“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.”
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