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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 8: The Art of Restrained Power and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

The Art of Restrained Power – 5

USS Atlantis, in orbit of Daloon
May 2400
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She could feel the personalities coming down the corridor to the diplomatic conference room and was immediately grateful to Terax for his medicinal assistance, even if it had come with a warning, much like Blake’s earlier, that a well-rested captain would be best and if she needed to sleep to come back and see him. She hadn’t meant to stay up all night, but readings had taken priority, and then her brain had refused to switch off, leaving her pondering just what she was really supposed to do here.

Negotiate some sort of civility between romulan factions on a sleepy little backwater, that’s what.

A sleepy backwater of five million who could feed numerous nearby worlds if need be. With some agricultural assistance mind you, but doable.

And whichever way they go could start a war in the region.

Yeah, I don’t think I need to cause any chaos here today.

Much appreciated Primitive. Much appreciated.

There was a mass of disgruntled annoyance, which she figured had to be the magistrate, seemingly unpleased with everything around him. Then curiosity, which she figured had to be the daughter. A couple of blobs of paranoia, likely guards and two stoic individuals whom she couldn’t get a real read on, obviously individuals with real control of their emotions. Then there was the static noise she’d come to associate with her new chief of security and a handful of cautious blobs, Ch’tkk’va’s hand-picked escorts, who were leading and trailing the romulan delegation from the transporter bay to the diplomatic conference room.

She’d not seen the point or need for such a space initially aboard Atlantis, but the Fates would have it she’d find a use for it on the first mission. Someone had, in their infinite wisdom, decided that a ship this large needed dedicated spaces, not just reuse the conference rooms already set aside for crew use. The entire diplomatic complex aboard ship wasn’t the most expansive in the fleet, but it was there and good use of space that would otherwise have just been given over to either more quarters or utility space. Two conference rooms situated with a reception lounge between them overlooked the ship’s small but well laid out arboretum, allowing for two parties to have their own space with a middle ground for talks if it ever came to it. And the balconies were a welcome find too. Windows above the arboretum also looked out aft, between the ship’s nacelles, but the angle was just off so one couldn’t see down the spine of the engineering section.

“Here they come,” she announced, allowing Doctor Pisani and Counselor Hu both to get to their feet just as their guests were shown into the starboard conference room, the window affording a view of Daloon IV and the city of Tama Flats if one knew just what to look for it on the blue-green marble world.

“Magistrate L’rilt, Secretary L’rilt, welcome to the Atlantis,” she said, stepping forward and offering a slight nod of her head as Pisani had suggested.

So the curiosity wasn’t coming from the daughter, but one of the guards. Interesting.

Guards are allowed to be curious too you know.

“Captain Theodoras, thank you for seeing us on such short notice,” the secretary said, stepping forward and offering her hand in a very human manner. She wasn’t left awkwardly holding her hand out for long, the handshake returned as it was offered. “And for agreeing to our conditions as well.”

Two of the romulan guards were exactly as she expected, wielding stubby romulan disruptor rifles. The other two however she hadn’t expected. They wore a different uniform, of an older but still functional style. Disruptors were holstered on their hips but in hand they had marched seemingly through the entire ship with polearms, whose heads gleamed with a mirror finish. Their headwear set them even further apart. They’d taken a position just inside the door, after her own security personnel had actually taken station either side of the door. Someone had clearly cracked out the ceremonial guards for their visit, to remind her no doubt she was dealing with a magistrate of the Romulan Star Empire. The Empire might be crumbling, but the Magistrate of Daloon still stood, long may they reign.

“Don’t think,” Magistrate Tanok L’rilt spoke as he stepped forward to demonstrate his height and size advantage over her and to reestablish just who was in charge between himself and his daughter, “that I don’t recognise this for what this is Captain.” He leaned forward, eyes squinting. “A power move intended to scare us. To establish that you are in some position of power over me.”

“Actually, quite the opposite.” She kept her voice cheerful and even offered a smile to the man, whose face suddenly was overrun with confusion. “It’s not meant to scare you, it’s meant to scare the other factions.” When he stepped back, an eyebrow raised in a very vulcan-like manner, she continued. “They see you coming up to meet with me, then after a while, I’ll head planetside and meet with you. Then when I start to meet with the other factions they’ll hopefully make any offers they were going to make rather quickly out of fear of being outplayed.”

“And get a better understand of what each group is truly after sooner rather then waiting for them to talk themselves up first,” Rel, the daughter, said. “It’s not a complex plan, but I can see it being effective.”

“How very…romulan of you. Establishing false facts within the minds of those you have to negotiate with,” Tanok conceded begrudgingly. “It was not my idea to invite Starfleet here, but I trust my daughter to make decisions in the best interest of our world.” He stepped past everyone to the window, hands clasped behind his back. “I will entertain this charade until such time as it proves to be a hindrance to good governance.”

Rel, who looked to be at least a few decades older than herself, stepped forward with a smile and a quiet voice. “Which is to say Captain we have our work cut out for us. I was hoping I could give you a briefing of key groups and their leadership planetside before you begin meeting with other factions.”

“Certainly. Before we start though, I’d like to introduce you to Lieutenant Gavin Hu,” a hand went to indicate him, but Hu had stepped forward himself, “my diplomatic advisor.” It wasn’t exactly true, but a counsellor would just have to do in a pinch. His read and insight of people would, after all, be helped with training and experience which is formally lacked. “And Doctor Blake Pisani. She’s had experience with romulan culture and humanitarian efforts along the border the last few years. I’m hoping her insight will prove illuminating.”

“Well, Doctor we’ll try and keep you out of work if you don’t mind. Daloon is self-sufficient for now and we’d very much like to keep it that way.” Rel looked once more to her father’s back and sighed. “Shall we begin?”

Over the proceeding hour Rel T’lint, Secretary of Daloon and mastermind of the current stalemated political situation, outlined for all present the situation upon the world below. Factions, leaders, recent events, how much political capital had been burned to convince everyone to sit down and talk, to even allow outside mediation. Capital that Rel was certain had been well spent, despite a few huffs of annoyance from her father, who had eventually relented from his solemn watch at the window and taken a seat at the far end of the table from everyone else. At least he hadn’t complained about the limited selection of snacks on a side table, or the tea selection that Blake had produced.

“Okay, so, let me just try and get this straight,” Pisani said, waving both of her hands in restrained gesticulation to accompany gathering her thoughts. “You’ve got democratic reformers, you’ve got senate traditionalists, you’ve got washed up veterans itching for a junta,” a word that they’d had to explain to Rel when it was first said, “and then you Madam Secretary proposing a monarchy to take over Daloon. Add into that that someone has already raided your world twice while we were racing here.”

“A crude but accurate summary for the most part. I’m proposing a constitutional monarchy, to give each of the more reasonable factions some of what they want, but not everything, while keeping my family’s stable hand on the levers of power.” Rel answered. “The raids we hope will stop with your ship in orbit, but perhaps some assistance in repairing and bringing online an old planetary defence network wouldn’t go amiss? It’s more suited to fending off raiders and is unfortunately quiet out of date seeing as Daloon has traditionally been deep inside Romulan territory for centuries now.”

“Perhaps Captain we could get Commander Velan to look the system over, as a sign of good faith to the political leaders, yes?” Hu asked. “It would show that we are after all interested in the defence and wellbeing of Daloon.”

“That was going to be a given,” she finally said, looking down the table at Magistrate Tanok. “I wouldn’t want to leave Daloon defenceless, even if in the end all parties politely ask us to leave.” She took a deep breath and looked at Rel. “I’ll want to meet with each faction’s key leaders before any form of joint session to mediate your internal political discussions. And a better understanding of just what is expected of me.”

“To be a moderator, as requested. The Assembly’s Speaker was considered too much of my father’s woman to be an acceptably neutral party. I’ll of course arrange for you to meet with everyone of importance planetside as well as a meeting with the Speaker to cover the basis of romulan political traditions.”

Rel’s emotional state this whole time had been difficult to get a read on, but hints of optimism had crept through on occasion as they had talked and right now she wasn’t hiding it as well as she likely hoped. Not that any of them had reason to believe she was an empath, likely more consideration had been spent on Hu in that regard.

“The best outcome,” Tanok spoke up with smouldering disdain, “would be for everything to just continue as it has for centuries.” He stood slowly after planting his hands on the table edge. “But I understand that is not possible.” Then he went silent for a moment, staring her down. “I want the best for Daloon, Captain. Do that and we won’t have any issues. Understood?”

“It is my intent Magistrate to ensure peace on your world, stability of its government and a prosperous future for it’s people if I can.”

“Honeyed words of our would-be overlords,” he countered, then stood up straight. “We’re done here. You can continue talking planetside.”

“Actually,” she said, raising a hand gently, one finger higher than the others. “I wanted to take this chance to say Magistrate the Federation has no intention of taking over your world. Your decisions, your future, will be up to your people.”

“Humpf…we shall see.” Then he started for the door. “Come daughter,” he commanded, then left, leaving Rel to apologise, then follow her father, one of the ceremonial guards having waited for her, along with a few of Ch’tkk’va’s chosen.

“That went well I think,” Hu said, reaching for the water carafe and refilling his glass. “He seems the conservative, willful sort intent on just keeping things the way they were. I gathered he wasn’t a fan of the empire, but more the stability and certainty it had provided.”

“Stodgy old bastard,” Pisani threw in, offering her own glass for a refill. “We’re naturally throwing in behind the democratic reformers, right? Power to the masses and all that.” When she didn’t respond straight away, Pisani turned on her. “Right?”

“I can’t really say,” Tikva finally answering. “Rel’s proposal is the best and worst parts of all the other demands, save the junta. Nice introduction of a new word to romulan vocabulary by the way.”

“Hey, it’s faster than constantly saying military dictatorship,” Pisani said. “These senate traditionalists sound like throwbacks that I’m surprised the Magistrate isn’t backing himself.” She snorted briefly. “Honestly, revive the old senatorial system on Daloon and rebuild a pocket Star Empire. Idiots.”

“It’s their world Doctor Pisani,” she said, getting to her feet slowly. “We’re just here to let them choose in peace and hopefully set them up to defend themselves from any predators that come their way.” A glance out the window at the world outside stopped her for a moment. “Hopefully once they settle their own differences they can then reach out to their neighbours and sort out their interstellar relations with a singular voice. Daloon has a lot to offer it’s neighbours, with just a bit of help it could be a regional center, which will be its own sort of trouble.”

“Captain,” Hu said, getting her attention with his tone of voice, which she always attributed to teachers, particularly those of children. “As a team, we can handle this. Command wouldn’t have sent us here if they didn’t think we could.”

“Command didn’t know the half of it when it comes to what’s going on here,” Pisani countered. But then she shrugged dismissively to her own statement. “But what I’ve seen of the old Atlantis crew and all the new blood, this crew is Starfleet through and through. Nothing we can’t handle, save perhaps a supernova or a surprise Borg encounter.”

“Well, funny you should mention that,” Tikva said with a smile.


  • Oof, the sense of Tikva's insomnia radiates off the screen from reading it. I love how overwhelming an undertaking you've set for Atlantis. This isn't just any planet of the week or a mystery starship. This is a contentious transformation, or collapse, of a civilization, and I'm practically overwhelmed just from reading all of Tikva's goals and options. The pomp and circumstance of the visiting Romulans was such an interesting choice, given how dangerously their situation is crumbling. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the Romulans, and this interaction showcases that well. "The best outcome would be for everything to just continue as it has for centuries" tells us literally everything we need to know about Tanok. All the same, I was impressed by Tikva proving to be just as skilled at the bluffs and double-bluffs. I wasn't expecting that from this story at all. Bodes well for her mission as moderator!

    June 9, 2022