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Ultimatum: Part 1

Posted on Sat Mar 28th, 2015 @ 2:42pm by Commodore Kathleen O'Shea

Mission: Paradise Lost
Location: CO's Office: USS Bettina

Andrew's message had not given any hint to the outcome of his meeting, only that he and his 'guest' were on their way over to see her. That immediately put her on guard. She quickly cleared her screen and made any PADDS and other items disappear. She just finished her tasks when the door chime sounded.

"Enter"

Andrew ushered the woman in, his eyes dark and troubled behind her back. "We have a representative of the Federation Council Protectorate who wishes to discuss the diplomatic efforts under way. Among other concerns." The tone of his voice was calm and collected; the look in his eyes anything but. He worked on pulling himself together, as he was about to lose his cover.

The woman with him stepped forward. "Diane McCarthy, Commodore. A pleasure to meet you."

Kathleen shook her hand. 'What the hell is the Protectorate ?' "Please...have a seat."

Once the commodore and the representative were seated, Andrew took a seat and a deep breath. "The executive summary of the original conversation Miss McCarthy and I had was that I am now in possession of a Federation Council document that gives us seventy-two hours, starting from midday today, to obtain a formal membership request from the government of Taranok IV. If we do not, the document further stipulates that the Federation will abandon all military operations, trade and commerce, diplomatic, and humanitarian aid missions as applicable to this world and the system it resides in."

He tapped in some commands on his PADD. "Computer, voice verification for decryption of Matheson Tee-Four-Gamma." The PADD beeped, and he handed the PADD to the commodore. "Miss McCarthy's credentials, the charter of the Council Protectorate, and the aforementioned Federation Council document. The computer has verified all three documents." He then proceeded to give a synopsis of the conversation, keeping it professional and tactfully omitting the multiple rounds of friction in the process.

Finally, figuring it was best to get all the combustible topics of conversation out in the open, he finished with "Miss McCarthy was originally going to speak with Commander O'Donnell before coming to you, but the computer indicates she is currently out of range of the Bettina's scanner network." Another quick synopsis followed. Andrew then prepared to be immolated on the spot.

Kathleen neither reacted visibly nor looked up from the PADD. ~'Not now, Commander.'~ "Rosaleen has returned to Stratkas to help streamline our Logistics chain. So..." She sat the PADD down on the table, having only skimmed it as she trusted Andrew's judgement. "...perhaps you could explain to me, Miss McCarthy, why the Council feels the need to impose such a timeline on a situation as volatile as the one here on Taranok."

The politics behind such a decision are not really any of your concern, Com..."

"Anything that affects an operation that either myself or any personnel under my watch are participating in is most definitely my concern. Now..." Kathleen slid the PADD back to Andrew. "...as I see it, the Council can make all of the directives that they wish. However, the only orders that affect me are those generated at Starfleet Command. I am in their command chain, not yours."

Andrew picked up the PADD and relaxed a trifle. He was always more content when all the loose ends were accounted for, and Rosaleen's absence was now in that category. He was also happy to let the commodore prove him right about knowing her duty and performing it, even if it wasn't the method of performing it McCarthy was expecting. He had had to be a bit careful about what he said because the Diplomatic Corps did answer to the Council in certain matters; however, his command-line training put him in an odd spot for this discussion.

There were many responses that Diane had contemplated, but this was most definitely not one of them. "I beg your pardon, Commodore, but the orders of the Council are..."

"Not valid as orders as far as I am concerned. This operation will continue until Admiral Lunder or one of his staff contacts me with orders to the contrary. Unless the charters of both the Council and Starfleet have changed in the last few days."

Andrew realized that there was in fact one more combustible issue of record to be discussed. "I don't know if it rises to the level of a charter-level change just yet, but Miss McCarthy gave me the strong impression that certain people on the Council think that contracting the Federation's borders is the next and best step forward." He looked to McCarthy. "Retracting the borders to thin the herd out and make a strong defense zone with select core worlds, I believe, was the language you recorded on your PADD? So that Earth could be a virtual paradise from the savings on the Fleet and Marines associated with a smaller territory?" He kept his tone matter-of-fact, but there was venom in his mind as he repeated the distasteful language.

Kathleen held her demeanor, but Andrew could feel the temperature shift downward. "Miss McCarthy, just who exactly do you represent?" As she spoke, she activated a hidden button on the underside of her desk...one that summoned a security team but had them hold outside the room.

"I represent the Council. That is all you need to know to do your job." Diane replied smugly. She turned to Andrew next. "And you would do good to remember your place. This is my show now, not yours."

Andrew raised an eyebrow. "Disclosing relevant information to my commanding officer IS my place as disclosed by Starfleet regulations, Miss McCarthy. I'm sorry if doing my duty offends you, and I'm sorry if your disregard for Starfleet regulations leads this conversation in uncomfortable directions." He looked back to O'Shea. "Another part of our conversation included the disclosure that Councilor O'Donnell is the leader of a portion of the Council that favors continued involvement with Taranok IV. As such, Miss McCarthy cannot be said to represent the views of the entire Council. I presume she speaks for a majority given that the Council document passed validation."

Diane ignored Andrew. "I will ask you one last time. Will you or will you not abide by Council Orders?"

Kathleen was not about to let this woman break her cool resolve in the least. "And I will again tell you that I will abide by any order that comes through the proper channels. Starfleet channels. Until that time, we will continue to work towards our goal." An interesting ploy suddenly occurred to her. "In fact, we have made managed to make contact with the opposing force leadership, and are arranging a meeting with them to discuss terms. Andrew is heading up that discussion. Quite possibly, all hostilities will cease before your deadline."

As she spoke, Diane's eyes widened and her mouth dropped a bit. "Under no circumstances are you to meet with any member of the Vidiin Regency. This is a terrorist act, and as such we do not negotiate with any involved members."

Finally Kathleen allowed a hint of a smile. "Interesting, my Lady. We just discerned the identity of the attackers ourselves. How exactly is it that you have that knowledge as well?"

"She claims to have no psionic capability. However, she didn't have an escort when I arrived at the conference room - which is almost certainly another violation of Starfleet regulations - so she may have had opportunity to access our computer systems and get the name that way." Andrew admired the art of the bait and switch; Kathleen had pulled that one off rather well.

"But that raises another question, Miss McCarthy. You said that "this has drawn out long enough" earlier. The terrorist attack is at most a week old, and we've been here for less time than that. What, exactly, has drawn out long enough?" His eyes lasered in on Diane's. Kathleen could see that he was staying in his own head. "What are you running interference for?"

For the first time that day...in fact in a very long time...Diane McCarthy was at a complete loss for words. She had just allowed herself to be majorly played. She wasn't going to let this go any further now. "I am not authorized to disclose anything further to you at this time. I require your compliance, not your confidence. You will do as instructed. You will cancel any and all dialogs with the Vidiins. And as for you, Commander..." She turned to Andrew. "...you are hereby ordered to return to Earth immediately for reassignment. There is no further need for you out here."

Andrew nodded, giving off an aura of resigned amusement. "Miss McCarthy, to be blunt, you are three pips and/or one Federation Council order short of being able to require anything you just ordered me to do. You have also admitted to being in possession of information material to a terrorist attack against Federation interests. As such, I have no choice but to recommend that you be detained for questioning - in regards to this matter and with regards to other potential security breaches." He looked to Kathleen.

"Actually...I'm quite done with her." She turned to Diane. "As the on-site command authority, I am asking you to leave this planet. Now." She pressed a second button, admitting the dozen security officers that were waiting just outside. "Please see that Miss McCarthy makes her way directly to her craft and departs the planet. In fact...have her escorted out of the system as well. No order that she may give is to be considered valid."

Diane glared at Kathleen with open hostility. "This isn't over, Commodore."

But Kathleen simply sat calmly in her chair, a smile on her face. "Actually it is. Good day." She watched as the security team escorted her out of the room, counted to ten, then turned back to Andrew. "What the hell was that all about?"

Andrew shook his head. "Fundamentally it was what I told you at the top. Miss McCarthy was supposedly sent by the Council to assess the diplomatic situation and hand us that mandate. However, I have to imagine part of the intent was to gauge our resistance to the idea." He then gave her a full accounting of the meeting, including all the banter during validation.

"She actually seemed rather smug about the ideas of shrinking the Federation and consolidating power away from Starfleet. And the only things I can imagine her wanting from Rosaleen are ways to blackmail her father into line. McCarthy was rather incensed to find her off the station, with a strong implication that I was actively keeping them separated." He frowned. "I can't properly call it a coup if it occurs by majority, but something spectacularly bad seems to be brewing back home. And with the comment on the fritz from the attack, I can only guess."

The temperature dropped in the room again, and Kathleen's eyes blazed with blue-fire. "Oh I don't like this one bit. We need to start considering options...options that I would have considered ridiculous to even consider yesterday." She pulled out a PADD from the desk drawer and activated it. "We need to start thinking about the possibility of being cut off from the Federation. The problem is, they may not want the people...but you can be damn sure they will want everything else. And I'm not giving it to them." She continued to type on the PADD as she spoke. "Any facility, any craft, and any individual that wishes to stay with us if this goes down will be accepted. We will need to speak with the leadership on Stratkas as well...they need to have a heads up on all of this." She was quiet for a moment as she ran something through her head. "You know, it's not a bad idea..."

"In the restatement of the obvious category, I intend on staying until you throw me off the planet. But I suspect you knew that given my understated distaste for that returning to Earth notion Miss McCarthy was so fond of." He groaned. "I'm as ready as I'm going to be for discussions with the government representatives, so if there's anything else I can do to help let me know."

Kathleen's smile was....oh hell....

TBC

-----------------------

Commodore Kathleen O'Shea
Commanding Officer
Starbase 80

Lt. Commander Andrew Matheson
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Starbase 80

 

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