Monday, August 15, 2011

[USS Charon] SD241108.14 || "Playing in the Game" - Marquis Edward Zalanis (NPC)

“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  Outdated perhaps.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?”

 

“Yes sir.”

 

“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.”

 

“August?”

“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

Monday, August 8, 2011

[USS Charon] [USS CORSAIR] - SD241108.07 || "New Orders" - Cpt. Taverain Ramius

U.S.S. Corsair - NX-011979
Nebula II Prototype
 “Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)

“New Orders”
________________________________

Personal Log…

 

I have had no solid leads on NeoDyne activity in over two months.  It is if the organization’s criminal activities have simply ceased to exist.  Reliable informants have seen or heard nothing.  Even a shakedown of a minor underworld figure produced no new leads.  I do not understand how so many trails cold or otherwise have simply vanished into aether.  And yet, the company’s legitimate businesses continue to operate in plain, public view.  Who knows what darkness they shelter?  I can only imagine and that pales in comparison to what I have seen with my own eyes.  My own mind and heart cannot fathom the utter blackness and evil that infests the core of the NeoDyne Corporation and its vile chief executives.  I sometimes wonder if those capable of such atrocities are mortal men.  Perhaps they are demons masquerading as such in the world of the living.  Man, beast, or otherwise – I care little.  My body and mind are committed to one solitary goal – the destruction of NeoDyne and its leader.  Only then can I rest.  Only then can the universe be spared from the horrific goals they continue to silently work upon.  Only then can justice be served and perhaps even revenge realized for what they have done to my brother, me, and hundreds and if not thousands of other poor souls who have found themselves caught in their inescapable web.

 

Yet, the veil of darkness that has descended appears impenetrable.  Without leads I am powerless to investigate.  My special status within Starfleet Intelligence becomes more fragile by the day.  They demand progress on monitoring and eventually exposing any illegal NeoDyne activities.  They have a vested interest in keeping tabs on one of the galaxy’s largest corporations.  Without carrots to dangle before hungry admirals I have nothing to keep them interested.  If I were to lose their support I fear my goal of seeing NeoDyne’s evil purged from threatening the living would die like the final embers of a fading fire.  Their schemes would eventually reach fruition and then it would be too late to stop them.  It may be too late already…I must find some new information.  If they have become so dedicated to covering their tracks then I must find a soft spot, a weakness, exploit it, and force them to let slip a few more secrets to keep me in the game.  If that is the only option left to me then the question changes to where one should one attempt to strike a snake without being bitten by its venomous fangs.  Where indeed.”

 

Ramius sighed.  With recent trouble between the Federation, Vulcan, and the Romulan Empire – things in intelligence were anything but quiet.  He had been forced to run errands for Intelligence trying to find evidence and clues about the recent attack on the Vulcan homeworld the Romulans were blaming on a single, insane Romulan admiral.  His so called Momento Mori was designed to completely destroy the Vulcan people.  Intelligence had him chasing ghosts across two quadrants searching for anything that could give them additional leverage in the current crisis.  That left little time for him to investigate NeoDyne leads, but such was their fragile agreement.  He was their pawn in all matters of the underworld.  His soul seemed to swim within its dark waters forever linked with the criminal underground of the galaxy.  Ramius was their dark, shadowy ambassador where no other Starfleet officer could tread.  Like a fallen angel, the darkness of the underworld was his exclusive domain.  He was given the means and the power to navigate its treacherous and turbulent waters and in exchange for providing certain services outside of official channels he was given freedom to track, observe, and pursue his enemies as he saw fit so long as he passed along what he uncovered in the process.  It was a difficult alliance fraught with danger, but one that had proved beneficial and valuable to the few who knew of its existence.

 

“Captain to the bridge.”  Ramius looked up from his musings at the sudden communication from his first officer.  “Computer, pause and save log entry.”  Ramius stood from his chair and straightened his uniform.  Perhaps fate would assist him in his time of need.  Even a blind individual in a darkened room could find its exit with enough determination, patience, and effort.

 

“You owe me one fate”, Ramius said out loud as a tiny smile formed on his lips.  “Let us see what you have up your sleeve for me this day.”

 

Ramius left his ready room and emerged onto the bridge.  His first officer, Alanis Novada, rose at his appearance and vacated the command chair standing at firm attention as the captain took his seat.

 

“Status number one?”

 

“We have received new orders from Starfleet Intelligence.  We are to postpone our current mission and proceed beyond the Neutral Zone to the Romulan home planet – Romulus.”

 

Ramius’s eyebrow twitched slightly upwards but his expression remained unchanged.  “Continue.”

 

“Intelligence wants us to monitor the situation.  The Federation has dispatched the USS Charon to Romulus to investigate the recent death of a Starfleet Admiral additionally its diplomatic staff will be engaging the Romulan government to discuss recent events.  We should consider them something of a special envoy acting on behalf of the Federation President.”

 

“The Charon?  Why does that ship’s path seem to cross ours on a regular basis?  Her captain is Romulan.  Perhaps someone is gambling her past will be of some specific use?  How interesting.”

 

Novada continued.  “We are authorized to use our cloaking device for the duration of our mission.  Under no circumstances are we to be detected or observed.  They made it quite clear we would be disavowed should something occur.”

 

“Anything else, commander?”

 

“We are ordered only to observe the situation and gather as much passive intelligence as possible.  We are to be a silent witness to whatever transpires and are ordered to take no actions beyond surveillance.”

 

“Hmm.  They send us on errands across the quadrant and now this?  I wonder.  If they are willing to risk our presence then perhaps this situation is far graver than I was aware.  Conflict with the Star Empire would not be in our best interest.  It would only provide additional cover and shelter for those I hunt.”

 

Ramius tapped controls on his armrest.  “Captain to engineering.  How soon can you have the Corsair’s little wonder operational?  We’ll need use of it for an extended period so it needs to be functioning perfectly as we cannot risk detection.”

 

“Well, I might need to wipe the dust off, but she’s ready sir.  Give me an hour to run some checks and I’ll have our wonder purring sir.”

 

“Understood.  Keep me posted.”

 

“Commander, please work with engineer Kusinagi and coordinate any outstanding engineering preparations.  If we are going to be in Romulan territory I don’t want any surprises.  We also need to identify Romulan communication relays along our path as we will need to piggy back our communications upon their signals to avoid detection.”

 

“Consider it done sir.”

 

“Ops, run a level 1 diagnostic on all ship’s emissions.  Report any anomalies to engineering.  We’ll need to rig ourselves for silent running and I don’t want a leaky plasma vent giving away our presence not that the Romulans will be expecting us, but let’s not so easily tip our hand.

 

Helm, estimated time to the Romulan Neutral Zone from our present location?”

 

“Plotting course.  ETA is five hours at warp six.  Set course and engage at warp eight.”

 

Ramius pressed the fingers of his hands together as the crew executed their orders and made preparations for their upcoming mission.  This mission took him away from investigating NeoDyne, but it had certain facets that could be of some use in the future.  It was also a dangerous mission which is why it had been given to him and the Corsair.  It was a task suited to them and them alone given their unique talents and abilities.

 

In any event, the mission was likely to prove interesting.  Surveillance or not, he had a feeling they were being moved onto the chess board for reasons other than taking mere pictures.  Would they be used as knights he wondered?  The Corsair was too valuable to risk only as a mere pawn.  Something was going on.  He only needed to discover what that was with the breadcrumbs he had been fed.  He enjoyed a challenge.

 

A diversion from chasing cold NeoDyne leads suddenly seemed welcome.  Where would it lead him, the Corsair, and his small crew of pirates?  They would soon find out.

 

________________________________

Captain Taverain Ramius

Commanding Officer, USS Corsair

 

Commander Alanis Novada

Executive Officer

 

Commander Sai Kusinagi

Chief Engineer

 

Friday, August 5, 2011

[USS Charon] SD241108.05 || Duty Log || "Diplomatic Warfare - Part 3" - Ambassador Ian Lamont

“Diplomatic Warfare – Part 3”
________________________________

“Ambassador, do you believe the Romulans have forgotten about us?”

 

“Absolutely not”, Lamont barked.  They were playing games again.  It had been nearly two hours since they had adjourned from talks.  Again the Romulans were stalling, but for what purpose?  What did they hope to gain?  Did they believe frustration and impatience could somehow play to their advantage?  No.  Of course not.  They knew he was not a first year cadet and yet they persisted with behavior that rivaled the Klingon’s treatment of diplomatic officials.

 

He drummed his fingers on the table.  Perhaps a test of will?  Fine.  If they wished to play such a childish game he would beat them at it.

 

[ Two hours later… ]

 

“Do you know much of the Romulan homeworld”, Lt. Lumendale asked as Lamont gazed out of the room’s large windows at the Romulan sunset.

 

“Affirmative lieutenant.  Much of my early studies were on Romulan custom, language, and society.  This is an ancient place steeped or rather mired, depending on your view, in long standing traditions.”

 

“Mired?  That is an interesting choice of words sir.”

 

“A personal observation only lieutenant.  The Romulans are a fascinating people in many ways, however their society is shackled to a past born from conflict, blood, and rivalry.  Power, honor, and prestige are everything.  Romulan honor, or what is referred to as Mnhei’Sahe, is a sacred personal code of sorts.  It is difficult to explain let alone understand for one who is not of this world.  I am not sure that I fully comprehend the deep, personal meaning that Mnhei’Sahe has for many Romulans and the society at large.  It is an intriguing, if not elusive concept.  Defining it is akin to describing this sunset with all of its colors, its warmth, the way it makes you feel and act, to a computer whose view of the world is purely cold and logical.”

 

Lamont looked at Alexia and offered the lieutenant a smile.  “I believe I have strayed from your original question.  My apologies.”

 

“Oh no, sir, please continue.”

 

Lamont’s smile faded at the lieutenant’s words.  “Indeed I would enjoy that however now is not the time.  We were sent here to talk to the Romulans however they have made it clear they are in no mood to reciprocate.  I believe we have waited above and beyond the threshold of diplomatic courtesy.  I was hoping to avoid this, but expected it nonetheless.  It appears it has come time to take off the gloves, put aside the niceties and courtesy, and play diplomatic hardball.”

 

“Hardball sir?”

 

“Old old Earth metaphor lieutenant.  Shall we attempt to locate our Romulan hosts and ask them if they would care to join us for dinner?  While I’m not sure I would ever tire of this view, a change of venue aboard the Charon would give me the home court advantage for what it is worth.”

 

“Should I contact the Charon and have them make preparations?”

 

“Not just yet.  Let us first see if my esteemed counterparts will entertain the idea before we expend any additional efforts.  Come along lieutenant.  I don’t fancy wandering Romulan government buildings alone.”

 

Lamont and Lumandale left the conference room, but to their surprise there was no attendant to be found.

 

“Wasn’t there supposed to be someone here to attend to our every need?”

 

“So we were told.  I wonder.  This way lieutenant.  There must be someone nearby we can speak with.”

 

The pair made their way farther into the massive Romulan building however there was not a soul to be found.  Offices, rooms, and hallways Lamont assumed would be crowded with people were vacant.  Something was amiss.

 

“Is it me Ambassador or do you also feel uncomfortable?”

 

“Uncomfortable is hardly the correct word lieutenant, but it will do for now.  I grow tired of playing schoolyard games.  I believe we are done here.”

 

“Lamont to Charon.  Two for transport.”

 

No response was forthcoming.

 

“Lamont to Charon?  Transporter room, come in over?”

“Lieutenant, try your communicator?”

 

Lumendale signaled and was met by silence.  “Perhaps the building is blocking the signal?”

 

“Doubtful.  We beamed in just fine.  I do not see why it would be so much harder to leave unless of course someone wants us to remain.”

 

“You don’t mean…”

 

“I have no facts lieutenant and only a few hastily derived theories to explain our current circumstances.  We should avoid premature assumptions.  However I do have growing concerns on the matter of our immediate safety.  Let us return to the conference room for now.”

 

Lamont firmly took the lieutenant’s hand as they retreated back down the hallway from which they had ventured.  The pair reached an intersection in the hallway that was devoid of markings or identifiable objects.

 

“Was it right or left sir?”

 

Lamont inwardly cursed at himself for not being more careful.  The plain, undecorated hallway offered few clues as to their prior route and he was finding himself in doubt over which direction was correct.

 

“It was left.  This way lieutenant.”  Lumendale followed and after several moments the pair found themselves emerging into a grand, palatial hall filled with banners, majestic brooding statues, and fine art.  At the center of the hall, a giant, eagle like bird of prey spread its orange wings across the dark stone beneath their feet.  It was truly impressive and was also decidedly not the correct route back to the conference room.  Lamont couldn’t help but marvel at the impressive architecture.

 

“I think we should have gone right Ambassador.”

 

“I hate to admit it, but I believe you may be…”, Lamont was unable to complete his sentence as dozens of security personnel seemingly appeared from thin air pouring from places unknown until the Ambassador and lieutenant were completely surrounded.

 

“Who are you!  What are you doing here”, an officer gruffly shouted in a Romulan dialect Lamont did not immediately recognize.  The man’s questions were however quite clear.

 

Lamont couldn’t help but smirk.  It was so obvious to him now.  Had he been na├»ve to believe the Romulans would play the game by the rules of engagement?  Perhaps.  In any event, debating his decisions would not change matters now.

 

“Why we’re on the tour”, Lamont replied with a smile.  “Such a lovely building you have here!  Not nearly enough restrooms however.  Might I inquire as to their location?  My companion here would like to freshen up before our interrogation, incarceration, and trial.”

 

The soldier was taken aback by the Ambassador’s wit.

 

“Don’t stand there and look surprised Centurion”, Lamont barked.  “You are here to arrest us are you not?  Wait!  Let me guess the charges – espionage, subterfuge, trespassing?  Am I getting warm?”

 

“Silence human”, the Centurion shouted.  “You are trespassing on sovereign Romulan property.  Your intent is quite clear Ambassador.  Your sole goal was to gather intelligence on key Romulan political figures.  Who is your target?  The Praetor himself perhaps?  You mentioned that name many times today.  Perhaps you were here for more than mere theft.  Perhaps it was assassination?”

 

“Assassination!?  We are Federation diplomatic officers here at the request of the Romulan Senate!  We are not…”

 

Lamont gripped the lieutenant with a firm hand indicating his strong desire for her to remain silent.  Alexia instantly fell silent despite the growing sense of dread expanding in the pit of her stomach.

 

“No small talk, no chit chat?  That is the trouble with Romulans these days – they no longer take the time to talk.  Or smile even?  Where is that classic Romulan insincerity?  No subterfuge, no games?  I mean are we really going to go straight to an arrest?”

 

Lamont’s wit ended as the butt of a disruptor rifle caught him square on the back knocking him to his knees.  Wincing in pain and struggling to regain his breath the ambassador looked upwards at the Centurion.

 

“Your wit, Ambassador, is sharp, however its edge is lost upon the ears of a soldier.  Perhaps it will serve you better with those in the Tal’Shiar.  I am sure they will find two Federation spies quite amusing.”

 

Lamont coughed once before returning to his feet to look the Centurion in the eyes.

 

“Well at least now we are getting somewhere.  I take it our conversation with the Proconsul is at an end?”

 

“Follow me Ambassador.  If you attempt to escape you will regret the decision.”

 

“Well the tour was short.  I can’t say it was worth the admission price, but the facility does have its finer points.  Wouldn’t you agree lieutenant?”

 

“Ambassador…I..”

 

“We shouldn’t keep our hosts waiting my dear.  I expect they have a great deal to discuss now that they are finally interesting in talking to us.”

 

Lamont again took the lieutenant’s hand which had lost its warmth having become cold and clammy.  He gave it a squeeze to offer the lieutenant silent reassurance.  She was terrified…so was he, but neither of them could display any weakness given the rapid turn of events.  Lamont would continue with wit, now his only weapon, in a game that had just become far more dangerous than even he had anticipated.

 

“Quite the army Centurion”, Lamont remarked as they were led down a hallway toward an unknown destination.  “I believe I am honored that so many soldiers were needed to apprehend such a dangerous threat as myself and the lieutenant.  Do you often arrest foreign dignitaries?”

 

The Centurion stiffened and turned to face the Ambassador.  “You are playing a dangerous game human.  For your sake and that of the human woman’s, I suggest you keep your tongue on a leash.  Take it as a bit of diplomatic advice.”

 

Lamont cracked a wry grin as the two men stared at one another; intensity dancing within their eyes.  “I’ll take it under advisement”, Lamont answered coolly.  “I appreciate the tip.”

 

The Centurion turned and ordered them to follow.  Lamont looked over his shoulder at the half dozen armed soldiers escorting them.  What a perfect mess.  Arrested.  Soon to be interrogated and jailed.  Would Captain Rehu even miss him in a few hours?  Would she bother with a rescue attempt?  Would she bother at all?

 

It mattered not.  The Romulans had him.  The arrest of a Federation diplomat, the Federation’s special envoy no less, on bogus charges of espionage would greatly complicate matters.  He had gone from a knight to nothing more than a hapless pawn in a game he no longer controlled.  However, all was not completely lost.  The playing field was slowly coming into view and its chess pieces were slowly beginning to show themselves.  Pawns could force checkmate the same as knights – it was only that much harder to achieve.  For now all he could do was wait and watch for opportunities to move.  He may have lost his control of the game, but he was still a player in it and as long as that held true the opportunity to seize the advantage once again still remained.

 

[ To Be Continued… ]

 

________________________________

Ambassador Ian Lamont

Lt. Alexia Lumendale

 

[USS Charon] SD241108.05 || Duty Log || "Diplomatic Warfare - Part 2" - Ambassador Ian Lamont

“Diplomatic Warfare – Part 2”
________________________________

Two large and ornate doors parted as a stately Ambassador Lamont and determined aide, Lt. Alexia Lumendale made their way through the grand entrance and into a conference room.  The room was adorned with various Romulan motifs and artwork.  A long rectangular table with many chairs was a match for the large, rectangular room which at its end had several large windows overlooking the capital city.  Several shuttles or what the Romulans referred to as flitters silently whisked past the windows to destinations unknown.

 

Lamont slowed his stride and came to a stop as the lieutenant nearly stepped past him.  Ian subtly extended a few fingers which were enough to stop the attentive lieutenant.  The doors to the hall closed behind them as three figures at the far end of the table abruptly halted their conversation and stood to receive their visitors.  Ian had managed to catch a few words of the men’s conversation before being noticed.  It was only a few words, but their tone told him something about the men and their demeanor.  Information, however sparse or seemingly trivial, was useful to those properly attuned.  An assistant, or armed guard, if Lamont had to ascribe a description, stepped past the Federation delegates to address his superiors.

 

“Proconsul I’Sarian, Senators - Ambassador Ian Lamont to see you as instructed.”

 

“Ah yes…Ambassador Lamont.  Welcome to Romulus.  I sincerely apologize for the delays.  Recent events have made the Senate a…lively place these past few weeks.  Please..won’t you join us?”  Lamont respectful bowed and approached.  “I was informed you would be alone Ambassador.  Might I ask the name and function of your guest?”

 

Lamont smiled.  It was insincere, but then the Romulans knew this.  The game had begun in earnest and the first move had been made.  “This is Lieutenant Alexia Lumendale.  She is a trusted and gifted associate.  Please do not let her presence concern you.  asked her here as a resource for us all and to help ensure our conversations are as productive as possible.”

 

Lumendale bowed slightly, but said nothing.  As she should.  Good, Lamont mused.  She was hopefully one less variable he would need to account for.

 

I’Sarian nodded.  “Lieutenant, Ambassador.  As I was saying.  Welcome.  Please have a seat.  We have much to discuss.”

 

 

[ THREE HOURS LATER ]

 

 

“What would you have us do Ambassador?  Surrender the Empire to the Federation?  Should we lay down at your feet and welcome Federation starships across our borders with open arms?  I stipulate the incident was unfortunate and tragic, but Admiral tr'Sahen acted on his own accord.  His actions were not known or sanctioned by anyone within the Romulan government.”

 

“Are all Admirals given such wide operational latitudes?  Assembling a task force of warships to attack the Vulcan homeworld was and is no small feat Proconsul.  No one questioned the Admiral’s activities and orders?  No suspicions were voiced?  Was he truly so masterful at manipulating people, equipment, and obtaining weapons of mass destruction?  These are the questions my superiors are asking in addition to incessant demands for answers.  If Tr’Sahen could so easily obtain such power what is to say another does not have similar plans for Vulcan or perhaps even Earth?”

 

“The matter is being looked into Ambassador, but our investigation will require time.  Your questions, while predictable, are unfounded.  The Romulan government grants its assurance this was an isolated and unfortunate incident.  Romulan flag officers do not make policy; that duty is reserved by the Senate and the Praetor.  We are conducting an internal review of the incident and will share our findings in due course.  Such unprecedented openness between our governments should be enough to calm the anxiety of your people which must fear us a great deal to react so strongly to such an isolated event.”

 

“Those I represent have not expressed any fear of the Empire sir.  They have, however, expressed deep anger and resentment at Romulus’s tepid attention to a serious breach of intergalactic trust and peace.  Anger if not addressed can spread and intensify.  Unchecked anger can lead to sparks and sparks can bring forth fire.  Neither of us wishes to fight such a fire – the costs would be disastrous to all engulfed in its flames.”

 

“Anger is irrelevant.  The infection has been cured and we are taking steps to ensure there are no future outbreaks.  The patient has been killed and his disease rendered dead.  What else can you ask of us?”

 

Lamont fought a grimace and opted to silently grind his back teeth together in frustration instead.  The Romulans were not admitting to any wrongdoing and were unwilling to address the incident as anything other than a tragic accident performed by a single, unsanctioned officer.  Even an apology appeared out of reach for the moment given the senators and Proconsul’s intransience.  With the Romulan Admiral dead and his fleet destroyed justice had been served.  The Vulcan matter was now resolved – in the Romulan’s view.

 

Ian had lost nothing in these talks so far, but he had not gained anything.  The Romulan position was not conciliatory.  There were no concessions on the table – only vague promises of investigative reports that would likely never materialize.  The Romulans were willing, at least for the moment, to flirt with the spectre of war.  It was political brinksmanship of the highest caliber as both sides waited and watched to see who would blink first.

 

“In light of what has transpired the Romulan government’s words while respected do not provide a satisfactory resolution to the crisis.  Were our roles and positions reversed and had it been Romulus that had been attacked by a rogue Starfleet Admiral – what would the Empire demand?  Would there not be cries for justice on behalf of Romulan citizens?  Would there not be those within the Empire who would seek to avenge such a serious transgression of territorial sovereignty?  Would your own fleet officers be clamoring for a military solution, perhaps even war itself?

 

Your distant cousins, the Vulcans, have logically and dispassionately reviewed the situation and it is their wisdom that prevented open hostilities.  They have grave concerns about the so called “Memento Mori”, the biogenic weapon that was engineered to destroy their race presumably by Romulan hands.  The Federation requires absolute, unequivocal, proof the Memento Mori and its legacy has indeed been destroyed.  Such weapons cannot be allowed to be reborn to again plague the living. 

 

Proconsul, cooperation and transparency are the tools we must both use to avert calamity.  I trust that your word and the word of your government is genuine and reliable, however both words and actions are required to resolve this situation.  Words alone cannot solve our mutual problems.  They are however the first step on a path to peace.  Affirmative action must be taken to prove to the Vulcans, the Federation, and the universal community that this tragic event was indeed the work of a talented madman.  All parties involved in this affair must be exposed despite the political ramifications.  The alternatives will be…catastrophic for both our peoples if we cannot find mutual ground in which to resolve this crisis.”

 

“Ambassador.  Your words are eloquent and well crafted.  You represent your constituents well, however the Romulan government will not admit to crimes it did not commit!  We will not be bludgeoned into accepting a resolution on Federation terms nor will we be frightened by posturing or military threats.  If war comes, it will be the Federation who brings it about.  And Ambassador, unlike the other races in the galaxy who bend and sway to Federation edict, the Romulan Empire will defend itself if attacked and will not be held accountable for the outcome of any such conflicts that may arise.  You would do well to remind your Starfleet to keep its distance for the foreseeable future to avoid any additional incidents.”

 

Lamont flashed a glance at Lt. Lumendale who had remained a virtual statue since the discussion had started over three hours prior.  “Proconsul, perhaps a brief recess is in order?  Might I suggest a few minutes would be beneficial for all parties to digest what has been said before continuing the discussion?  We also have the issue of my meeting with the Praetor to discuss.  The Federation Council has formally requested an audience with the Praetor via myself as their representative in the hopes that this matter can be resolved.”

 

“A recess is acceptable Ambassador.  We will adjourn for one of your hours.  As for the Praetor, we will need to discuss such a meeting, its goals and substance, in greater detail.  Please, you may remain here for the hour.  If you require anything, food, drink – the attendant outside will see to any of your needs.”

 

Lamont bowed slightly as he stood.  “Thank you Proconsul.  Your generosity is appreciated.”

 

“We will take our leave and shall return in one hour.  Ambassador.”

 

“Proconsul.  Senators.”

 

The senators and Proconsul exchanged brief pleasantries with Lamont and exited the room.  As the doors closed, Lamont wore a pensive expression on his face.  There was something odd about these discussions.  He couldn’t put his finger on it.  He expected the Romulans to be difficult, even hostile, but their overt stubbornness was almost Klingon-esque.  Who were they protecting?  Themselves?  The Praetor?  Were they truly willing to risk war?  Romulans were expert tacticians and master manipulators and had attempted to invade Vulcan once before in the recent past.  That attempt had been thwarted by Captain Picard of the Enterprise and Ambassador Spock some years ago.  Had they tried again and failed?  Was this the reason for their inflexibility?  Or perhaps they did not know of Tr’Sahen’s plans and had been taken by surprise.  Such a blow would be devastating politically as well as for scores of those within the military ranks who should have known.  Perhaps the posturing was to protect themselves from internal upheaval, civil unrest, or perhaps even civil war.  Lamont couldn’t be certain of anything.  His most recent briefings suggested nothing to indicate severe internal strife with Romulan government or society, however intelligence reports were not always accurate.  Ian refused to base his actions solely upon potentially flawed intelligence estimates.

 

“What game are you playing”, Lamont muttered under his breath leaning against the long, elegant table that filled the room.

 

“Excuse me sir?”

 

Ian looked up.  He had almost forgotten Lt. Lumendale was present.

 

“Lieutenant, you are holding up your end of our agreement admirably.  Still want to be here?”

 

“Affirmative sir.  I can think of no other place in the universe I would rather be.”

 

“I can think of a few”, Lamont quipped adding an injection of levity which he himself needed to hear after a grueling three hours of talks.

 

“Sir, if I may ask, The Romulans appear to be…”

 

“Lieutenant”, Lamont quickly and loudly stated much to the lieutenant’s surprise.  “Now is not the time for idle chatter.”  Alexia nodded despite the surprise that still showed upon her face.

 

Lamont approached and leaned in careful to keep his voice only at a whisper.  “It is highly likely the Romulans have this room under surveillance and are actively monitoring our conversations.  We should guard against giving them anything of value.”

 

Alexia looked at the ambassador with an inquisitive gaze.  She indeed had much to learn.

 

 

“What do we do now”, she responded her youthful gaze momentarily grabbed by a passing Romulan shuttlecraft that buzzed the conference room windows.

 

“We have an hour to rest and reflect.  I suggest you take advantage of the respite as I expect our next engagement with our Romulan hosts will be quite interesting.”

 

________________________________

Ambassador Ian Lamont

 

Lt. Alexia Lumendale