Part of Empok Nor: The Grand Experiment

Resetting the Board

Trivas System
2399
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Legate Sela Aren was currently listening to Glinn Talmet as he outlined the request that had been made by Captain Bastin for information regarding the behavior of his staff during his absence. None of the information was classified in any manner, which had prompted the Glinn to release it without thinking too much of it. What had caused him some measure of confusion was the request that had come after it.

“… At that point Captain Bastin requested that we arrest any of the personnel that had been involved in any fights aboard the station in his absence and try them under our penal jurisdiction,” the Glinn came to the end of his report.

The Legate’s eyes narrowed as she considered the information she’d just been told. It was far from unusual to see a commander bring about swift punishment to subordinates who caused problems in the Cardassian military structure. She herself had done so with far larger numbers when she had taken command of a ship many years ago as a means of asserting her position of absolute supremacy. The strange thing about the situation was that it had come from a Starfleet officer, a diplomat no less.

“This certainly is interesting, Glinn,” Aren admitted, “And not a move I had thought the Captain capable of making.”

“It makes one wonder what his intentions are…” Glinn Talmet said, though the comment had a tone of respect to it rather than suspicion.

“I would almost be inclined to accept that this is a power play meant to remind his people that he is still in command even if not directly overseeing things here. A rather bold statement considering he is supposed to be a diplomat at heart,” Aren said with a smirk.

“But is that all there could be to it?” Talmet inquired.

“I don’t imagine the Federation to be capable of ulterior motives in the same capacity that we are,” the Legate said before correcting herself, “But that doesn’t mean that the Captain himself is incapable of the same without their knowledge or approval. He has consistently defied expectations when it comes to handling our exchange here.”

“The fact that he is removing every person we had any leverage against him seems to indicate that he is at least understanding of how our reactions to their little indiscretions might have been used in the future,” Talmet said in a contemplative tone.

“It would seem our leniency has come back to bite us sooner than expected,” the Legate said with a brisk chuckle, “I hadn’t imagined it would take so little time for someone to notice that we had handled things any differently than normal.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t anything we did,” Talmet said after a brief pause, “The fact that he asked for our accounts of the incidents might mean that his own people possibly lied about it.”

The Legate hummed at the suggestion, “I hadn’t considered that to be a possibility. The prevailing impression I have of Starfleet is that they are rather honest in their handling of situations.”

“It might not have been outright lies,” Talmet offered, “perhaps it is better to say that they didn’t include information that we made no effort to control. Omissions don’t seem to be above the Federation, given what we’ve learned from our prisoners.”

“You make a good point, Glinn. While lies are likely a tad far outside of their normal proclivities, leaving something out does seem to be just inside the gray they are comfortable skirting,” Aren nodded.

“Shall I accept the request to arrest his people on sight should they return to the station?” the Glinn asked.

“Yes,” the woman nodded in reply, “Though I don’t think it will actually occur. Our handling of criminals who break laws is likely well known among them, and I don’t foresee anyone running the risk of being prosecuted. They would all be, of course, guilty. A fact that even their superior himself has already agreed to by making the request in the first place.”

“It is to be expected,” Talmet said with a nod of his head.

“Certainly, from a Cardassian,” Aren said with a smirk, “But the Captain is not. I believe in this case he is using us for his benefit to control the behavior of his people. A very calculated move on his part.”

It took the Security Chief a moment to realize what she was getting at, “He’s using their fear of prosecution at our hands as a means to ensure their cooperation with his directives, knowing that without such a deterrent in place they might simply disobey his orders.”

“That would be my guess, and far be it from me to deny the man his victory. Go as far as posting guards at the docking pylon belonging to the ship they have been ordered to return to. Make a show of us being serious in our commitment to this,” the Legate said.

“As you command,” the Glinn nodded as he sent a note to his staff via the PaDD he was carrying with him.

“Not that I expect anyone to actually attempt it, but do let me know if we manage to catch someone trying to return once they’ve all been removed from the station. I would like to get some use out of them before they are out of our hands. It seems a waste to let the opportunity slip away now that Captain Bastin is clearing the board of pawns,” Legate Aren said in a rueful tone.

“It would be unfortunate, yes, but I don’t believe we will find one. Glinn Ilmok is already coordinating the transfer of their personal belongings at Captain Bastin’s behest. It would appear that he was meticulous in his preparations to remove them from the station,” Talmet remarked.

“Far more cunning than he looks,” Aren chuckled softly, “Very well. We will simply have to admit that he outmaneuvered us this time around and wait for another opportunity to present itself further down the line.”

“I would imagine that given the response this time around, we may have to wait a considerable length of time before another member of the Federation falls for our provocations,” the Glinn offered.

“Perhaps,” Legate Aren said with a slight shrug, “If anything we learned that our counterparts aren’t lacking in vigilance. It is something we must take into account as we continue to work hand in hand with them. I admit I was a little surprised to see you taking so much interest in this all of a sudden. You were so vehemently against the Council’s decision to host this cultural exchange that I thought you might resort to sabotaging our efforts.”

“The thought had crossed my mind,” the man confessed, “However, having seen first hand how cooperation with the Federation can yield us some interesting benefits, I have come to accept that Cardassia would benefit more from this exchange being successful than it would from it being purposely ruined.”

“If only the fools in Central Command would come to the realization that they aren’t serving Cardassia with their own destructive tendencies, we would be far better off…” Aren grumbled.

“There are some who might yet wake to the truth, should we be successful here,” Talmet remarked.

“I can only hope that you are correct. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Glinn. I will need time to figure out our next move, but this will certainly make things easier for me. I may call upon you later to assist me in moving things forward with our guests. Until then, keep an eye on them and let me know if things change at all,” Legate Aren said in a dismissive manner.

“Of course, Legate. Excuse me,” the Glinn rose to his feet and departed the office.