Public debates for the day had ended and Tikva couldn’t have been any more thankful for that. No media, no rules, a chance to relax. That of course didn’t mean discussion, debate and downright arguing wasn’t over for the day, but it could be behind closed doors, informal and if need be a lot rawer, which actually helped not just her but everyone else in the room.
And as she had learned over the last few days, aside from a few people, it turned out that most of the Assembly’s representatives were at least congenial with each other, if not outright friendly, when not discussing politics. Likely a development of having to work with people day in and out for so long. The large meeting room she’d been given initially was currently set up with a few small tables surrounded by a ring of couches and seats and seemingly by an unspoken natural law, everyone had not just grouped themselves by their political camps, in the same arrangements respective to where she and Pamisa were seated, as if this was the Assembly itself.
“Damn you Toman, just get your people to sign the Continuing Certificate and we can move on to other matters of state,” Cretal said as she was filling a small plate with snacks from the table in front of her. “It’s not the end of discussions, just a document agreeing to maintain the current status quo until we agree on a path forward.”
“Honestly I don’t see the difficulty myself,” Representative Devtil spoke up, one of Secretary Rel’s supporters within the Assembly. “It’s a simple one-page document Toman and just gives the people security knowing we’re not going to burn everything down without a plan in place.”
“I,” Toman said slowly and carefully, “just see little purpose with the Continuing Certificate.”
“It’s not about purpose,” Pamisa said over her cup of tea. “It’s about public perception you obstinate ass.” For a woman who barely passed 1.3 meters in height and old enough to be the mother of most in the room, save perhaps for Toman, she held no fear about speaking her mind.
“And? The common people will fall in line as they always have. The system has served them well, they’ll not want to upset it now,” Toman countered.
“Save that,” Tikva finally spoke, “just three days a sizable number of people attempted to do just that by force of arms and would have gotten away with it too if not for a remarkable series of circumstances that can’t be trusted to repeat. You might just want to consider the will of the people and reassure them in light of recent events?”
Toman huffed, slumped slightly, just enough to be seen, before sighing in defeat. “It’s performative art for the masses.”
“Yes,” Cretal said. “But it’ll play well and let them know we’re taking this seriously.”
“Find, I’ll speak with my caucus in the morning and we’ll sign the damn thing.”
“Commander Grel, welcome aboard the Atlantis,” Mac said as he greeted the Republic officer who had just transported over. “Sorry the captain can’t be here, but she’s tied up with civil matters below.”
“Oh don’t worry about it Commander, I’ve already spoken with your captain in person this morning. I wanted to come and meet those I fought side by side with in person,” Grel said with a smile, meeting Mac’s handshake heartily. “And when you offered me a tour of a modern Federation battlecruiser, well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t accept.”
“Well Atlantis isn’t a battlecruiser, she’s an explorer,” Mac said, then indicated the door out of the transporter bay. “Intermediate to long-range explorer that admittedly is able to defend herself reasonably well.”
“If this is a science vessel, then if Starfleet ever decided to build dedicated warships, I’d be truly concerned,” Grel said with a smile. He was certainly a lot more expressive and chipper than Mac was expecting. “I’ll have to get you over to the Admiral Varren for a tour sometime. I understand you’re staying for another week or so?”
“Until negotiations reach a point where it’s just arguing over the paint choices,” Mac said, then clarified when he saw Grel’s confusion. “Once the primary points are finished and they’re just arguing over the fine details, we’ll be on our way. All outlined in this Continuing Certificate that got realised a few hours ago.”
“Ah, yes, need to read that. The Republic is naturally very interested in Daloon, but we don’t want to force ourselves if we don’t have to.”
“Noble, and I’m sure Daloon appreciates the sentiment as well.” Mac had led them to a turbolift and ordered it to main engineering to start the tour at the bottom and work his way up. “So, I know you gave me the broad strokes, but your ship, the Admiral Varren, overheard Koteb’s request for reinforcements and you all decided to pretend to be the Admiral Ketterac to find out what he was doing?”
Grel actually barked out a laugh at that. “Essentially. Helped that Ketterac’s commander was a Grel as well. Wouldn’t have worked if Koteb hadn’t been such an idiot. Let me tell you, it was a pleasure seeing that man get his just deserts. All ready to play along for a bit until he decided to pick a fight with Starfleet.”
“Okay, I’m adding the Captain’s Mess to the tour, you have to tell me the whole story,” Mac said. “But let’s work our way there. First stop, main engineering. Commander Velan, meet Command Grel.”
“I’m sorry, but the idea of a hereditary monarchy just isn’t going to work with my people,” Cretal protested. A new day, same arguments.
“Cretal, please, the people trust the L’rilt family and it would offer governmental stability,” Devtil said. “We nominate the Magistrate to the position and our head of state issue is resolved.”
“We’re a sovereign nation now,” Toman said. “The head of state should be a Preator.”
“Preator, king, chief seat warmer, the title is inconsequential Toman,” Devtil countered. “Who it is is the primary point I’m trying to make here.”
“Not to my people. The system of governance that made the Romulan Empire strong for centuries only failed because of weak and overly ambitious men and women. The system should simply be restored.”
“Not happening,” Cretal said. “It just won’t happen Toman and you know it. Get with the times, please.”
“Could I perhaps offer a point of discussion?” Tikva asked and everyone’s attention turned to her. “It’s just for this room mind you, not something I’d suggest in the Assembly.” Cretal nodded, Devtil too. It took a moment before Toman rolled a hand to let her continue.
“A dual head of state system, one hereditary, the L’rilt family as conservators of Daloon’s past, the other elected by the people, on a term set by the new constitution to act as the people’s voice.” Toman scoffed straight away, Devtil and Cretal however both looked at her with scrunched eyebrows.
“I don’t like it,” Certal said, breaking the silence after nearly a minute of everyone just looking at each other. “But I don’t hate it. We’d need rules governing how they balance each other, interactions with the senate, how to resolve deadlocks between them.”
“Naturally,” Devtil said. “Term limits on your elected king so as to get fresh blood in and prevent stagnation?”
“Of course. Just like we should have the senate in general. And powers to remove the hereditary head of state if required.”
“Preposterous!” Toman exclaimed. “The Senate should not have term limits. If one is good enough to retain their position, then they should.”
“You Toman,” Cretal said with a pointed finger, “are the perfect example of why there should be limits.”
“Princeps?” Pamisa asked in her own office as Tikva and Gavin Hu sat down opposite her.
After the yelling match between Cretal and Toman that morning had carried over into official debates, which only lasted an hour before she’d been forced to call a recess, she’d called Gavin down to help her out, at least with those two. But Pamisa’s request to speak won out over trying to smooth that problem. She apparently had wanted to speak about a singular point that had come up, again from Tikva’s discussions that had carried into the wider debates.
“It’s a title from Earth’s history, from our Roman Empire,” Gavin said. “Roughly translates as first, chief, most eminent, noble. It was a governmental title.”
“Roman Empire?” Pamisa asked, an eyebrow raising. “Interesting name.”
“Perhaps there was some cultural,” Gavin paused, looking for a diplomatic phrase, “exchange in our ancient past and wayward Romulans?” He had avoided ‘contamination’ well enough that she doubted Pamisa even considered it as the next potential word out of his mouth.
Pamisa nodded, then moved on. “It’s an interesting title, gender-neutral so we won’t need to have document revision every so often.”
“Thought that might get your approval,” Tikva said with a smile. “What about the others, think they’ll go for it?”
“Cretal and Devtil, certainly. They had both started throwing it around in discussions after all. Toman’s being an ass, but I’ll have a word with him about it,” the older woman said. “He’ll know what’s good for him.”
“I have to ask,” Gavin said. “What is your relationship with Representative Toman?”
“Secret keepers,” Pamisa answered. “We’ve known each for so long, since childhood really. We both know things about each other that no one else knows and we’d never betray that trust.”
“He’s a confidant,” Gavin summarised.
“Crudely, but yes.”
He nodded. “Could I perhaps ask for some insight on him before the captain and I go to speak with him? We’re trying to iron out his conflict with Cretal after all and I’m hoping you might have an idea of how to approach things diplomatically.”
“Ask away young man,” Pamisa said.
Another long day, another mentally exhausted Tikva entered her quarters. “Computer, any messages?”
“Two messages from Captain Dayton, USS S’lun,” the computer announced.
“Matt?” she asked, though the computer wouldn’t answer. “Play message,” she commanded as she stripped off her uniform tunic, tossing it over a chair back.
“Bug, grapevine says someone gave you a brand new ship of the line,” Matt’s voice came over the speakers of her quarters. “We’ll have to talk about that when I’m in range for real-time comms, but in the meantime, I’m answering your call about songs. I spoke with Darren and he’s listened to some of our old duets and he’s got a few selections for you. He’s got a way better ear than I do. The list should be attached to this message. If you’re honestly going to enter this talent contest girl, you best do it to win, captain’s not winning be damned. And maybe, just maybe, don’t rely on the dutch courage before taking to the stage?”
The recording stopped, only an ever so slight pause before the computer announced the second message and started playing it.
“I’m an idiot,” Matt’s voice once more. “List attached this time.”
“And I’ve checked it,” another male voice said, which she knew was Darren, Matt’s long-suffering fiancée. “Seriously Tikva, ignore the top half of the list, go with the power ballads. Matt always had you singing out of your best range anyway.”
She sighed, smiling as fingers tapped at a computer screen to bring up the list, then transferred them to a padd. Academy hoodie found and donned, she left her quarters, soon enough knocking on Adelinde’s door.
“We’ve got important work to do,” she said, holding up the list. “I’m winning this talent contest.”