The warm evening air hit Secretary Campbell as she walked out onto the terrace balcony with a glass of Denobulan blue champagne in her right hand. For a moment she just wanted to be alone to collect her thoughts. She looked out at the night sky before her. Apart from having more than one moon, Denobula’s night sky looked very much like Earth’s. She smiled at the slight comfort it brought her. She enjoyed how the Denobulan day was longer than Earth’s as the evenings dragged out. It had been their second day on the trot having dinner with the Premier. The dinner itself had already finished, but the after-dinner events were now carrying on.
As she reflected she felt that today had been a good day for her and her team of representatives. They had decided they would be here for another day before leaving to head back to Earth to prepare for the final talks to sign the Coalition Compact. Besides the quarrel with her husband, the rest of the day had gone by without incident except for the departure of Challenger to respond to a distress call.
“There you are Madilyn.” A female voice said behind her.
So much for private time, the Foreign Secretary thought to herself before turning round to see Ambassador Margerit approaching her. “Margerit, everything okay?”
The Andorian woman smiled back at her. “I was going to ask you the same thing.” She said coming to stand next to her and leaning against the balcony’s edge. “You haven’t spoken much today or seemed yourself.”
Appreciating her kindness Campbell responded with a grateful smile. “I think this trip has taken a lot out of me.”
“Me and you both.” Margerit replied, raising her glass of blue champagne before taking a sip from it. “But I sense there’s more to you just being tired Madilyn.”
“I didn’t realise Andorians were telepathic as well?” Campbell replied, trying to avoid answering the question at the same time taking a sip from her own glass.
“I’m pretty sure there has been some cross-breeding between the Andorians and Aenar at one point many years ago.” The Andorian zhen joked back with before becoming serious. “Like the ice-cutters that would circumnavigate my home world years ago, I’ll cut straight to the point Madilyn. What has happened between you and Mister Campbell?”
“Is it that obvious?” The Earth politician asked back as she leant against the balcony.
Margerit gave out a slight chuckle. “No my dear, it’s only noticeable between those of us females who head-up important state offices. Ambassador Soron and Premier Nerlox don’t have a whiff of it, but Ambassador Gouth and I have both noticed it. Being the wives of men who can’t always understand us powerful women is a shared trait across all species.”
Now it was Campbell’s turn to laugh. “Rob and I had a disagreement over how he spoke to me revolving around the issue of Captain Burton and his crew.”
“Ah say no more my dear.” Margerit said softly as she understood the issue all too well. “A protective husband like yours is a rare commodity. Take it from someone who has two of them who are both protective as well as quick to show jealousy! Your husband may not admit it, he may not even realise it on a conscious level, but deep down he sees Captain Burton as a threat not only to himself but to you as well. A brash, young, handsome pink-skin like Burton is an upcoming star in your media and from the looks of things the Denobulan media too! Burton and his crew are going to become heroes of our generation. They will be the ones that are going out there and showing off to the galaxy that our Coalition is one of great importance and worthwhile to be proud of. While it will be down to the likes of us to keep it together and make it stronger.” She said. “So I can understand why your husband feels the need to protect your interests. He loves you and that was noticeable the day I met you both. He adores you and worships the ground you walk on. So my advice my dear is to let him be protective but us strong female leaders need to keep our men in line, so don’t fret over how you dealt with your squabble earlier. He knows his place now and you know yours. Build upon it from there.” Margerit advised before stopping when she saw Robert Campbell walking out to them both in a tuxedo.
“Ladies, sorry to interrupt you but you both are being summoned by Premier Nerlox to his private study along with Ambassadors Soron and Gouth.” Robert said in a calm tone, looking between them.
“Ah, probably to share that glass of Denobulan whiskey he promised us earlier!” Margerit said as she touched Madilyn’s arm with a sense of assurance and gave her a warm friendly smile.
Madilyn placed her hand over it and returned the smile before letting go and watching Margerit leave them to head back inside the residence. She looked at her husband. He spoke first after watching the Andorian ambassador walk away from them. “Everything okay?”
She nodded. “Just some diplomat-to-diplomat chat.” She responded with. “Are we okay?”
Robert just leaned in and kissed her cheek. “We’re always okay.” He whispered into her ear before taking her hand to lead her back inside.
“Ah you’re here.” Nerlox said as Campbell entered his private study. He gestured for her to take a seat in one of the armchairs in front of his desk with the other foreign diplomats.
“What’s this about Nerlox?” She asked.
“I’ll leave the talking to Admiral Gardner.” The Denobulan leader said as he pressed a button on his desk and the screen behind him changed from showing an image of the seal belonging to his office to that of Admiral Gardner back on Earth.
“Admiral Gardner, what’s going on?” Campbell asked, taking the lead as he was calling from her homeworld.
“Madam Secretary, I’m sorry to interrupt your evening however we have a situation that you all need to be aware of.” He said before tapping a button that zoomed his image out to reveal him standing in his office along with Prime Minister Samuels, Foreign Ministers Soval and Thoris as well as Ambassador Gral.
“Nathan?” Campbell said, surprised to see her superior.
“Evening to you all.” Earth’s Prime Minister said. “What Admiral Gardner is about to explain may affect us all and the Coalition signing.”
Gardner cleared his throat. “As you all know the starship Challenger left to respond to a distress call from a convoy of two Earth colony ships bound for the Archer system. When they arrived they ended up engaging a Romulan ship.”
“The Romulans?” Gouth said, stunned. “Was it another drone attack?” She asked, referring to the incursion that all of their governments had allied together to deal with the previous year.
“No Madam Ambassador,” Gardner answered quickly. “This was a single Bird-of-Prey type of vessel. They had severely disabled both colony ships, however with the arrival of Challenger and the Vulcan combat cruiser T’Paal they retreated. Captain Burton reported they were helping with repairs to the colony ships before they escorted them the rest of the way. We haven’t heard from the Challenger since the Gemini docked with them momentarily to pick up a passenger.”
“The Vulcan High Command hasn’t heard from the T’Paal either.” Minister Soval added.
Ambassador Soron spoke up, after hearing Soval’s revelation his left eyebrow rose. “Curious, are we to assume then the Romulans have attacked them again?”
“It’s a possibility.” Gardner grimaced. “Just over three hours ago we also received a call from the starship Voyager informing us that four Romulan Birds-of-Prey had entered the system. We haven’t heard from them either. We can’t even raise the starship Republic either and that was heading to the Archer system too.”
“Is there any good news in this Admiral?” Margerit asked, hopefully and partially sarcastically.
“I’m afraid not Madam Ambassador.” Gardner responded with.
Campbell rose from her chair and stood in front of the screen as she considered the situation for a moment. “So, what’s the plan of action?”
It was Prime Minister Samuels who spoke up. “At the moment there aren’t many allied vessels nearby to investigate in time. However…”
“The Denobulan fleet is closer.” Premier Nerlox finished from where he stood at the back of the group.
Samuels nodded, glad they were thinking along the same lines as each other. “Premier, I know it’s a lot for us to ask from, but I assure you I wouldn’t be asking this of our Denobulan friends if it wasn’t urgent. Just to know what has happened in and near the Archer system is important, not only for Earth’s security but for yours as well.”
“I understand the implications completely, Mister Prime Minister. I will dispatch a task group to investigate at once, but if they spot any Romulan ships and are outnumbered they will be ordered to fall back to Denobulan space. We can’t afford to lose any more ships today, be it Starfleet or Denobulan.” Nerlox said with conviction.
“We appreciate the gesture greatly Premier. Anything you can do will place Earth in Denobula’s debt.” Samuels said in a very diplomatic tone.
Campbell rolled her eyes at Samuels’ attempt to ensure the Denobulans would remain on track to join the Coalition, including kissing up to them.
Nerlox shook his head. “No we don’t do this to be paid back for. We do this to help out a friend in need.”
“Can I suggest then we send the Kemaree as well?” Margerit proposed. “The vessel is fully equipped to deal with reconnaissance missions and can easily go up against two Birds of Prey.”
“It’s your ship Margerit.” Thoris spoke for the first time from where he stood next to Soval. “It’s also yours and Secretary Campbell’s ride home!” He reminded her.
“I’m sure we can depend on our good friend Ambassador Gouth,” She said looking to the Tellarite woman sitting next to her, “in giving us a lift home if they are unsuccessful.”
Gouth nodded. “I would be honoured to have you and Secretary Campbell join me as guests on my ship.”
“I propose that we send the Tal’Kit too.” Soval said towards Soron.
“Agreed.” Soron replied.
“Madilyn, without Challenger to ferry you all back I think it’s best we recall you all back to Earth as soon as possible, if Premier Nerlox is happy with that?” Samuels suggested.
“Under the circumstances I agree with you Prime Minister Samuels, the delegation’s safety is important.” Nerlox stated. “Not that I don’t enjoy your company, but there isn’t much for you to do now here on Denobula. We need to hold our referendum regarding the Compact.”
“In fact our presence here may fuel those who oppose the treaty more negatively.” Ambassador Gouth added.
The group of diplomats all agreed about bringing their trip to a close within moments. Campbell had hoped to stay on the planet for a bit longer, but she was no longer the Earth Ambassador to Denobula and she was needed back on the homeworld.
“We’ll send ships to rendezvous with you as soon as we can.” Samuels said to the group. “Godspeed.” He said before closing the channel.
Campbell sighed before turning to look at everyone. They all had similar expressions of concerns painted on their faces, including Soron. She prayed that this event wouldn’t affect the outcome of the Denobulan referendum on joining the Coalition.