== Personal Quarters – USS Charon ==
Flipping through the dusty pages of an old book, Ian looked for the passage where he had stopped the day before. Backtracking he at last found his starting point and set upon resuming reading. After several moments he again stopped and tossed the book upon his coffee table. The book, a history of Alexander the Great, was a favorite of his. It was one of few possessions he had managed to retain from the grand Lamont estate that now existed only in record and memory. Generations of precious family assets, paintings, books, heirlooms, and many other such objects had been lost to hungry creditors or sold by his father to pay his army of lawyers in a desperate bid to restore his position as well as the reputation and integrity of the Lamont family name. A few trinkets, books, images, and other odds and ends were all that remained of the once grand estate that had lasted for generations. Lamont carried only two objects with him on assignments. The rest of his family’s legacy, what little remained, was carefully stored back on Earth. He retained the history book whose paper pages he had ravenously devoured as a young boy, and a necklace which he kept around his neck at all times. The tiny pendant was several hundred years old tracing its path back to the very beginnings of his long and storied family line. It was a reminder to him of what had come before and what he still had yet to do.
He sat up on his couch and gazed out of his window into an endless sea of stars. His recent time on Vulcan had been especially profound giving him much to contemplate about himself, his future, as well as his own troubled past. He found it increasingly difficult to relax except when buried in work. Personal time was torturous as worst, annoying at best. He couldn’t stop thinking about the subtle advice he had received from the sagely priests on Vulcan. It was both a blessing and a curse as it seemed to fill his every waking thought.
A sudden jarring beep startled the absorbed Ambassador back into the present. Cursing under his breath, Lamont stood and made his way over to his desk where the computer informed him of an incoming transmission. He was in no particular mood for conversation, but he welcomed the momentary distraction from his own thoughts.
“Lamont”, he stated bluntly opening the channel.
“Ian! So good of you to take my call. How are you old friend?”
Lamont blinked. Staring back at him was a man he hadn’t seen in several years.
“Halprin”, Lamont barked. “We haven’t spoken in nearly ten years. And we were never friends. What do you want?”
Halprin appeared rejected, but quickly recovered with his trademark grin. Lamont knew that smile. Nothing had changed in a decade. Trevor Halprin was still the same smooth talking, lying, brown nosing, suck up as he was ten years ago.
“I see your manners have not improved nor your ability to reign in that sharp tongue of yours. And you made Ambassador? What were they thinking? Your temper is legendary. Or well, at least it was. You appear to have fared well these past few years?”
“I get by”, Ian flatly stated. “I’m sure this isn’t a social call Halprin. You never bothered to so much acknowledge my existence unless you wanted something. What is it you want today? I fear I have precious little to offer an important, politician such as yourself.”
“Don’t be so modest Ian. News of your deeds has reached us back here on Earth. I never thought you would again don the uniform…well at least not again after your involvement in the war.”
Lamont glanced down at the Starfleet uniform he now wore. He had given up wearing his pretentious ambassadorial dress finding their pomp no longer suited him. The unassuming uniform of the military again adorned his body despite the harsh memories of his past it occasionally conjured up.
“It suits me. This ship, my assignment, does not mesh well with the trappings of the elite. Unlike yourself. That suit made of real silk? Is that what all the politicians and operatives are wearing these days?”
Halprin’s brow furrowed for only an instant before his sickly sweet smile reappeared masking his annoyance. “I didn’t call to discuss fashion trends Lamont.”
“Then why did you call Trevor? What can I, a junior ambassador light years away from Earth, possibly do for you?”
“Why nothing. Nothing at all.” He chucked which only further enflamed Ian’s growing irritation. “You haven’t changed a bit. It shows. As I was saying earlier, you are something of a rising, but still quite dim star in certain circles. You handled yourself well with the incident between the Romulans and Vulcans.. Oh don’t look so surprised Lamont! Some of us, besides you, have connections. Word is you may even receive a commendation for helping to diffuse the situation. I also have reliable information that indicates you’re on your way to locate, how to say, a person of significant interest at present?”
Ian cloaked his own emotions behind a practiced deadpan expression that could hold its own among the best poker players. Halprin was deliberately toying with him. He always had enjoyed pushing people’s buttons.
“Classified. I had no idea you were so interested in my activities. If you want answers I suggest you go rub elbows with someone at Starfleet Command though it seems you already have.”
“I’m not the one interested in you Ian. I just find it interesting that there are other parties who are interested in you.”
“What? What are you babbling about?”
“Your name has come up several times as of late in mixed company. While you’ve tossed away several years of your life in the pursuit of peace or whatever it is you call it, your rivals are again taking some interest in you and your activities.”
“Rivals? What rivals?”
“Come now Lamont. Drop the act. You know of whom I speak. You may have forgotten while you gallivant around the cosmos bringing rainbows, happiness, and flowers to everyone you meet – but your past has not forgotten you. In fact, I’d say the further you’ve tried to run from it the closer it has gotten – to you that is.”
“This better have damn point Halprin or I’m terminating the channel”, Lamont shouted finally letting his temper momentarily slip from behind his walled, emotionless, façade.
“I’ll come to the point. Your father’s political rivals still view you, his heir, as a threat to them.”
“You can’t be serious”, Lamont chuckled incredulous of the claim.
“Would I be calling otherwise? Listen Lamont, you may not believe me and I don’t care if you do or not, but there are those who have again set their gaze upon you. A war veteran. A decorated soldier. An ambassador. Given your current mission and its importance you may have a grand chance at real notoriety depending on the outcome. Ambassador Spock is an honored and influential elder statesman. Now do you see? Should you return to Earth and pick up where your father left off – your political clout, record, and fame could pose a serious threat certain individuals of our mutual acquaintance.”
“I have no political aspirations back on Earth! That was my father’s domain. His legacy died with him.”
“Perhaps, but I know you Ian. I know you secretly wish to strike back at those who ruined your father and your family. It’s a fire you cannot quench. If you were to ascend and obtain a good measure of clout and power, can you honestly tell me you would not use it to seek revenge – to right the wrongs done to you and your family name?”
“No. My father destroyed himself and our family in a vain attempt to accomplish just such a thing. I won’t follow in his footsteps. It..it isn’t who I am.”
“Like father, like son. You can live in denial if you want. I could care less.”
“Why tell me this Trevor? Why even bother to call me after all these years?”
Halprin grinned. “Let’s just say I enjoy certain sports and even matchups. A rigged game is no fun to watch when you know whose going to win.”
“Win? I’m not sure I follow. Are you implying I’m in some sort of danger?”
“You passed danger sometime ago I’m afraid Ian. It wasn’t until recently that I understood how hot the water was which you have fallen into. Call this a friendly heads up.”
“Friendly? Someone is plotting against me and you couch it in euphemism?”
“As you were always so fond of reminding me, I am a politician after all Ian. What else do you expect? Just don’t go and die on me out there. You are a competent ambassador, but a lousy politician. You have no concept of the gears turning against you. You’ve been out of the loop for far too long and I fear your skills for navigating the waters of political intrigue have been neglected. Peace is a noble cause, but nobility will only get you killed. It’s time to take off the kid gloves Lamont. Like it or not, you’re playing with the big boys now. Do nothing and they will destroy you, just like they did your father. The Lamont name, while tarnished, is not dead. A Phoenix may again rise from its ashes or be crushed under the heel of the powerful elite. Guard yourself. Watch your back. It’s time to stop running Ian. Time to grow up.
I hope we have a chance to speak again. You always were quite interesting. Adieu.”
The screen went black before Lamont had time to respond. He stood there staring at the screen unsure what to make of the conversation. Was Halprin lying? Was he telling the truth? Perhaps he was attempting to manipulate him or perhaps he was working with the very people he had warned him about? No. No. Halprin, was many things, most of which involved slime of the lowest sort, but we was also a shrewd and skilled politician. The man was well educated and highly intelligent. Perhaps this was just a friendly warning in a dangerous game Lamont had only just been made aware of. Perhaps Halprin was simply setting the pieces on a chessboard watching from afar for his own, twisted entertainment. It certainly fit his character.
Halprin may have done the right thing from the wrong reasons – if his information was accurate.
Ian rubbed his chin. He had neglected his contacts during his assignment on the Charon. Halprin was right – he wasn’t as sharp politically as he once was. After years of fighting himself he was finally beginning to mend old wounds – and now this. The wound had been reopened and he would be damned if he would let them bleed him dry like they did his father.
He had some calls to make, some favors to call in, and some facts to obtain. Perhaps he had been running his entire life. Perhaps his day of reckoning with his past was quickly approaching. If formal rivals had declared war once again on the Lamont family, he would answer the challenge and take up arms. He would make them all sorry for their past transgressions. If they could not leave him and his name in peace then he would give them the fight they desired. Justice still cried out for what they had done to him. It was time to draw his sword. Even a blunt weapon could kill – he had to make preparations to sharpen his blade and then decide how best to utilize it.
[ To Be Continued ]
Ambassador Ian Lamont
Diplomatic Advisor, USS Charon