Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 74778. I had hardly expected to see Lisa working at Starbase 310. I’m not sure what I honestly expected her to be doing after all these years since we last served together. It’s strange that people who you never thought you’d see again could just pop up in your life unexpectedly. Be that as it may, it was good to see a friendly face after so many less than amicable ones inside the Cardassian held space we’ve been patrolling as of late. So much so that I’ve decided to give the crew a few days of crew rest before returning to our… shall we say… side mission.
Captain Jonathan Bastin walked into the lounge of his ship, the Aegean, taking a moment to grab a drink from the replicator before taking a seat at one of the many tables that sat in evenly spaced intervals around the compartment. He’d walked in with a PaDD, intent on reading through some reports as he took in the general ambiance of the lounge while his crew was engaged in recreation. Several of the tables near the back of the room that held gaming sets of various types were occupied, the crew members engaging in lively conversation while enjoying a bit of respite.
As he quietly sipped his tea and reviewed the reports from his ship, a figure suddenly occupied his peripheral vision, causing him to glance up to find himself looking at his First Officer in her casual attire. Commander Rena Yuri smiled at the perplexed look on her Captain’s face as she waited for him to finally look up. For as long as they had served together, Yuri had often caught him absorbed in reading and had taken to simply staring holes in the man’s head until he finally realized she was there.
“Evening, Rena,” Bastin said, pointing to the empty seat just in front of her, “Have a seat.”
“Thank you, Captain,” the woman said with a sarcastic lilt to her voice. The origins of her less than enthusiastic comment could be traced to the unspoken rule of the lounge itself, that it was a place for relaxation, and not a place where folks needed to stand on ceremony. His invitation, borne out of good intentions, simply didn’t jive well with the relaxed attitude that the crew had tried to foster in the lounge. The fact that Bastin had also walked in while still in uniform was another point of contention, though no one would be so bold as to actually point it out to him.
“How did your meeting on the surface go?” Yuri asked once she was settled in the chair.
Bastin laid his PaDD down, “I think it went fairly well. Strat Ops seems to think the information was valuable enough to consult with higher headquarters to possibly organize an armada to deal with the threats. There’s no real telling just how long that will actually take, given the sensitivity of relations in this part of the quadrant.”
The First Officer nodded while giving the comment some thought, “Do you think we’ll be given a role in that armada?”
“Perhaps,” Bastin said with a slight shrug, “The Argonaut alone isn’t enough to deal with the threat very effectively, but paired with other ships with a similar mission specialization, I don’t doubt we could get the call. That’s partly why I authorized this little stint of rest, in case we get pulled away into the peacekeeping force.”
Yuri snorted at his choice of words, “There has to be peace in the first place for us to be able to keep it…”
“I suppose that’s fair,” Bastin couldn’t help but sigh at the pointed remark from his First Officer, “And knowing what I know of the politics behind why this region has fallen into such a state, I can hardly argue with you.”
“I didn’t imagine you would give up on that one so easily. Usually you’re rather vocal about how well the Federation has done in dealing with our neighbors on this side of the quadrant,” Yuri smirked at her Captain.
“The Cardassians are one area even I can’t defend the Federation over. Having been a part of some of the… less successful talks with the Cardassians over the years, I can safely say that a lot of the reason why we’ve ended up where we are now is in no small part because of misplaced pride,” Bastin said with a long sigh.
“I can believe it. The Cardassians have always struck me as being fairly full of themselves,” Yuri remarked offhandedly.
“I was talking about the Federation, actually,” Bastin said flatly.
The First Officer couldn’t help but let her jaw hang open at his statement. She couldn’t ever recall a time when he’d actually said anything remotely negative about Federation policies. It took her a full minute to recover from the shock of it. Bastin gave the woman a rather wry smile as he watched her struggle with the revelation.
“I never would have guessed you of all people would have thought something like that…” Yuri said after letting the comment sink in.
“I’m sure there’s a large number of people who would say the same thing back on Earth. But if the lessons I learned during my first stint as a Federation Ambassador are any metric to go by, we have a long way to go before we actually achieve the ideals we keep talking about and pointing to as our standard,” Bastin said with a shake of his head.
“I’ve heard you mention doing a tour as an Ambassador, but you’ve never actually told me anything about it,” Yuri said, leaning back in her chair a bit.
“Probably because it was…” Bastin paused as he struggled to find the right way to word what he was about to say, “difficult for all the wrong reasons…”
“It started with a murder and ended with the one responsible being someone I had thought was far above that sort of thing being the culprit, all in the name of preventing us from signing a protective treaty out of what I can only assume was sheer hubris,” Bastin explained.
Yuri covered her mouth in shock as she listened, her eyes wide, “A murder?”
“Yes… a Federation Envoy murdered the Ambassador he’d been working with for years, all to prevent the treaty signing. Someone who had made countless contributions to peace just decided one day that people just didn’t deserve to be part of the Federation. It turned into something of an obsession, and it was serious enough that he took his own life rather than have to suffer the consequences. I suspect he was trying to destroy the Bismarck with it, but that crew handled the situation deftly,” the Captain explained at length.
“That’s…” the woman started to speak but found that the words just refused to come out. There was a myriad of emotions that raged in her mind as she tried to process the information he’d just passed along as if it were some normal anecdote. And perhaps, in a strange way, it really was just another story, even if the contents were rather shocking to someone who hadn’t lived it. It also lent a great deal of weight to his earlier critique of the Federation in general.
“Doesn’t fit the general mold of what one would expect from someone who supposedly upheld the ideals of the Federation, does it?” Bastin said with a mirthless chuckle.
“No… it really doesn’t…” Yuri said with a detached tone.
“That’s why I don’t really talk about it much. It’s a glaring example of how far we have to go before we even begin to approach the ideals that we claim to believe in. It’s also why I’m not nearly as upset about having to use force rather than words out here on this neglected frontier. I do, however, realize just how backwards it is for me to say that,” the Captain smirked.
“I’m starting to think I should take a round turn on how I view things myself…” the Commander admitted as she looked up toward the ceiling.
“A little self-reflection never hurt anyone. Just be careful you don’t talk yourself into a spiral of undue negativity. At best, that was one bad example in a sea of positive encounters that the Federation has been party to. It may not be as pristine as the Diplomatic Corps would try to paint it, but it’s still a whole lot better than anything humanity ever came up with on their own. At any rate, you shouldn’t let it keep you up too long tonight,” Bastin said with a reassuring pat on the woman’s shoulder before he pushed out of the chair.
“Where are you going?” Yuri asked, suddenly confused by the man’s retreating form.
Bastin held the PaDD up for her to see as he moved through the somewhat crowded space, “I still have some work to do. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Right…” the woman muttered, the tinge of disappointment palpable.