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  • Whispers

    Date: January 8, 2388
    Dramatis Personae: VADM Zachary O'Connell, CMDR Ombretta Del Carlo, CMDR Ebhyl ch'Rhalos


    That's what had happened just a few minutes ago. Zachary had been enjoying a rather engaging lunch with the Efrosian Yivliv Ra-Havrox, the Task Force's Diplomatic Attaché. He hadn't had much luck with the Cardassian Union, trying to uncover some motives for their pushes into Breen space. But, he did have some entertaining stories from his experiences before the Dominion War with the Cardassians. Then the urgent call came.

    The Admiral still bore his smile as the turbolift stopped outside the Intelligence floor. The station had a small Intelligence team, but the level had been quickly dominated by Commander Ebhyl ch'Rhalos and the Task Force Intelligence team. There was so much to watch, so many things happening in the Inconnu Expanse where they no longer had eyes and ears, and many of their agents across the Cardassian border had grown silent. The team was working around the clock to come up with something, and even restore the communication lines.

    "You two, sir?" asked a suddenly familiar voice beside him.

    Zachary didn't have to turn to recognize the Strategic Operations Chief. "Called you too, Commander?" he asked as Commander Ombretta Del Carlo fell into step beside him, arriving from another junction.

    "He did. Any ideas what's up?"

    "Maybe he's got an active line again," Zachary mused. Then again, that was a report that could wait until the afternoon briefing. Something else was afoot.

    Both officers entered the main Intelligence Office and were quickly ushered into a closed room. It was large and open, with a massive viewscreen commanding one wall. In the center of the room was a table. Each seat around it possessed its own terminal, each one paling in comparison with the larger workstations around the room. Waiting for them was the Andorian Intelligence Chief.

    "Thanks for coming so quickly," Commander ch'Rhalos said, gesturing to the screen. Displayed was the Gavarian Corridor along with various icons representing Cardassian and Romulan movements.

    "Didn't we go over this this morning?" Ombretta asked, crossing her arms and standing next to the Admiral, referring to the lengthy session she had with the Intelligence Chief tracking the various tradeoffs the Cardassians and Romulans had with the Aquorat, Pi Hydrae, and Krisent systems. Neither power seemed to be able to hold on to any system for too long. In fact, she had been wondering how much longer either side could keep up with the high attrition costs.

    The Andorian nodded, quickly confirming her thoughts. "One of my contacts on Cardassia Prime suddenly became talkative again. The guy didn't say much..." He fumbled on the table, picking up a PADD to hand it to the Admiral. "Short message, standard How are you doing? letter and the like."

    "You called us down here to tell us an old friend says, Hello?" Ombretta demanded. "I can't believe I left lunch with my daughter for this."

    "Get to the point, Commander," Zachary said, waving a gesture to Del Carlo, hoping it would calm her down just for now. He then handed the PADD back to the Intelligence Chief.

    "It's the encryption, Admiral," Ebhyl pressed. "Code Twelve Gamma Eplison. Hasn't been used in a year, especially since the Order of Twelve cracked it. Under the surface is a coded message. The Cardassians want our help, sir."

    "Our help?" Zachary asked, barely beating Ombretta to the punch. "With what exactly? Rolling over the Breen? Keeping the Romulans out of the corridor? I thought they made it pretty clear last year when they said they wanted the Federation out of their hair."

    "It's the corridor." Ebhyl gestured to the map on the screen. "They want to pull out of the corridor, and they don't want the Romulans to have it. But it gets better." He picked up another PADD and handed it to the Admiral. "This just came through Romulan channels. Seems the Free Romulan Movement is causing more and more trouble. The Empire wants to turn its eyes inward, and not have to worry about the corridor."

    Now this was interesting. Zachary read the report carefully before handing it off to Ombretta for her to view. "So both sides want peace," he remarked. "But they don't want to openly ask for it."

    "That's what it looks like," Ombretta commented. Finished with the PADD, she set it on the table and slid it back to Ebhyl. "I smell a trap."

    "I smell opportunity," Zachary interjected. "The Cardassians and Romulans have other objectives now. If they want our help, fine. But we'll make it worth our while. What say you, Commander ch'Rhalos?"

    The Andorian's antennae perked up at the Admiral's comments. "Agreed. We can gain a lot from this, especially if we can get back into the corridor and put new eyes on those borders."

    "And we'll finally gain some ground and stability in this uncertain time," Zachary confirmed. "I'll have our friendly Efrosian start his feelers right away. Maybe we'll see some peace by Valentine's Day. Good work, Commander. Miss Del Carlo, reach out to Deep Space Ten. Have them, quietly, prepare for a diplomatic conference."

    With his orders given, Zachary turned and left the office. The smile returned to his face, stronger and more confident than before. It was nice to see something peaceful on the horizon for once.
    Last edited by greenfelt22; 01-09-2018, 03:35 AM.

  • #2
    Date: January 17, 2388
    Dramatis Personae: VADM Zachary O'Connell, Yivliv Ra-Havrox, Legate Elim Bendras, Admiral Thalitha

    Yivliv had spoiled Zachary, who, just a few months prior, had been sequestered in a former Dominion facility looking for ways to counter the Consortium without reinforcement or relief. In just a matter of days, the Efrosian had arranged for delegations from both the Cardassian Union and the Romulan Empire to meet at Deep Space 10 in the Trivas system. Though Zachary still would have preferred to conduct the negotiations on Starbase 72, its distance from the Gavarian frontier posed a problem, not to mention the access it would have given the Romulans inside Federation space. No, the edge of the frontier was perfect.

    Admiral O’Connell and Ambassador Yivliv had arrived the day prior and had ample time to prepare the Nor-class station for this historic event. Still, it didn’t totally prepare him for the sight of five Cardassian Keldons arriving and three Romulan warbirds decloaking beside the station.

    To say Zachary was nervous was an understatement. He’d conducted trade negotiations and other diplomatic business as a Starfleet Captain. But never had he worked on this scale, getting two major powers to agree. Two powers which had both fought against and alongside the Federation. In a way, he appreciated what he was about to undertake, and he’d appreciate it more when it was complete.

    Tucked away on the habitat ring was a reception hall, a unique feature installed by the final head of Task Force 47. That was were Zachary waited for the delegations to arrive.

    The first to enter were the Cardassians. While the admiral expected them to arrive last, Zachary could tell there was a bit of urgency in their behavior. It seemed they did not want to be here longer than they had to.

    “Legate Elim Bendras,” Yivliv greeted the senior of the delegation.

    “Ambassador Ra-Havrox,” replied the monotonous Cardassian. “And Admiral O’Connell,” he added with a curt nod. “I’m an admirer of your handiwork, Admiral.” The Consortium, after all, were no secret. It was like child’s play, gathering data on what really happened on the other side of the wormhole. Elim even pitied the Cardassian agents who were trapped on the other side. The screenings those agents were subjected to when they returned to the Union were tougher than most. After all, they couldn’t afford any Consortium influence on their reborn Union.

    Zachary brandished a half-smile, unsure of whether or not he should receive that as a compliment. “All in a day’s service, I suppose.”

    Elim chuckled, marvelling at the human’s attempt at humility, and his detection of Zachary’s discomfort. Perhaps he could use that at the negotiating table.

    “Admiral Thalitha,” Yivliv called out suddenly, interrupting the uncomfortable discussion to announce the arrival of the Romulan delegation.

    Military from both sides? Zachary thought as he greeted the silent Romulan. He watched her scan the room, undoubtedly sizing everything and everyone up prior to the beginning of talks. Just the fact that there was not a professional negotiator in the room, save for the Efrosian, told him the value both powers saw in the corridor, and their urgency to get this done. Diplomats would compliment and sleeze the other for weeks. Flag Officers would simply get the job done, and hold their own policy on the border.

    “Admiral O’Connell,” Thalitha greeted her human counterpart. “I can appreciate the value your Federation has placed in these discussions, sending its greenest Vice Admiral.”

    Zach did his best to obscure his surprise at her remark. “Perhaps it would surprise you to learn, Admiral, that I was slated to assume command of Olympus Base last year. That was just prior to the Federation withdrawing from the corridor. I like to think I understand the situation more than you know.”

    The Romulan’s eyes shifted up and down, recalculating the human. “We shall see,” Thalitha observed. “Perhaps swiftness would be best for us all, wouldn’t you agree, Legate?”

    The Cardassian smirked, noting the Romulan’s forwardness. Perhaps this would be easy, seeing how the Romulan did not desire to be here. “I would agree indeed, Admiral.” Both delegates then looked to Zachary and awaited his response.

    Zachary looked at both of them, considering the schedule they’d prepared. Yivliv’s estimates stretched these talks over three days. Neither party looked like they wanted to spend more than three hours here. “Let’s get to it, shall we?” Zachary asked his Efrosian companion before gesturing to the delegations to follow him.

    This would be interesting indeed.


    • #3
      Date: January 17, 2388
      Dramatis Personae: Ambassador Yivliv Ra-Havrox, Admiral Thalitha, Legate Elim Bendras, Vice Admiral Zachary O’Connell

      “We want our people back!” demanded Elim Bendras, who defiantly slammed his fist down on the table all the while staring down the Romulan across the table. “You’ve abducted citizens of the Cardassian Union from Railus II, and we will not agree to anything unless their return is guaranteed.”

      Thalitha, the Romulan Admiral, did not bat an eye at the bombastic Cardassian Legate. “Your citizens were preparing biological weapons for use on the Quillian system. Your repeated attacks on our peaceful convoys, theft of our property, and abduction of our own citizens forced us to take extreme actions. You of all people, Legate Bendras, should appreciate the fact that we’ve been at war for nearly a year.”

      Elim grimaced, but otherwise did not reveal that the Romulan had blocked his outburst. He could equally argue that those convoys were anything but peaceful, but he was here to talk about peace, and free up Cardassian assets for the Union’s efforts against the Breen. Part of those assets included talented Guls rotting away in Romulan torture chambers.

      “Perhaps an equal exchange is merited?” suggested the Efrosian Yivliv, representing the mediating Federation. Next to him sat Admiral O’Connell of Task Force 72, who was certainly looking forward to having avenues to explore and fulfill Starfleet’s original mandate once more.

      “That would be acceptable,” Thalitha agreed. “With the exception of war criminals.”

      The Cardassian’s grimace continued. Such an agreement would keep him from acquiring Gul Dacet, but it would keep a certain Romulan Commander known for his brutal tactics off the playing field. “Very well,” he acquiesced.

      “Then we are in agreement,” said Yivliv. “Return of personnel and materials. Returning colonies to pre-war status, and redrawing of borders, among our other agreements.”

      “And your Federation gets to galavant among the stars once more,” Thalitha observed. There was not a hint of disdain in her voice, especially knowing that third parties would be moving around in space that Romulan blood attempted to buy. If anything, if gave her an excellent chance to observe their age-old adversary up close and personal. That information was worth the price that was paid over the last year.

      “We do indeed,” confirmed Zachary, looking to the Romulan representative. “Along with our promise to aid and defend your colonies in the Corridor.” After all, none of the persons in this room were aware of any potential threats beyond the corridor. Often times he had wondering what would have happened had Q not tipped the Federation off about the Borg. Perhaps a surprise invasion in the very beginning would have destroyed every major power in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants by now. The three factions working together, albeit loosely and peacefully, would really be a testament to how far they’d all come.

      After seeing affirming nods from the Cardassian and Romulan, Yivliv brushed his long goatee. “Then we are near an accord. It will only take a few moments to prepare the document for signing,” he said, gesturing to his aide to finalize the document.

      “You do understand that this document will have to be ratified by our governments,” Elim coldly reminded the Efrosian.

      “Of course,” answered Yivliv. “We are installing appropriate deadlines into the agreement to account for that, as well as ample time to dissemble what you must.”

      The aide approached the table and presented a PADD to each representative that contained a copy of the agreement. It did not take long either anyone to review it and place the PADD on the table. The aide then placed a large PADD on the table with the full agreement, along with outlined sectors for the individuals to affix their thumbprints.

      “Let us conclude this matter,” Elim gruffed, rising from his chair and placing his thumb on the pad, becoming the first to sign. He knew it would give the Romulan pleasure to see him move first, but his priorities were elsewhere.

      And indeed she did find pleasure in it. The Romulan rose from the table and affixed her thumbprint to sign the document.

      Yivliv was the last to sign. As soon as his thumb was free, the aide committed the document to datarods and chips, giving each of the representatives their own copy to submit to their governments.

      “See you in the corridor, Admiral,” Thalitha remarked to Admiral O’Connell as he stood to shake her hand. She would not, however, touch the Cardassian, and left the room before the opportunity arose.

      “Admiral O’Connell,” said the Cardassian with a nod. “Ambassador.” With that, he turned and left the room as well.

      “That was easier than I thought it would be,” Zachary remarked to Yivliv, moving to stand beside the Ambassador.

      “And fast,” replied the Efrosian. “Given the circumstances of both the Union and the Empire, I can understand their desire for a cease fire.”

      Zachary nodded, looking out the window of the ward room to the stars. “Somehow I think that whatever was between the Cardassians and Romulans isn’t over.”

      Yivliv could not refute that observation. “If I were a Ferengi, I would put a generous wager that whatever is between them is really just beginning. Only time will tell, Admiral.”

      Time would tell indeed.