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The Actuate

Posted on Sun Nov 12th, 2017 @ 3:14am by Lieutenant JG Wakeham Paul Alasia PhD

Mission: Operation Red Garden
Location: Federation Diplomatic Corps Headquarters - Paris, Earth
Timeline: Before Arrival

Paul absently flicked a piece of lettuce from his collar before tilting his head to take another bite of his food. His friend and colleague Kim tsk-tsked through a smirk as she shook her head.

“The best food in the galaxy.” She looked out the window. “Paris has a reputation for the best food in the galaxy.”

“Mmm?” Paul grumbled with a full mouth.

“Not the planet, mind you. The whole galaxy.”

Paul covered his mouth to respond while he was chewing. “I’m not saying it doesn’t.”

“Come again?” She smirked.

Paul forced the food down his throat. “I’m sure the food here is wonderful.”

“And yet, you eat replicator tacos.”

“What? Should I commandeer a runabout to Mexico? I’m working for the good people of the United Federation of Planets, and they, in their infinite wisdom, have afforded me the luxury of…” Paul lifted his food, “delicious, replicated tacos.”

Kim made a noise that was part scoff and part chuckle. “The best food in for the world, Paul.”

“It’s too… you know. It’s got, snails and, like, wine in it. And snails.” He meandered, making up thoughts as he wnet.

“I don’t even know…”

“And, like, caviar. And… cream? Yeah, it’s too rich. Way too rich.” Paul chuckled

“Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?”

“I hear the French eat monkey brains.” Paul smiled.

“Yeah? Where did you hear that?” Kim played along.

Paul took another bite of his taco and responded with his mouth full. “Extremely reliable source. Guy’s never led me wrong before.”

“So you eat replicated tacos?”

“You can hardly taste the monkey brains.”

Kim sighed through a broad smile. “Wasn’t this supposed to be a working lunch?”

Paul continued chewing. “Hey, I’m just here for the dazzle of the local repartee. If I happen to get some work done on top, well that’s just house money at that point.”

“No, seriously, there’s mission specs Sandy wanted me to review with you.” Kim fished around in her bag for a PaDD. Do you know anything about Lotus Major?”

“Lotus Major?” Paul swallowed his bite. “I do, actually. It was a key outpost for her black market activity between the Dominion and the Ferengi during the war. I had a whole sub-section on Lotus in my dissertation.”

“So, what’s their status now?” Kim asked.

“It’s a big mess. The planet is divided up among different warring factions that control, like, half the planet and then there’s one contemporary, liberal democratic state that controls the other half. The democrats have been making overtures about joining the Federation, but the planet is an ecological catastrophe, they’re on the precipice of civil war at pretty much all times. Plus, it’s right on the border of Cardassian space, so the fact that they’re even in talking to us is totally inflaming the triple-C. The whole thing’s a mess: they’re like, 25 years away from membership, minimum. I’d give better than even odds they never join at all. So, why do you ask? Is there something going on over there?”

Kim had been skimming the document in front of her on her PaDD as Paul was talking. “Yeah, it looks like your 25 year timeline just got moved up. There’s some type of fungus or something growing on the surface, and it looks like they’re going to try to fix it.”

“Right, but there’s got to be some kind of diplomatic component to it if Sandy’s putting it in front of you.”

“Maybe they’re leveraging the disaster to force all the tribal governments into unification with the democrats?” Kim offered.

“Yeah, I guess.” Paul scrolled absently through his screen. “What are they called?”

“Who?”

“The real government. The non-warlords.”

“It says here; it’s called the UC Lotus Major.”

“Right!” Paul’s memory was jogged. “The United Colonies! The Zevihil government. Yeah. I mean they’re really not… they’re really not ready for this. This seems fast. Does it say what changed?”

“Not specifically, but if I had to guess, I would think that whatever is going on with the planet ecologically is requiring some type of quicker intervention.” Kim speculated.

“Of things haven’t changed at all and some hard-charger in Starfleet Command is looking to piss of the Cardassians and using that as an excuse.” Paul countered skeptically.

“Could be.”

“So what does Sandy need from me?”

“She wanted someone with a Starfleet commission who knew the area to weigh in.”

“On the mission?” Paul asked.

“Yeah.”

“My opinion? This is way premature. Unless there’s something that needs doing right now, we should wait. Cardassia’s weak. We start making them feel boxed in, they’re going to lash out. We’ve been in cold and hot wars with Cardassia for decades. For the first time, basically ever, we have a chance to build a lasting peaceful relationship with the Central Command. I don’t know why the hell we would risk that for a planet that’s 50 years away from being a productive member of the UFP. It’s under-ripe. It’s too soon.”

“Sandy made it seem like this is happening.” His friend responded.

“Well, then, I don’t see what the hell Sandy needs me to… alright, then it’s happening. It’s a bad idea, but if that’s the hill someone wants to die on, let them. Who in Starfleet got the mission?”

“The Gladiator-A.”

“Oh, my God, you’re kidding.” Paul responded skeptically. He had left the Gladiator some time ago for what was meant to be a short detail on Earth. That detail had stretched well past a year. He had always intended to return to the Gladiator, but there hadn’t been a pressing need to do so.

“That’s your old ship, right?” Kim asked.

“Yeah. My current ship, really. My Earth assignment wasn’t supposed to last long, but new projects keep coming up. Does the Gladiator have a new CDO assigned?”

Kim looked at his quizzically. “Does that mean Diplomat?”

Paul laughed. “Yeah, sorry. They’re big on acronyms. That’s the Chief Diplomatic Officer.”

“Umm. I’m not sure.”

“You mind if I take a look at that?” Paul reached out. “There should be a ship manifest included in the raw files.” Paul flipped through the PaDD. “Yeah, they don’t have a Starfleet diplomat assigned. They’re probably just going to have the crew handle the responsibilities.”

“Will that work?”

“It has worked. Jean-Luc Picard is probably the most accomplished diplomat in recent Federation history, and he was a ship captain. He didn’t work for the diplomatic corps at all, directly. Will it work in this case, specifically?” Paul contorted his face. “I don’t know.”

“Maybe it’s time for you to get back out there.”

“Yeah? You trying to get rid of me?” Paul smirked.

“No, I just… all the stuff with your dad, I figured you’d been looking for a reason to get off planet.”

“I don’t know if a mission I don’t think is a good idea is the best way to get back in the saddle…”

“How much crap do you do around here that you actually believe in?”

“Touché.” Paul conceded. “I do miss them.”

“We’ll always be here. It doesn’t have to be forever. But, if you think you can be a help, you should go.”

Paul scrunched his nose as he thought to himself. “I should contact the Captain.”

 

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