“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.”
“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 naïve 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?”
“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