USS Triton
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Speaking Freely

Posted on Mon Jul 13th, 2020 @ 4:26pm by Ensign Torlek Stone, son of Chang of House Torlek & Commander Soraya Rezvani

Mission: Entropy
Location: Deck 1, Captain's Ready Room

Torlek leaned back and crossed his hands over his chest. He read his diplomatic report one more time and filed it. He glanced at the PADD over his desk, but chose to forward it internally instead of taking it in hand. There were a few doubts around in his mind, but the report was clear, precise and diplomatically elaborate, a fine example of diplomatic emptiness that would fit perfectly on the paperwork of the mission.

Basically it stated all the intentions but didn’t gave a clear guide of action. Certainly not the help Commander Rezvani would need. But if he was called to help the questions flying around his mind, like moths around the light, should be answered.

If possible off course, the Commander might not even know the answers herself, or chose not to divulge them. After all he was just an Ensign, all he had to do was the best he could, with the intel he was given.

No more, no less.

Soraya sat in her ready room pouring over a different set of reports: field notes filed by the senior staff down on the planet engaged in various activities. Lieutenant Commander Seong was coordinating their response with the colonial government, but she was still involved both as a courtesy and a necessity. If she didn't have something to read, some form of engagement with the mission, she'd just sit around in her office and dwell. The reports helped, but... The dwelling persisted. There were a lot of unanswered questions swirling around this mission.

"Rezvani to Stone," she said, calling out to the air and letting the computer route the call. "Report to my ready room, please."

Torlek straighten himself before responding.

"Stone to Rezvani, I am on my way Ma'am."

He stood up and straighten his uniform, as he walked out of his office.

"May I offer you something to drink?" Soraya asked, standing up as the ensign entered. She moved to the replicator while waiting for his reply, mentally flipping through an index of tea varieties that might be appropriate for her fourth cup of the day.

Torlek smiled and shook his head. "Thank you Ma'am, but not right now."

"The situation on the planet keeps evolving, and it's growing more politically complex," Soraya said as she held up a PADD. It was the joint report of Lieutenant Leiko and Ensign Thelin. They'd filed it locally, so it went directly to her and wasn't yet in the official record. "This mission appeared to be straight-forward, but I should have known that the involvement of the Office of Strategic Operations meant there was more than meets the eye."

Torlek took the offered PADD and gave it a quick read. His smile died on his lips.

"The proverbial second shoe fell." He turned to the CO and gave her back the PADD. “Commander, do I have your permission to speak freely?”

Soraya raised both eyebrows in curiosity, wondering what might prompt such a question, as she took a seat back behind her desk. "Of course. I'd rather you speak freely than not."

The report finally shed some light on his doubts, but his concerns grew exponentially. He had already several course of actions to recommend, after all that was what he was here for, but there was another question that bothered him. Alas he would have to find that answer for himself.

Now he had a task at hand so he drove right into it.

"My report reflects the advisable and official course of action. Keep the status quo, don't embarrass the Federation and remain as neutral as possible. But since you allow my bluntness I have only one word to describe it. Bullocks."

He crossed his fingers and offered a smile to her. "It appears we were sent here as pawns, in my opinion we shouldn't act as we are expected. This report just confirms my suspicions that the Breen are around here and I don't see us making this a Cardassian..." He took a few seconds to find a suitable comparison. "... P´Jem."

He let his words sink in for a second before offering his plan. "We have to ascertain the Cardassians possession of the planet, hopefully not violently, but we must keep the Breen at bay. And we have to tear down the Cardassian listening post, again hopefully not violently, but they can't be allowed to have a spy station here. I believe this might settle things between the two. It will obviously antagonize us, but as the french say c'est la vie." Torlek offered a sincere smile and opened his hands. "Of course this is just a suggestion Ma'am. Thank you for allowing me to speak my mind."

I'll take it under advisement was the first thing that came to her mind, but she hesitated to say it. The suggestion he offered was bold. And it would have Ngabo coming down on her like a ton of bricks. So, instead of saying something command-like, the captain decided to speak freely as well.

"Apparently, Starfleet has an intelligence sharing agreement with the Cardassians, so we're benefiting from this listening post as much as they are. Further, the Breen are not on friendly terms with the Federation, so I doubt command would sanction us acting in their interests. Dismantling an intelligence operation against them would be a strategic gift. Having said that, I agree that this situation is hardly ideal. Clandestine military assets and operations on a civilian colony world would run afoul of Federation ethics if it was happening in Federation space. Since it's not, I get the sense Starfleet is willing to turn a blind eye, particularly since the Breen are involved."

Torlek nodded with a sad smile, leaning back at the chair in front of the Commander. "Well... that throws the boldness out the airlock." He straighten himself.

"Moreover," Soraya continued, "we should acknowledge that fleet politics are a reality, and I have no illusions about my own lack of prestige at the moment. I've only just been granted my command again, which means I must walk the line and walk it closely if I've any hope of retaining it."

That was the final confirmation of his assumptions. The Commander's frankness set well with him, she could just heard his plan and politely dismissed it. Since she chose not to he would do his best to support her.

"Then we have to confirm the Breen presence, ascertain Cardassian sovereignty and safety, and aid them like we were ordered. I am ready to help in any away team you see fit Ma'am." Torlek's smile widen as made himself more comfortable. "I still believe there are some Breen lurking around, but until we make confirmed contact with them we should keep assisting Administrator Ket the best we could. If and when we find the Breen..." He shrugged and joined his hands on his chest "We can't really plan that far ahead, just hope they haven't found the spying station. If they know it's going to be complicated to negotiate a good deal for everyone."

He frowned on the thought of settling a negotiation round between Breen and Cardassians, while keeping the best interest of the Fleet.

"Thank you Ma'am."

Soraya tiled her head slightly to the side. "For what, ensign?"

"For allowing my frankness and rewarding it with your own. As the CO you had no need to do it." He lowered respectfully his head. "You have my respect for that."

She smiled and lowered her head in return. "Likewise. I know there are many command styles in the fleet. Personally, I've never seen the value in having an adversarial relationship with one's staff or enforcing some rigid hierarchy. I'd rather have a consultative relationship with my officers and facilitate open communication, so that neither of us might hesitate to offer a needed opinion. Or, indeed, even question my decisions. The commanding officer may be the commanding officer, but we are not infallible."

Torlek smiled unfolding is hands. "None of us are Ma'am. But with some effort we can avoid mistakes, and deal with unavoidable flaws. Still we have our hands full here. When are the away teams expected back?"

"As I understand it, they've all returned except for Lieutenant Leiko and Centurion t'Seroht's team," Soraya said with a furrowed brow. "They're investigating some lead regarding the presence - rather, the supposed presence - of Breen on the surface. We have much circumstantial evidence to suggest that they're here, but nothing concrete. Certainly nothing I could take back to command as proof. As of yet, that is."

"Well, I would like to assist further Ma'am, although I should warn you my science skill leave much to be desired." Torlek offered an apologetic shrug. "It is a flaw I hope to eventually address. Is there anything you wish me to focus on Ma'am?"

"I don't often take an in-depth interest in interstellar politics, so I'm at a loss for what contemporary events might be unfolding that have an influence here. For better or worse, it seems the Breen have an interest in this area. Would you mind looking into what they've been doing lately? I'll ask our intelligence officer to assist you with any clearance you might need," Soraya said. "The strategic interest simply doesn't seem obvious, particularly if we believe the administrator's assertion that the Breen don't know about the listening post. Are they just turning expansionist? Trying to drive the Cardassians from the system to make it easier to secure? Or is this some sort of subtle economic warfare? Arsakon VII does form a major link in Cardassia's trade relations with the Gamma Quadrant."

Torlek nodded, the Breen were a complicated species, officially they weren't declared openly as hostile by Starfleet's Diplomatic Corps. But there were no real attempts from either side to improve diplomatic relations.

"Off course Ma'am. But if I may point out you forgot one question."

Soraya raised an eyebrow.

"Could the Breen be somehow related with the planet's tachyon problems? I know it's a thought we would rather not have, but they are an advanced species and it wouldn't be the first time they surprised us."

"The thought had occurred to me," she said with a frown. "Starfleet Intelligence has had a notoriously difficult time obtaining information about the Breen, which might explain their willingness for this joint operation on Arsakon. But yes, it's entirely possible they're behind the whole thing. Some sort of clandestine operation or a testing ground for a new weapon. The devastation of the effects are undeniable. If they could harness and focus the destructive power of the phenomenon... Well. The entire Federation would be at risk."

Torlek shrugged offering the Commander a sincere smile. "Like they said at the Academy, let us hope for the best but get ready for the worse."

"It's as good a philosophy as any at this point, ensign," Soraya said.

Commander Soraya Rezvani
Commanding Officer
USS Triton, NCC-62389

Ensign Torlek Stone
Diplomatic Officer
USS Triton, NCC-62389


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