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Part of Deep Space 19: Opening The Door

Opening The Door – 7

Deep Space Nineteen, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78503
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As Vice Admiral Jaret stood at the airlock, she appeared confident and composed in her crisp Starfleet uniform. Her posture was upright as she awaited the arrival of the representative of the Romulan Free State. Standing on either side of her, McCord and Harper looked equally focused and alert. The corridors around them were lined with Starfleet security officers, who were strategically placed to ensure the safety of all personnel aboard the station.

Under the direction of Jaret, Harper had taken an extra step to ensure that each security officer was armed with a type two phaser and a rifle. Jaret wanted to convey a sense of strength and command to their Free State visitor and make it clear that Starfleet was prepared for any situation.

Although relations between the Federation and the largest Romulan faction were known to be edgy, Jaret believed that maintaining the upper hand was crucial when dealing with the Romulans. While the Romulan Free State was known for being more cooperative than other factions, Jaret was unwilling to take any chances. 

A call from ops announced that the Romulan ship had successfully docked and was waiting for its guests to walk through the airlock. As the heavy doors parted, revealing the distinguished Romulan figure, Jaret offered a respectful nod of welcome. Flanked by his own guards, Senator Valer stood in the doorway, not moving except briefly looking at his new setting. 

“Senator Valer, welcome aboard Deep Space Nineteen,” Jaret greeted, her tone measured yet warm. “Thank you for joining us on such short notice.”

Valer, his countenance bearing the unmistakable gravitas of a senior Romulan official, regarded Jaret with a calculated gaze. He swept his sharp eyes over the Federation officers with a hint of disdain, a subtle indication of his inherent scepticism towards the Federation. Senator Valer was a distinguished Romulan figure with a commanding presence. His countenance bore the unmistakable gravitas of a senior Romulan official. He was tall and slim, with sharp features and piercing dark eyes. He was dressed in a dark, ornate Romulan attire for a government official of his stature. It was adorned with intricate silver detailing but wasn’t very creative like most Romulan fashion worn by traditionalists. It was dull, like the colour grey. His hair was swept in a precise, military-style cut, and his skin was a pale hue, common among Romulans. He exuded an air of authority and command, and his movements were measured and deliberate.

“I trust this meeting holds significance worthy of my time,” Valer replied, his voice laced with a touch of arrogance as if he believed himself superior to those gathered before him. His acerbic attitude was fully present. 

“Senator, this meeting is vital for the continued cooperation between our two people,” Jaret pointed out to him. 

“Vital in your opinion, admiral,” Valer remarked. Clearly, he was still not impressed by having to be on Deep Space Nineteen. “And the opinion of Federation officials is not something I care greatly about.”

Deciding to ignore the comment, Jaret took a deep breath before she introduced her officers to him. Then, with diplomatic poise, Jaret motioned for Valer to accompany her through the station’s corridors, their footsteps echoing against the carpeted floors. 

They spoke little on their journey until a few meters from the wardroom’s entrance. 

“Your attempt to present a strong front with this array of security officers is not intimidating, admiral,” Valer stated bluntly. I’m surprised that you can deploy so many officers for such an insignificant meeting. Your recent losses with the Borg among your junior officers must make it challenging to maintain a strong security presence anywhere in the Federation.”

“The Federation’s security is doing just fine, thank you, senator,” Harper reacted. Her annoyance at his dig seeped through her words. 

“Really? Then how come Reman refugees were able to overtake an asteroid you were meant to have secured?” Valer countered as the guards outside the wardroom pressed the button to unlock the door. 

“An operation both governments agreed to work on,” McCord reminded the senator. “As per the terms of our agreement, your border checks were to ensure the safe passage of the asteroid into our territory. How did Reman refugees bypass the checks at your well-defended border, senator?” 

Valer appeared to sneer at McCord before he looked around the room. Jaret was impressed that McCord could knock that one back at him. 

Now that the air was thick with tension and anticipation, Jaret knew she had to calm things down, so she gestured for Valer to sit on one of the grey leather sofas. “May I offer you a glass of Kali-fal?” she asked, her voice deliberate in an attempt to ease the palpable tension in the room.

Valer accepted the drink with a nod of gratitude, though his eyes remained sharp, betraying his underlying distrust of Federation intentions. He took a sip of the Kali-fal, his expression inscrutable as he evaluated the beverage.

“It has a strong, pungent aroma,” Valer said as he sniffed the drink and took a few sips. He swished it around his mouth before swallowing it. “A dear friend of mine always believed that good Kali-fa should forcibly open one’s sinuses well before the first sip. I see that the Federation finally has good taste in its beverages.”

“You could say that’s thanks to the modification of the treaty that exists between our two nations,” Jaret remarked. “We understand each other perhaps better now more than ever.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t change the seriousness of this situation.” Valer took one more sniff of his drink before he placed it on the nearby glass coffee table. He looked at Jaret, who was sitting next to him. “And this is a situation that is running out of time.”

“We understand the gravity of the situation, Senator,” McCord began, her tone measured yet firm, her legal expertise evident in her every word. “The Federation and the Romulan Free State have a vested interest in maintaining stability along our shared border.”

Valer’s nostrils flared imperceptibly, a subtle indication of his disdain for the Federation’s perceived interference in Romulan affairs. “Indeed, Captain,” he replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm. 

“I have already sent a starship to open a dialogue with the Remans to determine their intentions,” Jaret shared. 

“To determine their intentions?” Valer chuckled lightly. “They are a plague on our society, admiral. They have no intentions.”

“Nevertheless, we have an obligation to find out what they want,” Jaret stated with a firmer tone. “They are in Federation space now.”

“It is reassuring to see that the Federation acknowledges its obligations, however belatedly,” Valer said as he picked up his glass, sniffed it and took another sip. He savoured the test by closing his eyes briefly. “This is really good.” 

“Senator, I am more than happy for you to join us in observing our work to resolve this situation,” The admiral offered.

“That is decent of you, admiral,” Valer replied. He didn’t appear changed by the offer. “How confident are you that your ship will be able to achieve its goals satisfactorily?”

“We are committed to finding a peaceful solution for all sides,” Jaret commented. 

Valer expressed satisfaction with the Federation’s decision to send a starship to investigate the Reman presence, but his tone betrayed a lingering sense of doubt. “However,” he continued, his voice tinged with apprehension, “I fear that your efforts may prove insufficient to quell the threat posed by the Reman insurgents.”

Jaret met Valer’s gaze with steely resolve. “Rest assured, Senator,” she replied, her voice unwavering. “The Federation stands ready to uphold our end of the agreement, even in the face of adversity.”

Valer’s expression hardened, his resolve unyielding. “Oh, I am certain of that, admiral. Nevertheless, you should know that the Romulan Free State will not tolerate the continued occupation of the asteroid by the Remans,” he declared, his words carrying the weight of Romulan authority. “We are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the fragment returns to rightful hands.”

“Are such ideal threats necessary, Senator?” Harper questioned. 

“It’s not a threat, Commander,” Valer shot back. “Just a fact, especially with the Klingons being involved.”

“The Klingons?” Jaret questioned.

Valer smirked. “I’ll let you do your homework first, but yes, a Klingon house has been helping these Remans. It has something to do with close ties from the Dominion War. A barbaric ritual for the need of upholding some honourable debt,” The senator chuckled slightly as he picked his glass up. “Klingons are certainly entertaining creatures, feeling the need to pay back those who honoured them. I’m surprised your alliance has lasted this long.”

McCord reminded the senator, “The Khitomer Accords have been the bedrock of Federation-Klingon relations for almost fifty years.”

“Maybe so, but you won’t be able to keep every Klingon in check,” Valer stated. He stood up and looked at the admiral. “As per our agreement, admiral, I formally request that my ship join yours in its attempts to determine the status of the asteroid.”

Knowing she could not avoid this, Jaret agreed to his request: “On the basis that Captain McCord and I join you, Senator.”

 “Having two senior Starfleet officers on board one of our ships is a security concern I am not prepared to entertain,” Valer replied.

“I’ve allowed a senior governmental official to board one of our stations with a full honour guard,” Jaret stated as she gestured to the other Romulan guards in the room. 

“The answer is still no, admiral,” Valer said. 

“Then my answer is no,” Jaret said sweetly.

Valer blinked at the admiral. “What about a compromise?”

“I’m listening.”

“You and I visit in one of your runabouts?” 

“We bring one guard each,” Jaret countered.

“Agreed.”

“Excellent,” Jaret said before leaning forward towards the bottle of Kali-fal. “More Kali-fal, Senator?”

“Please, Admiral,” Valer offered his glass.

“To compromise,” She toasted as she filled his glass and one for her.

“To compromise,” He said before sniffing and sipping on his glass.