“Playing in the Game”
“News travels so quickly these days.” A fine silver tea cup touched his lips as he sipped an exquisite black tea procured by his ever resourceful personal assistant. “I assume the information is…reliable?”
“Reliable yes. Outdated perhaps. The information is several hours old. Events do indeed move quickly sir. Obtaining timely information on Romulan activities has and continues to be something of a challenge.”
Thunder rumbling in the distance foretold a coming storm. Weather modification networks did not extend to the remote locale of the Zelanis estate. There would be no protection from the coming storm’s fury, but then again, the master of the family preferred it this way.
Gazing out the large windows that comprised the wall of the dining hall he watched the clouds growing in size as darkness reached out across his domain. “I expect there are few things beyond your grasp August.”
“You flatter me sir. Mine is only to serve the Zelanis family when and wherever possible.”
“Indeed. Do we know more?”
“Not at this time. Our contacts on this matter are only in the position to observe and report. Details are sometimes difficult to obtain.”
“Hmm. I do not like it.”
“The storm? Would the master prefer the curtains drawn for the evening?”
“No. Leave them open. The scenery is appropriate given current matters. The coming storm outside may foreshadow dark events which have yet to reveal themselves. This news is unsettling. Recent events feel contrived and unnatural. I sense puppeteers manipulating events and people with various strings at their disposal.”
“Whatever do you mean sir?”
“I cannot say. It is merely a feeling at present. Yet I cannot dismiss it. Why would the Romulans wish to escalate tensions? Why flirt with the possibility of open hostilities between the Empire and the Federation? Neither has anything to gain. Taking a Federation diplomat hostage gives them a pawn – but to what end? They cannot hope for anything other than stalemate or worse against the Federation even as corrupt and soft as it has become since the last war.”
Another sip of tea revealed its bitter notes hidden behind its otherwise enjoyable flavor.
“Do we know the name of the Ambassador involved in these matters? There are so many of them these days.”
“The contact does not have a name, but we did receive an image. Quality is poor given the transmission method, but I believe the computer may be able to enhance and identify.”
Zelanis continued to sip his tea and turned in his chair to face the wood paneled wall of the dining hall that bore his family’s coat of arms. August produced a pad and with several deft wrist motions the expensive, highly polished wood slid away to reveal a large screen displaying a grainy image of what appeared to be a male and female.
“Who is the woman?”
“Unknown at this time. I’ve instructed the computer to enhance the image.”
The screen flickered as the computer rapidly worked to reconstruct the image. A clatter reverberated throughout the massive dining hall as a silver tea cup hit the marble floor dropped from its owner’s hand.
“Sir! Are you…”
Zelanis stared at the image with a momentary expression of disbelief. “Fate is an unpredictable force that never ceases to amaze me. And so the puzzle begins to take shape. Ian Lamont. How did you of all people become a piece in this particular puzzle?”
Zelanis stood tossing his linen napkin onto the long rectangular table which filled the length of the room with its antique spendor. “Twenty years have passed and once again the Lamont family returns to some measure of prominence in galactic events. How interesting. I believe my feelings were justified. If we know of this then we can assume others do as well. If that is the case old rivals and enemies will soon rise like the undead from old graves; hungry for the blood of the last of the noble and distinguished Lamont family line.
Ian. What have you gone and gotten yourself into? I wonder?”
“Can we send a message to our contacts on Romulus?”
“Good. We need more information however certain actions may need to be taken. Inform our people to standby for further instructions.”
“At once sir. I will see to it personally.”
“Yes sir”, the servant replied with his usual calm.
“The tea this evening was most excellent. Have the kitchen procure an additional supply.”
The man nodded and left the master alone in the hall.
Zelanis stared at the image of the Ambassador on the wall as a thin grin formed on his lips.
“It would appear you have found your way back into the game Lamont. Let us hope you can play it with far more mastery than did your father. This should be quite amusing. Quite amusing indeed.”
A flash of lightning brightly illuminated the room as the storm outside finally reached the Zelanis estate. The following clap of thunder only partially obscured the laughing competing with its sounds in the dining hall.
To Be Continued…
Marquis Edward Zelanis, Earth
August Sarentine, Zelanis Family Servant