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ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence" (COMPLETE)

 Post subject: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence" (COMPLETE)
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 5:25 pm 
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This one is primarily Jack's baby, but I'm doing enough rewriting and editing to get a co-creator.

No parts until it's done, but here's a cover image.

Image

I'm not happy with the Star Wars-style wipe, but it's as soft as I could get it...

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Last edited by AdmiralSirJohn on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:22 pm 
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Wow, that's a pretty nice cover there, John. \Y/

I love the use of the Chinese embassy and the class of vessel for the Nancy Hedford. In my humble opinion, she looks nicer than the Kelvin did.

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Last edited by captainuniverse on Mon May 14, 2012 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:25 pm 
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Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 12:53 am 
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awesome

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:43 pm 
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Awesome is right. The ship render is amazing and I would definitely say that she puts the Kelvin to shame. For instance, we have holodecks and an honest-to-God coffee maker! They had, what, phaser cannons and the 'abandoning ship' blues? \Y/

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Thanks to FltCpt. Bossco for my Tattok avatar. This is Tattok when he assumed the position of Commander-in-Chief, Starfleet in the year 2411.


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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:26 pm 
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AdmiralSirJohn wrote:
I'm not happy with the Star Wars-style wipe, but it's as soft as I could get it...


If you don't mind, I would be happy to provide a bit of advice. If this is unwanted and unsolicited, I apologize, I just like being helpful. I assume that you are using some variant of Photoshop? The best way to do nice subtle fades is by using layer masks. Select the layer that you want to "blend", and apply a Layer Mask to it (There's an "Add Layer Mask" button at the bottom of the Layers Palette). You'll see that the layer has a black and white image next to it. This image represents what part of your source image is shown, and what part is hidden. Black represents hidden, white represents shown, and grays in between are varying levels of transparency. Select the icon that represents the layer mask, and then click the gradient button. When you apply a black to white gradient on the layer mask, it will show/hide varying percentages of your image. Just play around until you like the results.

You can also "paint" this layer with black or white to get a bit more precision. Quick example dealio here.

In your case I would probably use layer masks on both layers to get the best result.

If you already know this then sorry :-)

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:06 pm 
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Thanks for the info. It is appreciated.

I am using the full CS3 suite, so that's the version of Photoshop I'm using.

I never thought to use masks. I usually use the brushes and opacity to achieve the effects.

Hopefully, I still have the layered version, so I can try it.

In any case, I'll give it a try and post a revised image.

BTW: You're welcome to join the fun, if you do any writing...

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:26 pm 
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The more the merrier. Somehow Facebook isn't working right now for me. ::bt:: ::bt::

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Thanks to FltCpt. Bossco for my Tattok avatar. This is Tattok when he assumed the position of Commander-in-Chief, Starfleet in the year 2411.


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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:31 pm 
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Ouch. I think I fixed my problems by applying the latest update to Firefox...

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:56 pm 
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I have the latest update as well. Looks like Facebook is frakked up the yinyang again.

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Thanks to FltCpt. Bossco for my Tattok avatar. This is Tattok when he assumed the position of Commander-in-Chief, Starfleet in the year 2411.


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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:55 am 
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And here it is, in all it's glory:

Quote:
STAR TREK: CITADEL

“Letter of Credence”
By
John H. Harris and Jack Elmlinger

The Crystal Palace
Paris

Jack Elmlinger was a mid-level diplomat. He’d never been anything more than an attaché, so he was quite surprised to receive a briefing paper and summons to appear before the President.

“She’s ready for you, Mr. Elmlinger,” a young Vulcan announced from the door.

Jack nodded his thanks as he passed, heading for the open door.

“Mister Elmlinger!” Rafti min-Shonraleur, the recently re-elected President of the Federation, said as Jack entered the expansive office. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“It’s not often one receives a summons like this, Ms. President.”

“Well, this is an unusual situation. I trust you’ve had an opportunity to read the briefing paper?”

“Yes, Ma’am. This planet Intar looks interesting. The culture looks about right for its tech level, so why do you need me?”

“There are two anomalies that make you uniquely suited.”

“As cultural attaché?”

“As Ambassador.”

Jack’s brain stopped. “Excuse me, Ms. President, but…”

“Why else would you be called here, and not to the Secretary’s office?” the Betazoid asked with a slight smile. She actually enjoyed the massive confusion she read in the man’s mind. “Let me explain. The Intarans contacted the Federation some months ago, using the Pakleds as intermediaries. They requested our help in defending themselves from Tzenkethi raids, so we sent a starship, the Indomitable.

“The Intarans wouldn’t negotiate with the Indomitable’s captain. They claimed that he was not of great enough stature. So we sent the Enterprise… with the same result. But one of Captain Picard’s officers noticed something about the Intarans, which Picard passed up the line. As a result of this information, we sent the starship Marshal Martz. Its captain was able to conclude an agreement within a week.

“The captain of the Marshal Martz has one distinction that no other captain has,” the President concluded. “He suffers from Cyrano Jones Disease.”

“Like me.”

Min-Shonraleur nodded. “We could have sent a Bolian or Tellarite, but Captain Picard determined that the Intarans needed to deal with someone who looked like them. And this dispatch from the science team attached to what is being called Forward Operating Base Gwalior makes that even more important.” She handed him a small PADD.

Jack quickly read over the science report, but slowed to read one section out loud. “With the discovery of distinctive ruins and artifacts, it is clear that the Intarans are descended from Northern European, West African and Polynesian seafaring civilizations, transplanted by the Preservers.” He looked up from the PADD. “Has this been verified, Ma’am?”

“Not yet, but the artifacts do bear a striking resemblance to those used by ancient civilizations here on Earth. For instance, some of them are identical to Norse Runes. The Preserver link is less definitive, since only shards have been located. Starfleet Science is sending teams out to scan archaeological sites in hope of discovering an obelisk.”

Jack nodded, handing the PADD back to the President. “I can see why you chose me, Ma’am, but I must warn you that I haven’t had any ambassadorial experience.”

“Jack… Do you mind if I call you that?”

“You’re the President. You can call me anything you like.”

Min-Shonraleur grinned. “Thank you. Jack, most of the ambassadors we send are appointed for political reasons. They’re usually big campaign donors or other connected people. Of course, we do get the occasional true diplomat, usually a Vulcan, but I suspect you’ll fit that mold nicely.”

She then picked up something Jack had rarely seen: a large, sealed paper envelope. Holding it out to Jack, she said, “This is your Letter of Credence for presentation to the Prime Councilor. The working copies have already been sent and your meetings will be scheduled upon your arrival.”

She stood up, bringing Jack to his own feet. “The Diplomatic Courier Nancy Hedford is waiting for you in orbit. It’ll take about a month to get there, which will give you time to get to know your staff.” She then snapped her fingers. “I just remembered something. You’ll be doubling as military attaché, so you’ve been granted a Starfleet Reserve commission.” She reached into a small box on her desk and removed a commbadge. “Congratulations, Captain Elmlinger.”


Foreign Relations Secretariat
Washington

They say gossip travels at warp ten, and Jack found it to be true as he returned to his office at Foggy Bottom, one of the riverside neighborhoods in Washington. While Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo held the joint title of Federation Capitol, many of the government’s departments were hosted by the old capitols of Earth’s nations.

It seemed like they were all there: colleagues, superiors and subordinates he had worked with over the years. There was old Ambassador Getai, the Pandrilite who was his first boss; Trace Kelly, whom he had shared more a few offices with; even T’Li, still exotically beautiful after all these years. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he detected the hint of a smile on her face. He looked around the lobby, seeing dozens of faces, a dozen species. A sound at his feet drew his gaze downward.

“Councilor Sanaht!” Jack said, feeling a smile spread across his own face. Of all the people he had worked with on the sixteen planets he had served assignments on, he had enjoyed working with the Horta’s representative to the Federation Council the most.

I WANTED TO BE HERE FOR YOUR SENDOFF, MISTER AMBASSADOR,” the living rock said through the small voder implanted in his back.

“Oh, please! I haven’t even left Earth yet, much less presented my credentials.”

“MERE FORMALITIES, MY YOUNG FRIEND.”

“Hey, who are you calling young? You’re only a century out of your egg.”

The Horta rumbled his laughter at their old joke. “YOU WILL DO FINE, JACK. I HAVE FAITH IN YOU.”

The Horta’s declaration was echoed by those gathered around him. “Anyway, I thank you for your well-wishes, but I have work to do, so if you’ll all excuse me…”

Applause followed Jack as he moved through the small crowd and into the building proper.

Shaking hands, holding a conversation… any idiot can do that, he thought, heading for the small office in the bowels of the centuries-old building. Negotiating treaties and dealing with alien leaders on their turf…well, even old dogs can learn new tricks.

He swung open the manual door to find someone waiting for him: Tall, dressed in a Starfleet uniform, with tan reptilian skin and the distinctive flared crest of a Selay. For a moment, Jack was taken aback, as the Selay looked remarkably like the Terran Cobra… and Jack was ophidiophobic.

“Can I help you?” Jack asked, sounding remarkably calm.

“Petty Officer Rilaar, reporting as ordered.”

“I didn’t order anyone from Starfleet.”

“My orders are from Admiral Rhone. She believes I would make a good bodyguard for you,” the Selay replied. “I have served in that capacity before, Your Excellency.”

“Please, I’m not that formal. If you need to use an honorific, Mr. Ambassador will do. And why would anyone think I need a—?”

In a flash, the petty officer was upon Jack, pinning him to the wall. A moment later, he stepped back. “Would you care to ask that question again?”

“You almost gave me a heart attack!”

The Selay bowed slightly. “My apologies, Mr. Ambassador, but I trust it made my point. Fear can be a great teacher.”

“Yeah,” Jack answered, “you just reminded me why I’m afraid of snakes.”

“Such fear seems common among many species, Sir. I have found it… advantageous in the past. I vow to you that, should I ever come at you again, it will be to protect you, not to attack you. While you are under my protection, none shall harm you.”

“I see,” Jack said, not convinced in the least. But he’d be damned if he ever let the cobra-headed alien see it on his face. Instead, he sat down behind his desk, in the specially-designed desk chair some kind replicator whiz had presented him some years before. “So why are you really here?”

“Mr. Ambassador?” the petty officer asked with well-feigned bewilderment.

Jack leaned back in his chair. “Admiral Rhone is Admiral Montgomery’s number two at Starfleet Intelligence. It helps to know who might end up on one’s staff, since attaches are so often used as the cover for an SI station chief.”

Jack nodded at the Selay’s silent request to seat himself in the visitor’s chair in front of the desk. “I believe I will enjoy working with you. Starfleet Intelligence believes that, with Intar becoming a place of interest for the Federation, it’s also possible to become a place of controversy, especially with the Tzenkethi and—”

“I’m quite familiar with the Tzenkethi,” Jack countered. “I wrote the last cultural briefing paper for the Council.”

“Then you are aware of their capabilities.”

“I am,” Jack answered, standing up, “but I’m much more interested in Intaran culture, Mr. Rilaar. I leave military matters to Starfleet.”

“May I ask why?”

“Because we get so caught up in wars and petty disputes. The idea behind the Federation was to better ourselves and help others. We’re also trying to better our understanding of the Universe around us, but that’s something that we all but abandoned during the Dominion War.”

“An interesting stance. Respectfully, you no longer have that option, Captain.”

Jack stopped and looked hard at the Selay. He was right. As a full ambassador, he didn’t have that option anymore. Any disagreement between Starfleet and the Intarans would land squarely in his lap.

“That is part of the job, isn’t it?”

Rilaar regarded the human as his mind worked. “I believe you will represent the Federation well on Intar, Mr. Ambassador.”

“Thank you, Mr. Rilaar.”

“So when do we leave?” the Selay asked, rising to his feet.

“We?”

“I am your bodyguard.”

Jack grinned. “Until I’m dead, you’re dead or one of us finds someone better, Petty Officer.”



Paris


Ambassador? Just like that?” Jack’s sister, Millie Sawyer, asked from across the table.

Jack nodded after taking a bite of his salad. After chewing and swallowing, he added, “It surprised the hell out of me, too. I mean, you don’t get called to the Crystal Palace out of the blue.”

“No, you don’t.”

“I also gained a shadow.”

“A shadow?”

“A bodyguard.”

It was Monday, and they were at Armand’s, a Parisian bistro that had been their favorite place for non-replicated meals since childhood. Usually, they met for dinner (lunch for Jack, since Paris was six hours ahead of Washington) on Wednesdays, but Jack had managed to use his friendship with the owner to get them an early table.

“A bodyguard? Sounds exciting.”

“And being a mother, not to mention a best-selling holonovel author, isn’t?” Jack looked down at his Caesar salad and frowned. He didn’t especially care for salad, but had promised his sister that he’d eat more greens.

“Hey, I’m not the one who insults people for the government,” she joked.

“Please, don’t remind me about General Mi’tan.”

“It’s not my fault you can’t hold your gagh.”

“I think he still has a d’k tahg with my name on it because of that.” He took a sip of his grape juice, composing his next question. “So how have you been … since the divorce?”

Milli was silent for several seconds, composing her thoughts. The final declaration had been granted only that morning, and it was still sinking in.

“Oh… okay,” she finally answered. “Hank gets the kids on the weekend, and I get them during the week. He also gets them occasionally for vacations.”

“Getting any writing done?”

“Not much, lately, but I have a few ideas about a historical drama about John Harriman.”

“Who?” Jack asked, jokingly. Everyone with a Federation education knew who John Harriman was.

“The captain of the Enterprise.”

“Which one? There have been six starships named Enterprise and eleven captains. I think you’re going to have to narrow it down for me.”

“He commanded the Enterprise-B. The one Kirk died on,” Milli clarified, spearing a crouton with her fork.

“That was the one we visited at the Smithsonian, wasn’t it?”

“No, that was the Enterprise-A. B went missing in 2313.” She frowned at him. “For someone with a degree in history, you’re awfully ill-informed.”

Jack laughed, picking at his salad. He wished for the hundredth time that night that their entrees would arrive.

That was when he caught her staring at the commbadge.

“What?”

“It’s just strange seeing you wear that, especially with your having—”

“Adipose Hyper-replenishment Syndrome is not an obscenity, Milli. I’ve lived with it my whole life.”

“I know, but I just can’t imagine someone with it wearing a Starfleet uniform.”

“Actually,” Jack answered, smiling as his Foie Gras arrived, “there are a number of people with Cyrano Jones Disease in Starfleet. One of them is even a captain.”

“Really?”

“Yes. He was also the man behind the Starfleet Special Commissioning and Enlistment Act. He commands the starship Marshal Martz.”

“Interesting. What’s his name?”

“John Harris. Why?”

“Maybe I’ll write about him instead of Harriman.”

Jack was about to say something when a voice issued from the commbadge. “Starfleet to Captain Elmlinger.”

“Your master’s voice… Captain.”

“Jealous?” Jack asked, tapping the commbadge. “This is Elmlinger.”

“Vice Admiral Tattok, this is,” the voice continued. “With Starfleet Operations, I am. Apologize, I do, for calling while at lunch, you are.”

“Um, that’s okay, Admiral. How can I help you?”

“With Starfleet Command, briefings you must have. Important, they are, Ambassador. Wait, they cannot.”

“Admiral, I’m having dinner with my sister. Can’t this wait at least until after we finish?”

After a pause, Tattok replied, “Two hours, I can give you. No more. Early tomorrow, your courier ship departs.”

“Understood. I’ll call for beaming when we’re done here.”

“Await you, I shall. Tattok out.”



They had eaten their meal in silence before walking down to the Seine.

“We can’t put it off any longer,” Millie suddenly said.

They both knew what she meant.

“Yeah, duty calls.” He looked down at his sister. “I’m sorry, Milli. I wish I had more time.”

“I know.” She threw her arms around him. “I’m gonna miss you. Just like I do every time you leave Earth.”

“I’ll miss you and the kids, too,” Jack said, returning the hug. “You can always come visit, you know.”

“You know I hate space travel…” She looked up into his face, the city lights turned to stars by the film of tears in her eyes. “Go, Jack, before we both start crying.”

Jack released her and stepped back. “Aye-aye, Ma’am,” he said with a jaunty salute. He then tapped the commbadge. “Elmlinger to Starfleet. One to beam to Admiral Tattok’s office.”

A moment later, Milli’s tear-streaked face was illuminated by blue light as her brother was whisked off by the transporter.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:24 am 
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Quote:
Council House
Unity, Planet Intar


“Vice Councilor, we seem to have a problem.”

Nelani Yan, Vice to Councilor Kinda of Kentar and Chief of Protocol for the Intaran Alien Relations Directorate, looked up from the new computer terminal the Starfleet people had installed on her desk. “What sort of problem?” she asked.

“It appears one of the Federation Ambassador’s staff requires a… special diet.”

The aide handed Yan the small datapad, which she began to read. When she reached the relevant section, her eyes grew wide.

Live animals?”

“That is what the note indicates,” the aide confirmed. “It states that he’s a Selay. I’m not familiar with that species.”

“I don’t think any Intaran is, Imbru.” Handing the datapad back to the aide, she looked back down at the computer screen. “Computer, display information on species known as Selay.”

After a few beeps, the requested information appeared.

“Well, that explains the diet.” She reached up and rotated the display for Imbru to see.

“By the Maker! It looks like a… like a… I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“I have. There’s a species of lizard on one of the western islands that looks rather a lot like this.”

“Maybe we should declare him unacceptable. We do have that right under the conventions the Federation adheres to.”

“On what grounds? And what do we tell the next member of this species that wishes to visit? ‘Reptiles not allowed?’” She shook her head. “No, the Selay are a Federation member species, and if we show prejudice against them just for being reptiles, it opens a door I, for one, adamantly wish to remain closed.” She rotated the display back to a comfortable angle and scrolled down to read the section on Selay dietary habits.

“It says here,” she continued, “that Selay can easily subsist on replicated or farmed meats, which are supplemented by live animals and fish. Well, fish shouldn’t be hard to come by. I’m sure we can find a fisherman willing to supply the embassy with enough to satisfy this… Rilaar’s appetite.”

“And if he prefers other types of food?”

“People do keep carnivorous species as pets, Imbru. I’m sure there’s a pet store that can provide the occasional delicacy, or at least help identify a source.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Vice Councilor.”

“You have a month.”


Starfleet Headquarters
San Francisco

Now I remember why I hate kanar…

Jack was working on two hours’ sleep and coffee as he looked at himself in the mirror in what he recognized as VIP guest quarters at Starfleet Headquarters.

Somewhere around midnight, as the briefings were ending, the little Horrusi flag officer had produced the bottle and insisted he take a drink. One drink turned into three, and three turned into three bottles, and then he’d drunk something… green.

“Tradition, it is,” Jack croaked, doing his best impression of the little bastard. “Drink, you must.”

I hope somebody lands a shuttle on him, Jack thought, darkly, as he headed for the replicator.

He didn’t mean it, of course. In fact, he’d found he rather liked Tattok.

He was about to order a second cup of coffee when a thermonuclear bomb detonated in his ears.

“Yaagh! Not so loud!” he cried.

The door slid open to reveal Rilaar. “My apologies, Mr. Ambassador,” he answered. “Perhaps this will help.”

Jack accepted the proffered hypospray. “What’s in it?”

“Thirty cc’s of hydrocortilene. It should alleviate your headache somewhat.”

Not daring to argue with his bodyguard, Jack meekly injected the analgesic into the side of his neck. Almost instantly, the pain began to abate.

“Thank you, Petty Officer.”

“You’re welcome, Sir. Your personal belongings have been packed and transported to the courier, and your house has been listed for subletting.”

“That’s Sandy. Sometimes you’d swear that woman was a Betazoid. Too bad she won’t be coming with us.”

“Miss Caruthers is awaiting us on board the Nancy Hedford.”

“Then I guess it’s time. Shuttle or transporter?” Jack asked.

“The transporter center is awaiting our arrival.”

Jack picked up his briefcase. “Then let’s be on our way.”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Earth Orbit


There was a time when the captain hated diplomats. Most Starfleet captains did at one time or another. But his attitude had changed in the years he’d spent in the admiralty.

Having risen to the rank of Vice Admiral, Charlie Haywood now commanded one of the Federation’s few dedicated diplomatic vessels. Despite his vaunted rank, he actually liked being called ‘Captain’ again.

Yes, it was little more than a glorified toothless starliner, but it let him serve out his final years of Starfleet duty in space, where he belonged.

Despite his best attempts, the first thing Jack Elmlinger did upon materializing aboard the United Federation of Planets Diplomatic Ship Nancy Hedford was yawn. He also had an urge to vomit, but was able to successfully control it. Transporters always made him queasy, and the hangover only made it worse.

“Welcome aboard, Mr. Ambassador,” Lesley Caruthers, his new administrative assistant, said. She was human, but had been raised on Vulcan, so her demeanor was very calm and reserved. Her attire matched her personality in cut, if not color. Blood green, trimmed in gold, the shimmering skirt suit showed off the woman’s physical assets quite well. Especially her legs, Jack thought, stepping down from the platform.

“Thank you, Miss Caruthers, but I believe it’s the captain’s job to extend those particular greetings.”

I think I’m going to like this guy, Haywood thought, stepping forward to shake hands with the new Federation ambassador to Intar.

“Permission to come aboard, Cap—I mean Admiral,” Jack asked.

“Granted, Mr. Ambassador. Welcome aboard the Nancy Hedford. And captain is perfectly acceptable. It is my position, despite my rank. In fact, I prefer it.”

“Of course, Captain. It’s an honor to be aboard. I see you’ve already met Miss Caruthers, and this is…”

“Rilaar! When they started beaming degus aboard, I knew you’d probably be coming. How are ya, kid?”

“I am quite well, Admiral. Thank you.”

Seeing Jack’s confusion, Rilaar explained. “Admiral Haywood and I worked together back during the war.”

“I was number three at Starfleet Intelligence at the time,” Haywood added, “assigned to Starbase 78. I wanted to steal him for my staff, but he needed some field experience first.”

“Well, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up,” Jack remarked.

“Indeed. In fact, we’re ready to depart. If you’ll accompany me to the bridge.”

“Of course.”

“Rilaar, we’ve penned off a section of cargo bay two for you. Bon appetite.”

“Thank you, Admiral. Ambassador, I will see you later. If you’ll excuse me, I will go have breakfast.”


The bridge of the Nancy Hedford wasn’t much different than those of other starships, but there were a few distinctions.

For one thing, there was no tactical station. Being unarmed, the ship had no need for one. It did have a security station, though it was unmanned as Haywood led Jack and Caruthers out of the turbolift. Blue and silver dominated the color scheme, mimicking the colors of the Federation flag.

And there were two fully-functional captain’s chairs.

“Care to have a seat, Ambassador?” Haywood asked, leading Jack down to the command platform at the center of the bridge. “That’s what it’s there for.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Jack answered, lowering himself into the offered chair.

“Freddie! You got that course for the Intar system ready?”

“Right here, Boss, via Starbase 128, as ordered,” the flight control officer answered. Like Haywood, he was an older man. Jack couldn’t see the pips on his collar, but he suspected they were those of a full commander.

“Then it’s time for us to mosey on out there.”

Jack was surprised at the westernism, but quickly concluded that it fit the captain’s accent, which he guessed was southern Mississippi or Louisiana.

“Half impulse to the edge of the system, then accelerate to warp six.”

“Aye, Sir. Conn ready.”

Haywood turned to the Tiburonian at the large communications station at the left side of the bridge. “XO, advise system control that we’re ready to depart.”

“Already done, Boss. Our departure lane is clear of traffic, and control wishes us ‘swift winds and full sails’.”

“Give them our thanks, Dix.” Turning to Jack, Heywood waved his arm to indicate the expanse of the small bridge. “Your order, Ambassador.”

“You’re the captain.”

“But it’s your deployment. Besides, it’s tradition.”

What the hell? “Very well, Captain. Freddie, take us out.”

Twenty minutes later, Haywood gently ordered Jack off the bridge.

“Maybe you ought to go get some sleep, Mr. Ambassador. You’ve been yawning since you came aboard.”

“Sorry, Captain. I didn’t get much sleep last night… and the hangover doesn’t help. Last thing I remember was something green.”

Haywood laughed. “Aldebaran whiskey. Nothing else in the galaxy brings on a hangover like it. Go sleep it off. You’ll be ready for dinner when you wake up.”

“The galley crew has been in contact with Gwalior base,” the executive officer added. “I’m told they’ll have a special set of dishes ready by 19:00 this evening.”

Jack rose to his feet, nodding his thanks to the two officers. “I’ll be ready.”

“We’ll be waiting for you in the forward lounge.”

“Then I will see you tonight.”

“I’ll show you to your quarters, Mr. Ambassador,” Caruthers said, leading him into the turbolift. “Deck six, VIP quarters.” She waited until the turbolift had closed and started moving before continuing. “Sir, I’d like to apologize for my protocol breach in the transporter room. It’s my first assignment as Social Secretary.”

“No harm, no foul, Miss Caruthers,” Jack answered. “Before three days ago, I’d never been an ambassador.”

“Still, Mr. Ambassador—”

“Jack.”

“Sir?”

“Call me Jack. If we’re going to be working together, we might as well be on a first name basis.”

“Um… Yes, Sir.”

“We’ll work on it.”

“Yes, Sir.”

They were silent for several seconds before Jack asked, “What sort of fitness routine do you follow?”

“I practice Suss Mann at level six proficiency, as well as standard aerobic workouts.”

“What about your diet?”

“I practice dietary veganism, but do consume animal flesh and products as protocol requires.”

“I suggest you reconsider both. The Intarans have a cultural version of Cyrano Jones Disease. You may find yourself being offered food insistently, if not forcibly.”

“Yes, Sir. I’ve been advised to carry what have become known as Fauxbars.”

“Still, you might consider letting yourself go a bit.”

“I’ll… consider it, Mr. Ambassador.”


U.S.S. Kumari NCC-10642-A
Orbiting planet Intar


The sound of the intercom roused Ritan th’Nar from a slumber filled with dreams of the glaciers on his native Andoria. With a sigh, he opened his eyes and looked at the closed shutters on the window above his bed.

“Th’Nar here.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Captain,” the night watch commander answered, “but Admiral Mecum is on the com for you.”

Sitting up with a groan, th’Nar answered, “I’ll take it down here.” Throwing on a robe, he padded across the compartment to his desk, where the admiral was already on the small screen of the communications panel.

“I didn’t know it was the middle of the night there.”

“Early morning, actually, Admiral. We’re providing support for operations in the western islands.”

“I see. In that case, you have my apologies. I just wanted to let you know that the Federation Council has gotten off their collective arses and appointed an ambassador.”

“About time. You’d have thought the Secretaries would have sent someone sooner. Still, it’ll be nice to have someone else representing the Federation, especially at all the dinners I’ve been invited to.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have that problem much longer. It took a while for the President to find someone… suitable to the Intarans.”

“What? She couldn’t find an overweight campaign donor?”

“Actually, he’s a career diplomat, but he’s never been in the upper echelons.”

“Oh?”

“I believe you know him, actually. You did transport that legation to Qo’noS when there was that incident with a bowl of Filden gagh and Chancellor Martok’s chief of staff…”

“Are you talking about Jack Elmlinger?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm… He does fit the mold, and he may be a career diplomat, but he’s done excellent work as cultural and trade attaché in various assignments. In fact, one of my bondmates tells me he wrote the last briefing for the Council.”

“Ritan, you of all people should know that sitting behind a desk writing cultural briefs is far different than actually being out in the field.” The admiral sat back. “Still, keep an eye out for him. He should be there in about a month.”

“Why so long?”

“He’s coming directly from Earth, aboard the Nancy Hedford, with a stop here.”

“I see. Anything else?”

“Yes. He’s been granted a reserve commission at the rank of captain. He’ll be doubling as military attaché to the Intaran government.”

Th’Nar steepled his fingers in front of him. “Will there be a change in the Table of Organization?”

“No. His duties will center on dealing with the civilian elements of the military administration. You’re still senior officer in system.”

“Understood. So he’ll be, to quote Captain Baier, ‘Mucking it up like Mecum used to’?”

“Trust a dwarf to remember every—” He stopped and took a deep breath. “I’m just relaying what that little green gnome at Fleet Ops told me.”

Th’Nar grinned. “Sorry, Admiral. Baier has been telling us about when he served with you aboard the Dunsfold.”

Mecum laughed. “Next time you see him, tell him he’s still a wanker. Mecum out.”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Bound for Starbase 128

“It is now sixteen hundred hours,” the computer announced, rousing Jack from slumber. He lay in the bed for several seconds, letting his eyes wander the unfamiliar room before he remembered that he was aboard the Nancy Hedford.

Glad I set the alarm early enough to give me time to read some briefings and clean up before dinner… better clean up first.

It was then that he noticed that the lingering effects of the hangover were gone. Rilaar, you deserve a commendation, he thought as he padded toward the head.

Just as he was about to pull off his bedclothes and step into the sonic shower, the intercom bleeped for attention. “Bridge to Ambassador Elmlinger.”

With a groan of exasperation, Jack turned around and crossed to the desk. “Elmlinger here.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Ambassador, but there is an incoming transmission for you from Qo’noS.”

“Wonder what the Klingons want… Send it through, please.”

A moment later, the face of General Mi'tan, son of Ny'Qagh appeared.

“Elmlinger.”

“General Mi’tan,” Jack replied, “to what do I owe this surprise?”

“Surprise? Like suddenly finding vomit in my lap?”

“If it didn’t crawl so much…”

“It wouldn’t have been so bad had your aim been better.”

“Did you call me just to trade insults?” Jack asked.

“I did not. The situation with the Tzenkethi has drawn the Chancellor’s interest. Since we have no diplomats in the area, I have been ordered to… request a favor of you.”

Jack felt a smile creep across his face. “I would be happy to do you a favor, General.”

“The favor is for the Empire!”

“Of course. How may I assist the Klingon Empire?”

“We would ask the Federation to represent our interests on Intar.”

“Surely, you could send an ambassador of your own, couldn’t you?”

“We have no-one of the proper…girth.”

Jack chuckled.

“This is no laughing matter, Human.”

“Oh, don’t you tell me you wouldn’t laugh if our positions were reversed.”

A smile began on the Klingon’s own face. “You’re probably right. Are you willing to do this?”

“It would be my honor, Mi’tan, but what does the Empire bring to the board? Military assets? Humanitarian aid?”

“Inform them that we will be their allies in their war against the Tzenkethi. You know what that entails.”

Jack nodded. “I do. I will pass on your position, but it’ll take me close to a month to get there. I just departed Earth this morning.”

“One of our Birds of Prey could get you there faster.”

“True, but I prefer to sleep on a mattress.”

“You are too soft, if you ask me.”

“Thankfully, I didn’t. So you want me to serve as the Empire’s ambassador until you find someone that fits.”

“In short.” The Klingon smiled again. “Oh, and you need not fear my blade for what happened. I vomited the first time I tasted… what was it called… cheesecake.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I trust you’ll be sending my credentials?”

“They will be waiting for you. Out.”

Jack was about to stand up when the desk beeped for his attention.

“Elmlinger, go ahead.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Ambassador,” Lesley Caruthers’ voice replied, “but we’ve received a signal from Intar.”

“Something I need to handle already?”

“Not immediately, Sir. It’s from IGB.”

“From what?”

“One of the planet’s update networks. They’ve learned of your appointment, and you’ve been invited to appear on what is reported to be the planet’s most popular talk show, The Boredom Cure.”

Jack sighed. He never really liked talking to the Press, but it had been part of his job description on more than one occasion.

“Well,” he said, thinking out loud, “I guess they would need a fair lead time…”

“Actually, they suggested tomorrow night.”

Jack looked out the window, seeing the streaks of warp starlight as the ship made its way toward Starbase 128 at superluminal velocity. “You did advise them that we won’t arrive for a month, right?”

“Yes, Mr. Ambassador, but I was told that the Corps of Engineers had offered the loan of a holocom unit.”

“Huh… I have no idea what I’ll say, but set it up with communications.”

“Yes, Mr. Ambassador. Also, a Captain Harris would like you to contact him at your convenience.”

Jack recognized the name. “Signal the Marshal Martz and let Captain Harris know I’ll be calling him after dinner.”

“Right away, Sir.”

“Speaking of dinner, I trust you’ll be there.”

“Of course. I’m interested in getting a first taste of Intaran cuisine, replicated though it may be.”

“Good.”

“One last item, Mr. Ambassador. Commander Hollens has transmitted your daily security briefing from Starbase 128.”

“128? Not directly from Intar?”

“No strategic operations officer has been assigned there yet. The starbase is handling intelligence until a suitable officer can be found.”

“Understood. Route it down here and I’ll take a look at it after I confer with Captain Harris.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Anything else?”

“No, Sir.”

“Then I’ll see you in the wardroom in… just over an hour. Out.”


Fifty-three minutes later, the door chime sounded. Jack looked up from the PADD he was reading and called, “Enter!”

A moment later, he dropped the PADD.

The dress was sheer blue silk, with a bright red pattern stitched into it. While it had a conservative cut, as befitted someone raised on Vulcan, it did nothing to hide the curves of the human wearing it.

“Do I pass inspection, Mr. Ambassador? I asked the computer what you had chosen to wear tonight, so that we would be coordinated. As your social secretary, it is part of my duties.”

“If I were but twenty years younger…”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Did I say that out loud?” Jack asked.

“Yes, Sir.”

“In that case, I apologize. You look perfect.”

“Thank you,” Caruthers replied, crossing the compartment to retrieve Jack’s jacket. Holding it out to him, she said, “It should take us seven minutes to reach the forward wardroom. I’m told it has been given the nickname On the Bow.”

“Has it?” Jack asked. “I don’t recall the captain mentioning that.”

“The name is not formal. Shall we go?”

“Indeed we shall,” Jack answered, offering the younger woman his arm.


Charlie Haywood hated the current Starfleet formals. To his eye, everyone who wore one looked like a penguin. He much preferred the old division-colored wraparounds, but they had been phased out shortly before the Dominion War.

At least he didn’t have to wear a tie, as was apparently still the fashion on Intar.

But Jack Elmlinger had chosen to do so, and Haywood had to admit that it looked good on him.

Of course, Leslie Caruthers’ dress looked even better on her, and the smile on his face as he walked over to them was one of appreciation.

“Welcome to On the Bow, Mr. Ambassador.”

“Y’know, if we’re going to be spending so much time together, you might as well call me Jack.”

“In that case, please feel free to call me Charlie. You’ve already met Freddie, and Dix is standing this watch on the bridge, but I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the department heads.”

“No need to do that with me, Boss,” a familiar Bolian wearing the mustard yellow of engineering said, extending his hand to Jack. “How’ve you been, Jack?”

“Sparky! How the hell are ya?”

“Ah, you know me. Still chugging away.”

“You two know each other?” Haywood asked.

“We met oh, nine years ago? On the USS Victoria.”

“That’s right,” the Bolian answered. “Sadly, she got shot out from under me by the Jem’Hadar at Cardassia, and it took my right foot with it, so I chose to finish out my career here.” He then turned to Caruthers. “But forgive me. My manners are lacking this evening. Commander Penul Kriyn, chief engineer.”

“Leslie Caruthers, Ambassador Elmlinger’s social secretary.”

She extended her hand for a handshake, but the engineer took it and raised it to his lips. “An honor, Miss Caruthers.”

“And this is Dr. Jayla Locken, Chief Medical Officer,” Haywood said, continuing the introductions.

“Ambassador, Miss Caruthers,” the Trill replied before returning her attention to the glass of water she held. The haunted look in her eyes spoke volumes, giving Jack the impression that she was constantly tortured by some event in her past. He’d seen that look on too many veterans of the Dominion War, so he knew not to press.

Conversely, Freddy, whose name was actually Marcus Fredericks, seemed eager to discuss his career as a fighter pilot before losing an arm in the war. He was about to ask what Jack knew about the Intaran air force when the sound of running feet came from the corridor.

As if by magic, Rilaar appeared in the door, intercepting the running woman. She was dressed in a stylish, if conservative suit, with the insignia of the Daystrom Institute over the left breast pocket. It was the formal equivalent of the ubiquitous gray jumpsuit favored by workers at the Daystrom Institute.

“Stand down, Rilaar,” Haywood ordered. “Dr. Mercer is an invited guest.”

“Mercer?” Jack asked. “Karen Mercer, the archaeologist?”

“That’s right. You must be Ambassador Elmlinger. I’m sorry I’m late,” the young brunette replied as the Selay released her, “but I had to take the call that just came in.” She paused to catch her breath. “It seems my expedition will have more to do than originally thought.”

“Expedition?” Jack asked, confused.

“Dr. Mercer is leading a team of archaeologists to Intar, under the auspices of the Daystrom Institute’s Archaeological Council. I’m sorry to see the rest of your team chose not to accompany you this evening.”

“Oh, I suspect you won’t be seeing much of any of us for a while.” She looked around, noticing that everyone was looking at her, having picked up on her excitement.

“Has something happened?” Jack asked.

“The Preserver link is confirmed. The Intarans are descended from Earth humans.”

“How can you be sure?” Kriyn asked.

“They found an obelisk on Intar’s moon.”

_________________
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(Yes, the image is me, but the photomanip wasn't done by me.)


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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:12 am 
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Location: Aboard USS Marshal Martz, NCC-78506 (though physically in Jamestown, NY)
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Preservers, Obelisks and Archaeologists… oh my, Jack thought as he and Lesley Caruthers walked back to his quarters two hours later. Dinner had been interesting, to be sure.

As far as the food went, it was a delicious introduction to Intaran cuisine, adapted for the available ingredients. For example, a soup quite similar to New England clam chowder had been the first course, but it included a number of vegetables that gave it a flavor closer to that of the Manhattan style, and the Blue King Crab that had been served as the main dish was a substitution for the chageen crab found off Kentar, Intar’s southern continent. He didn’t normally enjoy seafood, but he found that particular roast dish quite tasty.

But it was the dessert that impressed Jack the most. It was called tanzila pod pie, but they had to use coffee beans and chai spice, since tanzila was an officially embargoed product, and a replicator pattern had yet to be created. The result had been something that tasted like a combination of pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate chiffon. It was, beyond a doubt, the most decadent dessert Jack had ever tasted… and he couldn’t wait to taste the real thing.

“Mr. Ambassador, you still have that communiqué from Captain Harris to take care of, as well as scheduling for your appearance on The Boredom Cure.”

“I thought scheduling was part of your job?” Jack teased as they reached the doors of his quarters.

Caruthers was about to answer, but stopped in her tracks at the sight of Rilaar, standing in the center of the ambassador’s quarters.

“Rilaar, what are you doing here?” Jack asked.

“Sorry, Mr. Ambassador,” he quietly hissed, “but one of my dinner companions got away from me. I tracked him here through the—”

He never finished the sentence. Instead, he leapt forward, reaching a hand under the long chaise lounge positioned next to the window. A moment later, he stood up and held up a large gray rodent.

“Ah,” the hissed, happily, “there you are. Get in mah belly!”

In a movement almost too fast to track, he opened his mouth wider than the size of his entire head and stuffed the struggling degu into it. A moment later, he closed his mouth as his throat bulged to make room for the rodent.

“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Caruthers said.

“My apologies, Miss Caruthers,” the Selay replied. “I rather enjoyed the chase, and was still caught up in it. I shall endeavor to be more discrete in the future.”

“At least you’re neat about it,” Jack quipped, entering the compartment. “Getting back to The Boredom Cure, don’t we have a PR officer who can handle that?”

“He’s waiting for us on Starbase 128,” Caruthers answered, grateful for the distraction, “but the invitation was specifically for you to appear, not just anyone from the embassy. I’m sure those will come later.”

“Fine,” Jack grumbled as he took his seat behind the desk. “Go ahead and set it up.” He was about to say something else when he noticed that Rilaar had pulled out a tricorder and was slowly scanning the room with it. “What are you doing now?”

“Security sweep.”

“We’re aboard a Federation Diplomatic vessel, Mr. Rilaar,” Caruthers reminded him. “This ship undergoes regular sweeps.”

“Even on a ship as secure as this,” Rilaar said, not pausing his scan, “both friendly and hostile powers attempt to plant agents or devices. They exposed two Romulans on the Robert Fox just before the war.”

“Still, I think the captain would feel a bit insulted at your lack of trust.”

The Selay stopped. “Point taken. I will confer with the Admiral for security sweeps. One can never be too careful.”

“You do that. And while you’re at it, could you ask whoever is manning communications to open a channel to the… um…”

Marshal Martz,” Caruthers supplied.

“Yes. Advise Captain Harris that I’m ready to talk with him now.”

“Of course,” Rilaar answered, “by your leave, Mr. Ambassador?”

“Carry on.”

“Thank you, Sir.” A moment later, the doors closed behind him.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Ambassador, I’m not usually squeamish…”

“No harm, no foul, Leslie. I admit to a bit of gastric uneasiness myself at the sight.” He smiled at her, once again appreciating the support she had given him during dinner. “Just don’t make a habit of it, right?”

“Right. I’ll leave you to your conversation with Captain Harris.”

“Thank you, Leslie.”


USS Marshal Martz NCC-78506
Sector 2184-K


“Captain,” the marine at tactical reported, “we’re receiving a hail from the Diplomatic Ship Nancy Hedford.”

“Ah,” Captain John Harris said, turning the captain’s chair to face the portside tactical station, “that must be the new ambassador to Intar getting back to me.” He stood up from the captain’s chair, groaning a bit as a twinge of pain shot across his lower back. “I’ll take it on the big screen in my readyroom. What’s the delay?”

The marine checked the readout on the panel in front of him. “Eight seconds, Sir. We could cut that to three if we link through 128’s booster.”

“Do it. I’d like to make this as close to real time as possible.”

“Aye-aye, Sir.”

Harris headed across the bridge to his readyroom, pointing at the ship’s young chief engineer as he passed. “Your bridge, Kevin.”

“Aye, Sir,” Cadet Lt. Kevin Christner replied.

A second later, Harris lowered himself into his desk chair, just as the UFP logo appeared on the large screen on the opposite wall. A moment later, it changed to show a man as large as he was, wearing a civilian business suit.

“Mister Ambassador, thanks for taking my call. John Harris, commanding Marshal Martz.”

“It’s an honor, Captain. Your exploits have even made it to the Foreign Secretariat.”

“I cringe to think what you folks think of my technique.”

“It’s unorthodox, to be sure, but effective.”

“Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I see the president took my advice on the physical requirements for the post.”

“Because I have Adipose hyper-replenishment syndrome?”

“Basically, Mr. Ambassador.”

“Captain…”

“Yes, Mr. Ambassador?”

It was a long three seconds before the man replied. “Call me Jack, would you? This is my first posting as an ambassador, and I’m still getting used to the title.”

Harris chuckled. He liked this guy, and was discovering more things they had in common. “Okay, Jack, but only if you call me John.”

“Done. How’s your marine?”

“Excuse me?”

Jack looked down at the PADD he held. “Sergeant Major Corwin. Your report states that she had a bad reaction to some Intaran food.”

“Yes. In fact, that’s what tipped us off to why the Tzenkethi are so interested. She’s fine. No lasting effects.”

“That’s good to hear. So why didn’t you take this job? I understand the president offered it to you.”

Harris considered the question for several seconds before answering.

“Jack, when I first joined Starfleet, all I wanted to do was design and build starships. My ultimate goal was to end my career in charge of Utopia Planitia. But then I got a taste of life out here, and I was hooked. I switched to operations, signed on to the Chautauqua, and expected a pretty boring career… and then I met Cayla Sakaari.”

Jack laughed. “That sounds a lot like my career. I started as a researcher, down in the basement at Foggy Bottom…and then that rock read one of my position papers, and next thing I knew, I was a cultural attaché on Alderaan. After that, I bounced around from one embassy to another until I found myself back at Foggy Bottom, writing position papers for the Council. And then… this.”

“Sounds like we have a lot more than just our size in common.”

“It sure seems like it. So…I’ve been reading the various reports the various crews have filed. It seems like Intar is almost perfectly suited to people like us. Almost a dream come true.”

Harris smiled, remembering the things he saw on Intar. “It wasn’t always that way, but now... the first words out of my mouth when I materialized in Unity was, ‘I may just retire here’.”

Jack laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He then held up the PADD and waggled it to draw the captain’s attention. “So what didn’t you put in your reports?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve read enough position papers by so-called cultural experts to know when something’s being downplayed or covered over.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Anything you left out. Anything that could cause problems.”


Harris stood up and walked over to the replicator terminal, knowing that the camera embedded in the screen was following him.

“I could speak volumes about the Intarans, Jack. They’re so much like us that it’s almost scary. They’re plain-spoken, intensely curious for the most part, and eager to get out into the galaxy. They’re ravenous followers of the arts, especially the performing arts. It fills the niche that sports does in other cultures. You want to impress these people? Sing, dance, hell, just recite Shakespeare or tell a couple of jokes. They’ll treat you like a rock star.”

“So they’re a lot like we were at the end of the twenty-first century.”

“Only without the horrors of the Eugenics Wars or World War III.”

Jack nodded. “I did my doctoral thesis on World War III. It’s good to know these people avoided all that. I’d hate to think what someone like Colonel Green would do to this kind of culture.”

“Or an organization like Terra Prime.”

Jack looked out of the screen, a sudden expression of concern on his face. “Are there indications of such an organization on Intar?”

“No, not at all. The closest I saw were those few who were devoutly religious, but they seem more... Amish in their attitudes. While it isn’t widely practiced, they have a healthy respect for religion. A general Maker myth seems to be the dominant faith, which ties into some of the relics their archaeologists have found…”

“Have you heard that they found a Preserver obelisk on Intar’s moon?”

Harris stopped short and stared at the screen. “Holy shit,” he finally said.

“Yeah. We’ve got a team from the Daystrom Institute on board. They’re as excited as a basket of puppies at the news.”

“I don’t blame them.” He turned back to the replicator. “One point five liters of iced coffee, black, double sweet.”

A moment later, he picked up the large mug and headed back to his desk.

“Also,” he said, resuming his seat, “the Intarans take size acceptance very seriously, some militantly so. Those few people in their culture who advocate fitness are pilloried, at best. If someone calls you a Thin Preacher, take it as an insult.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Anything else?”

“I think you’re going to feel right at home, Jack. Just remember that we’re there to protect these people, not turn them into us. Let them take the lead, and everything will be fine. In fact, you’ll probably look back on this as a plum assignment.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah.”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
En Route to Starbase 128


Meanwhile, Karen Mercer raced back to the conference room where her team had set up. She was eager to see the first images of the obelisk.

“Karen,” Dr. Peter Eden, her assistant team leader, said, “you are not going to believe this! We just got the first images in, and they’re… they’re… Holy crap!

“That good?”

“Oh, yeah, and you are going to freak when you see it.”

“Well then quit jabbering and show me.”

When he did, she sat silent for several minutes, her jaw agape… just like the rest of the team.

“Am I crazy,” another of the researchers asked, “or is one of those languages Elder Futhark?”

“No,” Dr. Brin Karani, the team’s linguist, answered, “it’s older. That’s Old Italic… That’s proto-Tifinagh,” he added, as the next image appeared, “from West Africa, and that is… By the Sacred Pools… That’s Rongorongo.”

“What?” Mercer asked.

It seemed strange that a joined Trill would be an expert on ancient human languages, but Brin was one of the Federation’s acknowledged leaders.

“I’ve seen every surviving inscription, Dr. Mercer. That is clearly Rongorongo.”

“Brin, they’re going to remember you in the same breath as Bouchard.”

The Trill looked up at Mercer. “Karen, if this obelisk includes what I think it does, it’ll make the Rosetta Stone look like a kindergarten primer.”


IGB Network Feed
The Boredom Cure
22 Inika, 85th Year of Unification (Stardate 55947.1)

ARE YOU READY?!
CAN YOU TAKE IT?!
DO YOU WANT IT?!
THE MEDICINE’S HERE, BUT CAN YOU TAKE… THE CURE?!


The crowd in the stadium-sized studio responded with a cacophony normally reserved for the achievement of a score at a sporting event.

“And now,” the unseen announcer continued, “your host: Ibriel Ganegli!”

If anything, the volume of the cheers increased as the large man strode onto the stage.

“Good evening, Intar! Wow, great-looking crowd tonight.

“Big news! Yesterday, Starfleet issued a joint statement with the University of Citadel saying they have found proof that our ancestors came from the planet Earth. It only took them three thousand years… but they found us!”

He waited for the wave of laughter to rise and fall before continuing.

“But, of course, the Federation is more than just Earth. There are all kinds of aliens walking around these days. We’ve had a few on the show. There are ones with pointed ears, blue ones, ones with snouts… and they’re all really, really thin!”

There was another wave.

“Now there are a few more coming. Take a look at this…”

On the screen behind Ganegli, Rilaar appeared. A sound of unease swept the crowd.

“This is a Selay. And I thought Fluffy Guy was scary…”

Another wave of laughter took the crowd.

“But really, he’s a real guetta… just don’t let him near yours. I’m told he finds them quite tasty.”

The laughter this time was accompanied by cheers and shrieks.

“I’m just joking. He really is a nice person, as we’ll learn tonight. We have a great show for you tonight. Actor and comedienne Nila Kayun is here!”

He waited for the applause to die down before continuing.

“Quintuple platinum-award winning recording artist Jikai is here tonight!

“And don’t forget Yayi Kotoni and the Boredom Cure Band!”

As the crowd cheered, the band played its traditional self-introduction riff.

“But first, we have a special treat. A lot of you are wondering what’s with all this… stuff here on the stage. This is what Starfleet calls a portable holodeck, or, in this case, a holographic communicator. Earlier today, I interviewed the new Federation Ambassador to Intar, Jack Elmlinger. There was a fairly long subspace delay, since he left Earth only yesterday, but we edited it out, so take a look at the monitors, and play the recording…”


“And we are here with Jack Elmlinger, the very first Federation Ambassador to Intar. I’m told the proper form of address is ‘Your Excellency’ or ‘Mr. Ambassador’…”

“Actually, I prefer Jack,” the ambassador replied. “I’ve never been a stickler for formality.”

“Okay, first, welcome to The Boredom Cure. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever had such a long-distance interview.”

“Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.”

“So I understand, from what Starfleet has said, that you just left Earth, what is it, two days ago?”

“That’s right,” Jack answered. “I’m currently aboard the Diplomatic Courier Nancy Hedford, currently bound for Intar by way of Starbase 128.”

“And I believe we have an image of your ship…” Ganegli said, cueing the control room. A moment later, the requested image appeared on the screen that was positioned between their chairs. “Not a bad-looking ship. What exactly does a Diplomatic Courier do?”

“Well, Ibriel,” Jack explained, “ a diplomatic courier is exactly what its name implies: a ship designed to transport diplomatic personnel, such as ambassadors and their staff, and it’s also used to transport what’s commonly known as ‘the diplomatic bag’, which contains things such as official correspondence, gifts between governments, and other things that require immunity as defined under the Deneb Conventions, which I believe your government has recently signed, though not yet ratified.”

“And do they let you take the driver’s seat sometimes?”

“No, I don’t have the training to take the helm of a ship like this. I’d probably fly us through a star.”

“You don’t want a little tan? Sex it up for the ladies?”

Jack chuckled, waiting for the next question.

“I hope I’m not insulting you by saying this, but you look Intaran, but that’s not usual where you come from, is it?”

“No, it isn’t. I suffer from the same condition Captain Harris does. It’s called Adipose Hyper-Replenishment Syndrome, or more commonly, Cyrano Jones Disease, after the first person ever diagnosed with it. In fact, that’s part of the reason I was appointed to the post. It’s important to be able to relate to each other, and President min-Shonraleur thought someone who looks like an Intaran would be easier for your leaders to deal with.”

“Interesting. So tell me a bit about yourself.”

“Well, I’m sixty-two Terran years old, which is about fifty-eight Intaran years, and I originally come from a place called Washington State, though I grew up in an area of Earth called England. I have a twin brother, Jacen, who is a Starfleet officer, commissioned under the Starfleet special Commissioning and Enlistment Act, having served aboard a number of civilian ships, freighters for the most part. I also have a younger sister, Millie, who is an author, and she has two children, a boy and a girl.”

“So how did you end up on your way here? This is your first assignment as an ambassador, is that right?”

“Yes. I specialized in history during my schooling, even earning a doctorate from King’s College at the University of Cambridge, where I also studied interstellar relations. The combination of the two disciplines made me well-suited for government work, and I chose the Foreign and Member Relations Secretariats, which share much of the same staff, especially at the lower levels.

“Since then, I’ve done almost everything a career diplomat can do, from writing position papers to serving as a number of different types of attaches on various planets.”

“Speaking of history, what do you think of the day’s news, that our ancestors came from Earth?” Ganegli asked.

“It’s as big a story here as it is there,” Jack answered. “Intar is only the seventeenth culture proven to have been transplanted from Earth by the Preservers. I don’t know much about the Preservers, but we’re bringing a team of experts with us…”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Three days later…

“Coffee, hot, double sweet and a lightly toasted onion bagel with honey butter.”

A moment later, the requested items appeared in the replicator alcove. He reached in, picked them up, and carried them over to the small dining table.

Just as he took his first bite of the bagel, the door chime sounded.

“Duvvin!”

The computer, understanding Jack’s full mouthed command, opened the door to the corridor, admitting Lesley Caruthers.

“Good morning, Mr. Ambassador,” she said, approaching the table.

Jack swallowed. “Morning, Leslie. Care for some breakfast?”

“No, thank you, Sir. I’ve already eaten this morning.”

Jack sipped his coffee. “So what’s on the agenda today?”

Caruthers slid into the seat across the table from him, her attention on her ever-present PADD. “You have a medical exam at 10:00.”

Jack groaned. “I thought you took care of that?”

Caruthers looked up from the PADD. “I couldn’t put it off any longer, and it is mandatory, you know.”

“Oh, joy,” Jack grumbled, “doctors and their torture devices. I just hope this one doesn’t have some cockamamie idea on how to treat Cyrano Jones disease.”

“At eleven hundred, you have a series of interviews with potential staffers. They’ve all been pre-cleared and assigned to the embassy, you just need to slot them into the staff table.”

“Why do I need to do that? That’s the chief of staff’s job.”

“That’s the first position to fill.”

“Sheesh! You’d think I was the ambassador or something.”

Caruthers stared at him for a moment, trying to determine if he were joking or not. “Sir,” she finally said, “you are the ambassador.”

“Oh, yeah. Anything from the Press?”

Caruthers scrolled through the information on her PADD. “Nothing until we reach Starbase 128. There’s a FNS reporter… Jake Sisko… Where have I heard that name before?”

“He won the T’Lan and Pulitzer prizes for his reports from Deep Space Nine during the war. His father commanded the station at the time.”

“Oh, yes. I read his novel, Anslem, last year. I especially liked the character of the father. Anyway, he’s requested to come aboard and interview you and Admiral Haywood.”

“I’m sure he enjoys the Press as much as I do. Make a note to put a public affairs officer at the top of the priority list. We really need someone whose only job is to deal with the Press.”

“I’ll let the applicants know.”

“Have you heard from the science team? I’ve been meaning to get down there and meet them all, but I’ve been so busy with all this paperwork…”

“They seem to be keeping to themselves, though Ensign Gry tells me they’ve been burning up subspace ever since those images came in.”

“Gry?” Jack asked, echoing Carruthers’ pronunciation by making it rhyme with glee. “Who’s that?”

“She’s the ship’s science officer.”

“I didn’t even know this ship had a science department.”

“One officer, six enlisted.”

“Maybe we ought to stop in and say hello. Think you can find us a convenient time?”

“I can try.”

“That’s all I’m asking…”

He was about to say something more, but the sound of the intercom derailed his train of thought.

“Haywood to Elmlinger.”

“Go ahead, Charlie.”

“What’d you do, Jack, become a monk? Haven’t seen you since that interview.”

“I’ve been busy, Charlie. I’ve got all kinds of briefings and position papers to read, not to mention daily news briefings from the Federation, Empire and Intar…”

“Well take some time for yourself, will ya? In fact, why don’t you join me for lunch in the holodeck?”

Jack looked over at Caruthers, who shrugged. “He’s got a point,” she said. “You have been cooped up in here.”

“Listen to the lady, Jack. I’ll see you at twelve hundred.”

“Very well, Captain. I’ll see you then.”


Karen Mercer stared at the Preserver script on the big screen in the conference room, just as she’d been doing for the last three days. She knew all sixteen known Preserver obelisks intimately, having studied them for much of her life, and her parents before her.

But this one, number seventeen, had her stumped.

For one thing, it didn’t seem to do anything. It wasn’t an asteroid deflector, nor was it a climate modification system, nor any of the six other functions they’d managed to uncover.

And it was the only one to bear languages other than the symbols used by the Preservers themselves.

If the material composition scans hadn’t been definitive, she would have likely ruled it a fake.

“Anything yet?” Jell Dantoa, the team’s Bolian computer expert, asked as he walked in.

“No. I’ve been staring at these images for three days, and I’m just as stumped as I was three days ago.” She then sniffed. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Double raktajino, steamed, with sugar and cinnamon.” He gently placed the steaming cup of Klingon coffee before her. “And it’s not replicated.”

“There are some perks to being on a diplomatic ship,” Mercer said, inhaling the unique aroma.

“They’ve even got an honest-to-deities restaurant-style machine in the galley. Must be nice.”

“This may be a glorified starliner,” the blonde ensign said, entering with an antigrav cart bearing a trio of insulated drink dispensers, “but the amenities are here for a reason. While replicated coffee is perfectly fine for day to day drinking, it is definitely not acceptable for diplomatic functions… or, apparently, for scientists.”

“Ensign Gry,” Mercer said, “you are a princess amongst women.”

“Well, it wasn’t all my doing,” Gry said, cocking a thumb over her shoulder as Caruthers entered with a tray of assorted pastries. “This is Leslie Caruthers, Ambassador Elmlinger’s social secretary.”

“So the high and mighty ambassador throws us a bone, eh?” Dantoa grumbled.

“Jelly, be nice…”

“Karen, I’m tired of always playing second fiddle, either to Starfleet or some paper-pushing windbag. If we had our own ship…”

“Really, Doctor, the Ambassador just—”

“You listen here, Miss Social Secretary!” Dantoa said, turning to face Caruthers. “We are very busy here, trying to figure out what is possibly the most important scientific discovery of the last decade, and we’re stuck on a slow boat to China! So why don’t you go back to your windbag of an ambassador and tell him—”

“What?” a voice came from the door. Instantly, all eyes were on Jack.

“Doctor Dantoa,” Gry said, softly, “you’ve stepped in it now.”

“Tell the windbag what?” Jack repeated.

The Bolian was silent for several seconds before finally stammering, “Y-your Excellency—”

“Doctor Dantoa,” Jack said, interrupting the scientist, “I am quite aware of how busy you all are. I respect that, but my curiosity finally got the best of me.” He then crossed the room and held out a hand to Mercer. “Nice to see you again, Dr. Mercer.”

“Mr. Ambassador, I apologize for…”

Jack waved it off. “I’ve heard it all before. You don’t serve as a scientific or cultural attaché without having to deal with surly researchers. No harm, no foul.” He then walked over to the big screen and squinted at what he saw there. Oh, great, he thought, noticing the squint, another thing the doc will want to fix.

“These are the images of the Intaran obelisk?” he asked.

“Yes. Dr. Karani, our linguist, has been translating them. They don’t quite match up with their Terran counterparts. Of course, the fact that they’re all dead languages doesn’t help.”

“Is that Rongorongo?” Jack asked, turning to Mercer.

“Good eye, Mr. Ambassador.”

“Call me Jack. So the Polynesian group was taken from Rapa Nui… That explains a bit. I’ve always been fascinated by the cultures the Preservers chose.”

“There have been rumors,” Gry remarked, “that they’re still around. Nobody is saying anything definite, but that thing in the Kshar Nebula was rumored to be their work.”

“It would certainly be something to find them, Ensign,” Jack said, turning back to the screen. “Maybe this will be the clue we need to find where they went.”

“That’s our hope, Mr. Ambassador.”

“Jack, Dr. Mercer. My name’s Jack.”

“Karen.” She nodded toward the Bolian. “That’s Jell Dantoa. We call him Jelly.”

“You can call me Sir, Dr. Dantoa,” Jack replied.

“Uh, yes, Sir.”

Jack grinned. “I’m joking. We’re all under a lot of pressure here. In fact, if you need another set of eyes for anything, I’d appreciate you letting me know. I do have a Ph.D. in history, after all.”

“Professor Sapok is our team historian,” Dantoa remarked.

Jack whirled on the Bolian. “Sapok’s aboard?”

“You know the professor?” Mercer asked.

“We’ve met. Ever hear of his Temporal Uncertainty Theory?”

Both Mercer and Dantoa shook their heads, but the ensign nodded. “Some guy at Cambridge disproved it about forty years ago. I remember my mother laughing her ass off.”

“What?” Jack squeaked. “You couldn’t have. You’re what? Twenty?”

“Fifty-four, Sir. My mother is an El Aurian.”

Jack blinked. “And your father?”

“Human. Norwegian, to be exact.”

“Huh. I didn’t know the two species were compatible.”

“I had a bit of help from the Adigeons.”

“I see. In any case, that guy at Cambridge was me. Sapok actually came to visit me a week after I published. Try as he might, he couldn’t patch the holes I’d punched in the theory. We’ve considered each other colleagues, if not friends, ever since.”

Jack was about to say more, but Mercer’s yawn caused him to change the subject.

“I bet you’ve been staring at this monitor for the last three days without any sleep.”

“How’d you know?”

“Go get some sleep, Karen. You, too, Jelly. You won’t solve this mystery by pushing yourselves to death.”

“No, we’re good…”

“Don’t argue, Dr. Mercer,” Gry said. “We’re on a diplomatic vessel. The ambassador has the same authority as the captain.”

Mercer stifled another yawn. “Okay, Jess. We’ll hit the rack for a couple of hours.”

“No,” Jack said, “you’ll get a full eight, at least, and as much more as you need. Someone else can take over here for a while.”

“Fine, Jack. I’ll send Peter and Sapok up.”

“Good. Let him know he still owes me a rematch in kal-toh.”

“Right.” Mercer pushed herself to her feet and headed for the door. “Come on, Jelly. The Ambassador has spoken.”

After the door closed behind the two scientists, Gry grinned at Jack. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you, Sir?”

“Gotta get my kicks somewhere. Lord knows I won’t have much time for it once we reach Intar.”

“Speaking of not much time,” Caruthers remarked, “the first of the applicants is waiting on subspace.”

“Could you handle the first round, Leslie? You have as good an idea as anyone what we need, and I’ve got that lunch with Charlie in twenty minutes.”

“Sir?”

“You’re the closest thing I’ve got to a chief of staff, and it’s not so different from what you’ll be doing.”

“If you say so, Mr. Ambassador.”

“Good. If you need help… use the ensign here. In fact, I never got your name.”

“Gry, Mr. Ambassador. Jessica Gry.”

“Nice to meet you, Ensign Gry,” Jack said, shaking hands with the half El Aurian.

“Likewise, Sir.”

“Make sure she eats, will ya? I’ll check in later.”

“Aye-aye, Sir.”


“You look beat,” Peter Eden said, answering the door to the quarters he’d been assigned on deck 13.

“I am beat, but I couldn’t tear myself away. The ambassador finally ordered Jelly and me to our quarters to sleep.”

Eden chuckled. “I told you,” he gently chided. He was some years her senior, and often considered her the little sister he never had. “Let me replicate you some warm milk… or would you rather have a teddy bear?”

“I’d rather have you.”

Eden chuckled again. They both knew that was out of the question. For one thing, Eden was gay. For another, her parents would never forgive him. He’d started his career as their assistant, and had known Karen almost from the moment of her birth. He’d held her, fed her, even changed her diapers.

And she loved him for it.

“Did you see anything you could tell the Intarans?”

“No, unfortunately. I mean, the inscriptions are relatively simple to translate, but…”

“But it can’t be that simple.”

“Exactly. We’ve got to be missing something.”

“Maybe you should sleep on it. It wouldn’t be the first time a breakthrough came to you in your sleep.”

Mercer stifled a yawn. “Okay, Peter. Tuck me in?”

Eden grinned, leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. “Always.”


Program in progress. Enter when ready.

A moment later, the heavy holodeck doors opened to reveal a scene right out of the ancient West: Dirt street, wood sidewalks and, directly in front of him, a saloon called Big Nose Kate’s.

“You Jack?” a man wearing period garb, complete with poncho and cowboy hat, asked from his place in a wooden chair tipped back against the wall of the saloon.

“Yes.”

“He’s waitin’ for ya inside.”

“Thanks.” Stepping forward, Jack gently pushed through the louvered doors.

“Jack! Thanks for coming,” Charlie Haywood called from a table near the back of the room.

“Wouldn’t miss it. Where are we, anyway? Looks like something out of the ancient west.”

“It is. Welcome to Tombstone, Arizona, October 24, 1881.”

“I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that date.”

“You’re not? What kind of historian are you?” Haywood asked, his voice conveying more than a bit of feigned incredulity.

“I specialized in older cultures, mostly from the Roman period. Now, if this were Arthurian Wales…”

Haywood chuckled. “Swordplay never really appealed to me, but I can understand the historical importance. We are two days before one of the most famous gunfights in Earth history. You have heard of the OK Corral, right?”

“Earps versus Clantons, if I recall. It was a political fight, ultimately.”

“That’s right.” He reached up and pushed the black hat he wore back several inches, uncovering his forehead. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigar, which he lit with a laser match.

“That’s a bit proleptic, isn’t it, Charlie?”

“What? The match?”

“Yeah,” Jack answered, lowering himself into the chair opposite the admiral.

“Yeah, it is, but my daddy gave this to me as an Academy graduation present.”

“Fair enough.”

Just then, a man wearing a loose, long-sleeve shirt with a pair of sleeve garters walked up. Jack looked up and did a double-take. The character looked like a young version of Ambassador Spock, ears, eyebrows and all.

“Good afternoon, Gentlemen,” the hologram said. “Would you care for something to eat or drink?”

“That sounds good,” Haywood answered. “What’s on the menu today?”

“We have a side of beef that has been on the barbecue since Sunday afternoon, and two pans of crackling cornbread have just been removed from the oven. Also, a pot of beans and copious amounts of mashed potatoes are available.”

“That sounds good to me. Jack?”

“My mouth is already watering.”

“And would you care for something from the bar?” holo-Spock asked.

“I’ll take a double-shot of bourbon,” the admiral replied.

“Whatever you have on tap will be fine with me,” Jack added.

“Very good. I will return with your meals and drinks shortly.”

“So what’s been keeping you shut away in your quarters for the last three days?”

“It’s nothing, really.”

“Jack, we don’t have a Counselor aboard, but I’ve dealt with enough people to know when someone’s spooked.”

Jack sighed. “It’s the interview. I was completely unprepared.”

That’s what’s kept you locked away? Hell, I can’t count how many interviews I’ve botched.”

“But that’s just it, Charlie. I’ve always been the guy who’s supposed to have the information the ambassador needs. I’m the one writing position papers and the one whispering in his ear when he needs data. I never even hoped to get an appointment of my own. Hell, the only reason I got this job was because of…” He slapped his abdomen, causing it to jiggle. “…This!”

Haywood chuckled, shaking his head. “Aw, hell, Jack. You think one of those political hacks they usually send out could have done any better? You’re no greenhorn. In fact, you’re better than damn near every idiot I’ve ever dealt with, because you already know how the game works. Half of them think they’re the second coming of Sarek and the other half are so scared of saying the wrong thing that they end up letting their staff make the decisions. So you got the job because you’re fat. So what? Most people in this business get their job for doing political favors.”

“You’ve got a point. I guess I’m just not used to being the big shot himself.”

“Don’t sweat it, Jack. Even the best started somewhere, and none of them got through it without something going wrong now and then.”

“The admiral is quite right,” holo-Spock added, as he placed a pair of speckled blue graniteware plates on the table before them. As he added a basket of biscuits and two glasses, he added, “Several of my own early attempts at diplomacy were… awkward, at best.”

“Listen to the Vulcan, Jack. I bet there were times you wished you’d been the ambassador instead of some party hack, weren’t there?”

It was Jack’s turn to chuckle. “Touché, Charlie. Touché.”


Jack despised doctors. Or rather, Jack despised medical doctors. He dreaded every exam, every visit, every test. Even in this era of non-invasive medicine, he’d been poked and prodded, especially since he was diagnosed with AHRS at age six.

He especially despised Starfleet doctors, since they were allowed to practice in ways and perform procedures that would put civilian doctors in prison.

Thus, as he stood outside sickbay, his mind traveled back to the last time a Starfleet doctor had examined him, back during the Dominion War. The man, a Tellarite, had stood there and talked and talked and talked while Jack lay on the biobed, the wound in his right calf spurting blood nearly a meter across the room.

If anyone utters the word diet or exercise, I’ll kick his ass!

His resolve re-stoked, Jack stepped forward, triggering the door sensor.

Sickbay was empty.

“Hello. Dr. Locken? Anyone here?”

Behind him, Jack heard the sound of an activating hologram.

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency.”

Jack turned to see a non-descript woman, dressed in the uniform of a Starfleet doctor. “Excuse me?” he asked.

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency.”

“There isn’t one.”

“Then why was I activated?” the hologram asked.

“I don’t know. I asked if there was anyone here, and…” He waved his hands at the hologram. “…You appeared.”

“I see. I am programmed to activate if anyone requires medical attention and there are no qualified personnel available. How may I help you?”

“I have an appointment with Dr. Locken.”

The hologram looked away for a moment. “Ah, your physical. I am authorized to conduct that exam. Please take a seat on the exam bed while I review your file.”

“Perhaps I should come back later…”

“Nonsense! As an Enhanced EMH, Mk IV-D, I have the collective knowledge of over two thousand medical works and the personal experience of 83 Starfleet and civilian physicians. If I am unqualified to perform a simple exam…”

The hologram suddenly turned to look at Jack, an expression of surprise on its face. “You’ve been diagnosed with Adipose Hyper-Replenishment Syndrome.”

“Yes.”

“That is an extremely rare condition, but there are several promising lines of research pertaining to a treatment. I am qualified to administer several of those currently undergoing trials, if you wish.”

“I do not.”

“May I ask why? Those with your condition face a number of physical and cultural disadvantages. One would think that—”

“Two reasons. First, I was taught to respect the person I am, not to conform to a society that does not respect the way I look. Second, we are bound for a planet where my body image is considered a virtue. Besides, I am familiar with the treatments you refer to, and none of them have been approved for civilian use on sentients.”

“This is true, but—”

“Nothing, Doctor. But nothing. The Fourteenth Guarantee specifically prohibits the use of experimental medicine without consent. I hereby deny that consent.”

The hologram sighed, picking up a medical tricorder. “Very well.” After a quick scan, the hologram pronounced him perfectly healthy.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Jack said, standing up. “I trust we shall never again have this conversation.”

“You should consider some sort of treatment. Even though they are not cures…”

“I came in for a simple physical, and I end up arguing with a light bulb! Doctors!” he continued, heading out into the corridor, “Why do even the holographic ones have to be such morons!?”


Lesley Caruthers had just finished the last of the day’s interviews when she heard the singing…

Venero
Ineratto voni calide
Terrive Venero
Ineratto voni calide ivane
Ho-ha en deo malevo cantare
Assime penelope en deo malevo terrive
Ameno amenostro
Domine Domine
Ho-ha pensare terume
Sa mi e opperatte
Sa mi e opperazzione
So-ha en deo diavole


Intrigued, she stood up and walked to the open door, just as the voice that had been singing launched into an impression of an old-style electric guitar.

Rounding the corner, she ran into the Ambassador.

“Whoa, there!” Jack said, finding their lips uncomfortably close.

“Sorry, Mr. Ambassador.” Embarrassed at the situation, she blushed a deep pink.

“No harm, no foul, Lesley,” Jack said, releasing her.

“That seems to be your motto, Sir.”

“Yes,” Jack replied with a grin, “yes, it is.”

He then continued past her, into the outer office.

“So what was that about?” he asked, cocking a thumb over his shoulder toward the corridor.

“I heard singing, but didn’t recognize the language.”

“Something I dug up from my time at Cambridge. I needed to decompress after an argument with a talking light bulb in sickbay. Besides, it’s in a language remarkably similar to one of the Intarans’ dominant languages, though that particular song is essentially gibberish.”

“I see.”

“You did notice the section of the Intaran cultural profile that indicates they are rather ravenous followers of the Arts. Music is quite popular there.”

“Yes, Sir, I did. It’s just that it’s been a while since I heard a voice with such… richness to it.”

“Thank you, I appreciate that.”

“Your electric guitar, however, could use some work.”

“But it’s such a great riff… Haven’t tried that particular voice work since I was a cultural attaché on Bolarus. Now those folks can hold a note.”
Not waiting for her reply, Jack headed into the inner office. Grabbing her ever-present PADD, Caruthers followed.

“So how did the interviews go?” the ambassador asked, lowering himself into the chair behind the desk. Except for the view of space beyond the windows, it was not unlike the one he had back at Foggy Bottom.

“Rather quickly, for the most part, though I was able to find a possible Chief of Staff and Public Relations officer. I was also forced to rule a number of people unacceptable for assignment to Intar.”

“Oh? Why was that?”

“They had misgivings about… Um…”

“Fat people?” Jack suggested.

“I was looking for a more diplomatic term.”

“Good riddance. Who did you find for Public Relations?”

“Wallace Stein. He’s a…”

“Reporter,” Jack finished. “Worked for Terra Skynet, if I recall correctly.”

“Yes,” Caruthers confirmed, checking her notes. “You know of him?”

“We’ve met a number of times. He covered quite a few Council meetings while I was on Sanaht’s staff.” He rubbed his chin, feeling the five o-clock shadow that had grown there. “Hire him. He’s what my sister would call an old-fashioned ink slinger.”

“A what?”

“Sorry, my sister tends to use a lot of archaic terms. It’s one of the slang terms they used for reporters back when text updates were printed on paper and sold on a daily or weekly basis.”

“I see.”

“What about the Chief of Staff?”

Caruthers examined her PADD again before replying. “The most likely candidate is Kehen Relath. He’s a Betazoid, formerly a member of Ambassador Troi’s staff.”

“You mean Auntie Mame on speed.” At the woman’s confused look, he added, “Don’t get me wrong, she was an excellent diplomat. It’s just that her style was a bit… in your face. I’m rather glad she finally retired.”

Still, he thought, it might be a good idea to have one or two people on staff who have political connections.

“It sounds like a good idea,” he finally said, cringing as the muscles of his back protested his movement. After lunch, Charlie had insisted they ride horses. He’d fallen off twice.

“Should I go ahead and hire him?”

“No, have communications set up a real-time, or as close as possible link. I’d like to have a talk with him myself before making that decision.”

“Of course. I think, when you see him, you’ll understand why I consider him the most likely candidate.”

“Very well.” He looked up at her, seeing an expression he’d never seen before. “Was there something else?”

“Uh… Sir, what happened in the corridor…”

“Nothing to be embarrassed about, Leslie. It’s not like we’re romantically involved.”

“Of course, Mr. Ambassador. Will there be anything else?”

“No, but I would appreciate if you could find out why Dr. Locken wasn’t at my appointment.”

“She wasn’t?”

“No. That’s why I had the argument with the talking light bulb.”

“I’ll look into it, Sir.”

“Thank you, Leslie.”


Council House
Unity, Planet Intar


Oh, wonderful, Nelani Yan thought as one of her staffers brought in another pile of datapads, more paperwork.

“When I took this job, I never thought I’d be doing so much paperwork… and it’s not even for my own government.”

“These Federation people do seem to record everything, Vice Councilor,” the staff member replied, picking up the much smaller pile of datapads in the box marked OUT.

“So I see,” Yan remarked, picking up the top datapad from the pile the man had deposited in her IN box. Activating it, she saw that it was an updated estimate on the retrofit of the building that would have been a new Kentari Embassy, had the National Assembly not ratified the Treaty of Unification. It, as well as a number of other buildings, had been given to the Federation to serve as an embassy and living quarters. A couple of officers from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers were supervising the retrofit, but most of the work was being done by local civilian contractors.

The latest problem was fitting an antimatter generator in one of the hangars at the Unity airport.

“Don’t they already have an antimatter generator in orbit?” she asked, looking up from the device.

“They have them aboard their starships, but no fixed ones.”

“I see. Send this request out to the airport authority and the ISA engineers. If they sign off on it, I will, too.”

“Very good, Vice Councilor,” the staffer replied. “Also, there are a number of communiqués for you from the…” He checked his own datapad. “The Ferengi, the Cardassians and the… Nancy Hedford? What species is that?”

“That’s a ship, not a species,” Yan informed her new staffer. “It’s bringing the new Federation ambassador from Earth. What does that one say?”

“Oh, I see. Ambassador Elmlinger wishes to speak with you at your convenience.”

“And how the hode do I talk to someone that far out? Just pick up my handset and hope there’s an operator who can connect me?”

“Actually, yes, Ma’am,” a new voice said from the open doorway, “though if you’d rather use one of the available holodecks, we can beam you there.”

“And who are you?” Yan asked the very thin Starfleet ensign.

“Ensign Jenna Stirling, Gwalior flight operations. I was sent to check on the hangar assigned to house the embassy runabout, but I’ve also been asked to escort you, should you choose to use a holodeck.”

“Oh. Which would you suggest I do?”

“That’s up to you, Ma’am.”

Yan stood up, feeling both of her knees pop. I’ve been sitting here too long.

“I’d like to experience one of these holodecks, if I could.”

“That’s easy enough to arrange.”

Yan turned to her staffer. “Have Imbru take over here. I’ll let you know when I’m finished.”

“Of course, Vice Councilor.”

“Ensign, I’m ready now.”

Stirling tapped her commbadge. “Stirling to Gwalior.”

“Wilcox here.”

“Commander, Vice Councilor Yan has elected to use a holodeck to call the Nancy Hedford. We’d appreciate knowing which ship is in position to beam us up.”

“Umm… Looks like the Blount Island is almost directly above you. Stand by one.”

A moment later, another voice issued from the woman’s commbadge. “This is Blount Island transporter two. How many to beam up?”

“Two, these coordinates.”

“Roger that, ready when you are.”

“Energize.”

Yan yelped a bit as everything around her faded into blue-white glitter for several seconds before that faded, revealing a completely different room. The whole process lasted less than five seconds.

_________________
Image
(Yes, the image is me, but the photomanip wasn't done by me.)


Last edited by AdmiralSirJohn on Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:53 am 
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Location: Aboard USS Marshal Martz, NCC-78506 (though physically in Jamestown, NY)
Quote:
U.S.S. Blount Island, NCC-32226
Orbiting Planet Intar

“Whoa,” Yan said, as a moment of dizziness swept over her. “That’s different.”

“Exactly what I said when I was beamed aboard the Enterprise,” An Rentoshi said from his place next to the transporter operator. “Welcome aboard the Blount Island, Vice Councilor.”

“General Rentoshi? What are you doing here?” the woman asked.

“I beamed up to confer with Captain Baier about the construction of some industrial replicators for the base. I was about to beam back to Citadel when you signaled.”

“I see. I’ll not delay you, then. If someone could direct me to a holodeck…”

“Holodeck one is being readied. Just take the turbolift to the right outside the door.”

“Thank you, Chief. General.”

“I think you’ll enjoy it, Vice Councilor,” Rentoshi said as he headed for the platform. “Nice to see you again, Ensign Stirling.”

“You too, General,” the young woman replied with a sheepish grin.

A moment later, the big Intaran officer faded in a shower of blue-white glitter.


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Holodeck 1

Go, mount the western winds and cleave the sky;
Then with swift descent, to Carthage fly:
There find the Trojan chief, who wastes his
days in slothful riot and inglorious ease—
bid him with speed the Tyrian court forsake;
with this command, the slumb'ring warrior wake.


While Jack Elmlinger had never used holodecks much during his career, he rather liked the ones aboard the Nancy Hedford. They weren’t very big, in relation to those on other types of ships, but they were state of the art, and created environments that were impossible to distinguish from reality.

At that moment, he relaxed in a replica of his childhood home in the city of Vancouver, Washington, reading his well-worn copy of Virgil’s Aenid, a tall glass of Dr Pepper at his elbow.

He was about to continue reading the long stanza, but looked up when the intercom came alive.

“Bridge to Ambassador Elmlinger.”

Jack closed the book and gently placed it on the table next to the glass.

“Go ahead,” he said, picking up the beverage.

“Transmission from Intar, Sir,” Captain D’Xarr, the Hedford’s first officer, replied. “You were right. It’s a full duplex holocom.”

When does that man sleep? Jack thought, taking a sip of his Dr Pepper. It was several hours into the ship’s ‘night’. “What’s the subspace delay?”

“Two point eight seconds, relayed through Starbase 128’s subspace booster from the Blount Island.”

“Have they established a setting?” Jack asked.

“No, Sir. They’re taking it from us.”

“Very well. Patch them through.”

Just under three seconds later, there was the sound of a new hologram being added to the program as Jack rose to his feet.

“Vice Councilor Yan, I presume?”

“Yes,” the hologram answered after a short delay. “You must be Ambassador Elmlinger.” She sketched a bow toward Jack. “This is an unexpected honor, Your Excellency. I would have expected one of your aides to have contacted me for updates.”

“Why pass the buck when you can do it yourself?” Jack asked. “And it’s my honor, Vice Councilor.”

Yan found herself liking the Federation man before her. “You’re not like normal Federation people, are you?” she asked before realizing she had.

“What’s normal?” Jack asked in reply.

“That,” Yan answered, “is a question I’ve been asking myself for years, Your Excellency.”

“Oh, please, call me Jack. I’m not one to stand on formality.”

“Then I would ask you to call me Nelani.” He may look Intaran, she thought, but he clearly isn’t.

Jack invited Yan to have a seat as he resumed his own. “You must have many questions about me and my people. Let me begin by saying the Federation is committed to defending Intar and her people.”

“So I have seen, Jack,” Yan answered, looking around. “Where are we?”

“This is a re-creation of my early childhood home in a place called Vancouver, Washington.” He picked up his glass. “Would you care for a refreshment? The holodeck you’re in can produce whatever you’d like.”

“Actually, I’d like to try what you’re having.”

Jack smiled. “Blount Island computer, place a half-liter glass of Dr Pepper on the end table next to Vice Councilor Yan.”

Instantly, the ordered item appeared.

“Amazing!” Yan said, picking up the glass that had just appeared. She sniffed it and then took a tentative sip. “A very unusual flavor.

“But to return to business. I have no doubt that the Federation will defend Intar, and you’ve been quite generous with your technology and assistance, but I must wonder what you will want in return.”

Jack smiled. “Nelani, I assure you, the Federation asks nothing in return for our assistance beyond what your world is already providing: a strategically-placed home for a joint base.

“As for what I would want, that’s part of why I called. I was told you were the person to ask about such things as restaurants and entertainment venues…”


They spent much of the night in the holographic living room, which explained his fatigue the next morning when he arrived on the bridge. While much of their conversation had been about the cities of Intar, they’d also come to know each other on a personal level, to the point where he was looking forward to meeting her in person upon his arrival.

“Sorry to wake you up so early, Jack,” Charlie Haywood said, “but I think somebody forgot to tell us about a rendezvous.”

“No harm, no foul, Charlie,” Jack answered, “but what are you talking about?”

Haywood nodded at the main screen, and the Ferengi runabout that held position in the center, the streaking stars indicating that it was keeping pace just off the bow.

“They’re asking for you,” he said.

Jack stepped down to his own seat and lowered himself into it. “Then let’s see what they want. Captain D’Xarr, tell them I’m here, will you?”

“Of course, Mr. Ambassador,” the Tiburonian replied. A moment later, the screen changed to show the interior of the Ferengi craft.

“Ambassador Elmlinger?”

“This is Jack Elmlinger.”

“Ah! Your Excellency, my name is Wirrt. I’m from the Ferengi Trade Mission. Grand Nagus Rom has requested that I be attached to your staff under the Protecting Power agreement between the Federation and the Alliance.”

“In what capacity, Mr. Wirrt?” Jack asked.

“I have been sent as a special trade representative. The Nagus believes the Alliance may be able to… help.”


“I highly recommend against bringing a Ferengi onto the staff, Mr. Ambassador,” Rilaar said as he, Jack, Caruthers, Haywood and Fredericks headed for the transporter room.

“I’m with the lizard,” Freddy added. “Give a Ferengi a micron, and he’ll take a light-year.”

“Gentlemen,” Jack said, mildly reproofing their attitude, “we should at least be civil. I’d rather he be on our turf, where we can direct the negotiations.”

“I’d still rather he be behind a force field, at the very least,” Rilaar grumbled.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Haywood said as the transporter room door parted before the group. “Okay, Senior Chief,” he said to the enlisted man behind the console, “bring him aboard.”

“Aye, Sir.”

A moment later, the Ferengi, dressed in the traditional gray uniform of the quasi-military Ferengi Merchant Service, materialized on the platform, with a large crate next to him.

“Ah, Your Excellency! Thank you for bringing me aboard.”

“You should actually thank Admiral Haywood. He commands this vessel.”

“Then you have my gratitude, Admiral.”

Jack had written a position paper a number of years ago, before the Dominion War, and Wirrt was acting in the stereotypical way.

“Mr. Wirrt,” he said before the Ferengi began linguistically prostrating himself before Haywood, “you said something about helping. Exactly how is the Alliance offering to help?”

“My government is willing to add resources and personnel to the Federation’s operations on Intar.”

“But at what price?” Caruthers asked, her voice carrying more than a little disbelief.

“We ask only that we be allowed to participate in your research on the Preserver artifacts found there…”

“Time to lock up the good silver,” Freddy said, under his breath.

Wirrt glared at the dark-skinned human, having clearly heard what was said. “I am no thief, Sir! My acquisitions and sales records with the Ferengi Commerce Authority are—”

“I apologize for my officer’s cultural insensitivity, Mr. Wirrt,” Haywood said, giving Freddy a light slap to the back of the head. “It will not happen again.”

“Quite all right, Admiral. It is a typical hew-mon reaction that I’ve become used to over the years.”

“It’s not really my place to grant access to any artifacts under Intaran authority…”

“I do understand that, Your Excellency, but the Nagus thought they would be more amenable to the suggestion if it came from you.”

“I see. Let’s discuss what the Ferengi Alliance can bring to the effort.”

“Before you do that,” Haywood asked, pointing at the crate, “what should we do with that?”

“Ah,” Wirrt said, smiling. “Those are gifts for the Intaran Executive Council. Samples, if you will, in hopes that we might open trade.”

“I understand. Freddy, have it scanned and then moved to one of the ship’s vaults. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.”

“Of course, Boss. I’ll get right on it.”

“A wise thought, Admiral. Thank you,” the Ferengi said.

“If you’ll come this way, we can retire to On the Bow for some refreshments…”


Council House
Unity, Planet Intar

The office of Intar’s Prime Councilor was a busy place at the best of times, but that particular day was busier than usual as one of his secretaries showed Nelani Yan into the expansive office of the most powerful man on Intar.

A distinction, Yan reminded herself, that belongs to the office, not the occupant.

Aram Kodo looked harried as he motioned for her to take a seat as he spoke into the multi-line communications panel’s handset.

“I’ll get back to you, Drekaan. Right now, I have a meeting.” A moment later, he dropped the handset into its cradle, breaking the connection. “I’m sorry about that,” he said, giving Yan his full attention. “Administrator Karan and High Marshal Drekaan are fighting over those two ships that were just laid down up in orbit. With the help Starfleet is giving us, we can have them both built and fitted out in under five years. Drekaan wants to turn them into warships to use to deter the Tzenkethi while Karan wants to keep them as pure explorers. I shudder to imagine the fight they’ll have over the Krental and Namree-Zaye when they return… if they return.”

“Those two are worse than my children,” Yan, who had been widowed several years before, commented. “They both want the same toys.”

Her husband, Sagari, had been an artist; one of Intar’s great treasures, with talent sought after by the Three Peoples worldwide. They had been married for twelve years when he’d been diagnosed with an aggressive form of what the Federation people called leukemia. He hung on for a year after the diagnosis, just long enough to finish his last work, a sculpture called The Chalice of Unity, before succumbing to the disease.

“They sound worse than mine, even at their worst,” Kodo said, breaking her out of her reverie.

Yan smiled. “So what can I do for you, Prime Councilor?”

“I understand you had the opportunity to meet the new Federation Ambassador yesterday.”

“Yes, I did. We spent several hours in his childhood home, thanks to the holodeck aboard the Blount Island.”

“I’ve been meaning to get up there and try one of those things, but I never seem to have any time.” He folded his hands on the desk before him. “I’m curious. What was he like?”

“Why do you ask?” Yan asked, instantly on alert. As a politician herself, she knew how the game was played.

“I’d like to know your impression of the man so I’ll know what to expect from him.”

“I don’t know if it was at your suggestion, but I suspect Captain Harris had a great deal to do with his selection.”

“How so?”

“Did you not see his interview on The Boredom Cure?” Yan asked.

“You know I don’t watch that show. I’m far too busy at that time of day.”

“Perhaps you should.”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Ambassador’s Office

“Two weeks from Intar, and one of the captains up and leaves?” Ambassador Jack Elmlinger said, standing behind the desk in his office. Vice Admiral Charlie Haywood, the diplomatic ship’s captain, stood opposite him, having just hand-delivered the message. “When did it suddenly become okay for Starfleet captains to leave their duty stations without so much as a ‘by your leave’?”

Jack tried to keep the venom out of his voice. It was just another unexpected situation that he had to deal with. The first was the shortage of fresh, non-replicated coffee in the galley, and the second was the loss of his vinyl record collection and their player, which had been in storage.

“It’s not unprecedented, Jack. Sometimes, starship captains are called away for a while on other assignments.”

“So why didn’t the ship go with him?”

“The Ernst Ruska is supporting the Intaran science team that’s studying that obelisk they found. Her marines are providing security while the engineers build a dome over the crater.”

“Oh, yes. They’re building a farm there, right?”

“That’s right.”

“What’s his name?” Jack asked.

Haywood referred to the small PADD he carried. “Yineth Nikara. I know him. He’s a…”

Where do I know that name from? Jack asked himself, sitting down. Not stopping his recital, Haywood followed.

“…fighter who had some ties to the Maquis before the war. When the war broke out, he was one of mine in the Bajor sector. He ran point on several operations on Cardassian worlds that were less than sympathetic to the Dominion. When Damar’s resistance movement started, he…”

“I think I remember him now. He was the first Bajoran to make captain in Starfleet.”

“Hell, I recommended him for it myself,” Haywood replied, tossing the PADD onto the side table. “He’s a good man.”

“So why would he hare off on a personal mission like this?”

“You got me. Maybe he thinks he can find someone to turn. He always was good at that sort of thing.”

Jack nodded with a frown. “What does Admiral Mecum have to say about it?”

“Well, since Kodo apparently gave his blessing to it, there wasn’t much he could say. I did get a chance to talk to Tattok before he met with the President.”

“And what did they little guy say? Something cryptic and hard to understand?” His frown turned into a smile at his own joke, as Haywood chuckled.

“Just to continue on to Starbase 128 and from there to Intar.”

Jack sat silent for a moment, thinking. Making a decision, he looked across the desk at the Nancy Hedford’s captain. “Then let’s do that. If you would, send a message to Captain th’Nar asking him to keep us appraised of the situation.”

“Right,” Haywood answered, standing up. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. Pray that Yineth finds someone to work with.”

“Oh, I have no doubt about that…”

As Haywood turned to leave the office, a face Jack hadn’t seen in many years appeared in the doorway. “Afternoon, Professor,” the admiral said as he passed.

“Admiral.”

“As I live and breathe,” Jack said, barely above a whisper. “I’ve been meaning to look in on you, Professor. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance.”

“I do not require your apology, Mr. Ambassador, but I accept it. It is agreeable to see you again. The years have been kind to you.”

“Well, we can’t all be Vulcans. How have you been, Sapok?”

“I have spent thirty-two years attempting to disprove your refutation of my Temporal Uncertainty Theory. I was unsuccessful, and have been teaching your refutation ever since.”

“I am honored.”

“To deny the truth would be illogical. I am told you seek a rematch of our last game of kal-toh.”

“I have the frame set up and ready,” Jack replied, rising to his feet. “Would you care for something to drink? I have some non-replicated spice tea.”

Sapok’s right eyebrow rose.

“I developed a taste for it while I was stationed at the consulate in Regar.”

“I see. I accept your offer.”

As the Vulcan took a seat next to the ornate kal-toh frame, Jack crossed to the door. “Leslie, could you ask the galley to brew up a pot of my Vulcan Spice Tea stock, please?”

“Of course, Mr. Ambassador. Anything to eat?”

Jack looked over his shoulder, seeing that the opening move had been made. “Professor, care for some food?”

“I have already eaten, but you may feel free to order something for yourself.”

Jack turned back to Caruthers. “We’re good.”

“I’ll let you know when it arrives.”

“Thanks.” He then crossed the office and took the seat opposite the Vulcan. Seeing that Sapok’s initial move had opened a bit of the frame, he pulled a rod from near the bottom and replaced it through the middle of the formation.

“An interesting opening, Ambassador.”

It was Jack’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “How many times have I asked you to call me Jack?”

“Seventeen, over the span of thirty-seven years. Each time, I have given the same reply: It would not be proper to use your given name while you are executing your duties.”

“I’m not executing my duties at the moment, Sapok. Truly, I would prefer that we be casual with each other, even under official circumstances. After all, Soval and Archer eventually established a first-name basis, and that was during Archer’s term as President.”

Sapok considered the ambassador’s argument. “Very well, Jack.” He then folded his hands in front of him and contemplated the pattern. “Have you read any of the scientific reports from the Intar expedition?”

“Just the summaries. Something interesting in them?”

“I received one this morning that piqued my interest. Are you familiar with Archaeogenetics?”

“Tracing genomes back through time and using statistical methods from genetics to study cultural trends.”

“The definition has expanded to include the study of genetically altered societies, especially those seeded or transplanted by races such as the Preservers. The biochemist assigned to the expedition, Ensign Grace Tapper, postulates that, as part of moving the Intaran peoples from Earth, they were also genetically engineered to undergo periods of physical alteration so as to cope with climatic changes commensurate with the variable nature of the system primary.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Jack asked as Sapok made his move.

“The report is far too preliminary to draw any conclusions, yet it would explain several periods where the body mass average has significantly increased.”

Jack paused, his fingers closed on one of the longer rods in the construct. “So Cyrano Jones Disease may be a natural reaction to natural climate change.”

“Indeed. The idea bears more study, of course, and I have arranged a meeting with Ensign Tapper upon our arrival.”

“I might just sit in on that meeting, if you don’t mind the company.”

“I would not. Your familiarity with the condition lends insight I cannot have.”


Ten minutes later, Rilaar arrived, carrying a tray bearing a minimalist tea set, which he gently deposited on a nearby table.

“My apologies for the delay, Gentlemen. The tea took a bit longer than expected.”

“The preparation of spice tea is something never to be rushed, Petty Officer,” Sapok replied, reaching for a rod.

“I believe,” the Selay said, presenting the two men a cup each, “that would be a mistake, Professor.”

“You are familiar with kal-toh, Petty Officer?”

“I played a great deal of it during the war. If I may?”

“If the ambassador does not object.”

“I’ll even let you undo the move if it doesn’t work,” Jack said before taking a long breath, savoring the aroma of the tea.

Accepting the second cup, Sapok silently invited Rilaar to make a move on his behalf. With a quick, yet surprisingly gentle move, the Selay removed a rod near the top and inserted it almost vertically near the bottom. Instantly, the formation rearranged itself into a near perfect sphere, leaving only a few gaps and tangled rods.

Both of the Vulcan’s eyebrows went up, as did Jack’s.

“Unorthodox,” Sapok finally remarked, “yet surprisingly effective. Indeed, I have seen it used only one other time, by Ambassador Lojal.”

“I briefly served as his bodyguard near the end of the war,” Rilaar replied.

“If I may be so bold, you seem rather old to be a Petty Officer.”

“Yes, well… There was an unfortunate incident shortly after that, and I was reduced several steps in grade.”

“Oh?” Jack asked, interested.

“I, um… bit an intelligence officer.”

“An unfortunate incident, indeed,” Sapok answered.

“He refused to press charges himself,” Rilaar quickly amended, “but the Provost Marshall insisted.”

“Let me guess, you’re talking about Charlie.”

“Yes,” the Selay confirmed, sounding genuinely embarrassed.

“Petty Officer, do you have any free time available? I would like to see your game play technique in more detail.”

“I would be honored, Professor.”

“You’re welcome to play right now,” Jack said, pouncing on the frame. “Because that,” he added as his move completed the sphere, “is a complete kal-toh.”

“Impressive. That was not a logical move, Jack.”

“No, it wasn’t. I just saw it.”

“An intuitive move, then. I congratulate you.” He then nodded up toward Rilaar, adding, “And you, too, Petty Officer. I have no pressing matters, if you have the time to accept the Ambassador’s offer.”

“I believe I would enjoy that, Professor.”


Thirty hours later


“And we have capture… and hard dock. Welcome to Starbase 128, Hedford.”

“Thank you, Control,” Haywood replied, standing up. Next to him, Jack did the same. “Sparky, let’s put the ship’s systems on external support for a while. That’ll give you a chance to do a check on the warp core.”

“Right, Boss,” the ship’s chief engineer replied.

“Jack, let’s go see Admiral Mecum.”

“Right behind you, Charlie.”


Starbase 128
Ten minutes later

“Ambassador! Welcome to Starbase 128.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” Jack replied, shaking the man’s hand.

Mecum then turned to Haywood. “Charlie, who the hell let you in here?”

“What? I thought you’d be over that by now.”

“Over it? I lost an antique Bugatti Veyron to you last time you were here!”

“And she’s still sweet as Rigellian honey. How’ve you been, Thom?”

The two admirals shared a laugh as they shook hands. “To put it in one word, busy. This whole Intaran mess has this place jumping like nothing else in the sector.”

“I’ll certainly do what I can to help you, Admiral,” Jack replied.

“I certainly hope so, Mr. Ambassador. Please, have a seat, both of you.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” Jack replied. “So what’s the latest?”

“Obviously, you heard about the Tzenkethi attempt to use an asteroid as a weapon,” Mecum answered, just as an aide entered the office with what appeared to be a coffee service. “Oh, thank you, Jezza. Feel free to grab a cup for yourself, if you like.”

“I’ll pass this time, Sir.”

“Well, don’t say I didn’t offer.”

“Yes, Sir.” The yeoman then poured each man a cup of the dark beverage, which he gently placed on the desk within easy reach. “I’ll be outside if you need me, Gentlemen.”

“I’d be lost without that man,” Mecum remarked after the door had closed behind the yeoman.

Jack chuckled. “I know what you mean. My social secretary and bodyguard have been a godsend. To answer your question, yes, I did read those reports. Rather ingenious, really.”

“Rather hard, too, since helm systems are designed to engage warp drive at one-quarter C. They basically reprogrammed the safeties out of their throttle assemblies on the fly.”

“Who built the nuclear weapon?” Haywood asked. “I thought the Intarans didn’t have any left.”

“No weapons, but they did have a bit of enriched material. Do you know Dominic Baier?”

“Can’t say that I do.”

“He’s an engineer, commanding the Blount Island. He was my chief engineer on the Dunsfold. His hobby is building nuclear bombs.”

“Not working ones, I hope,” Haywood said, picking up his cup.

“Oh, no. They’ve always been mock-ups, but he was able to use a photon torpedo casing to build a one hundred thirty megaton bomb.”

Haywood froze, about to take a sip, as his eyes flew wide. “How the hell did he manage that? Even a three-stage bomb would need a casing four times that size to get that kind of yield from nuclear materials, no matter how enriched they are.”

“He spiked the second stage with one gram of antimatter.”

“Damn. I’m going to have to have a talk with him. By the way, what is this stuff? It smells like somebody mixed raktajino, hot chocolate and chai…” He sniffed the cup. “And nutmeg.”

Mecum smiled. “That, gentlemen, more than anything, is the reason why we’re here today. It’s called tanzila.”

Jack took a sip from his own cup, holding the liquid in his mouth for several seconds to allow all of the flavors to register. “I could get used to this.”

“You’ll have plenty of time, Ambassador,” Mecum answered.

“Please, Admiral, call me Jack. I suspect we’ll be dealing with each other quite a bit over the next few years.”

“Then I’m Thom. Getting back to the briefing, there have been a couple of criminal matters. Mostly, it’s the normal things you’ll find with a new base: a bit of pilfering, unauthorized replicator use, unauthorized use of equipment… but there has also been a battery. General Rentoshi has assigned a Starfleet security team to assist the police in investigating that last, and the Intaran government has granted them full police powers.”

“Okay,” Jack answered. “I’ll make sure to keep up with that.”

“As for Captain Yineth, I don’t have anything new.”

“You probably won’t until he gets back,” Haywood said. “He likes to keep his cards close to his vest.”

“Oh?”

“He was one of my operatives during the war.”

“Ah.”

“What about supplies?” Jack asked. “The Intarans burned a good portion of their ripe fields during the last major attack.”

“Yes, we’ve started sending convoys with food and field reclamation supplies. We’re also sending farming equipment to replace what was lost. They should be able to plant new crops fairly quickly. We have the Edward O’Hare providing escort. She’s an old Constitution class ship, but she’s been updated with modern systems. The Tzenkethi had been leaving them alone, but they hit the last one.”

“When’s the next one heading out?” Haywood asked. “I noticed a bunch of freighters holding station.”

“Unfortunately, the O’Hare took a bit of a beating this last time in. There’s no telling when they’ll be able to head back.”

“Got any other ships in the area?”

“Unfortunately, no. The closest ships are all science vessels. The best we’ll be able to do is send a squadron of Peregrine fighters and a couple of runabouts. In fact, I’ve put in a request for Starfleet to pull a few ships out of postwar mothballs at Qualor II. Maybe we can turn them into system patrol ships or something.”

“Have you thought about giving one or two of those old ships to the Intarans?” Jack asked. “They could use the systems to train their people and improve their warp drive tech, and it’s not like the Federation hasn’t done it before. It would certainly go a long way toward building goodwill with them.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Mecum said, rubbing his chin, “but you’re right. There are a couple of those old Armidale class corvettes in mothballs that lost their torpedo pods during the war. They couldn’t be fitted with new ones because of wartime shortages.”

“I seem to recall a story about how a bunch of colonials built themselves a patrol ship out of spare parts and scrap metal about a hundred years back,” Haywood remarked. “If we are going to build a full starbase on that planet, it’d be good have the locals able to fix whatever pulls in.”

“Good point. I’ll see what I can do on that score.”


“Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Ambassador, Admiral,” Jake Sisko said as he shook hands with the two men before taking a seat at the conference table.

“No problem, Mr. Sisko,” Haywood replied, taking his own seat. “We’re always happy to meet with the Press.”

“Okay, we already have profiles on both of you, so we can dispense with the biographical questions, so I’ll launch right into the weeds. Mr. Ambassador, what does the Federation hope to achieve on Intar? I mean, except for its location, it doesn’t offer all that much, does it?”

“One could ask the same about Bajor, Mr. Sisko,” Jack replied. “But you’re right. The Federation’s primary interest is strategic. The Tzenkethi are a thorn in our side, and we need a base from which to keep them in check. But that’s not our only interest. We have a common origin, common interests, and in many ways common cultural conventions. While their agricultural products are embargoed, the planet produces a great many products that form a basis for trade. And, ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully, Intar will follow Bajor’s example and join the Federation.”

“Do you agree, Admiral?” Sisko asked.

“I leave politics to the politicians. My job is to get the ambassador to his post in one piece.”

“Okay, what do you think of the Tzenkethi declaration of the Intar system as a military exclusion zone?”

“I’ve taken my ship into combat zones before. The Tzenkethi are signatories to the Deneb Conventions, and I expect their military forces to respect diplomatic immunity under them.”

“And if they don’t?”

“That’s why we’re being escorted.”

“Ambassador, this is your first posting as leader of a delegation. What are your thoughts on having the top spot?”

“It’s a big responsibility, certainly,” Jack replied, “but I have a good team, and I’m sure we’ll settle in nicely.”

“That’s a bit of a canned answer, don’t you think?” Sisko asked.

“No more than that was a canned question,” Jack countered.

“Touché.” He consulted his notes again. “What are your thoughts on what happened to the Edward O’Hare. I understand it would have been your escort.”

“Escorting supplies into a war zone is always dangerous, Mr. Sisko,” Haywood answered. “Your own experiences back during the Dominion War should have told you that much. Like I said before, the Tzenkethi have respected diplomatic immunity before, and I believe they will again. The Nancy Hedford is, after all, a properly marked diplomatic vessel.”

“One last question… What are your thoughts about the way Intarans treat those who aren’t as… big as they are?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean no insult, Mr. Ambassador, but you were chosen as much for your Cyrano Jones disease as for your diplomatic experience.”

“It’s important to be able to deal with people in a way that makes all parties comfortable. If we encounter a planet where all suffered from a form of anorexia, I’m sure the President would send someone just as tailored to the post.

“Tell me, Mr. Sisko, off the record. Were you in the President’s shoes, would you send someone the Intarans would refuse to deal with, or would you find someone who puts them at ease? I wonder what the Bajorans would say about that?”

“Another point, Ambassador. Your Chief-of-Staff is an interesting person. I’ve asked for an interview, but he’s rather reticent.”

“That’s his prerogative, Mr. Sisko. It’s not for me to order him to talk to you.”

“Can’t fault a guy for trying. Well, I believe I have everything my editor needs, and I have a deadline, plus a ship back to Bajor to catch, so I shall say Thank You, and Bon Voyage.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sisko. Should you need anything else, don’t hesitate to contact us.”


The shuttlebay was a hive of activity as a squadron of fighters was prepped for launch and storage aboard the various freighters heading to Intar. It was a hastily organized, ad hoc arrangement, and looked it, but the unit was efficient. As Jack entered, another fighter, complete with ordinance and support equipment, faded in the blue light of a transporter signal.

“If that’s how they’re putting them aboard,” Haywood said from next to him, “I’d hate to see how they launch them.”

“But the pilots don’t seem to be going with them,” Jack observed, nodding toward the growing group of marines in the distinctive jumpsuits of combat pilots.

“Jack! Charlie!” Mecum called from the nose of one of the remaining fighters. As the ambassador approached, he noticed the fighter was emblazoned with what was possibly the most famous squadron logo in human history.

“Teddy,” Mecum continued, “these are the gentlemen your squadron will be escorting. Admiral Charles Haywood, Ambassador Jack Elmlinger, allow me to present Lt. Colonel Theodora Raskin, commander of the 214th Marine Strike Group.”

“Sir, Ambassador.”

“Colonel. If you’re having to beam your fighters onto the transports, how are you going to launch them?” Haywood asked.

“The same way, Sir. We used transporter launches to good effect back in the war.”

“Wait, Teddy Raskin? Lieutenant Teddy Raskin?”

Raskin actually blushed. “Uh, yes, Admiral. I led the raid on the breeding facility in the Touron system.”

“Breeding facility?” Jack asked.

“The Dominion was growing Jem’Hadar there until this lady took it down.”

“I had a good squadron, Sir.”

“You got lucky. You kids racked up almost as many kills as they did at Tanis.”

“Unfortunately, we’ll never know how they racked up those numbers.”

“That’s true.”

“Colonel,” Mecum said, signing a PADD that a yeoman had handed to him, “it looks like your craft have been secured aboard the freighters, and you are clear to depart at the Ambassador’s pleasure.”

Raskin snapped to attention. “Aye-aye, Admiral. Ambassador, we can depart whenever you’re ready. We do have one small ritual first. It’s something we picked up from the Tuskegee Airmen… or rather, a fictionalized version.”

“Don’t let me stop you, Colonel.”

“We’d be honored if you’d observe, Gentlemen.” Executing a perfect parade-ground about-face, the marine walked over to the group, the three men following close. “Huddle up!” she called.

Instantly, the pilots gathered around.

“Time for action, boys and girls!” she called. “You know what that means! To the last craft! To the last photon! To the last breath! We fight!”

“WE FIGHT!”

“We fight!”

“WE FIGHT!”

“We fight!”

“WE FIGHT!”

“To defend those who cannot defend themselves!”

“OOH-RAH!!!”

“Man your craft!”

Those pilots who still had fighters in the bay headed for them while others ran for the transporter rooms.

Raskin turned back to Jack and saluted. “We launch on your command, Ambassador.”

Jack grinned and returned the salute. “I pass that honor to Admiral Haywood.”

Haywood also returned the salute. “Mind if I call you Teddy?”

“I’d prefer that, Admiral.”

“Then, Teddy, launch when ready, and form up on the Nancy Hedford.”

“Aye, Sir.”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Two Days Later

Ambassador’s log, supplemental;

Two days have passed since the Nancy Hedford’s departure from Starbase 128. like most of the space stations that I’ve been to throughout my career, it seemed cold and impersonal at first. Admiral Mecum and his crew have made me feel welcome here, though, and with the arrival of my staff, I feel the weight of his new position starting to feel a little less heavy.

One person I can attribute that to is my new Chief of Staff, Kehen Relath. Together with Lesley Caruthers, he’s whipped the staff into shape. Of course, what kind of shape still eludes me. Like me, he’s a rather large person, but his weight is deliberate, unlike my own.

Still, I look forward to seeing the blue skies of a planet soon. Feeling real soil under my feet again would be nice.



Tzenkethi scout Hagal
Four Hours Later


Hidden under the protection of the ship’s new cloaking device, Thollen Kol watched as the Federation diplomatic courier departed from the starbase two days previously. He knew it would be easy to destroy her. The Hagal’s passive sensor sweeps had revealed the ship to be completely unarmed.

“Once outside the sphere of the Starbase’s protection, the diplomatic vessel will be easy prey,” his second-in-command, Ropar, had said, standing to the right of his command chair. Like the shipmaster, he wore the uniform of the Tzenkethi Navy.

“Yes, but that is not our task. If we are victorious in that, the Autarch will award us with the first kill on Intar…”


Two days later, the entire crew were wondering if the order would ever come.



UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303

“Captain?,” Ensign Gry reported from the bridge console she had reconfigured into a science station.

“Yes, Ensign?” Charlie Haywood asked, walking onto the bridge from his ready room. Ambassador Elmlinger followed behind him, a smile on his face. They had just watched an old twenty first century movie together, and it was time to call it a night.

“Sensors just picked up a glimpse of something.”

“A glimpse?” Jack asked with concern. “A glimpse of what?”

“I’m trying to determine that, Jack,” the half El-Aurian said, her eyes on her sensors. “The particles from the anomaly are familiar, but they’ve been adjusted a little.”

“‘Particles’? Act like I’m dumb, Jessica,” the ambassador said, walking up beside her, “because to tell you the truth, I got D’s in science as a kid.”

“Oh, I believe that.” Charlie quipped, chuckling as he took his seat.

“Hey, not all of us can be Starfleet officers.”

“Any ID yet, Ensign?,” Captain D’Xarr asked her, moving to stand on the other side of the science officer. With only the Deneb Conventions to protect them, any anomaly was a reason for concern.

“I think we’re being stalked, sir.”

“Stalked?” Jack asked, turning towards the main view. “By who?”

“It could be anyone with a cloaking device,” Haywood said, scratching his chin. “Klingons, Romulans, pirates, or… “

“The Breen,” Gry supplied.

“Damn,” Elmlinger swore. “I just read a report that the Tzenkethi were using captured Breen technology. That asteroid they threw at Intar recently was cloaked by a Breen-Tzenkethi generator.”

“Jess, do you think they realize we’ve noticed them?” Haywood asked.

“I don’t think so, Captain.”

“Then let’s let them think we haven’t for now. Freddy, steady as she goes. Dix, put out the word to the freighters, but use tightbeam signals.

“Aye, Sir.”

“Engineering.”

“Kriyn here!” the Hedford’s chief engineer answered.

“Sparky, I may need all the power you can muster down there. We’ve got a Tzenkethi shadowing us.”

“See, I told you! You should’ve let me put a photon torpedo launcher in when—”

“This isn’t the time, Sparky! Can you do it?”

“Even if I have to get out and push, Boss.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Jack remarked, looking around him. He couldn’t believe that one of the dreams of his youth was happening all around him. Of course, now that it was actually happening, it felt more like a nightmare.

Just then, the turbolift doors puffed open to reveal Karen Mercer, accompanied by Brin Karani. “Admiral, we need a channel both to Intar and the Daystrom Institute.”

“This isn’t a real good time, Dr. Mercer,” Haywood answered. “We’ve picked up a shadow.”

“What sort of shadow?” the Trill linguist asked.

“Guess.”

“If I may, Admiral, perhaps I can help pinpoint it. My previous host was a comms specialist.”

“Dix, Jess? Think y’all can get a fix on him?”

“I can’t narrow it down beyond a general direction, Sir,” Gry answered.

“They’re maintaining radio silence, Boss,” the Tiburonian added. “We might be able to pick up bleed from their internal comms, but that’s Uhura-level wizardry.”

“Lucky for you,” Karani said, walking over to the communications station, “I studied under her. She once showed us a trick she and Ambassador Spock used to tap the internal sensors of an old Romulan Bird of Prey… Yes, there it is.”

“Well, I’ll be… Just a hint, but it’s definite,” the first officer said. “Bearing one-two-six mark… fifteen.”

“That puts her right between the lead runabouts,” Freddie remarked. “His helmsman must be insane.”

“Not really,” Haywood countered. “If I were flying a Defiant, that’s where I’d park myself.”

“Now that we know where he is,” Jack asked, “do we keep him in the dark?”

“Sun Tzu did say that all warfare is based on deception. Let’s keep him in the dark. Dr. Mercer, go ahead and make your call. Hopefully, they won’t pick up on the importance of what you’re talking about.”


Tzenkethi scout Hagal


“Are you sure this is what was sent?” Kol asked his communications officer.

“Yes, Shipmaster. There can be no other translation.”

“The Autarch must know about this,” Ropar added.

“Yes,” Kol replied, returning to his seat, “but we must have more information before we make our report.” He paused, thinking for a moment. “Assemble a strike team. Find out what this Mercer and her team knows.”

“And if we meet resistance?”

“Do what you must.”

“Understood, Master.” He stabbed a button on his console. “All personnel not currently on duty, assemble in the transporter room, immediately!”

“Engineer,” Kol ordered, “prepare to decloak the ship.”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


“Ship decloaking, dead ahead!” Gry called as the readings on her screen changed.

“Red alert! Raise shields, pedal to the metal!”

“Beginning evasive maneuvers,” Freddy reported. “Accelerating to maximum speed.”

“Call the fighters. Get them out there!”

“Comms are being jammed,” Dix answered.

“Looks like they did figure it out,” Mercer drawled.

“Wait… Those shots aren’t meant to damage us,” Gry reported. “They’re trying to overload our shields!”

“They may be trying to board us,” Jack said, voicing his thought.

“Yeah, that’s what it looks like,” Haywood agreed. Punching a button on his chair, he announced, “All decks prepare to repel boarders!”

“What about the freighters?” Haywood asked.

“They’re being left alone,” D’Xarr answered. “The Tzenkethi are concentrating on us.”

“What about those fighters?”

“Some of them got out, but there seems to be some sort of transporter inhibitor field around us.” Gry then noticed new readings on her console. “Getting transporter target scans.”

“Rilaar,” Haywood ordered, knowing the Selay was standing behind the ambassador, “be ready.”

“They’re not targeted here. They’re… They’re trying to beam into conference room five!”

“My team!” Mercer yelped. “They’re after the obelisk data!”

“Rilaar,” Jack ordered, “get down there.”

“My duty is to you—”

“Don’t argue!” Jack snapped, turning to look up at the Selay. “That data is as important as I am. I have the entire bridge crew.”

“Jack…”

“They’re not after me, Charlie.”

The Selay drew himself to his full height. “Understood, Ambassador.” He then pulled a small object from under his uniform. “Take this, and save the last shot for yourself… just in case you’re wrong.” He then turned and ran into the turbolift.

The ship shook again, this time harder. “We’ve lost number six shield!” D’Xarr called.

“Transporter signals!” Gry added. “We’re being boarded!”

“All decks! Repel boarders! I say again, REPEL BOARDERS!”

_________________
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(Yes, the image is me, but the photomanip wasn't done by me.)


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 Post subject: Re: ST: CITADEL - "Letter of Credence"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:21 pm
Posts: 5993
Location: Aboard USS Marshal Martz, NCC-78506 (though physically in Jamestown, NY)
Quote:
VMF-214/01


Nancy Hedford is being boarded!” the captain of the Memphis Belle reported, his voice distorted almost beyond understanding by the subspace jamming field.

“Okay, Boys and Girls!” Teddy Raskin called, not knowing if her pilots could hear her, “let’s go help the ambassador!”

“Five, with you, Teddy,” her wingman, Lieutenant Paul ‘Pappy’ Macy, replied.

“Se-en on y-r st-b-d,” Lieutenant Hutchinson ‘Poe’ Moran added. “Ni-wi-me.”

Nine was Second Lieutenant ‘Raven’ T’Lai, the only Vulcan in the squadron.

“Let’s punch it!”


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Conference Room Five


“On your knees, weaklings!”

“Screw you, you damn—”

Peter Eden never finished cursing Ropar. The scientists in the room recoiled in horror… save one.

“You wish revenge, yes?” Ropar asked.

“I am a Vulcan, bred to peace,” the elderly scientist replied. “I am also a historian, and history teaches that rescue will come.”

“The past is meaningless. It is the future we seek.”

“Bridge to conference room five!” came Charlie Haywood’s voice over the intercom. “What’s going on down there?”

“You,” Ropar said, pointing at Jell Dantoa, “answer him.”

Slowly, the Bolian moved over to the intercom panel. “G-go ahead.”

“Jelly?” Mercer’s voice called. “Jelly, what’s happening? What do they want?”

“We want what you know about the Obelisk on Intar’s moon.”

“Who is this?!? Identify yourself!” Haywood growled.

“I am Ropar, First Officer to Kol, Shipmaster of the Autarch’s vessel Hagal. I assume you are this vessel’s commander?”

“Admiral Charles Haywood. By boarding this vessel, you are in violation of the Deneb Accords, to which—”

“Spare us your lies! We have already executed one of your scientists. We will not hesitate to do so again.”

“This is Ambassador Jack Elmlinger,” a new voice said from the intercom. “If you depart now, we will let you go, but if you harm anyone else, we will take action.”

“Brave words, Ambassador,” Ropar answered, his voice dripping with scorn. “Your action means nothing to us.” He regarded Dantoa. “Tell them who it was.”

“Jelly?” Mercer called. “Talk to us, Jelly.”


“They… they killed Peter.”

The news hit her like a physical blow.

“Oh, Dear God, no…”

In the moments that followed, the life she had shared with her old friend flashed through her mind. From digs with her parents to the day he asked her to join him at the Daystrom Institute, they’d been a team. By rights, he should have had a team of his own, but he knew he’d never rise to her level when it came to the Preservers. In so many ways, he was her other half.

And now he was gone.

Haywood, sensing what was about to happen, frantically motioned D’Xarr to cut the audio feed. Jack was already in motion, rushing to where the scientist grabbed hold of him, a drowning soul desperate for anything to cling to.

They weren’t just sobs, but screams. Scrams of rage, screams of terror, screams of denial, but above all else, screams for revenge.

“Pull it together, Karen!” Jack hissed after a moment. “We can’t let them hear us break. That’s what they want.”

“What I wouldn’t give for some anesthizine right now…” someone growled.

Jack waited as Mercer calmed. “You don’t carry any?”

“We don’t carry any intruder control systems,” Haywood answered.

“Who’s big idea was that?”

“The idiots that drew up the Deneb Accords! I don’t think any of them considered a situation like this.”

“Bridge,” came Dantoa’s voice, “the Tzenkethi officer wishes to discuss your terms for surrender.”

“We do not negotiate with terrorists!” Jack answered.

“No, we do not. Bridge to Rilaar,” Haywood called.

“Go ahead, Admiral.”

“Are you in position?”

“Yes, Sir.”


“Stand by to move in.”


“This is Admiral Haywood,” the commander’s voice said from the intercom, “We do not negotiate with terrorists.”

“Ah, yes. The vaunted Federation stubbornness. The scientist was important to you, no? Perhaps, if I execute enough of them, you will negotiate. This Vulcan appears to be a man of importance.”

“Wait!” the Ambassador’s voice called.

“Jack, do not give them what they want. My life is not important. A Vulcan is always willing to die for peace.”

The intercom was silent for a long moment. “Understood.”

“Think carefully, Ambassador,” the Tzenkethi warned.

“Tell Rilaar that I will miss our rematch.”

“I will.”

And with that, Ropar pulled the trigger on his disruptor again, and Sapok, one of the Federation’s most revered and respected historians, dissolved in a shower of molecular disruption.

“And now,” Ropar said, “you will tell me what I want to know… or you will join them. And the first thing you will tell me is how to gain control of the Obelisk on Intar’s moon…”


“Rilaar,” Jack said, very calmly, in Rilaar’s ear.

“Here, Ambassador.”

“You heard?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Take them down… and eat the leader.”

The Selay wasn’t sure he’d heard the diplomat correctly. “Sir?”

“Jack?” Haywood asked, himself wondering what the ambassador was up to.

“They attacked a diplomatic mission and murdered our people. They are now considered pirates. Understand?”

“Yes, Sir.” He turned to the rest of the squad. “You heard?”

The guards nodded, understanding that there were to be no enemy survivors. Normally, such an action would be against the Deneb Conventions, but the crew of the Hagal had voided their protection by attacking a properly-marked diplomatic vessel.

“Stand ready. Cleveland, blow the door.”

“Rilaar,” Haywood said, “before you go in, I want it made clear. If they surrender, accept it. We don’t summarily execute pirates.”

“Understood, Admiral.” Pulling his phaser from his belt, the Selay took his position and nodded to Cleveland.


The Tzenkethi did not surrender. It took only seconds to secure the conference room. There was only one body, mutilated almost beyond recognition, and while nobody would ever confirm it, the remains appeared to have several bites taken out of it.



VMF-214/01

“Oh, you are not getting away,” Teddy Raskin growled, reaching forward to open the covers on a series of old-style toggle switches.

Since Voyager’s return, Starfleet had analyzed the Delta Flyer design and determined that the antique-style instruments Tom Paris had used were more intuitive in combat situations than the configurable pressure pads that had become standard. The first time she’d ever used them, Raskin hadn’t agreed, but in the years she’d been flying with them, they’d become comfortingly familiar.

As she flipped the switches, her helmet visor was filled with icons representing the various targeting and weapons systems of her fighter.

“If we’re going to catch this guy,” she added, “we’re going to have to drop that scattering field. Pappy, you with me?”

“I’m here, Boss.”

“Poe? Raven?”

She couldn’t hear a reply through the static, but a flash of running lights to her left told her that the two squadronmates had heard her.

“Lock weapons on antenna arrays. One of them has to be transmitting this damn dampening field.”

Following her own order, she guided the crosshairs of one of the missiles in one of the now open weapons bays to a distinctive formation that the computer had identified as an active antenna array. The warbling sound in her helmet changed to a steady tone, indicating target lock.

“Fox three!” she called, squeezing the trigger beneath her right forefinger. It, like so many terms, was a bit anachronistic, since radar had been replaced by subspace-based targeting more than a century before, but as the missile leapt from its rail, the ancient combat call reassured her.


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Bridge


“Jamming just dropped!” D’Xarr suddenly called. “We’ve got comms with all ships.”

“Hail the Tzenkethi,” Haywood ordered.

“Channel open.”

“Tzenkethi Commander, this is Haywood. Your people are dead. If you depart now, you get to live.”

Kol’s reply shook the ship.

“This is Raskin. He’s concentrating his fire on you, but the shots aren’t targeted.”

“He’s lost it, Charlie,” Jack said. “He’s firing in a blind rage.”

“Yeah, I know, but the way the shots that do hit are slamming us around, we won’t be able to take much. Teddy, I hate to have to say this, but take him out of my sky.”


VMF-214/01


“Aye, Sir. Black Sheep, this is lead. All able fighters, engage and fire for effect.”

“Two, with you, Boss.”

“Seven, engaging.”

“Nine, acknowledged.”

“Six and eight, coming up behind you, Boss.”


“Welcome to the party, Ladies. Everybody target something critical.”

“Nine has good tone,” T’Lai reported.

“Don’t wait, Raven. Take your shot.”

“Fox three.”

“Fox three, missile away,”
six, Lt. Michelle Lea, reported as two quantum missiles passed above Teddy, heading for the Tzenkethi ship.

The two lead runabouts were already attacking, peppering the vessel with phaser shots. The combination attack was having an effect. Already, hull breaches could be seen, yet he kept firing on the Nancy Hedford, ignoring both the runabouts and the fighters that were killing it.

Seeing an opening that gave her clear access to the ship’s antimatter stores, Teddy fired her own missiles. “Fox three.”

A moment later, the fighters safely passed through the cloud of dust-sized debris and gamma radiation that was the Tzenkethi vessel Hagal.


UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303
Two days later


“Captain,” Fredericks announced, “we’re approaching the edge of the Intar system.”

“Slow to impulse.”

“Shall I inform the ambassador, Sir?” D’Xarr asked, turning from the operations panel.

Haywood looked over at the empty chair next to him, feeling a pang of sadness. He hadn’t expected him to react with such bloodlust to the death of the Vulcan, Professor Sapok, but he didn’t blame him for it.

“No,” he answered, “let’s give him a little more—”

“Admiral, I’m picking up a ship on an intercept course,” Gry suddenly called from her station.

“One of ours, Ensign?” Haywood asked the half El-Aurian science officer.

“No, Sir. It’s transmitting an IFF code I’m not familiar with.”

“We’re being hailed, Sir.”

“On screen.”

The main screen changed to show a rather primitive-looking bridge, though he could see a few panels that looked like they had been overhauled by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. That assumption was confirmed by the presence of two people to one side of the bridge wearing Starfleet uniforms. The rest of the bridge crew wore predominantly crimson uniforms, though the shoulders and strips down the front left showed various colors. Dark blue was apparently the color of command, since that was the color worn by the person looking out of the screen at him.

“This is Captain Daileyr Kayn, Intaran Sea Forces, commanding the Intaran Exploration Starship Voivonna Namree-Zaye.”

Haywood stood up and stepped to the center of the bridge. “I’m Vice Admiral Charles Haywood, commanding the Federation Diplomatic Starship Nancy Hedford. We are under diplomatic flag, and request permission to enter your system.”

“Permission granted, Admiral. Welcome to the Intar system.” He then indicated the civilian who stood next to him. “This is Vice Councilor Nelani Yan, our Chief of Protocol.”

“Ma’am.”

“Admiral, we heard about what happened. Might I come aboard? I’d like to express my sympathies in person to both the ambassador and Dr. Mercer.”

“Of course, Vice Councilor. I’ll alert them and make the arrangements.”

“Please, Admiral, there is no need for ceremony. That will come when we reach Intar. This is strictly personal, though I am here at the behest of Prime Councilor Kodo.”

“Very well, Ma’am. Captain Kayn, would you care to beam over with the Vice Councilor?”

“Thank you, Admiral. I would like that.”

“Then I will meet you shortly.”

“We’ll be ready. Kayn out.”

“Freddie, slow us down to give them a chance to come about and pace us. Dix, you have the bridge.”

The two officers chorused their acknowledgement as Haywood headed for the portside turbolift.


“We’re locked on, Skipper. Three to come aboard.”

“Very well, Chief. Energize.”

The three columns of blue energy that appeared quickly resolved themselves into Kayn, Yan and a man who had not been on the bridge during the call. His dress and demeanor practically screamed ‘academic’, so Haywood proceeded on that assumption.

“Madam Vice-Councilor, Captain Kayn, welcome aboard the Nancy Hedford.”

“Thank you, Admiral. It is an honor to be aboard. This is Dr. Jod Undarum, from Citadel University.”

“Of course. Dr. Mercer has mentioned you. Welcome aboard.”

“Thank you, Admiral.”

“Ma’am, if you and your party will come with me, I’ll conduct you to the Ambassador’s office.”

“Actually, Admiral,” Undarum said, “I’m here to see Dr. Mercer. Is there someone who could escort me to her and her team?”

“Of course.” Tapping his commbadge, Haywood said, “Bridge, this is the captain. Dix, would you and Ensign Gry please report to transporter room one for escort duty?”

“Right away, sir.”

“Thanks, Dix. Out.” He then turned back to his guests. “They should be down in a minute or two. I understand you folks have had some excitement these last few weeks.”

“If you can call swings from hope to abject terror to global jubilation ‘excitement’,” Yan answered.

“Oh, I’ve been through that sort of thing myself, Ma’am.”

“Please, Admiral, call me Nelani. While I’m sure many in my government will insist on titles, I am not one of them.”

“In that case, my name is Charlie.”

“I have to say,” Undarum said, looking around, “I’m fascinated by the design of this transporter room. It’s not like those aboard the Ernst Ruska.”

“That’s because this is a much older ship. Before she was refit for diplomatic use and re-christened as the Nancy Hedford, this was the USS Kilimanjaro, a type they called a heavy frigate at the time, but would probably be classed as a destroyer these days.”

Kayn nodded, understanding the classifications. “I can see the need for such a change.” He turned to Undarum, who was wearing a look of mild confusion. “Our own ships have gotten quite a bit bigger, just in the time since unification. The first carriers would fit inside a contemporary submarine with room to spare. My last command was bigger than this ship.”

“Yes, I see what you mean. Just about everything gets either bigger or smaller over time, I guess. Sometimes both.”

“Exactly.”

At that moment, the doors puffed open to admit D’Xarr and Gry.

“Ah, good!” Haywood said. “Ensign, would you escort Dr. Undarum to Dr. Mercer?”

“Of course, Sir. Doctor, it’s an honor to finally meet you in person.”

“You, too, Ensign.”

“If you’ll come with me, please.”

As the two scientists headed out, Haywood turned to his first officer. “Dix, this is Captain Kayn, of the Voivonna Namree-Zaye. I’d like you to give him a tour of the ship, if you would.

“I’d be happy to, Boss. Captain, let’s start with engineering. I think the overhaul of the warp core might be of interest…”

“And you’ll take me to see Jack yourself,” Yan said, watching the two captains walk out into the corridor.

“That’s right. He’s pretty broken up over what happened. I’m not sure he’ll want to talk.”

“Then I’ll do the talking.”


“Ambassador, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Tell them to go away. I’m not ready to talk to anyone.”

There was a pause, and then the door opened, casting a shaft of light through the darkened office.

“Dammit, Leslie, I told you—”

But it wasn’t Leslie Caruthers standing there. It was Nelani Yan.

“Hello, Jack…”


“I see you finally gave her a name,” Haywood said, several hours later. “The Intaran script is a nice touch, too.”

“Yeah, she was looking a bit blank,” Jack answered.

“I don’t remember Dagobah being a river, though.”

“It isn’t. It’s a fictional planet from a series of films popular at the turn of the twenty-first century. Sapok did an analysis once that drew some surprisingly accurate conclusions about the relationship between a culture’s fiction and its readiness for alien contact. It seemed fitting.”

“I’m told the Daystrom Institute has already named their new archaeology annex after Dr. Eden.”

“Yeah. The Intarans are also honoring him at a number of their universities.”

Suddenly, Haywood stuck out his hand. “Well, Jack, it’s been an adventure having you aboard.”

“It’s been a real adventure being aboard, Charlie,” Jack answered, taking the admiral’s hand. “How long will you be in orbit?”

“About a day. We’ll be transporting the new Intaran ambassador back to Earth.”

“Hopefully, the trip back will be a bit less… exciting.”

“Amen to that. You should get this bird off my deck ASAP. We need the room for the Intaran shuttle.”

Jack looked around. “Yeah, I’ve got an embassy to run, and you need to get my old quarters ready. Take care of yourself, Charlie.”

“Will do, Jack.”

As Haywood headed for the nearest turbolift, Jack turned and walked up the ramp onto the modified Arrow-class runabout/captain’s yacht.

Kehen Relath was at the top, waiting for him. “We’re ready for departure, Ambassador. Captain Vallejo reports that Unity Airport and the chancery are ready to receive us.

“Thank you, Kehen. Did they send a pilot familiar with the airspace up for us?”

“Yes, Sir. Commander Richards himself beamed up to fly us down personally.”

“Then I believe I should go introduce myself. If you’ll excuse me…”

Triggering the ramp as he passed, Jack headed forward, where he found his pilot, Lt. Tobin Holbe, going over the controls with a tall man Jack assumed was Richards and a young woman wearing an ensign’s pip on her red collar.

“Commander Richards,” Jack said, stepping up behind the three people, “thanks for beaming up.”

The man turned, assuming a polite smile. “Ambassador Elmlinger, I presume. I’m happy to be of service.”

“You presume correctly, Commander. And who is this lovely young lady?”

Richards’ smile widened. “This is Ensign Jenna Stirling, one of my best pilots. Of course, one would expect no less of someone who came to us from the Enterprise.”

“A rare honor, indeed. Welcome aboard, Ensign.”

“Thank you, Mr. Ambassador,” Stirling answered in a melodious voice.

“I assume you two and Lt. Holbe were able to work out a flight plan?”

“Yes, Sir,” Richards answered. “I was just briefing the lieutenant on some of the quirks of the Intaran air traffic control system. It’s a bit antiquated, even in relation to when Earth was at their tech level, but it seems to work for them.”

“Then let’s not keep them waiting. We can depart whenever you’re ready.”

“Aye, Sir. Ensign, take navigation, if you would.”

“Aye, Commander.”

“Mr. Ambassador, you’re welcome to ride up front, if you like.”

“Thank you, Commander, but I’ll head back to my suite.”

“Very good, Sir.”



UFP Chancery
Planet Intar


“Ambassador, it’s time.”

Jack looked up from his desk, seeing Relath at the door. Like Jack himself, he was dressed in his ambassadorial garb. Standing up, Jack tugged the wrinkles out of the white uniform he wore. “I feel like a penguin in this thing.”

“Nonsense, Jack. You look good.” The two men had formed a quick working relationship borne of a professionalism that came only with lifetimes of experience, but they genuinely liked each other, and had already discovered a favorite spot for lunch near the embassy. “The car’s waiting out front.”

“Then let’s be about it.”

“Don’t forget the letters,” the Chief of Staff reminded him, indicating the large white envelope, hand-printed in both English and Intaran script.

“Oh, yes, can’t forget those.”

Tucking the ornate letters under his arm, Jack followed the Betazoid out.

It took only a few minutes to reach the embassy’s lobby and pass through the security barrier. Beyond, they exited into a bright morning, where they found two cars waiting for them. Standing next to the lead car was Imbru Mio, Yan’s primary assistant.

“Good morning, Your Excellency.”

“Please, Mr. Mio, save the ‘Excellency’ bit for the other ambassadors. You’ll come to find I detest such formalities.”

“Of course, Sir. If you would join me in the lead car…”

“Certainly.”

“I will keep a tricorder lock on you, Mr. Ambassador,” Rilaar said from where he stood between the two cars.

“Thank you, Rilaar.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Ambassador,” Mio asked, “but why is such a thing necessary?”

“The ambassador’s safety is my responsibility, Mr. Mio,” the Selay answered. “With the Tzenkethi posing the threat they do, one cannot be too careful.”

“I see. Shall we go, then?”

“Actually, there’s one member missing…”

“My apologies, Ambassador,” Wirrt called, rushing from the door of the embassy. “I was having a bit of trouble with my decorations.”

“No harm, no foul, Mr. Wirrt,” Jack assured the Ferengi. “You’ll be riding with Relath and Rilaar in the trailing car.”

Wirrt stopped. “Are you sure? Perhaps a… contribution could allow me to—” The pointed clearing of Jack’s throat stopped the Ferengi’s words cold. “Of course. Forgive my breach of protocol.”

“I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity for discussions with the Council, Mr. Wirrt,” Mio assured him. “After all, we are quite eager to open trade with the Ferengi Alliance.”

“Of course, Mr. Mio. Again, forgive me.”

It took only seconds to load the two cars, which then set off through the streets of Unity, led by an escort of two police motorcycles.


It took them just under ten minutes to reach Council House, a study in glass and steel. As the cars pulled to a stop at the east portico, a nearby marching band played four sets of ruffles and flourishes. A few moments later, after the dignitaries had exited, they began the Federation Anthem.

At the end of the Anthem, the military honor guard fired three volleys of six shots into the air.

“Interesting that your diplomatic honors should so mirror our own,” Jack remarked to Yan, who had met him on the steps of the portico.

“Not really, now that we know Intarans and humans are the same species. I’m told parallel cultural development is rather common amongst humanoids.”

“There is that. This is Lieutenant Payan, Prime Councilor Kodo’s military aide.”

“How do you do, Your Excellency?”

“Quite well, thank you, Lieutenant.”

“And this is Mr. Ayen, Manager of Council House. I believe the Federation term would be Chief Usher.”

“Ah, the true head of Council House,” Jack joked, shaking the man’s hand.

“I merely oversee the facilities, Your Excellency.”

“Oh, please, there’s no need to be so formal.”

“As you wish, Mr. Ambassador.”

“I see you have your letters of credence,” Yan said. “Shall we go in?”

“Of course.”


“Prime Councilor Aram Kodo,” Yan said, formally, “I present His Excellency Jack Elmlinger, Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the government of the United World of Intar from the United Federation of Planets and Ambassador Pro Tempore from the Klingon Empire.”

“Your Excellency,” Kodo said, a wide smile spreading across his deep brown face, “welcome to Intar.”

“Thank you, Prime Councilor. On behalf of the President of the President of the United Federation of Planets and by the command of Emperor Kahless the Second, as given by Chancellor Martok, I present these Letters of Credence to the United World of Intar. May the peace that exists between us continue and strengthen.”

Using both hands, Jack then presented the two envelopes to Kodo, who received them accordingly.

“On behalf of the Government of Intar and the Three Peoples we represent, I accept these credentials and recognize you as official representative of the Federation and Klingon Empire.”

“Thank you, Prime Councilor. If I may break protocol, I would like to present Daimon Wirrt, the Special Trade Representative of the Ferengi Alliance.”

“Of course. It is an honor to meet you, Daimon Wirrt.”

“It is my honor to meet you, Prime Councilor.”

“The Federation is providing Protecting Power for the Alliance until formal relations can be established,” Jack explained.

“Of course. I’m sure our future meetings will be… profitable for both our peoples.”

“Indeed, Prime Councilor. As the Ninth Rule of Acquisition states, ‘Opportunity plus Instinct equals Profit. To that end, Grand Nagus Rom has sent a number of gifts to you and your government in the hopes that we may enter into a partnership beneficial to us all.”

“And this is my Chief of Staff, Kehen Relath of the planet Betazed; my social secretary, Leslie Caruthers of Earth, though she was raised on Vulcan; and Petty Officer Rilaar, my bodyguard and Starfleet Attaché.”

“Welcome to you all. Your Excellency, shall we retire to my office? There’s someone waiting with a report for both of us.”

“Of course, Prime Councilor.”


The someone was Yineth Nikara.

“Mr. Ambassador, welcome to Intar, and thank you for seeing me, Prime Councilor.”

“You did say it was rather important. I take it your mission to Tzenketh was a success?”

“That is still to be seen, Prime Councilor, but I do have information that explains the Autarch’s… vehement desire to possess this planet…”

THE END


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Last edited by AdmiralSirJohn on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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