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The Snake Eaters

Posted on Wed Oct 2nd, 2019 @ 10:47pm by Fleet Admiral Luzol & Councilor Jahra Naron
Edited on on Thu Jan 2nd, 2020 @ 5:14pm

Mission: Atlantis
Location: Office of Fleet Admiral Lynz, Starfleet Headquarters
Timeline: 2429-12-03, 17:00

Fleet Admiral Lynz stepped away from the wall mounted console having had enough of the Neutral Zone Fleet Deployments for today. She may have gotten her start out along the Zone shortly after the Hobus Event, but that still hadn't given her a great love for the region. Some parts of the territory were significantly more difficult to defend than others and this was one of them. Sector 1045, home to the Bassen Rift and the Bloom, had been particularly troublesome over the decades. Today was no different.

The Admiral sighed as she collapsed on her couch, ready for this day to end. She knew that the kids were more than ready for her to come home and her Mother in Law was probably the same. If it wouldn't have been an interstellar incident with the President's Office she would have considered recalling the Enterprise so that she could leave the kids with their Dad, but the President may've had a few unkind words with the nature of its mission.

The hybrid officer was about to log out for the night when her communicator chirped. "Maret to Lynz."

Her Secretary had been here forever and a day, but her calling this late was never a good sign. She tapped her communicator once, "It's after five."

"I'm sorry, Admiral, but you and I both know sometimes we have to work late. The President's Office has called. They want you to meet with a group of Ambassadors whom are being sent to Cardassia on an investigation."

Lynz rolled her eyes, "I'll see them first thing in the morning."

"Ma'am, they're here."

"They're here?" She repeated in an annoyed tone. "Why are they here?"

"Because the President wants them to get underway. Plus, they can hear you."

Lynz let out a nervous chuckle, "Of course they can." She stood and fixed her uniform jacket, pulling on it crisply to remove some of the wrinkles from the day's wear. "Send them in," she ordered before double tapping to close the channel. Standing next to her desk, Lynz moved to attention as the Ambassadors entered the room. She glanced up realizing that the display still had the images of Sector 1045 prominently centralized. She hoped that they didn't ask her too many questions about her most recent adventure because she really didn't have the inclination.

"Ambassadors," she greeted as politely as she could.

“Admiral Lynz,” Valriya responded with a polite dip of her head. The tall councilwoman looked as put together at 1700 hours as she did when she took her first step into the day, and her days started early. But the Admiral’s days no doubt started early as well and were full of intensity. Which was not to say she looked haggard - far from it. Admiral Lynz was an attractive woman with black hair shorter than Briya’s own and a face that defied senescence. That was to be expected from an El-Aurian and Deltans were known for having their own appeal. There was the briefest of moments while Briya felt the green of envy. As a Risian, she herself had a few advantages over the Terrans with her age progressing more slowly, making the counting of her years difficult by visual inspection alone - now at the age of 45, she still looked to be in her early 30’s - but that was a near meaningless distinction when she sat in a Council session comprised of every variety of bipedal hominoid species you could imagine.

Ras followed Briya into the Admiral’s office. It had been a while since the Andorian had last stepped foot into Starfleet Headquarters. He recalled it was the last time he wore the uniform, he tendered his resignation from Starfleet before heading back to Andoria. He watched and listened while the Admiral and Briya conversed.

Briya held a large data slate close to her chest - she was rarely seen without it - and extended a long arm and lithe fingers to the Admiral. “Thank you for seeing us on such short notice.” Briya had agile eyes, but she knew better than to let them roam the Admiral’s office. Shifty eyes may garner more information, but Valriya was no spy and knowledge of intel too far above one’s security clearance had a way of complicating one’s life.

"Nice to see you, Ambassadors," Lynz said after shaking the hand of the Risian Ambassador followed closely by the Andorian Representative. She kept her best diplomatic smile as she continued her greetings, "You will have to excuse my surprise. I had not been made aware that you were coming by the President's Office ahead of time."

Briya was familiar with the need for a strategic smile and painted one on her own face more often these days than did it find its way there genuinely. “Do not anguish yourself, Admiral. When dealing with the Cardassians, we are often taken by surprise, but you are beyond ambush and retain your flawless politic prestige.”

Lynz kept going, "So you are going on a road trip to Cardassia Prime?"

“Yes Admiral. This afternoon’s Council session convinced President Gruzy to dispatch to Cardassia Prime we three servants of the Federation.” Briya turned her head to look upon Jahra. “There have been fresh indignities leveled against the Bajoran people and we will survey the situation to discover the architect of the affront.”

"And discover the depth of the Federation's neglect in enforcing their promises regarding the Cardassian treaty," Naron said, looking up from his PADD - the device slipped easily into his long, wide sleeved travel robes. His dja pagh tinkled slightly at the movement of his head.

With her open hand palm up, Briya gestured to Councilman Jahra, either ceding the point or signaling he had characterized the nature of their assignment more precisely.

A slight vibration and gentle 'ding' indicated another new message arrived on Naron’s PADD. As angry as he was at the president's sudden and inopportune announcement, the Bajoran Assembly made him look positively calm in comparison. It was all Naron could do at the moment to keep Bajor from declaring war on Cardassia and the Federation in equal measures. That Cardassia had been allowed to retain such a holy relic for so long was not sitting well with his people. Even now there were new regulations and 'problems' that were slowing down access to the Temple and the galaxy beyond it. If satisfaction could not be found here, then the Federation's access to the Temple was at an end.

Briya felt it her duty to maintain a peaceful exchange of conversation and information between the Federation and CU. As a Federation Councilmember, her first charge was to the Federation and it’s ideology, her second to the Risian Hedony and in this case, third and fourth fell to the Bajoran and Cardassian people respectively. She was not, strictly speaking, a diplomat, and she had volunteered for this latest undertaking so she was not being dispatched against her will. She did not, however, profess or possess the Bajoran affinity for spiritual fervor. As a Risian, Briya was by her very nature an accommodating woman. She was thinking in terms of logistics and compromise, and it was beginning to feel as if compromise was not an approach Jahra could entertain - either personally or as a representative of Bajor.

Briya chose her words carefully, but she held little hope of avoiding a perceived insult once the real scrutiny began. “Diplomacy requires a certain element of trust be extended to the newly established Cardassian Union - especially now - but we realize such an act of broad-minded amity will not be adopted by all. Tempers are understandably heightened, dangerously so, and the timbre of these talks will be determined by how cooperatively the current Cardassian régime conducts itself. We all know their previous administration used our charity of trust as an opportunity to operate under a veil of disinformation. To be perfectly honest, I suspect we will be in danger the moment we begin this business. To that end, with both in the same room - yourself Admiral, and Ras th'Zaanaq as Federation Security Advisor - I wish to hear if any particular precautions are being discussed.

“I would recommend the usual precautions are taken; scans for listening or imaging devices, people and bag searches, no weapons should be carried into the room from either side. I’d also suggest...” Ras paused for a moment knowing that this recommendation was probably going to get the attention of at least one person in the room. “...that any Bajorans are not in the room for the first meeting. They will only bring personal agendas and hurt to the talks. Something that isn’t needed at this time.”

Fleet Admiral Lynz could feel the heat in the room rising quickly, and she knew that things were going to get very dicey very quickly. She added to the conversation quickly and debated using some of her Deltan pheromones to try to keep things calm for at least a moment or two. For a moment her mind returned to the last time she'd worked with members of the Federation Council on a peace mission. It resulted in General Akero of the House of Duras shooting her with a disruptor pistol.

"Might I suggest that we utilize a Starfleet vessel as the site of the discussions? We can ensure that the precautions are in place and that security is available should there be any complications from the Cardassians." She picked up a datapad from the desk and typed on the display. She handed it off to the Security Advisor, "This is my personal flagship: the Starship Vol'Rala. I would be willing to loan it to you for the time being for the trip."

"I assure you, Admiral," Naron said, giving a slight nod toward Lynz "and Ambassador," he indicated Ras in the same manner, "any attempt to ignore the Bajorans on this issue will be regretful. Too long have we tolerated the Federation's indifference to our faith and we will not tolerate their lip service commitment to us, nor their incompetence in enforcing treaties they brokered, signed and forced upon Bajor, only to then ignore their responsibilities."

How quickly things had changed. Was it really that short a time prior that he championed the Federation and the Council? Defended it against charges of incompetence and malfeasance? Now, here he was, ready to cut ties with the Federation entirely. But it was the Path the Prophets put before him and he would see this journey done before embarking on the next. "Therefore, caution in planning to deny us our righteousness should be the watchword from the start. Recall, please, we still have not received a satisfactory answer from the president as to how the Federation allowed Bajoran holy relics to remain in the hands of defilers!"

Briya mentally rolled her eyes, but outwardly she remained unflappable. Impassioned spiritualist or religious zealot - it was a fine line - a line to which she was unclear which side Jahra’s approach to these matters would land him. Emotional outbursts were meant to bring people together, not divide them, but here was the Bajoran Representative to the Federation taking a combative stance on the subject and was stepping dangerously close to outright accusations. She had not thought it would be necessary to begin the peace talks before they even left Starfleet Headquarters. In a tranquil voice she spoke to the room at large while reviewing unrelated information from her slate. “Councilman Jahra, none have indicated any intention to ignore the Bajorans’ cultural needs in this conference. Having you absent from the initial meeting merely facilitates a means of determining the CU’s posture in the matter without the need to quell disruptive outpourings from either side. If we could manage the investigation without the CU altogether, we would, but that is not possible. You will not be barred from subsequent sittings. I’m confident your time as representative on the Council has shown you the merits of a calm, unified front when addressing an adversary who embraces dissent among their rivals and turns it against them. Let us focus on the gathering of information and truth, and reserve the charge of wrongdoing until afterwards when it can be leveled with restraint and vindication.” Briya pulled the slate to her chest and smiled at Jahra. “Or did you wish to sour the stage of the Admiral’s office even as she offers her assistance?”

Admiral Lynz watched the back and forth and wished that she had better hid the fact that she was in her office from the others. She knew that this could go south very, very quickly and become a disaster for everyone. Being the Commanding Officer of Starfleet she knew that this happened more often than naught and keeping different ideologies steady could, and would, be a full time job for anyone who was with them.

The Vol'Rala was a Pandora Class Starship and was one of the strongest vessels in the Federation. Part of the problem was that she had placed it under the command of a Bajoran Officer. That could become problematic for all if she left things as they were. As much as she didn't want to be part of another diplomatic delegation, she had to insert herself, "I believe one of the most important aspects of whom goes on this mission is the defense of the three of you while on the trip." It was an interruption designed to try to smooth things over before they became more problematic, "I will accompany your delegation as you travel. Are we ready to go?"

“Quite ready,” Briya spoke as she used her thumb on the slate to select her assessment to one of the numerous unconnected grievances her office was handling. Work must go on - she was paying attention to the ongoing verbal controversy, but she’d said her part and didn’t see the point in digging in further; not while Jahra was agitated. And honestly, she needed to think on the matter more herself; perhaps he had more merit to his stance than she gave him credit for. She was quick to scale down the significance of spiritual matters, but that would never be a winning strategy with the Bajorans.

"I will make this clear for the last time," Naron said, his tone tinged with the steel he needed when he was still part of the Bajoran Militia, "any attempts to cut Bajor out of this at any point will not end well for the Federation," he glared at his fellow diplomats, "nor will Starfleet's many past failures toward Bajor be any help for them in this instance either," his baleful glare turned to the admiral. "That should settle the matter of first contact in this matter." Naron was beginning to develop a headache from the entire situation. No, he corrected himself, from trying to hold back Bajor from pulling the trigger on ending their association with the Federation and their free and easy passage through the Temple. Which, he was acutely aware, was the only reason the Federation gave a shit about Bajor.

“Forgive me, I didn’t mean for Bajor to be completely cut from any talks, just not be present in the opening dialogue. Tempers will be frayed; for the best outcome, it would be best if we refrain from turning this into a pissing contest between Bajor and Cardassia. For security reasons, I recommend we keep it as civil as possible,” Ras said in a respectful tone.

"At any point, Ambassador," Naron said, glaring at Ras. "So I suggest you either drop the idea or begin planning ways to explain to your Federation why it will be seventy years before they get their next mail delivery."

“It is your Federation as well, Jahra.” Briya declared with a smile.

“The suggestion is on the table. It isn’t down to me whether it’s taken on board or not,” Ras said with a shrug of his shoulders. “I want these talks to succeed as much as you do. However, a Bajoran in the first meeting would have a conflict of interest.”

Naron glared at Ras before turning to the Admiral, "You have heard Bajor's position on this." He rubbed a temple, tired of others believing they could dictate Bajor's future. They had their chance to rise above themselves and they failed. Now Bajor would let them have this one last chance to do right by the Bajorra and if they failed again… "That is the last I'll say on this matter," he said. "Now, I've grown weary of repeating myself endlessly; would you please have someone show me to my quarters?"

Briya nodded her head in accord and wiggled her toes, cramped as they were in the toebox of her heels. She’d been on her feet for far too long and could do with some podiatric palliating reprieve.

"Perhaps we should all proceed to the Vol'Rala," Lynz suggested, trying to help smooth things over. "That way you can each rest before we arrive at Cardassia." She paused, "I do have one personal errand to attend to before we depart though. If you like my Assistant Maret can escort you to the Transporter Room so you may beam aboard."

"That is acceptable," Naron said, wishing to be away from his fellow delegates as much as he wished to have been done with this entire political morass. But he was stuck with both and he would see it through to whatever end the Prophets sent them. But, was it the Will of the Prophets that Bajor was now to be on its own again?

“Thank you, Admiral,” Briya said in her high voice. “I can discover the Transporter Room’s location for myself and have my staff arrange the details of my luggage with your Vol'Rala’s transporter operator. Without being presumptuous, may I request clearance for at least one of my cadre to accompany me on this assignment?”

The Fleet Admiral nodded, "Certainly. We'll see you aboard." She looked at the rest of the detachment, "See you all soon."


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