaded pergola where V'Les was sitting with a heap of data pads that always miraculously multiplied once the minister deemed to settle anywhere for longer than a few seconds and the tall Vulcan gave another flawless bow, shooing a harried looking male in dark maroon tunic away with the merest of glances.
"Aria Falcon." Grey-green eyes, tinted a shade of fresh mandrake leaves by the sunlight slanting through the vines, settled on the marine. Neither exasperation nor overt welcome in her level voice, V'Les made a small inviting gesture to one of the chairs opposite her, leaving the task of pouring the customary glass of water to her ever faithful, unobtrusive aide. Nor did the impassive face reveal what the Vulcan woman might think about being saddled with the one who commanded what was like to become a major nuisance.
"I am V'Les. Please sit and explain why it is necessary for Yel-Halitra marines to guard a religious sanctuary."
=/\= To be continued
=/\= Col Aria Falcon Marine Commander USS Charon V'Les Former Minister of Trade Current Liaison to Federation Forces
=/\= To be continued =/\=
Col Aria Falcon
Former Minister of Trade
Current Liaison to Federation Forces