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Part of USS Aquarius: New Beginnings

The Best and Only Option

Holo-communications Hub, Starbase K-8
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[JP done with Vice-Admiral Bennet]

“The communications have been established.” Said the young Antedan ops-technician. “You can step into the room now, Commander.”

Vaelana stood up from the waiting bench in the communications hub waiting room and made her way over to the front desk where the weasel-esq looking technician was. “I understand these systems are relatively new on this station…go over how it all works again?”

”Well, it’s the same as most holocomm systems you’d find in more modern ships…the basic principles of the more modern version dates back to…just before the Dominion War, I think?” The technician stated as if remembering a reference PADD. “The holobooth is connected by subspace 1-to-1 communications array to a holodeck system elsewhere…it’ll project your holo-image there, and the room the other system is in will appear in the booth here…along with anyone there, of course…“

”…allowing one to attend remote staff briefings with a more physical presence.” Vaelana added with a sigh. “What’s the encryption rating on such a system?”

“I…don’t know, exactly.” The Antedan said with a shrug. “That would be a question for the Security Chief…or maybe Strategic Operations. They would handle the encryption and decryption side of things…I’m sure the Admiral wouldn’t request the use of such a system though if it wasn’t secure.”

”…Of course.” The Romulan replied, studying the holobooth doors with a measure of apprehension and the lingering paranoia that would have been considered more then healthy back in her Empire days. “This booth right here?”

”Yes, Commander.” The technician nodded. “Booth Three.”

Vaelana straightened her uniform jacket and then took a step into the booth after the doors slid open to allow her passage.

She found herself in a small, somewhat claustrophobic black room with the yellow grid lines typical of certain older styles of Starfleet holodeck systems…definitely more advanced than what the old K-class outpost was used to, but somewhat dated for the standards of the present day.

“Computer, open the channel.” She ordered, and the computer chirped back in reply. 

“Channel open, program beginning.”

The black and yellow room faded away, and Vaelana found herself now standing in what appeared to be a much different room entirely.

Sitting behind his desk, Vice Admiral Zack Marshall-Bennet closed his holographic interface with a swipe of his hand and looked up at the holographic recreation of Commander Vaelana standing in front of him. “Commander Vaelana, it is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“Likewise, I am sure, Admiral.” The Romulan replied with a polite, if somewhat curt, bow and a nod.

Remaining positive, Bennet looked at the Romulan woman and clarified why she had been called to speak to him. “I’ll get straight down to business, commander,” He started with. “I am hereby promoting you to the rank of captain and giving you command of the U-S-S Aquarius, effectively immediately.”

Vaelana couldn’t help but immediately raise her right eyebrow, an autonomic response that the Romulans had inherited from their distant Vulcan ancestors. “I will admit to…being somewhat surprised and apprehensive about this unexpected development.”

“The Aquarius needs a new commanding officer, and from what I can see from your record, you fit the bill,” Bennet clarified further, hoping his encouragement was useful.

The Romulan woman fell silent for a moment, her eyes glancing to the side of the room as she lost herself in analysis and calculation. A few seconds later, her gaze returned to meet the holoprojection of the Admiral’s. “…and the fact that the Aquarius is here, at dock, right next to the Neutral Zone, ready to receive my transfer orders…I suppose that would have nothing to do with my promotion? Forgive my hesitation on the matter, Admiral, but I suspect that I am sensing that there might be a political factor at play here. Am I wrong?”

The Admiral leaned forward. “You know, Captain…it’s a Starfleet tradition to thank your superiors when receiving a promotion, especially a command, not question their motives…”

Vaelana stood still in silence, her face stoic and unmoving.

“…but, unofficially mind you, you are correct.” Bennet finally continued. “The Aquarius’s mission will be one of mercy, delivering supplies and support to the independent refugee worlds stuck between the Free State and the Republic…and someone who understands the cultures and customs of the Romulan people is considered a necessity for commanding that mission and avoiding any diplomatic missteps…after the Tal Vashoth manipulations and our own responses to the Utopia Planitia attack, the Federation doesn’t have a lot of soft power to play with here.

“What we do have, is our own bonafide Romulan, and a former Warbird Commander at that. A more recognizable face for first impressions, and someone who has lived and breathed the culture since birth…and…there are few other options. We only just inducted our first Romulan Academy cadet last year…and he’s not exactly ready for command.”

“He’s also from a religious minority that has some…suspicion attached to it.” Vaelana added with a small sigh. “I understand the theory behind command’s decision…and the refugee worlds could use the relief…and if there are truly no others that Starfleet has in mind for this role…than I will accept.”

“Excellent!” Beckett said, slapping his hands together. “You can pick the extra pip up from the station quartermaster-“

“However…” The Romulan interrupted, not quite finished. “I would like it noted that I accept under protest, that I possess reservations and concerns about this posting.”

The Admiral frowned and crossed his arms.“…and what might those be?”

”One, when I was taken in by Starfleet Intelligence, I technically defected…if anyone we offer aid to realizes this, any benefit I may bring to the mission may suddenly become inverted into a crippling disadvantage.” She stated, raising a finger on her left hand with each point. “Two, I am not…comfortable…with the optics of this appointment: it may seem like I was only given command because I am Starfleet’s ‘Token Romulan’, and not on my actual experience or proficiency…and I recognize that there will probably officers under my command that may wonder about that as well…not an advantageous situation to be placed in.

“Third…this is not just diplomacy and humanitarian aid…it smarts of politics, and I have spent the majority of my career in both the Star Navy and the Fleet, avoiding ‘politics’ as much as possible.”

“…noted.” Bennet said with a frown. “For what it’s worth, I realize this position may not be ideal, but our analysts have looked over the intel and your records and believe you are the best option we have.”

Vaelana nodded slowly and grew quiet again, pausing to calculate out her own risks against possible rewards. “Very well then, with my protestations noted, I…graciously…accept.”