The meeting room that had been set aside for their use within the People’s Assembly had a rather impressive view across a decent portion of the city and to the farmlands and then mountains beyond. Tama Flats was far too close to the equator for snow to be on those mountains and so their flanks were covered in trees until biology couldn’t cope. The room had been specifically chosen not for the view, but for the fact it was on the opposite side of the building from Government House, meaning the Magistrate should hopefully not be on everyone’s mind.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Words the Tal Shiar likely lived by.
Let’s not go there shall we?
“Mr Marik Kavos is our first meeting. Representative for the Grelk district, leader of a faction predisposed to capitulating in full to the leadership of Rator,” Hu said as he brought a cup of coffee over to her and sat it down on the small table by the window. “He’s apparently keeping his people civil for now, but I suspect it’s more because the planetary garrison is loyal to the Magistrate and better equipped than any popular uprising might be.”
She nodded thanks to him and took an experimental sip of the coffee. It wasn’t actual coffee, but something that Pam had produced and said was coffee. It was less bitter, slightly citrus in flavour and had been served with a helping of sugar bordering on sickly but was palatable. “She said this was grown here on Daloon?”
“Cultivated was her exact word. I suspect coffee beans adapted to Daloon’s biosphere, though where they got the original cultivar would be interesting.” Hu set his own cup down and picked up a padd on the table. “Representative Kavos, though he prefers Major Kavos, is the self-appointed leader of the Citizen’s Guard. Formed by retired military personnel who settled on Kavos and organised to answer calls for reinforcements from the garrison should they be needed to resist foreign invasion or civil uprisings.”
“I’m guessing their declarations of intent are a bit more nuanced than Secretary L’rilt’s description of ‘install a military government and await orders’?” she asked.
“Transitional military government until directions on regime change are communicated from Rator is a polite summary.” Hu tapped at his padd a few more times. “Kavos has positioned himself as a calm and moderating leader of the Guard, who has already removed three members calling for immediate action, citing the will of the people hasn’t called for force of arms just yet.”
“I’ve read as much as I can, so have you, what’s your impression?”
“Honestly ma’am, I don’t like him.” The padd was set down, the coffee reclaimed. “He’s an Uhlan who was drummed out after two tours for his inability to be prompted. He comes across in interviews as someone who thinks himself eminently qualified to speak on any subject of governance and his dossier that Commander Frent provided to us says he’s got issues with authority.”
“How’d he get elected to the Assembly, let alone form enough of a political bloc to be worth even meeting with them?” she asked.
“The Grelk district has a high veteran population as do the surrounding districts. He’s charismatic enough to get elected it would seem. Then he organised like-minded people within the Assembly. Combine that with his Citizen’s Guard and he becomes a concern meriting a response. I suspect a few decades back people like him on Daloon might have just been quietly dealt with?”
“Grim through Gavin,” she said, then smiled with a nod of her head. “I mean, not wrong, but grim.”
The main door into the expanse room opened and one of the Assembly’s guards stepped in. “Captain Theodoras, Representative Kavos has just arrived and will be here shortly.”
“Thank you Uhlan Dek,” she said, getting a slightly shocked look from the man that she even bothered to learn his name. Romulan emotions would take a bit more experience to sample and label, but she was pretty sure it was confusion and respect he felt as he stepped back out and closed the door.
Only a few short minutes later the door was opened once more, Uhlan Dek stepping through to announce Representative Kavos and his entourage. Tikva had been expecting at least a couple of people, not the full party that he had brought in with him. He knew the room or thought he did, knew the table that was supposed to be here and how many it could seat, how many people that Tikva had said she was bringing to the meeting and then brought enough of his own to take up every single other seat.
Which must have been a bit of a shock when he walked into the room to find the long conference table removed and instead a smaller table by one of the windows and just six chairs, three on either side, with no others anywhere else in the room. The table wasn’t even a proper meeting table, but one whose Romulan name escaped her but she’d labelled a coffee table. Perfect for polite, relaxed, informal discussions over drinks and nibbles.
Both her and Gavin had been standing in the middle of the room waiting and she couldn’t help but smile when the man’s confident demeanour took a blow when what he was expecting was completely absent. And then that wave of confusion washed backwards over all of his people as they stepped into the room. Upsetting expectations was something she’d discussed with Gavin and Blake last night and the Assembly staff had been happy to help with her redecorating requests.
“Representative Kavos, I’m Captain Theodoras, a pleasure to meet you,” she said with a smile and a step towards the man, offering a hand out for a handshake.
“Major Kavos,” he corrected, looked at her hand like it was something he wouldn’t even step on, and then walked past her towards the table. “I’m only here Captain,” he said with a particularly unhappy tone as he said her rank, “to make certain that you understand my people’s position and give you fair warning.”
“Oh?” she asked, then turned to follow, shrugging to Gavin with a quizzical look. “Seat?” she asked, indicating a chair as took one, Gavin sitting to her left and placing the empty chair on their side of the table by the window.
With a huff, Kavos took the opposite chair, two of his people on either side. All of them wore what could ostensibly be a uniform, but wasn’t as ornamentation as a Star Navy uniform would have been. Kavos’ of course had more than anyone else’s. With no chairs, his people opted for standing behind him in ranks and Tikva had to give them credit for being a physically imposing force at least.
He’s playing a psychological game.
Little man needed to feel big, so brought all his friends. And all for little ol’ me.
Scratch one for the dislike column!
“So, Representative,” she started.
“Major,” he interrupted. “Major Marik Kavos of the Citizen’s Guard.”
“Representative Marik Kavos,” she continued, keeping her force firm as she got out his political title and name. “This is after all a meeting between myself as moderator of discussions and a leader of a respectable political faction, yes?”
His response was a huff of acknowledgement, but his emotions hadn’t really changed, the taste of them being sour and harsh. She could tell he wasn’t happy but that was it. Her mother or any full Betazed might have gleaned more, but she had enough to work with.
“Representative Kavos, I’ve had some briefings about your position and your people, but I’m fully aware they’d have been contaminated with a hefty element of bias. I was hoping I could discuss with you in a more informal setting to try and gleam your position. I’d like as much of a balanced perspective before discussions start after all.”
“Then I shall be clear and to the point,” he started, his voice a touch louder than it really needed to be, like someone used to talking to a room without a microphone. “Daloon is a planet of the Star Empire and I shall lead it back there. I want the people to see that it’s only logical for us to heed the call of Rator to do away with old institutions and prepare for a new and glorious era of Star Empire history.”
“And you’d do that how?” she asked.
“With the consent of the citizenry of Daloon we’d remove the Assembly and Magistrate from power, install a military governance here and await further instruction from Rator.” The way he said it made it sound so simple. Wait for everyone to hand him power and then all would be good.
“With yourself as military governor of course,” she added.
“I am the logical choice,” he responded, sitting straighter in his chair, chin slightly elevated.
“A discharged Uhlan of the Star Navy, never promoted, is a more logical choice as military commander of an entire world than say Commander Frent of the planetary garrison?” Gavin asked before she could herself. He at least had kept any snark from his words that she knew she was about to lay on thick.
“No insult to Frent,” Kavos started, letting any insult just wash away, likely because of Gavin’s calm, non-snarky tone, “but she’s never served in the Star Navy. My experience in the premier forces of the Star Empire makes me far more qualified than she is.”
“I see,” Gavin responded.
“I would suggest,” Kavos turned on Tikva, “that you quickly find in favour of my,” he stopped for a moment, “our faction,” he corrected, ”in order to allow Daloon to peacefully reintegrate with the Empire. I would be willing to allow your ship to take any who wish to leave aboard before your departure.”
“How kind of you,” she said with a smirk. “And if I find in favour of one of the other factions? Or a compromise between multiple factions that a majority of the Assembly can agree upon? Would you accept their decision gracefully?”
“I would be willing to entertain it on a few conditions.” He waited and Tikva’s nod to continue was understood. “That no foreign occupation force ever set foot on Daloon. We will not accept becoming slaves of the Federation.”
“We have no intention of occupying your world,” Gavin said.
“You say that now,” the woman to Kavos’ right said. “Then it’s a handful of guards for important buildings, then a few more and next you know the Federation has occupied another planet in their never-ending conquests. I’ve seen it happen before.”
“Where would that be?” Gavin asked.
“Every world along the Romulan border,” she spat back. But before she could go further, Kavos stopped her with an outstretched arm.
“We will also not accept the Federation supplying weapons to any group on Daloon without an equal number supplied to the Citizen’s Guard. Balance must be maintained. Finally, the Magistrate must stand down. His time is over.”
She blinked, then looked to Gavin, who just gave her a slight shrug. “Those all seem reasonable.”
“I also demand to have inspectors review all work being done on the planetary defence control centre here in Tama Flats,” he added. “We must make sure that you aren’t installing some sort of remote control systems and that once you reactivate the systems only the people of Daloon control them.”
He smiled at her, like the idea that he knew about the work was some big secret he was revealing to her, but she wasn’t surprised honestly. She’d woken this morning to Mac’s briefing about Velan and Rrr’s plan and even had a quick catch-up in person with Maxwell when he beamed down with some engineers to start the work. They weren’t being secretive about it, but they weren’t shouting it from the rooftops either.
“I’ll have to put that one past Commander Frent, but I’m sure we can arrange a couple of observers from your political bloc.”
“They’ll come from the Guard,” he announced.
“Again, I’ll have to put it to Commander Frent,” she reiterated. She let that statement settle, let there be a bit of a pause before continuing. “Now, I think we have a decent starting point, how about you tell me what your vision for Daloon is?” she asked.
It was an hour later before Kavos and his goon squad marched out of the room, him at the lead, then his left and right hand, then the rest in two lines. She had no doubt they drilled that over and over until Kavos was satisfied.
The door had closed and she and Gavin both let out an exhalation of utter exhaustion. “No, just no,” Gavin said. “I am so glad Blake got distracted and went to visit the local hospital, she’d have started a fight.”
“I feel dumber for talking with that man,” she said herself, reaching to pour a cup of coffee for herself and then Gavin. “I think we need to talk with Frent about how big a threat his Citizen’s Guard actually is. And get Ch’tkk’va in the room as well.”
“Think there could be trouble?”
“I could feel it, he knows, just knows, that everyone will see it his way and make his leader. And if not he’s likely to do something stupid. Frent might think she’s got the upper hand, but we’ve seen militias get out of control too many times.” She couldn’t help but rub her left arm in remembrance of events not too long ago.
“Professional opinion?” he asked.
“Oh go on,” she said with a smile. “I’m an egotistical, self-destructive maniac with saviour and Napoleon complexes who has trouble taking things seriously.”
He snorted. “That captain is a mental health insight that we’re going to unpack later,” he said with a salute of his cup. “He thinks he’s a great leader, likely with a delusion he never got prompted thanks to the ineptitude of those above him. All he needs is a chance to prove how great he really is and if such a chance is ripped away from him instead of gracefully given to him, he’ll do something rash and try to take it.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking,” she said. “So, lunch, then our next meeting?”
“Senate traditionalist in the Assembly Hall right?”
“Indeed it is,” she said with a smile. “Keep people guessing after all.”