Sei sulla pagina 1di 60

STAR TREK

CITADEL
Letter of Credence
By John H. Harris

The Crystal Palace


Paris
Walter Eve was a mid-level diplomat. Hed never been anything more than an
attach, so he was quite surprised to receive a briefing paper and summons to appear
before the President.
Shes ready for you, Mr. Eve, a young Vulcan announced from the door.
Walter nodded his thanks as he passed, heading for the open door.
Mister Eve! Rafti min-Shonraleur, the recently re-elected President of the
Federation, said as Walter entered the expansive office. Thank you for coming so
quickly.
Its not often one receives a summons like this, Ms. President.
Well, this is an unusual situation. I trust youve had an opportunity to read the
briefing paper?
Yes, Maam. This planet Intar looks interesting. The culture looks about right
for its tech level, so why do you need me?
There are two anomalies that make you uniquely suited.
As cultural attach?
As Ambassador.
Walters brain stopped. Excuse me, Ms. President, but
Why else would you be called here, and not to the Secretarys office? the
Betazoid asked with a slight smile. She actually enjoyed the massive confusion she read
in the mans mind. Let me explain. The Intarans contacted the Federation some months
ago, using the Pakleds as intermediaries. They requested our help in defending
themselves from Tzenkethi raids, so we sent a starship, the Indomitable.
The Intarans wouldnt negotiate with the Indomitables captain. They claimed
that he was not of great enough stature. So we sent the Enterprise with the same
result. But one of Captain Picards officers noticed something about the Intarans, which
Picard passed up the line. As a result of this information, we sent the starship Marshal
Martz. Its captain was able to conclude an agreement within a week.
The captain of the Marshal Martz has one distinction that no other captain has,
the President concluded. He suffers from Cyrano Jones Disease.
Like me.
Min-Shonraleur nodded. We could have sent a Bolian or Tellarite, but Captain
Picard determined that the Intarans needed to deal with someone who looked like them.
And this dispatch from the science team attached to what is being called Forward
Operating Base Gwalior makes that even more important. She handed him a small
PADD.
Walter quickly read over the science report, but slowed to read one section out
loud. With the discovery of distinctive ruins and artifacts, it is clear that the Intarans are
descended from Northern European, West African and Polynesian seafaring civilizations,
transplanted by the Preservers. He looked up from the PADD. Has this been verified,
Maam?
Not yet, but the artifacts do bear a striking resemblance to those used by ancient
civilizations here on Earth. For instance, some of them are identical to Norse Runes. The

Preserver link is less definitive, since only shards have been located. Starfleet Science is
sending teams out to scan archaeological sites in hope of discovering an obelisk.
Walter nodded, handing the PADD back to the President. I can see why you
chose me, Maam, but I must warn you that I havent had any ambassadorial experience.
Walter Do you mind if I call you that?
Youre the President. You can call me anything you like.
Min-Shonraleur grinned. Thank you. Walter, most of the ambassadors we send
are appointed for political reasons. Theyre usually big campaign donors or other
connected people. Of course, we do get the occasional true diplomat, usually a Vulcan,
but I suspect youll fit that mold nicely.
She then picked up something Walter had rarely seen: a large, sealed paper
envelope. Holding it out to Walter, she said, This is your Letter of Credence for
presentation to the Prime Councilor. The working copies have already been sent and your
meetings will be scheduled upon your arrival.
She stood up, bringing Walter to his own feet. The Diplomatic Courier Nancy
Hedford is waiting for you in orbit. Itll take about a month to get there, which will give
you time to get to know your staff. She then snapped her fingers. I just remembered
something. Youll be doubling as military attach, so youve been granted a Starfleet
Reserve commission. She reached into a small box on her desk and removed a
commbadge. Congratulations, Captain Eve.

Foreign Relations Secretariat


Washington
They say gossip travels at warp ten, and Walter found it to be true as he returned
to his office at Foggy Bottom, one of the riverside neighborhoods in Washington. While
Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo held the joint title of Federation Capitol, many of the
governments departments were hosted by the old capitols of Earths nations.
It seemed like they were all there: colleagues, superiors and subordinates he had
worked with over the years. There was old Ambassador Getai, the Pandrilite who was his
first boss; Trace Kelly, whom he had shared more a few offices with; even TLi, still
exotically beautiful after all these years. He wasnt sure, but he thought he detected the
hint of a smile on her face. He looked around the lobby, seeing dozens of faces, a dozen
species. A sound at his feet drew his gaze downward.
Councilor Sanaht! Walter said, feeling a smile spread across his own face. Of
all the people he had worked with on the sixteen planets he had served assignments on,
he had enjoyed working with the Hortas representative to the Federation Council the
most.
I WANTED TO BE HERE FOR YOUR SENDOFF, MISTER AMBASSADOR, the living
rock said through the small voder implanted in his back.
Oh, please! I havent even left Earth yet, much less presented my credentials.
MERE FORMALITIES, MY YOUNG FRIEND.
Hey, who are you calling young? Youre only a century out of your egg.
The Horta rumbled his laughter at their old joke. YOU WILL DO FINE, WALTER. I
HAVE FAITH IN YOU.

The Hortas declaration was echoed by those gathered around him. Anyway, I
thank you for your well-wishes, but I have work to do, so if youll all excuse me
Applause followed Walter as he moved through the small crowd and into the
building proper.
Shaking hands, holding a conversation any idiot can do that, he thought,
heading for the small office in the bowels of the centuries-old building. Negotiating
treaties and dealing with alien leaders on their turfwell, even old dogs can learn new
tricks.
He swung open the manual door to find someone waiting for him: Tall, dressed in
a Starfleet uniform, with tan reptilian skin and the distinctive flared crest of a Selay. For
a moment, Walter was taken aback, as the Selay looked remarkably like the Terran
Cobra and Walter was ophidiophobic.
Can I help you? Walter asked, sounding remarkably calm.
Petty Officer Rilaar, reporting as ordered.
I didnt order anyone from Starfleet.
My orders are from Admiral Rhone. She believes I would make a good
bodyguard for you, the Selay replied. I have served in that capacity before, Your
Excellency.
Please, Im not that formal. If you need to use an honorific, Mr. Ambassador
will do. And why would anyone think I need a?
In a flash, the petty officer was upon Walter, pinning him to the wall. A moment
later, he stepped back. Would you care to ask that question again?
You almost gave me a heart attack!
The Selay bowed slightly. My apologies, Mr. Ambassador, but I trust it made my
point. Fear can be a great teacher.
Yeah, Walter answered, you just reminded me why Im afraid of snakes.
Such fear seems common among many species, Sir. I have found it
advantageous in the past. I vow to you that, should I ever come at you again, it will be to
protect you, not to attack you. While you are under my protection, none shall harm you.
I see, Walter said, not convinced in the least. But hed be damned if he ever let
the cobra-headed alien see it on his face. Instead, he sat down behind his desk, in the
specially-designed desk chair some kind replicator whiz had presented him some years
before. So why are you really here?
Mr. Ambassador? the petty officer asked with well-feigned bewilderment.
Walter leaned back in his chair. Admiral Rhone is Admiral Montgomerys
number two at Starfleet Intelligence. It helps to know who might end up on ones staff,
since attaches are so often used as the cover for an SI station chief.
Walter nodded at the Selays silent request to seat himself in the visitors chair in
front of the desk. I believe I will enjoy working with you. Starfleet Intelligence
believes that, with Intar becoming a place of interest for the Federation, its also possible
to become a place of controversy, especially with the Tzenkethi and
Im quite familiar with the Tzenkethi, Walter countered. I wrote the last
cultural briefing paper for the Council.
Then you are aware of their capabilities.
I am, Walter answered, standing up, but Im much more interested in Intaran
culture, Mr. Rilaar. I leave military matters to Starfleet.

May I ask why?


Because we get so caught up in wars and petty disputes. The idea behind the
Federation was to better ourselves and help others. Were also trying to better our
understanding of the Universe around us, but thats something that we all but abandoned
during the Dominion War.
An interesting stance. Respectfully, you no longer have that option, Captain.
Walter stopped and looked hard at the Selay. He was right. As a full ambassador,
he didnt have that option anymore. Any disagreement between Starfleet and the Intarans
would land squarely in his lap.
That is part of the job, isnt it?
Rilaar regarded the human as his mind worked. I believe you will represent the
Federation well on Intar, Mr. Ambassador.
Thank you, Mr. Rilaar.
So when do we leave? the Selay asked, rising to his feet.
We?
I am your bodyguard.
Walter grinned. Until Im dead, youre dead or one of us finds someone better,
Petty Officer.

Paris
Ambassador? Just like that? Walters sister, Millie Sawyer, asked from across
the table.
Walter nodded after taking a bite of his salad. After chewing and swallowing, he
added, It surprised the hell out of me, too. I mean, you dont get called to the Crystal
Palace out of the blue.
No, you dont.
I also gained a shadow.
A shadow?
A bodyguard.
It was Monday, and they were at Armands, a Parisian bistro that had been their
favorite place for non-replicated meals since childhood. Usually, they met for dinner
(lunch for Walter, since Paris was six hours ahead of Washington) on Wednesdays, but
Walter had managed to use his friendship with the owner to get them an early table.
A bodyguard? Sounds exciting.
And being a mother, not to mention a best-selling holonovel author, isnt?
Walter looked down at his Caesar salad and frowned. He didnt especially care for salad,
but had promised his sister that hed eat more greens.
Hey, Im not the one who insults people for the government, she joked.
Please, dont remind me about General Mitan.
Its not my fault you cant hold your gagh.
I think he still has a dk tahg with my name on it because of that. He took a sip
of his grape juice, composing his next question. So how have you been since the
divorce?
Millie was silent for several seconds, composing her thoughts. The final
declaration had been granted only that morning, and it was still sinking in.

Oh okay, she finally answered. Hank gets the kids on the weekend, and I
get them during the week. He also gets them occasionally for vacations.
Getting any writing done?
Not much, lately, but I have a few ideas about a historical drama about John
Harriman.
Who? Walter asked, jokingly. Everyone with a Federation education knew who
John Harriman was.
The captain of the Enterprise.
Which one? There have been six starships named Enterprise and eleven
captains. I think youre going to have to narrow it down for me.
He commanded the Enterprise-B. The one Kirk died on, Millie clarified,
spearing a crouton with her fork.
That was the one we visited at the Smithsonian, wasnt it?
No, that was the Enterprise-A. B went missing in 2313. She frowned at him.
For someone with a degree in history, youre awfully ill-informed.
Walter laughed, picking at his salad. He wished for the hundredth time that night
that their entrees would arrive.
That was when he caught her staring at the commbadge.
What?
Its just strange seeing you wear that, especially with your having
Adipose Hyper-replenishment Syndrome is not an obscenity, Millie. Ive lived
with it my whole life.
I know, but I just cant imagine someone with it wearing a Starfleet uniform.
Actually, Walter answered, smiling as his Foie Gras arrived, there are a
number of people with Cyrano Jones Disease in Starfleet. One of them is even a
captain.
Really?
Yes. He was also the man behind the Starfleet Special Commissioning and
Enlistment Act. He commands the starship Marshal Martz.
Interesting. Whats his name?
John Harris. Why?
Maybe Ill write about him instead of Harriman.
Walter was about to say something when a voice issued from the commbadge.
Starfleet to Captain Eve.
Your masters voice Captain.
Jealous? Walter asked, tapping the commbadge. This is Eve.
Vice Admiral Tattok, this is, the voice continued. With Starfleet Operations, I
am. Apologize, I do, for calling while at lunch, you are.
Um, thats okay, Admiral. How can I help you?
With Starfleet Command, briefings you must have. Important, they are,
Ambassador. Wait, they cannot.
Admiral, Im having dinner with my sister. Cant this wait at least until after we
finish?
After a pause, Tattok replied, Two hours, I can give you. No more. Early
tomorrow, your courier ship departs.
Understood. Ill call for beaming when were done here.

Await you, I shall. Tattok out.


They had eaten their meal in silence before walking down to the Seine.
We cant put it off any longer, Millie suddenly said.
They both knew what she meant.
Yeah, duty calls. He looked down at his sister. Im sorry, Millie. I wish I had
more time.
I know. She threw her arms around him. Im gonna miss you. Just like I do
every time you leave Earth.
Ill miss you and the kids, too, Walter said, returning the hug. You can always
come visit, you know.
You know I hate space travel She looked up into his face, the city lights
turned to stars by the film of tears in her eyes. Go, Walter, before we both start crying.
Walter released her and stepped back. Aye-aye, Maam, he said with a jaunty
salute. He then tapped the commbadge. Eve to Starfleet. One to beam to Admiral
Tattoks office.
A moment later, Millies tear-streaked face was illuminated by blue light as her
brother was whisked off by the transporter.

Council House
Unity, Planet Intar
Vice Councilor, we seem to have a problem.
Nelani Yan, Vice to Councilor Kinda of Kentar and Chief of Protocol for the
Intaran Alien Relations Directorate, looked up from the new computer terminal the
Starfleet people had installed on her desk. What sort of problem? she asked.
It appears one of the Federation Ambassadors staff requires a special diet.
The aide handed Yan the small datapad, which she began to read. When she
reached the relevant section, her eyes grew wide.
Live animals?
That is what the note indicates, the aide confirmed. It states that hes a Selay.
Im not familiar with that species.
I dont think any Intaran is, Imbru. Handing the datapad back to the aide, she
looked back down at the computer screen. Computer, display information on species
known as Selay.
After a few beeps, the requested information appeared.
Well, that explains the diet. She reached up and rotated the display for Imbru to
see.
By the Maker! It looks like a like a Ive never seen anything like it.
I have. Theres a species of lizard on one of the western islands that looks rather
a lot like this.
Maybe we should declare him unacceptable. We do have that right under the
conventions the Federation adheres to.
On what grounds? And what do we tell the next member of this species that
wishes to visit? Reptiles not allowed? She shook her head. No, the Selay are a

Federation member species, and if we show prejudice against them just for being reptiles,
it opens a door I, for one, adamantly wish to remain closed. She rotated the display back
to a comfortable angle and scrolled down to read the section on Selay dietary habits.
It says here, she continued, that Selay can easily subsist on replicated or
farmed meats, which are supplemented by live animals and fish. Well, fish shouldnt be
hard to come by. Im sure we can find a fisherman willing to supply the embassy with
enough to satisfy this Rilaars appetite.
And if he prefers other types of food?
People do keep carnivorous species as pets, Imbru. Im sure theres a pet store
that can provide the occasional delicacy, or at least help identify a source.
Ill see what I can do, Vice Councilor.
You have a month.

Starfleet Headquarters
San Francisco
Now I remember why I hate kanar
Walter was working on two hours sleep and coffee as he looked at himself in the
mirror in what he recognized as VIP guest quarters at Starfleet Headquarters.
Somewhere around midnight, as the briefings were ending, the little Horrusi flag
officer had produced the bottle and insisted he take a drink. One drink turned into three,
and three turned into three bottles, and then hed drunk something green.
Tradition, it is, Walter croaked, doing his best impression of the little bastard.
Drink, you must.
I hope somebody lands a shuttle on him, Walter thought, darkly, as he headed for
the replicator.
He didnt mean it, of course. In fact, hed found he rather liked Tattok.
He was about to order a second cup of coffee when a thermonuclear bomb
detonated in his ears.
Yaagh! Not so loud! he cried.
The door slid open to reveal Rilaar. My apologies, Mr. Ambassador, he
answered. Perhaps this will help.
Walter accepted the proffered hypospray. Whats in it?
Thirty ccs of hydrocortilene. It should alleviate your headache somewhat.
Not daring to argue with his bodyguard, Walter meekly injected the analgesic into
the side of his neck. Almost instantly, the pain began to abate.
Thank you, Petty Officer.
Youre welcome, Sir. Your personal belongings have been packed and
transported to the courier, and your house has been listed for subletting.
Thats Sandy. Sometimes youd swear that woman was a Betazoid. Too bad she
wont be coming with us.
Miss Caruthers is awaiting us on board the Nancy Hedford.
Then I guess its time. Shuttle or transporter? Walter asked.
The transporter center is awaiting our arrival.
Walter picked up his briefcase. Then lets be on our way.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Earth Orbit
There was a time when the captain hated diplomats. Most Starfleet captains did at
one time or another. But his attitude had changed in the years hed spent in the admiralty.
Having risen to the rank of Vice Admiral, Charlie Haywood now commanded one
of the Federations few dedicated diplomatic vessels. Despite his vaunted rank, he
actually liked being called Captain again.
Yes, it was little more than a glorified toothless starliner, but it let him serve out
his final years of Starfleet duty in space, where he belonged.
Despite his best attempts, the first thing Walter Eve did upon materializing aboard
the United Federation of Planets Diplomatic Ship Nancy Hedford was yawn. He also had
an urge to vomit, but was able to successfully control it. Transporters always made him
queasy, and the hangover only made it worse.
Welcome aboard, Mr. Ambassador, Lesley Caruthers, his new administrative
assistant, said. She was human, but had been raised on Vulcan, so her demeanor was
very calm and reserved. Her attire matched her personality in cut, if not color. Blood
green, trimmed in gold, the shimmering skirt suit showed off the womans physical assets
quite well. Especially her legs, Walter thought, stepping down from the platform.
Thank you, Miss Caruthers, but I believe its the captains job to extend those
particular greetings.
I think Im going to like this guy, Haywood thought, stepping forward to shake
hands with the new Federation ambassador to Intar.
Permission to come aboard, CapI mean Admiral, Walter asked.
Granted, Mr. Ambassador. Welcome aboard the Nancy Hedford. And captain is
perfectly acceptable. It is my position, despite my rank. In fact, I prefer it.
Of course, Captain. Its an honor to be aboard. I see youve already met Miss
Caruthers, and this is
Rilaar! When they started beaming degus aboard, I knew youd probably be
coming. How are ya, kid?
I am quite well, Admiral. Thank you.
Seeing Walters confusion, Rilaar explained. Admiral Haywood and I worked
together back during the war.
I was number three at Starfleet Intelligence at the time, Haywood added,
assigned to Starbase 78. I wanted to steal him for my staff, but he needed some field
experience first.
Well, youll have plenty of time to catch up, Walter remarked.
Indeed. In fact, were ready to depart. If youll accompany me to the bridge.
Of course.
Rilaar, weve penned off a section of cargo bay two for you. Bon appetite.
Thank you, Admiral. Ambassador, I will see you later. If youll excuse me, I
will go have breakfast.

The bridge of the Nancy Hedford wasnt much different than those of other
starships, but there were a few distinctions.
For one thing, there was no tactical station. Being unarmed, the ship had no need
for one. It did have a security station, though it was unmanned as Haywood led Walter
and Caruthers out of the turbolift. Blue and silver dominated the color scheme,
mimicking the colors of the Federation flag.
And there were two fully-functional captains chairs.
Care to have a seat, Ambassador? Haywood asked, leading Walter down to the
command platform at the center of the bridge. Thats what its there for.
Thank you, Captain, Walter answered, lowering himself into the offered chair.
Freddie! You got that course for the Intar system ready?
Right here, Boss, via Starbase 128, as ordered, the flight control officer
answered. Like Haywood, he was an older man. Walter couldnt see the pips on his
collar, but he suspected they were those of a full commander.
Then its time for us to mosey on out there.
Walter was surprised at the westernism, but quickly concluded that it fit the
captains accent, which he guessed was southern Mississippi or Louisiana.
Half impulse to the edge of the system, then accelerate to warp six.
Aye, Sir. Conn ready.
Haywood turned to the Tiburonian at the large communications station at the left
side of the bridge. XO, advise system control that were ready to depart.
Already done, Boss. Our departure lane is clear of traffic, and control wishes us
swift winds and full sails.
Give them our thanks, Dix. Turning to Walter, Haywood waved his arm to
indicate the expanse of the small bridge. Your order, Ambassador.
Youre the captain.
But its your deployment. Besides, its tradition.
What the hell? Very well, Captain. Freddie, take us out.
Twenty minutes later, Haywood gently ordered Walter off the bridge.
Maybe you ought to go get some sleep, Mr. Ambassador. Youve been yawning
since you came aboard.
Sorry, Captain. I didnt get much sleep last night and the hangover doesnt
help. Last thing I remember was something green.
Haywood laughed. Aldebaran whiskey. Nothing else in the galaxy brings on a
hangover like it. Go sleep it off. Youll be ready for dinner when you wake up.
The galley crew has been in contact with Gwalior base, the executive officer
added. Im told theyll have a special set of dishes ready by 19:00 this evening.
Walter rose to his feet, nodding his thanks to the two officers. Ill be ready.
Well be waiting for you in the forward lounge.
Then I will see you tonight.
Ill show you to your quarters, Mr. Ambassador, Caruthers said, leading him
into the turbolift. Deck six, VIP quarters. She waited until the turbolift had closed and
started moving before continuing. Sir, Id like to apologize for my protocol breach in
the transporter room. Its my first assignment as Social Secretary.

No harm, no foul, Miss Caruthers, Walter answered. Before three days ago,
Id never been an ambassador.
Still, Mr. Ambassador
Walter.
Sir?
Call me Walter. If were going to be working together, we might as well be on a
first name basis.
Um Yes, Sir.
Well work on it.
Yes, Sir.
They were silent for several seconds before Walter asked, What sort of fitness
routine do you follow?
I practice Suss Mann at level six proficiency, as well as standard aerobic
workouts.
What about your diet?
I practice dietary veganism, but do consume animal flesh and products as
protocol requires.
I suggest you reconsider both. The Intarans have a cultural version of Cyrano
Jones Disease. You may find yourself being offered food insistently, if not forcibly.
Yes, Sir. Ive been advised to carry what have become known as Fauxbars.
Still, you might consider letting yourself go a bit.
Ill consider it, Mr. Ambassador.

U.S.S. Kumari NCC-10642-A


Orbiting planet Intar
The sound of the intercom roused Ritan thNar from a slumber filled with dreams
of the glaciers on his native Andoria. With a sigh, he opened his eyes and looked at the
closed shutters on the window above his bed.
ThNar here.
Sorry to disturb you, Captain, the night watch commander answered, but
Admiral Mecum is on the com for you.
Sitting up with a groan, thNar answered, Ill take it down here. Throwing on a
robe, he padded across the compartment to his desk, where the admiral was already on
the small screen of the communications panel.
I didnt know it was the middle of the night there.
Early morning, actually, Admiral. Were providing support for operations in the
western islands.
I see. In that case, you have my apologies. I just wanted to let you know that
the Federation Council has gotten off their collective arses and appointed an
ambassador.
About time. Youd have thought the Secretaries would have sent someone
sooner. Still, itll be nice to have someone else representing the Federation, especially at
all the dinners Ive been invited to.

Well, you shouldnt have that problem much longer. It took a while for the
President to find someone suitable to the Intarans.
What? She couldnt find an overweight campaign donor?
Actually, hes a career diplomat, but hes never been in the upper echelons.
Oh?
I believe you know him, actually. You did transport that legation to QonoS
when there was that incident with a bowl of Filden gagh and Chancellor Martoks chief
of staff
Are you talking about Walter Eve?
Yes.
Hmm He does fit the mold, and he may be a career diplomat, but hes done
excellent work as cultural and trade attach in various assignments. In fact, one of my
bondmates tells me he wrote the last briefing for the Council.
Ritan, you of all people should know that sitting behind a desk writing cultural
briefs is far different than actually being out in the field. The admiral sat back. Still,
keep an eye out for him. He should be there in about a month.
Why so long?
Hes coming directly from Earth, aboard the Nancy Hedford, with a stop here.
I see. Anything else?
Yes. Hes been granted a reserve commission at the rank of captain. Hell be
doubling as military attach to the Intaran government.
ThNar steepled his fingers in front of him. Will there be a change in the Table
of Organization?
No. His duties will center on dealing with the civilian elements of the military
administration. Youre still senior officer in system.
Understood. So hell be, to quote Captain Baier, Mucking it up like Mecum
used to?
Trust a dwarf to remember every He stopped and took a deep breath. Im
just relaying what that little green gnome at Fleet Ops told me.
ThNar grinned. Sorry, Admiral. Baier has been telling us about when he served
with you aboard the Dunsfold.
Mecum laughed. Next time you see him, tell him hes still a wanker. Mecum
out.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Bound for Starbase 128
It is now sixteen hundred hours, the computer announced, rousing Walter
from slumber. He lay in the bed for several seconds, letting his eyes wander the
unfamiliar room before he remembered that he was aboard the Nancy Hedford.
Glad I set the alarm early enough to give me time to read some briefings and
clean up before dinner better clean up first.
It was then that he noticed that the lingering effects of the hangover were gone.
Rilaar, you deserve a commendation, he thought as he padded toward the head.

Just as he was about to pull off his bedclothes are step into the sonic shower, the
intercom bleeped for attention. Bridge to Ambassador Eve.
With a groan of exasperation, Walter turned around and crossed to the desk. Eve
here.
Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Ambassador, but there is an incoming transmission for
you from QonoS.
Wonder what the Klingons want Send it through, please.
A moment later, the face of General Mi'tan, son of Ny'Qagh appeared.
Eve.
General Mitan, Walter replied, to what do I owe this surprise?
Surprise? Like suddenly finding vomit in my lap?
If it didnt crawl so much
It wouldnt have been so bad had your aim been better.
Did you call me just to trade insults? Walter asked.
I did not. The situation with the Tzenkethi has drawn the Chancellors interest.
Since we have no diplomats in the area, I have been ordered to request a favor of you.
Walter felt a smile creep across his face. I would be happy to do you a favor,
General.
The favor is for the Empire!
Of course. How may I assist the Klingon Empire?
We would ask the Federation to represent our interests on Intar.
Surely, you could send an ambassador of your own, couldnt you?
We have no-one of the propergirth.
Walter chuckled.
This is no laughing matter, Human.
Oh, dont you tell me you wouldnt laugh if our positions were reversed.
A smile began on the Klingons own face. Youre probably right. Are you
willing to do this?
It would be my honor, Mitan, but what does the Empire bring to the board?
Military assets? Humanitarian aid?
Inform them that we will be their allies in their war against the Tzenkethi. You
know what that entails.
Walter nodded. I do. I will pass on your position, but itll take me close to a
month to get there. I just departed Earth this morning.
One of our Birds of Prey could get you there faster.
True, but I prefer to sleep on a mattress.
You are too soft, if you ask me.
Thankfully, I didnt. So you want me to serve as the Empires ambassador until
you find someone that fits.
In short. The Klingon smiled again. Oh, and you need not fear my blade for
what happened. I vomited the first time I tasted what was it called cheesecake.
Ill keep that in mind. I trust youll be sending my credentials?
They will be waiting for you. Out.
Walter was about to stand up when the desk beeped for his attention.
Eve, go ahead.

Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Ambassador, Lesley Caruthers voice replied, but
weve received a signal from Intar.
Something I need to handle already?
Not immediately, Sir. Its from IGB.
From what?
One of the planets update networks. Theyve learned of your appointment, and
youve been invited to appear on what is reported to be the planets most popular talk
show, The Boredom Cure.
Walter sighed. He never really liked talking to the Press, but it had been part of
his job description on more than one occasion.
Well, he said, thinking out loud, I guess they would need a fair lead time
Actually, they suggested tomorrow night.
Walter looked out the window, seeing the streaks of warp starlight as the ship
made its way toward Starbase 128 at superluminal velocity. You did advise them that
we wont arrive for a month, right?
Yes, Mr. Ambassador, but I was told that the Corps of Engineers had offered the
loan of a holocom unit.
Huh I have no idea what Ill say, but set it up with communications.
Yes, Mr. Ambassador. Also, a Captain Harris would like you to contact him at
your convenience.
Walter recognized the name. Signal the Marshal Martz and let Captain Harris
know Ill be calling him after dinner.
Right away, Sir.
Speaking of dinner, I trust youll be there.
Of course. Im interested in getting a first taste of Intaran cuisine, replicated
though it may be.
Good.
One last item, Mr. Ambassador. Commander Hollens has transmitted your daily
security briefing from Starbase 128.
128? Not directly from Intar?
No strategic operations officer has been assigned there yet. The starbase is
handling intelligence until a suitable officer can be found.
Understood. Route it down here and Ill take a look at it after I confer with
Captain Harris.
Yes, Sir.
Anything else?
No, Sir.
Then Ill see you in the wardroom in just over an hour. Out.
Fifty-three minutes later, the door chime sounded. Walter looked up from the
PADD he was reading and called, Enter!
A moment later, he dropped the PADD.
The dress was sheer blue silk, with a bright red pattern stitched into it. While it
had a conservative cut, as befitted someone raised on Vulcan, it did nothing to hide the
curves of the human wearing it.

Do I pass inspection, Mr. Ambassador? I asked the computer what you had
chosen to wear tonight, so that we would be coordinated. As your social secretary, it is
part of my duties.
If I were but twenty years younger
I beg your pardon?
Did I say that out loud? Walter asked.
Yes, Sir.
In that case, I apologize. You look perfect.
Thank you, Caruthers replied, crossing the compartment to retrieve Walters
jacket. Holding it out to him, she said, It should take us seven minutes to reach the
forward wardroom. Im told it has been given the nickname On the Bow.
Has it? Walter asked. I dont recall the captain mentioning that.
The name is not formal. Shall we go?
Indeed we shall, Walter answered, offering the younger woman his arm.
Charlie Haywood hated the current Starfleet formals. To his eye, everyone who
wore one looked like a penguin. He much preferred the old division-colored
wraparounds, but they had been phased out shortly before the Dominion War.
At least he didnt have to wear a tie, as was apparently still the fashion on Intar.
But Walter Eve had chosen to do so, and Haywood had to admit that it looked
good on him.
Of course, Leslie Caruthers dress looked even better on her, and the smile on his
face as he walked over to them was one of appreciation.
Welcome to On the Bow, Mr. Ambassador.
Yknow, if were going to be spending so much time together, you might as well
call me Walter.
In that case, please feel free to call me Charlie. Youve already met Freddie, and
Dix is standing this watch on the bridge, but Id like to introduce you to the rest of the
department heads.
No need to do that with me, Boss, a familiar Bolian wearing the mustard yellow
of engineering said, extending his hand to Walter. Howve you been, Walter?
Sparky! How the hell are ya?
Ah, you know me. Still chugging away.
You two know each other? Haywood asked.
We met oh, nine years ago? On the USS Victoria.
Thats right, the Bolian answered. Sadly, she got shot out from under me by
the JemHadar at Cardassia, and it took my right foot with it, so I chose to finish out my
career here. He then turned to Caruthers. But forgive me. My manners are lacking
this evening. Commander Penul Kriyn, chief engineer.
Leslie Caruthers, Ambassador Eves social secretary.
She extended her hand for a handshake, but the engineer took it and raised it to
his lips. An honor, Miss Caruthers.
And this is Dr. Jayla Locken, Chief Medical Officer, Haywood said, continuing
the introductions.
Ambassador, Miss Caruthers, the Trill replied before returning her attention to
the glass of water she held. The haunted look in her eyes spoke volumes, giving Walter

the impression that she was constantly tortured by some event in her past. Hed seen that
look on too many veterans of the Dominion War, so he knew not to press.
Conversely, Freddy, whose name was actually Marcus Fredericks, seemed eager
to discuss his career as a fighter pilot before losing an arm in the war. He was about to
ask what Walter knew about the Intaran air force when the sound of running feet came
from the corridor.
As if by magic, Rilaar appeared in the door, intercepting the running woman. She
was dressed in a stylish, if conservative suit, with the insignia of the Daystrom Institute
over the left breast pocket. It was the formal equivalent of the ubiquitous gray jumpsuit
favored by workers at the Daystrom Institute.
Stand down, Rilaar, Haywood ordered. Dr. Mercer is an invited guest.
Mercer? Walter asked. Karen Mercer, the archaeologist?
Thats right. You must be Ambassador Eve. Im sorry Im late, the young
brunette replied as the Selay released her, but I had to take the call that just came in.
She paused to catch her breath. It seems my expedition will have more to do than
originally thought.
Expedition? Walter asked, confused.
Dr. Mercer is leading a team of archaeologists to Intar, under the auspices of the
Daystrom Institutes Archaeological Council. Im sorry to see the rest of your team chose
not to accompany you this evening.
Oh, I suspect you wont be seeing much of any of us for a while. She looked
around, noticing that everyone was looking at her, having picked up on her excitement.
Has something happened? Walter asked.
The Preserver link is confirmed. The Intarans are descended from Earth
humans.
How can you be sure? Kriyn asked.
They found an obelisk on Intars moon.
Preservers, Obelisks and Archaeologists oh my, Walter thought as he and Lesley
Caruthers walked back to his quarters two hours later. Dinner had been interesting, to be
sure.
As far as the food went, it was a delicious introduction to Intaran cuisine, adapted
for the available ingredients. For example, a soup quite similar to New England clam
chowder had been the first course, but it included a number of vegetables that gave it a
flavor closer to that of the Manhattan style, and the Blue King Crab that had been served
as the main dish was a substitution for the chageen crab found off Kentar, Intars
southern continent. He didnt normally enjoy seafood, but he found that particular roast
dish quite tasty.
But it was the dessert that impressed Walter the most. It was called tanzila pod
pie, but they had to use coffee beans and chai spice, since tanzila was an officially
embargoed product, and a replicator pattern had yet to be created. The result had been
something that tasted like a combination of pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate chiffon.
It was, beyond a doubt, the most decadent dessert Walter had ever tasted and he
couldnt wait to taste the real thing.
Mr. Ambassador, you still have that communiqu from Captain Harris to take
care of, as well as scheduling for your appearance on The Boredom Cure.

I thought scheduling was part of your job? Walter teased as they reached the
doors of his quarters.
Caruthers was about to answer, but stopped in her tracks at the sight of Rilaar,
standing in the center of the ambassadors quarters.
Rilaar, what are you doing here? Walter asked.
Sorry, Mr. Ambassador, he quietly hissed, but one of my dinner companions
got away from me. I tracked him here through the
He never finished the sentence. Instead, he leapt forward, reaching a hand under
the long chaise lounge positioned next to the window. A moment later, he stood up and
held up a large gray rodent.
Ah, the hissed, happily, there you are. Get in mah belly!
In a movement almost too fast to track, he opened his mouth wider than the size
of his entire head and stuffed the struggling degu into it. A moment later, he closed his
mouth as his throat bulged to make room for the rodent.
I think Im gonna be sick, Caruthers said.
My apologies, Miss Caruthers, the Selay replied. I rather enjoyed the chase,
and was still caught up in it. I shall endeavor to be more discrete in the future.
At least youre neat about it, Walter quipped, entering the compartment.
Getting back to The Boredom Cure, dont we have a PR officer who can handle that?
Hes waiting for us on Starbase 128, Caruthers answered, grateful for the
distraction, but the invitation was specifically for you to appear, not just anyone from the
embassy. Im sure those will come later.
Fine, Walter grumbled as he took his seat behind the desk. Go ahead and set it
up. He was about to say something else when he noticed that Rilaar had pulled out a
tricorder and was slowly scanning the room with it. What are you doing now?
Security sweep.
Were aboard a Federation Diplomatic vessel, Mr. Rilaar, Caruthers reminded
him. This ship undergoes regular sweeps.
Even on a ship as secure as this, Rilaar said, not pausing his scan, both friendly
and hostile powers attempt to plant agents or devices. They exposed two Romulans on
the Robert Fox just before the war.
Still, I think the captain would feel a bit insulted at your lack of trust.
The Selay stopped. Point taken. I will confer with the Admiral for security
sweeps. One can never be too careful.
You do that. And while youre at it, could you ask whoever is manning
communications to open a channel to the um
Marshal Martz, Caruthers supplied.
Yes. Advise Captain Harris that Im ready to talk with him now.
Of course, Rilaar answered, by your leave, Mr. Ambassador?
Carry on.
Thank you, Sir. A moment later, the doors closed behind him.
Im sorry, Mr. Ambassador, Im not usually squeamish
No harm, no foul, Leslie. I admit to a bit of gastric uneasiness myself at the
sight. He smiled at her, once again appreciating the support she had given him during
dinner. Just dont make a habit of it, right?
Right. Ill leave you to your conversation with Captain Harris.

Thank you, Leslie.

USS Marshal Martz NCC-78506


Sector 2184-K
Captain, the marine at tactical reported, were receiving a hail from the
Diplomatic Ship Nancy Hedford.
Ah, Captain John Harris said, turning the captains chair to face the portside
tactical station, that must be the new ambassador to Intar getting back to me. He stood
up from the captains chair, groaning a bit as a twinge of pain shot across his lower back.
Ill take it on the big screen in my readyroom. Whats the delay?
The marine checked the readout on the panel in front of him. Eight seconds, Sir.
We could cut that to three if we link through 128s booster.
Do it. Id like to make this as close to real time as possible.
Aye-aye, Sir.
Harris headed across the bridge to his readyroom, pointing at the ships young
chief engineer as he passed. Your bridge, Kevin.
Aye, Sir, Cadet Lt. Kevin Christner replied.
A second later, Harris lowered himself into his desk chair, just as the UFP logo
appeared on the large screen on the opposite wall. A moment later, it changed to show a
man as large as he was, wearing a civilian business suit.
Mister Ambassador, thanks for taking my call. John Harris, commanding
Marshal Martz.
Its an honor, Captain. Your exploits have even made it to the Foreign
Secretariat.
I cringe to think what you folks think of my technique.
Its unorthodox, to be sure, but effective.
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I see the president took my advice on the physical
requirements for the post.
Because I have Adipose hyper-replenishment syndrome?
Basically, Mr. Ambassador.
Captain
Yes, Mr. Ambassador?
It was a long three seconds before the man replied. Call me Walter, would you?
This is my first posting as an ambassador, and Im still getting used to the title.
Harris chuckled. He liked this guy, and was discovering more things they had in
common. Okay, Walter, but only if you call me John.
Done. Hows your marine?
Excuse me?
Walter looked down at the PADD he held. Sergeant Major Corwin. Your report
states that she had a bad reaction to some Intaran food.
Yes. In fact, thats what tipped us off to why the Tzenkethi are so interested.
Shes fine. No lasting effects.
Thats good to hear. So why didnt you take this job? I understand the president
offered it to you.

Harris considered the question for several seconds before answering.


Walter, when I first joined Starfleet, all I wanted to do was design and build
starships. My ultimate goal was to end my career in charge of Utopia Planitia. But then I
got a taste of life out here, and I was hooked. I switched to operations, signed on to the
Chautauqua, and expected a pretty boring career and then I met Cayla Sakaari.
Walter laughed. That sounds a lot like my career. I started as a researcher,
down in the basement at Foggy Bottomand then that rock read one of my position
papers, and next thing I knew, I was a cultural attach on Alderaan. After that, I
bounced around from one embassy to another until I found myself back at Foggy Bottom,
writing position papers for the Council. And then this.
Sounds like we have a lot more than just our size in common.
It sure seems like it. SoIve been reading the various reports the various
crews have filed. It seems like Intar is almost perfectly suited to people like us. Almost a
dream come true.
Harris smiled, remembering the things he saw on Intar. It wasnt always that
way, but now... the first words out of my mouth when I materialized in Unity was, I may
just retire here.
Walter laughed. Ill keep that in mind. He then held up the PADD and
waggled it to draw the captains attention. So what didnt you put in your reports?
What do you mean?
Ive read enough position papers by so-called cultural experts to know when
somethings being downplayed or covered over.
What do you want to know?
Anything you left out. Anything that could cause problems.
Harris stood up and walked over to the replicator terminal, knowing that the
camera embedded in the screen was following him.
I could speak volumes about the Intarans, Walter. Theyre so much like us that
its almost scary. Theyre plain-spoken, intensely curious for the most part, and eager to
get out into the galaxy. Theyre ravenous followers of the arts, especially the performing
arts. It fills the niche that sports does in other cultures. You want to impress these
people? Sing, dance, hell, just recite Shakespeare or tell a couple of jokes. Theyll treat
you like a rock star.
So theyre a lot like we were at the end of the twenty-first century.
Only without the horrors of the Eugenics Wars or World War III.
Walter nodded. I did my doctoral thesis on World War III. Its good to know
these people avoided all that. Id hate to think what someone like Colonel Green would
do to this kind of culture.
Or an organization like Terra Prime.
Walter looked out of the screen, a sudden expression of concern on his face. Are
there indications of such an organization on Intar?
No, not at all. The closest I saw were those few who were devoutly religious,
but they seem more... Amish in their attitudes. While it isnt widely practiced, they have
a healthy respect for religion. A general Maker myth seems to be the dominant faith,
which ties into some of the relics their archaeologists have found
Have you heard that they found a Preserver obelisk on Intars moon?
Harris stopped short and stared at the screen. Holy shit, he finally said.

Yeah. Weve got a team from the Daystrom Institute on board. Theyre as
excited as a basket of puppies at the news.
I dont blame them. He turned back to the replicator. One point five liters of
iced coffee, black, double sweet.
A moment later, he picked up the large mug and headed back to his desk.
Also, he said, resuming his seat, the Intarans take size acceptance very
seriously, some militantly so. Those few people in their culture who advocate fitness are
pilloried, at best. If someone calls you a Thin Preacher, take it as an insult.
Ill keep that in mind. Anything else?
I think youre going to feel right at home, Walter. Just remember that were
there to protect these people, not turn them into us. Let them take the lead, and
everything will be fine. In fact, youll probably look back on this as a plum assignment.
Really?
Oh, yeah.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


En Route to Starbase 128
Meanwhile, Karen Mercer raced back to the conference room where her team had
set up. She was eager to see the first images of the obelisk.
Karen, Dr. Peter Eden, her assistant team leader, said, you are not going to
believe this! We just got the first images in, and theyre theyre Holy crap!
That good?
Oh, yeah, and you are going to freak when you see it.
Well then quit jabbering and show me.
When he did, she sat silent for several minutes, her jaw agape just like the rest
of the team.
Am I crazy, another of the researchers asked, or is one of those languages
Elder Futhark?
No, Dr. Brin Karani, the teams linguist, answered, its older. Thats Old
Italic Thats proto-Tifinagh, he added, as the next image appeared, from West Africa,
and that is By the Sacred Pools Thats Rongorongo.
What? Mercer asked.
It seemed strange that a joined Trill would be an expert on ancient human
languages, but Brin was one of the Federations acknowledged leaders.
Ive seen every surviving inscription, Dr. Mercer. That is clearly Rongorongo.
Brin, theyre going to remember you in the same breath as Bouchard.
The Trill looked up at Mercer. Karen, if this obelisk includes what I think it
does, itll make the Rosetta Stone look like a kindergarten primer.

IGB Network Feed


The Boredom Cure

22 Inika, 85th Year of Unification (Stardate 55947.1)

ARE YOU READY?!


CAN YOU TAKE IT?!
DO YOU WANT IT?!
THE MEDICINES HERE, BUT CAN YOU TAKE THE CURE?!
The crowd in the stadium-sized studio responded with a cacophony normally
reserved for the achievement of a score at a sporting event.
And now, the unseen announcer continued, your host: Ibriel Ganegli!
If anything, the volume of the cheers increased as the large man strode onto the
stage.
Good evening, Intar! Wow, great-looking crowd tonight.
Big news! Yesterday, Starfleet issued a joint statement with the University of
Citadel saying they have found proof that our ancestors came from the planet Earth. It
only took them three thousand years but they found us!
He waited for the wave of laughter to rise and fall before continuing.
But, of course, the Federation is more than just Earth. There are all kinds of
aliens walking around these days. Weve had a few on the show. There are ones with
pointed ears, blue ones, ones with snouts and theyre all really, really thin!
There was another wave.
Now there are a few more coming. Take a look at this
On the screen behind Ganegli, Rilaar appeared. A sound of unease swept the
crowd.
This is a Selay. And I thought Fluffy Guy was scary
Another wave of laughter took the crowd.
But really, hes a real guetta just dont let him near yours. Im told he finds
them quite tasty.
The laughter this time was accompanied by cheers and shrieks.
Im just joking. He really is a nice person, as well learn tonight. We have a
great show for you tonight. Actor and comedienne Nila Kayun is here!
He waited for the applause to die down before continuing.
Quintuple platinum-award winning recording artist Jikai is here tonight!
And dont forget Yayi Kotoni and the Boredom Cure Band!
As the crowd cheered, the band played its traditional self-introduction riff.
But first, we have a special treat. A lot of you are wondering whats with all
this stuff here on the stage. This is what Starfleet calls a portable holodeck, or, in this
case, a holographic communicator. Earlier today, I interviewed the new Federation
Ambassador to Intar, Walter Eve. There was a fairly long subspace delay, since he left
Earth only yesterday, but we edited it out, so take a look at the monitors, and play the
recording
And we are here with Walter Eve, the very first Federation Ambassador to Intar.
Im told the proper form of address is Your Excellency or Mr. Ambassador
Actually, I prefer Walter, the ambassador replied. Ive never been a stickler for
formality.
Okay, first, welcome to The Boredom Cure. I think its the first time weve ever
had such a long-distance interview.

Thank you. Its a pleasure to be here.


So I understand, from what Starfleet has said, that you just left Earth, what is it,
two days ago?
Thats right, Walter answered. Im currently aboard the Diplomatic Courier
Nancy Hedford, currently bound for Intar by way of Starbase 128.
And I believe we have an image of your ship Ganegli said, cueing the control
room. A moment later, the requested image appeared on the screen that was positioned
between their chairs. Not a bad-looking ship. What exactly does a Diplomatic Courier
do?
Well, Ibriel, Walter explained, a diplomatic courier is exactly what its name
implies: a ship designed to transport diplomatic personnel, such as ambassadors and their
staff, and its also used to transport whats commonly known as the diplomatic bag,
which contains things such as official correspondence, gifts between governments, and
other things that require immunity as defined under the Deneb Conventions, which I
believe your government has recently signed, though not yet ratified.
And do they let you take the drivers seat sometimes?
No, I dont have the training to take the helm of a ship like this. Id probably fly
us through a star.
You dont want a little tan? Sex it up for the ladies?
Walter chuckled, waiting for the next question.
I hope Im not insulting you by saying this, but you look Intaran, but thats not
usual where you come from, is it?
No, it isnt. I suffer from the same condition Captain Harris does. Its called
Adipose Hyper-Replenishment Syndrome, or more commonly, Cyrano Jones Disease,
after the first person ever diagnosed with it. In fact, thats part of the reason I was
appointed to the post. Its important to be able to relate to each other, and President minShonraleur thought someone who looks like an Intaran would be easier for your leaders
to deal with.
Interesting. So tell me a bit about yourself.
Well, Im sixty-two Terran years old, which is about fifty-eight Intaran years,
and I originally come from a place called Washington State, though I grew up in an area
of Earth called England. I have a twin brother, Jacen, who is an instructor at the
Federation Merchant Marine Academy. Hes married with a daughter who is currently
attending Starfleet Academy. I have a younger sister, Millie, who is an author, and she
has two children, a boy and a girl.
So how did you end up on your way here? This is your first assignment as an
ambassador, is that right?
Yes. I specialized in history during my schooling, even earning a doctorate from
Kings College at the University of Cambridge, where I also studied interstellar relations.
The combination of the two disciplines made me well-suited for government work, and I
chose the Foreign and Member Relations Secretariats, which share much of the same
staff, especially at the lower levels.
Since then, Ive done almost everything a career diplomat can do, from writing
position papers to serving as a number of different types of attaches on various planets.
Speaking of history, what do you think of the days news, that our ancestors
came from Earth? Ganegli asked.

Its as big a story here as it is there, Walter answered. Intar is only the
seventeenth culture proven to have been transplanted from Earth by the Preservers. I
dont know much about the Preservers, but were bringing a team of experts with us

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Three days later
Coffee, hot, double sweet and a lightly toasted onion bagel with honey butter.
A moment later, the requested items appeared in the replicator alcove. He reached
in, picked them up, and carried them over to the small dining table.
Just as he took his first bite of the bagel, the door chime sounded.
Duvvin!
The computer, understanding Walters full mouthed command, opened the door to
the corridor, admitting Lesley Caruthers.
Good morning, Mr. Ambassador, she said, approaching the table.
Walter swallowed. Morning, Leslie. Care for some breakfast?
No, thank you, Sir. Ive already eaten this morning.
Walter sipped his coffee. So whats on the agenda today?
Caruthers slid into the seat across the table from him, her attention on her everpresent PADD. You have a medical exam at 10:00.
Walter groaned. I thought you took care of that?
Caruthers looked up from the PADD. I couldnt put it off any longer, and it is
mandatory, you know.
Oh, joy, Walter grumbled, doctors and their torture devices. I just hope this
one doesnt have some cockamamie idea on how to treat Cyrano Jones disease.
At eleven hundred, you have a series of interviews with potential staffers.
Theyve all been pre-cleared and assigned to the embassy, you just need to slot them into
the staff table.
Why do I need to do that? Thats the chief of staffs job.
Thats the first position to fill.
Sheesh! Youd think I was the ambassador or something.
Caruthers stared at him for a moment, trying to determine if he were joking or
not. Sir, she finally said, you are the ambassador.
Oh, yeah. Anything from the Press?
Caruthers scrolled through the information on her PADD. Nothing until we
reach Starbase 128. Theres a FNS reporter Jake Sisko Where have I heard that
name before?
He won the TLan and Pulitzer prizes for his reports from Deep Space Nine
during the war. His father commanded the station at the time.
Oh, yes. I read his novel, Anslem, last year. I especially liked the character of
the father. Anyway, hes requested to come aboard and interview you and Admiral
Haywood.
Im sure he enjoys the Press as much as I do. Make a note to put a public affairs
officer at the top of the priority list. We really need someone whose only job is to deal
with the Press.

Ill let the applicants know.


Have you heard from the science team? Ive been meaning to get down there
and meet them all, but Ive been so busy with all this paperwork
They seem to be keeping to themselves, though Ensign Gry tells me theyve
been burning up subspace ever since those images came in.
Gry? Walter asked, echoing Carruthers pronunciation by making it rhyme with
glee. Whos that?
Shes the ships science officer.
I didnt even know this ship had a science department.
One officer, six enlisted.
Maybe we ought to stop in and say hello. Think you can find us a convenient
time?
I can try.
Thats all Im asking
He was about to say something more, but the sound of the intercom derailed his
train of thought.
Haywood to Eve.
Go ahead, Charlie.
Whatd you do, Walter, become a monk? Havent seen you since that interview.
Ive been busy, Charlie. Ive got all kinds of briefings and position papers to
read, not to mention daily news briefings from the Federation, Empire and Intar
Well take some time for yourself, will ya? In fact, why dont you join me for
lunch in the holodeck?
Walter looked over at Caruthers, who shrugged. Hes got a point, she said.
You have been cooped up in here.
Listen to the lady, Walter. Ill see you at twelve hundred.
Very well, Captain. Ill see you then.
Karen Mercer stared at the Preserver script on the big screen in the conference
room, just as shed been doing for the last three days. She knew all sixteen known
Preserver obelisks intimately, having studied them for much of her life, and her parents
before her.
But this one, number seventeen, had her stumped.
For one thing, it didnt seem to do anything. It wasnt an asteroid deflector, nor
was it a climate modification system, nor any of the six other functions theyd managed
to uncover.
And it was the only one to bear languages other than the symbols used by the
Preservers themselves.
If the material composition scans hadnt been definitive, she would have likely
ruled it a fake.
Anything yet? Jell Dantoa, the teams Bolian computer expert, asked as he
walked in.
No. Ive been staring at these images for three days, and Im just as stumped as I
was three days ago. She then sniffed. Is that what I think it is?
Double raktajino, steamed, with sugar and cinnamon. He gently placed the
steaming cup of Klingon coffee before her. And its not replicated.

There are some perks to being on a diplomatic ship, Mercer said, inhaling the
unique aroma.
Theyve even got an honest-to-deities restaurant-style machine in the galley.
Must be nice.
This may be a glorified starliner, the blonde ensign said, entering with an
antigrav cart bearing a trio of insulated drink dispensers, but the amenities are here for a
reason. While replicated coffee is perfectly fine for day to day drinking, it is definitely
not acceptable for diplomatic functions or, apparently, for scientists.
Ensign Gry, Mercer said, you are a princess amongst women.
Well, it wasnt all my doing, Gry said, cocking a thumb over her shoulder as
Caruthers entered with a tray of assorted pastries. This is Leslie Caruthers, Ambassador
Eves social secretary.
So the high and mighty ambassador throws us a bone, eh? Dantoa grumbled.
Jelly, be nice
Karen, Im tired of always playing second fiddle, either to Starfleet or some
paper-pushing windbag. If we had our own ship
Really, Doctor, the Ambassador just
You listen here, Miss Social Secretary! Dantoa said, turning to face Caruthers.
We are very busy here, trying to figure out what is possibly the most important scientific
discovery of the last decade, and were stuck on a slow boat to China! So why dont you
go back to your windbag of an ambassador and tell him
What? a voice came from the door. Instantly, all eyes were on Walter.
Doctor Dantoa, Gry said, softly, youve stepped in it now.
Tell the windbag what? Walter repeated.
The Bolian was silent for several seconds before finally stammering, Y-your
Excellency
Doctor Dantoa, Walter said, interrupting the scientist, I am quite aware of how
busy you all are. I respect that, but my curiosity finally got the best of me. He then
crossed the room and held out a hand to Mercer. Nice to see you again, Dr. Mercer.
Mr. Ambassador, I apologize for
Walter waved it off. Ive heard it all before. You dont serve as a scientific or
cultural attach without having to deal with surly researchers. No harm, no foul. He
then walked over to the big screen and squinted at what he saw there. Oh, great, he
thought, noticing the squint, another thing the doc will want to fix.
These are the images of the Intaran obelisk? he asked.
Yes. Dr. Karani, our linguist, has been translating them. They dont quite match
up with their Terran counterparts. Of course, the fact that theyre all dead languages
doesnt help.
Is that Rongorongo? Walter asked, turning to Mercer.
Good eye, Mr. Ambassador.
Call me Walter. So the Polynesian group was taken from Rapa Nui That
explains a bit. Ive always been fascinated by the cultures the Preservers chose.
There have been rumors, Gry remarked, that theyre still around. Nobody is
saying anything definite, but that thing in the Kshar Nebula was rumored to be their
work.

It would certainly be something to find them, Ensign, Walter said, turning back
to the screen. Maybe this will be the clue we need to find where they went.
Thats our hope, Mr. Ambassador.
Walter, Dr. Mercer. My names Walter.
Karen. She nodded toward the Bolian. Thats Jell Dantoa. We call him Jelly.
You can call me Sir, Dr. Dantoa, Walter replied.
Uh, yes, Sir.
Walter grinned. Im joking. Were all under a lot of pressure here. In fact, if
you need another set of eyes for anything, Id appreciate you letting me know. I do have
a Ph.D. in history, after all.
Professor Sapok is our team historian, Dantoa remarked.
Walter whirled on the Bolian. Sapoks aboard?
You know the professor? Mercer asked.
Weve met. Ever hear of his Temporal Uncertainty Theory?
Both Mercer and Dantoa shook their heads, but the ensign nodded. Some guy at
Cambridge disproved it about forty years ago. I remember my mother laughing her ass
off.
What? Walter squeaked. You couldnt have. Youre what? Twenty?
Fifty-four, Sir. My mother is an El Aurian.
Walter blinked. And your father?
Human. Norwegian, to be exact.
Huh. I didnt know the two species were compatible.
I had a bit of help from the Adigeons.
I see. In any case, that guy at Cambridge was me. Sapok actually came to visit
me a week after I published. Try as he might, he couldnt patch the holes Id punched in
the theory. Weve considered each other colleagues, if not friends, ever since.
Walter was about to say more, but Mercers yawn caused him to change the
subject.
I bet youve been staring at this monitor for the last three days without any
sleep.
Howd you know?
Go get some sleep, Karen. You, too, Jelly. You wont solve this mystery by
pushing yourselves to death.
No, were good
Dont argue, Dr. Mercer, Gry said. Were on a diplomatic vessel. The
ambassador has the same authority as the captain.
Mercer stifled another yawn. Okay, Jess. Well hit the rack for a couple of
hours.
No, Walter said, youll get a full eight, at least, and as much more as you need.
Someone else can take over here for a while.
Fine, Walter. Ill send Peter and Sapok up.
Good. Let him know he still owes me a rematch in kal-toh.
Right. Mercer pushed herself to her feet and headed for the door. Come on,
Jelly. The Ambassador has spoken.
After the door closed behind the two scientists, Gry grinned at Walter. You
enjoyed that, didnt you, Sir?

Gotta get my kicks somewhere. Lord knows I wont have much time for it once
we reach Intar.
Speaking of not much time, Caruthers remarked, the first of the applicants is
waiting on subspace.
Could you handle the first round, Leslie? You have as good an idea as anyone
what we need, and Ive got that lunch with Charlie in twenty minutes.
Sir?
Youre the closest thing Ive got to a chief of staff, and its not so different from
what youll be doing.
If you say so, Mr. Ambassador.
Good. If you need help use the ensign here. In fact, I never got your name.
Gry, Mr. Ambassador. Jessica Gry.
Nice to meet you, Ensign Gry, Walter said, shaking hands with the half El
Aurian.
Likewise, Sir.
Make sure she eats, will ya? Ill check in later.
Aye-aye, Sir.
You look beat, Peter Eden said, answering the door to the quarters hed been
assigned on deck 13.
I am beat, but I couldnt tear myself away. The ambassador finally ordered Jelly
and me to our quarters to sleep.
Eden chuckled. I told you, he gently chided. He was some years her senior,
and often considered her the little sister he never had. Let me replicate you some warm
milk or would you rather have a teddy bear?
Id rather have you.
Eden chuckled again. They both knew that was out of the question. For one
thing, Eden was gay. For another, her parents would never forgive him. Hed started his
career as their assistant, and had known Karen almost from the moment of her birth.
Hed held her, fed her, even changed her diapers.
And she loved him for it.
Did you see anything you could tell the Intarans?
No, unfortunately. I mean, the inscriptions are relatively simple to translate,
but
But it cant be that simple.
Exactly. Weve got to be missing something.
Maybe you should sleep on it. It wouldnt be the first time a breakthrough came
to you in your sleep.
Mercer stifled a yawn. Okay, Peter. Tuck me in?
Eden grinned, leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. Always.
Program in progress. Enter when ready.
A moment later, the heavy holodeck doors opened to reveal a scene right out of
the ancient West: Dirt street, wood sidewalks and, directly in front of him, a saloon called
Big Nose Kates.

You Walter? a man wearing period garb, complete with poncho and cowboy
hat, asked from his place in a wooden chair tipped back against the wall of the saloon.
Yes.
Hes waitin for ya inside.
Thanks. Stepping forward, Walter gently pushed through the louvered doors.
Walter! Thanks for coming, Charlie Haywood called from a table near the back
of the room.
Wouldnt miss it. Where are we, anyway? Looks like something out of the
ancient west.
It is. Welcome to Tombstone, Arizona, October 24, 1881.
Im afraid Im not familiar with that date.
Youre not? What kind of historian are you? Haywood asked, his voice
conveying more than a bit of feigned incredulity.
I specialized in older cultures, mostly from the Roman period. Now, if this were
Arthurian Wales
Haywood chuckled. Swordplay never really appealed to me, but I can
understand the historical importance. We are two days before one of the most famous
gunfights in Earth history. You have heard of the OK Corral, right?
Earps versus Clantons, if I recall. It was a political fight, ultimately.
Thats right. He reached up and pushed the black hat he wore back several
inches, uncovering his forehead. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigar,
which he lit with a laser match.
Thats a bit proleptic, isnt it, Charlie?
What? The match?
Yeah, Walter answered, lowering himself into the chair opposite the admiral.
Yeah, it is, but my daddy gave this to me as an Academy graduation present.
Fair enough.
Just then, a man wearing a loose, long-sleeve shirt with a pair of sleeve garters
walked up. Walter looked up and did a double-take. The character looked like a young
version of Ambassador Spock, ears, eyebrows and all.
Good afternoon, Gentlemen, the hologram said. Would you care for
something to eat or drink?
That sounds good, Haywood answered. Whats on the menu today?
We have a side of beef that has been on the barbecue since Sunday afternoon,
and two pans of crackling cornbread have just been removed from the oven. Also, a pot
of beans and copious amounts of mashed potatoes are available.
That sounds good to me. Walter?
My mouth is already watering.
And would you care for something from the bar? holo-Spock asked.
Ill take a double-shot of bourbon, the admiral replied.
Whatever you have on tap will be fine with me, Walter added.
Very good. I will return with your meals and drinks shortly.
So whats been keeping you shut away in your quarters for the last three days?
Its nothing, really.
Walter, we dont have a Counselor aboard, but Ive dealt with enough people to
know when someones spooked.

Walter sighed. Its the interview. I was completely unprepared.


Thats whats kept you locked away? Hell, I cant count how many interviews
Ive botched.
But thats just it, Charlie. Ive always been the guy whos supposed to have the
information the ambassador needs. Im the one writing position papers and the one
whispering in his ear when he needs data. I never even hoped to get an appointment of
my own. Hell, the only reason I got this job was because of He slapped his abdomen,
causing it to jiggle. This!
Haywood chuckled, shaking his head. Aw, hell, Walter. You think one of those
political hacks they usually send out could have done any better? Youre no greenhorn.
In fact, youre better than damn near every idiot Ive ever dealt with, because you already
know how the game works. Half of them think theyre the second coming of Sarek and
the other half are so scared of saying the wrong thing that they end up letting their staff
make the decisions. So you got the job because youre fat. So what? Most people in this
business get their job for doing political favors.
Youve got a point. I guess Im just not used to being the big shot himself.
Dont sweat it, Walter. Even the best started somewhere, and none of them got
through it without something going wrong now and then.
The admiral is quite right, holo-Spock added, as he placed a pair of speckled
blue graniteware plates on the table before them. As he added a basket of biscuits and
two glasses, he added, Several of my own early attempts at diplomacy were awkward,
at best.
Listen to the Vulcan, Walter. I bet there were times you wished youd been the
ambassador instead of some party hack, werent there?
It was Walters turn to chuckle. Touch, Charlie. Touch.
Walter despised doctors. Or rather, Walter despised medical doctors. He dreaded
every exam, every visit, every test. Even in this era of non-invasive medicine, hed been
poked and prodded, especially since he was diagnosed with AHRS at age six.
He especially despised Starfleet doctors, since they were allowed to practice in
ways and perform procedures that would put civilian doctors in prison.
Thus, as he stood outside sickbay, his mind traveled back to the last time a
Starfleet doctor had examined him, back during the Dominion War. The man, a Tellarite,
had stood there and talked and talked and talked while Walter lay on the biobed, the
wound in his right calf spurting blood nearly a meter across the room.
If anyone utters the word diet or exercise, Ill kick his ass!
His resolve re-stoked, Walter stepped forward, triggering the door sensor.
Sickbay was empty.
Hello. Dr. Locken? Anyone here?
Behind him, Walter heard the sound of an activating hologram.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency.
Walter turned to see a non-descript woman, dressed in the uniform of a Starfleet
doctor. Excuse me? he asked.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency.
There isnt one.
Then why was I activated? the hologram asked.

I dont know. I asked if there was anyone here, and He waved his hands at
the hologram. You appeared.
I see. I am programmed to activate if anyone requires medical attention and
there are no qualified personnel available. How may I help you?
I have an appointment with Dr. Locken.
The hologram looked away for a moment. Ah, your physical. I am authorized to
conduct that exam. Please take a seat on the exam bed while I review your file.
Perhaps I should come back later
Nonsense! As an Enhanced EMH, Mk IV-D, I have the collective knowledge of
over two thousand medical works and the personal experience of 83 Starfleet and civilian
physicians. If I am unqualified to perform a simple exam
The hologram suddenly turned to look at Walter, an expression of surprise on its
face. Youve been diagnosed with Adipose Hyper-Replenishment Syndrome.
Yes.
That is an extremely rare condition, but there are several promising lines of
research pertaining to a treatment. I am qualified to administer several of those currently
undergoing trials, if you wish.
I do not.
May I ask why? Those with your condition face a number of physical and
cultural disadvantages. One would think that
Two reasons. First, I was taught to respect the person I am, not to conform to a
society that does not respect the way I look. Second, we are bound for a planet where my
body image is considered a virtue. Besides, I am familiar with the treatments you refer
to, and none of them have been approved for civilian use on sentients.
This is true, but
Nothing, Doctor. But nothing. The Fourteenth Guarantee specifically prohibits
the use of experimental medicine without consent. I hereby deny that consent.
The hologram sighed, picking up a medical tricorder. Very well. After a quick
scan, the hologram pronounced him perfectly healthy.
Thank you, Doctor, Walter said, standing up. I trust we shall never again have
this conversation.
You should consider some sort of treatment. Even though they are not cures
I came in for a simple physical, and I end up arguing with a light bulb!
Doctors! he continued, heading out into the corridor, Why do even the holographic
ones have to be such morons!?
Lesley Caruthers had just finished the last of the days interviews when she heard
the singing
Venero
Ineratto voni calide
Terrive Venero
Ineratto voni calide ivane
Ho-ha en deo malevo cantare
Assime penelope en deo malevo terrive
Ameno amenostro
Domine Domine

Ho-ha pensare terume


Sa mi e opperatte
Sa mi e opperazzione
So-ha en deo diavole
Intrigued, she stood up and walked to the open door, just as the voice that had
been singing launched into an impression of an old-style electric guitar.
Rounding the corner, she ran into the Ambassador.
Whoa, there! Walter said, finding their lips uncomfortably close.
Sorry, Mr. Ambassador. Embarrassed at the situation, she blushed a deep pink.
No harm, no foul, Lesley, Walter said, releasing her.
That seems to be your motto, Sir.
Yes, Walter replied with a grin, yes, it is.
He then continued past her, into the outer office.
So what was that about? he asked, cocking a thumb over his shoulder toward
the corridor.
I heard singing, but didnt recognize the language.
Something I dug up from my time at Cambridge. I needed to decompress after
an argument with a talking light bulb in sickbay. Besides, its in a language remarkably
similar to one of the Intarans dominant languages, though that particular song is
essentially gibberish.
I see.
You did notice the section of the Intaran cultural profile that indicates they are
rather ravenous followers of the Arts. Music is quite popular there.
Yes, Sir, I did. Its just that its been a while since I heard a voice with such
richness to it.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
Your electric guitar, however, could use some work.
But its such a great riff Havent tried that particular voice work since I was a
cultural attach on Bolarus. Now those folks can hold a note.
Not waiting for her reply, Walter headed into the inner office. Grabbing her everpresent PADD, Caruthers followed.
So how did the interviews go? the ambassador asked, lowering himself into the
chair behind the desk. Except for the view of space beyond the windows, it was not
unlike the one he had back at Foggy Bottom.
Rather quickly, for the most part, though I was able to find a possible Chief of
Staff and Public Relations officer. I was also forced to rule a number of people
unacceptable for assignment to Intar.
Oh? Why was that?
They had misgivings about Um
Fat people? Walter suggested.
I was looking for a more diplomatic term.
Good riddance. Who did you find for Public Relations?
Wallace Stein. Hes a
Reporter, Walter finished. Worked for Terra Skynet, if I recall correctly.
Yes, Caruthers confirmed, checking her notes. You know of him?

Weve met a number of times. He covered quite a few Council meetings while I
was on Sanahts staff. He rubbed his chin, feeling the five o-clock shadow that had
grown there. Hire him. Hes what my sister would call an old-fashioned ink slinger.
A what?
Sorry, my sister tends to use a lot of archaic terms. Its one of the slang terms
they used for reporters back when text updates were printed on paper and sold on a daily
or weekly basis.
I see.
What about the Chief of Staff?
Caruthers examined her PADD again before replying. The most likely candidate
is Kehen Relath. Hes a Betazoid, formerly a member of Ambassador Trois staff.
You mean Auntie Mame on speed. At the womans confused look, he added,
Dont get me wrong, she was an excellent diplomat. Its just that her style was a bit in
your face. Im rather glad she finally retired.
Still, he thought, it might be a good idea to have one or two people on staff who
have political connections.
It sounds like a good idea, he finally said, cringing as the muscles of his back
protested his movement. After lunch, Charlie had insisted they ride horses. Hed fallen
off twice.
Should I go ahead and hire him?
No, have communications set up a real-time, or as close as possible link. Id like
to have a talk with him myself before making that decision.
Of course. I think, when you see him, youll understand why I consider him the
most likely candidate.
Very well. He looked up at her, seeing an expression hed never seen before.
Was there something else?
Uh Sir, what happened in the corridor
Nothing to be embarrassed about, Leslie. Its not like were romantically
involved.
Of course, Mr. Ambassador. Will there be anything else?
No, but I would appreciate if you could find out why Dr. Locken wasnt at my
appointment.
She wasnt?
No. Thats why I had the argument with the talking light bulb.
Ill look into it, Sir.
Thank you, Leslie.

Council House
Unity, Planet Intar
Oh, wonderful, Nelani Yan thought as one of her staffers brought in another pile
of datapads, more paperwork.
When I took this job, I never thought Id be doing so much paperwork and its
not even for my own government.

These Federation people do seem to record everything, Vice Councilor, the staff
member replied, picking up the much smaller pile of datapads in the box marked OUT.
So I see, Yan remarked, picking up the top datapad from the pile the man had
deposited in her IN box. Activating it, she saw that it was an updated estimate on the
retrofit of the building that would have been a new Kentari Embassy, had the National
Assembly not ratified the Treaty of Unification. It, as well as a number of other
buildings, had been given to the Federation to serve as an embassy and living quarters. A
couple of officers from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers were supervising the retrofit, but
most of the work was being done by local civilian contractors.
The latest problem was fitting an antimatter generator in one of the hangars at the
Unity airport.
Dont they already have an antimatter generator in orbit? she asked, looking up
from the device.
They have them aboard their starships, but no fixed ones.
I see. Send this request out to the airport authority and the ISA engineers. If
they sign off on it, I will, too.
Very good, Vice Councilor, the staffer replied. Also, there are a number of
communiqus for you from the He checked his own datapad. The Ferengi, the
Cardassians and the Nancy Hedford? What species is that?
Thats a ship, not a species, Yan informed her new staffer. Its bringing the
new Federation ambassador from Earth. What does that one say?
Oh, I see. Ambassador Eve wishes to speak with you at your convenience.
And how the hode do I talk to someone that far out? Just pick up my handset
and hope theres an operator who can connect me?
Actually, yes, Maam, a new voice said from the open doorway, though if
youd rather use one of the available holodecks, we can beam you there.
And who are you? Yan asked the very thin Starfleet ensign.
Ensign Jenna Stirling, Gwalior flight operations. I was sent to check on the
hangar assigned to house the embassy runabout, but Ive also been asked to escort you,
should you choose to use a holodeck.
Oh. Which would you suggest I do?
Thats up to you, Maam.
Yan stood up, feeling both of her knees pop. Ive been sitting here too long.
Id like to experience one of these holodecks, if I could.
Thats easy enough to arrange.
Yan turned to her staffer. Have Imbru take over here. Ill let you know when
Im finished.
Of course, Vice Councilor.
Ensign, Im ready now.
Stirling tapped her commbadge. Stirling to Gwalior.
Wilcox here.
Commander, Vice Councilor Yan has elected to use a holodeck to call the Nancy
Hedford. Wed appreciate knowing which ship is in position to beam us up.
Umm Looks like the Blount Island is almost directly above you. Stand by
one.

A moment later, another voice issued from the womans commbadge. This is
Blount Island transporter two. How many to beam up?
Two, these coordinates.
Roger that, ready when you are.
Energize.
Yan yelped a bit as everything around her faded into blue-white glitter for several
seconds before that faded, revealing a completely different room. The whole process
lasted less than five seconds.

U.S.S. Blount Island, NCC-32226


Orbiting Planet Intar
Whoa, Yan said, as a moment of dizziness swept over her. Thats different.
Exactly what I said when I was beamed aboard the Enterprise, An Rentoshi said
from his place next to the transporter operator. Welcome aboard the Blount Island, Vice
Councilor.
General Rentoshi? What are you doing here? the woman asked.
I beamed up to confer with Captain Baier about the construction of some
industrial replicators for the base. I was about to beam back to Citadel when you
signaled.
I see. Ill not delay you, then. If someone could direct me to a holodeck
Holodeck one is being readied. Just take the turbolift to the right outside the
door.
Thank you, Chief. General.
I think youll enjoy it, Vice Councilor, Rentoshi said as he headed for the
platform. Nice to see you again, Ensign Stirling.
You too, General, the young woman replied with a sheepish grin.
A moment later, the big Intaran officer faded in a shower of blue-white glitter.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Holodeck 1
Go, mount the western winds and cleave the sky;
Then with swift descent, to Carthage fly:
There find the Trojan chief, who wastes his
days in slothful riot and inglorious ease
bid him with speed the Tyrian court forsake;
with this command, the slumb'ring warrior wake.
While Walter Eve had never used holodecks much during his career, he rather
liked the ones aboard the Nancy Hedford. They werent very big, in relation to those on
other types of ships, but they were state of the art, and created environments that were
impossible to distinguish from reality.

At that moment, he relaxed in a replica of his childhood home in the city of


Vancouver, Washington, reading his well-worn copy of Virgils Aenid, a tall glass of Dr
Pepper at his elbow.
He was about to continue reading the long stanza, but looked up when the
intercom came alive.
Bridge to Ambassador Eve.
Walter closed the book and gently placed it on the table next to the glass.
Go ahead, he said, picking up the beverage.
Transmission from Intar, Sir, Captain DXarr, the Hedfords first officer,
replied. You were right. Its a full duplex holocom.
When does that man sleep? Walter thought, taking a sip of his Dr Pepper. It was
several hours into the ships night. Whats the subspace delay?
Two point eight seconds, relayed through Starbase 128s subspace booster from
the Blount Island.
Have they established a setting? Walter asked.
No, Sir. Theyre taking it from us.
Very well. Patch them through.
Just under three seconds later, there was the sound of a new hologram being
added to the program as Walter rose to his feet.
Vice Councilor Yan, I presume?
Yes, the hologram answered after a short delay. You must be Ambassador
Eve. She sketched a bow toward Walter. This is an unexpected honor, Your
Excellency. I would have expected one of your aides to have contacted me for updates.
Why pass the buck when you can do it yourself? Walter asked. And its my
honor, Vice Councilor.
Yan found herself liking the Federation man before her. Youre not like normal
Federation people, are you? she asked before realizing she had.
Whats normal? Walter asked in reply.
That, Yan answered, is a question Ive been asking myself for years, Your
Excellency.
Oh, please, call me Walter. Im not one to stand on formality.
Then I would ask you to call me Nelani. He may look Intaran, she thought, but
he clearly isnt.
Walter invited Yan to have a seat as he resumed his own. You must have many
questions about me and my people. Let me begin by saying the Federation is committed
to defending Intar and her people.
So I have seen, Walter, Yan answered, looking around. Where are we?
This is a re-creation of my early childhood home in a place called Vancouver,
Washington. He picked up his glass. Would you care for a refreshment? The holodeck
youre in can produce whatever youd like.
Actually, Id like to try what youre having.
Walter smiled. Blount Island computer, place a half-liter glass of Dr Pepper on
the end table next to Vice Councilor Yan.
Instantly, the ordered item appeared.
Amazing! Yan said, picking up the glass that had just appeared. She sniffed it
and then took a tentative sip. A very unusual flavor.

But to return to business. I have no doubt that the Federation will defend Intar,
and youve been quite generous with your technology and assistance, but I must wonder
what you will want in return.
Walter smiled. Nelani, I assure you, the Federation asks nothing in return for our
assistance beyond what your world is already providing: a strategically-placed home for a
joint base.
As for what I would want, thats part of why I called. I was told you were the
person to ask about such things as restaurants and entertainment venues
They spent much of the night in the holographic living room, which explained his
fatigue the next morning when he arrived on the bridge. While much of their
conversation had been about the cities of Intar, theyd also come to know each other on a
personal level, to the point where he was looking forward to meeting her in person upon
his arrival.
Sorry to wake you up so early, Walter, Charlie Haywood said, but I think
somebody forgot to tell us about a rendezvous.
No harm, no foul, Charlie, Walter answered, but what are you talking about?
Haywood nodded at the main screen, and the Ferengi runabout that held position
in the center, the streaking stars indicating that it was keeping pace just off the bow.
Theyre asking for you, he said.
Walter stepped down to his own seat and lowered himself into it. Then lets see
what they want. Captain DXarr, tell them Im here, will you?
Of course, Mr. Ambassador, the Tiburonian replied. A moment later, the screen
changed to show the interior of the Ferengi craft.
Ambassador Eve?
This is Walter Eve.
Ah! Your Excellency, my name is Wirrt. Im from the Ferengi Trade Mission.
Grand Nagus Rom has requested that I be attached to your staff under the Protecting
Power agreement between the Federation and the Alliance.
In what capacity, Mr. Wirrt? Walter asked.
I have been sent as a special trade representative. The Nagus believes the
Alliance may be able to help.
I highly recommend against bringing a Ferengi onto the staff, Mr. Ambassador,
Rilaar said as he, Walter, Caruthers, Haywood and Fredericks headed for the transporter
room.
Im with the lizard, Freddy added. Give a Ferengi a micron, and hell take a
light-year.
Gentlemen, Walter said, mildly reproofing their attitude, we should at least be
civil. Id rather he be on our turf, where we can direct the negotiations.
Id still rather he be behind a force field, at the very least, Rilaar grumbled.
Ill keep that in mind, Haywood said as the transporter room door parted before
the group. Okay, Senior Chief, he said to the enlisted man behind the console, bring
him aboard.
Aye, Sir.

A moment later, the Ferengi, dressed in the traditional gray uniform of the quasimilitary Ferengi Merchant Service, materialized on the platform, with a large crate next
to him.
Ah, Your Excellency! Thank you for bringing me aboard.
You should actually thank Admiral Haywood. He commands this vessel.
Then you have my gratitude, Admiral.
Walter had written a position paper a number of years ago, before the Dominion
War, and Wirrt was acting in the stereotypical way.
Mr. Wirrt, he said before the Ferengi began linguistically prostrating himself
before Haywood, you said something about helping. Exactly how is the Alliance
offering to help?
My government is willing to add resources and personnel to the Federations
operations on Intar.
But at what price? Caruthers asked, her voice carrying more than a little
disbelief.
We ask only that we be allowed to participate in your research on the Preserver
artifacts found there
Time to lock up the good silver, Freddy said, under his breath.
Wirrt glared at the dark-skinned human, having clearly heard what was said. I
am no thief, Sir! My acquisitions and sales records with the Ferengi Commerce
Authority are
I apologize for my officers cultural insensitivity, Mr. Wirrt, Haywood said,
giving Freddy a light slap to the back of the head. It will not happen again.
Quite all right, Admiral. It is a typical hew-mon reaction that Ive become used
to over the years.
Its not really my place to grant access to any artifacts under Intaran authority
I do understand that, Your Excellency, but the Nagus thought they would be
more amenable to the suggestion if it came from you.
I see. Lets discuss what the Ferengi Alliance can bring to the effort.
Before you do that, Haywood asked, pointing at the crate, what should we do
with that?
Ah, Wirrt said, smiling. Those are gifts for the Intaran Executive Council.
Samples, if you will, in hopes that we might open trade.
I understand. Freddy, have it scanned and then moved to one of the ships vaults.
We wouldnt want anything to happen to it.
Of course, Boss. Ill get right on it.
A wise thought, Admiral. Thank you, the Ferengi said.
If youll come this way, we can retire to On the Bow for some refreshments

Council House
Unity, Planet Intar
The office of Intars Prime Councilor was a busy place at the best of times, but
that particular day was busier than usual as one of his secretaries showed Nelani Yan into
the expansive office of the most powerful man on Intar.

A distinction, Yan reminded herself, that belongs to the office, not the occupant.
Aram Kodo looked harried as he motioned for her to take a seat as he spoke into
the multi-line communications panels handset.
Ill get back to you, Drekaan. Right now, I have a meeting. A moment later, he
dropped the handset into its cradle, breaking the connection. Im sorry about that, he
said, giving Yan his full attention. Administrator Karan and High Marshal Drekaan are
fighting over those two ships that were just laid down up in orbit. With the help Starfleet
is giving us, we can have them both built and fitted out in under five years. Drekaan
wants to turn them into warships to use to deter the Tzenkethi while Karan wants to keep
them as pure explorers. I shudder to imagine the fight theyll have over the Krental and
Namree-Zaye when they return if they return.
Those two are worse than my children, Yan, who had been widowed several
years before, commented. They both want the same toys.
Her husband, Sagari, had been an artist; one of Intars great treasures, with talent
sought after by the Three Peoples worldwide. They had been married for twelve years
when hed been diagnosed with an aggressive form of what the Federation people called
leukemia. He hung on for a year after the diagnosis, just long enough to finish his last
work, a sculpture called The Chalice of Unity, before succumbing to the disease.
They sound worse than mine, even at their worst, Kodo said, breaking her out
of her reverie.
Yan smiled. So what can I do for you, Prime Councilor?
I understand you had the opportunity to meet the new Federation Ambassador
yesterday.
Yes, I did. We spent several hours in his childhood home, thanks to the holodeck
aboard the Blount Island.
Ive been meaning to get up there and try one of those things, but I never seem to
have any time. He folded his hands on the desk before him. Im curious. What was he
like?
Why do you ask? Yan asked, instantly on alert. As a politician herself, she
knew how the game was played.
Id like to know your impression of the man so Ill know what to expect from
him.
I dont know if it was at your suggestion, but I suspect Captain Harris had a great
deal to do with his selection.
How so?
Did you not see his interview on The Boredom Cure? Yan asked.
You know I dont watch that show. Im far too busy at that time of day.
Perhaps you should.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Ambassadors Office
Two weeks from Intar, and one of the captains up and leaves? Ambassador
Walter Eve said, standing behind the desk in his office. Vice Admiral Charlie Haywood,
the diplomatic ships captain, stood opposite him, having just hand-delivered the

message. When did it suddenly become okay for Starfleet captains to leave their duty
stations without so much as a by your leave?
Walter tried to keep the venom out of his voice. It was just another unexpected
situation that he had to deal with. The first was the shortage of fresh, non-replicated
coffee in the galley, and the second was the loss of his vinyl record collection and their
player, which had been in storage.
Its not unprecedented, Walter. Sometimes, starship captains are called away for
a while on other assignments.
So why didnt the ship go with him?
The Ernst Ruska is supporting the Intaran science team thats studying that
obelisk they found. Her marines are providing security while the engineers build a dome
over the crater.
Oh, yes. Theyre building a farm there, right?
Thats right.
Whats his name? Walter asked.
Haywood referred to the small PADD he carried. Yineth Nikara. I know him.
Hes a
Where do I know that name from? Walter asked himself, sitting down. Not
stopping his recital, Haywood followed.
fighter who had some ties to the Maquis before the war. When the war broke
out, he was one of mine in the Bajor sector. He ran point on several operations on
Cardassian worlds that were less than sympathetic to the Dominion. When Damars
resistance movement started, he
I think I remember him now. He was the first Bajoran to make captain in
Starfleet.
Hell, I recommended him for it myself, Haywood replied, tossing the PADD
onto the side table. Hes a good man.
So why would he hare off on a personal mission like this?
You got me. Maybe he thinks he can find someone to turn. He always was good
at that sort of thing.
Walter nodded with a frown. What does Admiral Mecum have to say about it?
Well, since Kodo apparently gave his blessing to it, there wasnt much he could
say. I did get a chance to talk to Tattok before he met with the President.
And what did the little guy say? Something cryptic and hard to understand?
His frown turned into a smile at his own joke, as Haywood chuckled.
Just to continue on to Starbase 128 and from there to Intar.
Walter sat silent for a moment, thinking. Making a decision, he looked across the
desk at the Nancy Hedfords captain. Then lets do that. If you would, send a message
to Captain thNar asking him to keep us appraised of the situation.
Right, Haywood answered, standing up. Anything else?
Yeah. Pray that Yineth finds someone to work with.
Oh, I have no doubt about that
As Haywood turned to leave the office, a face Walter hadnt seen in many years
appeared in the doorway. Afternoon, Professor, the admiral said as he passed.
Admiral.

As I live and breathe, Walter said, barely above a whisper. Ive been meaning
to look in on you, Professor. Im sorry I didnt get the chance.
I do not require your apology, Mr. Ambassador, but I accept it. It is agreeable to
see you again. The years have been kind to you.
Well, we cant all be Vulcans. How have you been, Sapok?
I have spent thirty-two years attempting to disprove your refutation of my
Temporal Uncertainty Theory. I was unsuccessful, and have been teaching your
refutation ever since.
I am honored.
To deny the truth would be illogical. I am told you seek a rematch of our last
game of kal-toh.
I have the frame set up and ready, Walter replied, rising to his feet. Would you
care for something to drink? I have some non-replicated spice tea.
Sapoks right eyebrow rose.
I developed a taste for it while I was stationed at the consulate in Regar.
I see. I accept your offer.
As the Vulcan took a seat next to the ornate kal-toh frame, Walter crossed to the
door. Leslie, could you ask the galley to brew up a pot of my Vulcan Spice Tea stock,
please?
Of course, Mr. Ambassador. Anything to eat?
Walter looked over his shoulder, seeing that the opening move had been made.
Professor, care for some food?
I have already eaten, but you may feel free to order something for yourself.
Walter turned back to Caruthers. Were good.
Ill let you know when it arrives.
Thanks. He then crossed the office and took the seat opposite the Vulcan.
Seeing that Sapoks initial move had opened a bit of the frame, he pulled a rod from near
the bottom and replaced it through the middle of the formation.
An interesting opening, Ambassador.
It was Walters turn to raise an eyebrow. How many times have I asked you to
call me Walter?
Seventeen, over the span of thirty-seven years. Each time, I have given the same
reply: It would not be proper to use your given name while you are executing your
duties.
Im not executing my duties at the moment, Sapok. Truly, I would prefer that we
be casual with each other, even under official circumstances. After all, Soval and Archer
eventually established a first-name basis, and that was during Archers term as
President.
Sapok considered the ambassadors argument. Very well, Walter. He then
folded his hands in front of him and contemplated the pattern. Have you read any of the
scientific reports from the Intar expedition?
Just the summaries. Something interesting in them?
I received one this morning that piqued my interest. Are you familiar with
Archaeogenetics?
Tracing genomes back through time and using statistical methods from genetics
to study cultural trends.

The definition has expanded to include the study of genetically altered societies,
especially those seeded or transplanted by races such as the Preservers. The biochemist
assigned to the expedition, Ensign Grace Tapper, postulates that, as part of moving the
Intaran peoples from Earth, they were also genetically engineered to undergo periods of
physical alteration so as to cope with climatic changes commensurate with the variable
nature of the system primary.
Are you saying what I think youre saying? Walter asked as Sapok made his
move.
The report is far too preliminary to draw any conclusions, yet it would explain
several periods where the body mass average has significantly increased.
Walter paused, his fingers closed on one of the longer rods in the construct. So
Cyrano Jones Disease may be a natural reaction to natural climate change.
Indeed. The idea bears more study, of course, and I have arranged a meeting
with Ensign Tapper upon our arrival.
I might just sit in on that meeting, if you dont mind the company.
I would not. Your familiarity with the condition lends insight I cannot have.
Ten minutes later, Rilaar arrived, carrying a tray bearing a minimalist tea set,
which he gently deposited on a nearby table.
My apologies for the delay, Gentlemen. The tea took a bit longer than
expected.
The preparation of spice tea is something never to be rushed, Petty Officer,
Sapok replied, reaching for a rod.
I believe, the Selay said, presenting the two men a cup each, that would be a
mistake, Professor.
You are familiar with kal-toh, Petty Officer?
I played a great deal of it during the war. If I may?
If the ambassador does not object.
Ill even let you undo the move if it doesnt work, Walter said before taking a
long breath, savoring the aroma of the tea.
Accepting the second cup, Sapok silently invited Rilaar to make a move on his
behalf. With a quick, yet surprisingly gentle move, the Selay removed a rod near the top
and inserted it almost vertically near the bottom. Instantly, the formation rearranged
itself into a near perfect sphere, leaving only a few gaps and tangled rods.
Both of the Vulcans eyebrows went up, as did Walters.
Unorthodox, Sapok finally remarked, yet surprisingly effective. Indeed, I have
seen it used only one other time, by Ambassador Lojal.
I briefly served as his bodyguard near the end of the war, Rilaar replied.
If I may be so bold, you seem rather old to be a Petty Officer.
Yes, well There was an unfortunate incident shortly after that, and I was
reduced several steps in grade.
Oh? Walter asked, interested.
I, um bit an intelligence officer.
An unfortunate incident, indeed, Sapok answered.
He refused to press charges himself, Rilaar quickly amended, but the Provost
Marshall insisted.

Let me guess, youre talking about Charlie.


Yes, the Selay confirmed, sounding genuinely embarrassed.
Petty Officer, do you have any free time available? I would like to see your
game play technique in more detail.
I would be honored, Professor.
Youre welcome to play right now, Walter said, pouncing on the frame.
Because that, he added as his move completed the sphere, is a complete kal-toh.
Impressive. That was not a logical move, Walter.
No, it wasnt. I just saw it.
An intuitive move, then. I congratulate you. He then nodded up toward Rilaar,
adding, And you, too, Petty Officer. I have no pressing matters, if you have the time to
accept the Ambassadors offer.
I believe I would enjoy that, Professor.

Thirty hours later


And we have capture and hard dock. Welcome to Starbase 128, Hedford.
Thank you, Control, Haywood replied, standing up. Next to him, Walter did the
same. Sparky, lets put the ships systems on external support for a while. Thatll give
you a chance to do a check on the warp core.
Right, Boss, the ships chief engineer replied.
Walter, lets go see Admiral Mecum.
Right behind you, Charlie.

Starbase 128
Ten minutes later
Ambassador! Welcome to Starbase 128.
Thank you, Admiral, Walter replied, shaking the mans hand.
Mecum then turned to Haywood. Charlie, who the hell let you in here?
What? I thought youd be over that by now.
Over it? I lost an antique Bugatti Veyron to you last time you were here!
And shes still sweet as Rigellian honey. Howve you been, Thom?
The two admirals shared a laugh as they shook hands. To put it in one word,
busy. This whole Intaran mess has this place jumping like nothing else in the sector.
Ill certainly do what I can to help you, Admiral, Walter replied.
I certainly hope so, Mr. Ambassador. Please, have a seat, both of you.
Thank you, Admiral, Walter replied. So whats the latest?
Obviously, you heard about the Tzenkethi attempt to use an asteroid as a
weapon, Mecum answered, just as an aide entered the office with what appeared to be a
coffee service. Oh, thank you, Jezza. Feel free to grab a cup for yourself, if you like.
Ill pass this time, Sir.
Well, dont say I didnt offer.

Yes, Sir. The yeoman then poured each man a cup of the dark beverage, which
he gently placed on the desk within easy reach. Ill be outside if you need me,
Gentlemen.
Id be lost without that man, Mecum remarked after the door had closed behind
the yeoman.
Walter chuckled. I know what you mean. My social secretary and bodyguard
have been a godsend. To answer your question, yes, I did read those reports. Rather
ingenious, really.
Rather hard, too, since helm systems are designed to engage warp drive at onequarter C. They basically reprogrammed the safeties out of their throttle assemblies on
the fly.
Who built the nuclear weapon? Haywood asked. I thought the Intarans didnt
have any left.
No weapons, but they did have a bit of enriched material. Do you know
Dominic Baier?
Cant say that I do.
Hes an engineer, commanding the Blount Island. He was my chief engineer on
the Dunsfold. His hobby is building nuclear bombs.
Not working ones, I hope, Haywood said, picking up his cup.
Oh, no. Theyve always been mock-ups, but he was able to use a photon torpedo
casing to build a one hundred thirty megaton bomb.
Haywood froze, about to take a sip, as his eyes flew wide. How the hell did he
manage that? Even a three-stage bomb would need a casing four times that size to get
that kind of yield from nuclear materials, no matter how enriched they are.
He spiked the second stage with one gram of antimatter.
Damn. Im going to have to have a talk with him. By the way, what is this
stuff? It smells like somebody mixed raktajino, hot chocolate and chai He sniffed the
cup. And nutmeg.
Mecum smiled. That, gentlemen, more than anything, is the reason why were
here today. Its called tanzila.
Walter took a sip from his own cup, holding the liquid in his mouth for several
seconds to allow all of the flavors to register. I could get used to this.
Youll have plenty of time, Ambassador, Mecum answered.
Please, Admiral, call me Walter. I suspect well be dealing with each other quite
a bit over the next few years.
Then Im Thom. Getting back to the briefing, there have been a couple of
criminal matters. Mostly, its the normal things youll find with a new base: a bit of
pilfering, unauthorized replicator use, unauthorized use of equipment but there has also
been a battery. General Rentoshi has assigned a Starfleet security team to assist the
police in investigating that last, and the Intaran government has granted them full police
powers.
Okay, Walter answered. Ill make sure to keep up with that.
As for Captain Yineth, I dont have anything new.
You probably wont until he gets back, Haywood said. He likes to keep his
cards close to his vest.
Oh?

He was one of my operatives during the war.


Ah.
What about supplies? Walter asked. The Intarans burned a good portion of
their ripe fields during the last major attack.
Yes, weve started sending convoys with food and field reclamation supplies.
Were also sending farming equipment to replace what was lost. They should be able to
plant new crops fairly quickly. We have the Edward OHare providing escort. Shes an
old Constitution class ship, but shes been updated with modern systems. The Tzenkethi
had been leaving them alone, but they hit the last one.
Whens the next one heading out? Haywood asked. I noticed a bunch of
freighters holding station.
Unfortunately, the OHare took a bit of a beating this last time in. Theres no
telling when theyll be able to head back.
Got any other ships in the area?
Unfortunately, no. The closest ships are all science vessels. The best well be
able to do is send a squadron of Peregrine fighters and a couple of runabouts. In fact,
Ive put in a request for Starfleet to pull a few ships out of postwar mothballs at Qualor
II. Maybe we can turn them into system patrol ships or something.
Have you thought about giving one or two of those old ships to the Intarans?
Walter asked. They could use the systems to train their people and improve their warp
drive tech, and its not like the Federation hasnt done it before. It would certainly go a
long way toward building goodwill with them.
I hadnt thought of that, Mecum said, rubbing his chin, but youre right. There
are a couple of those old Armidale class corvettes in mothballs that lost their torpedo
pods during the war. They couldnt be fitted with new ones because of wartime
shortages.
I seem to recall a story about how a bunch of colonials built themselves a patrol
ship out of spare parts and scrap metal about a hundred years back, Haywood remarked.
If we are going to build a full starbase on that planet, itd be good have the locals able to
fix whatever pulls in.
Good point. Ill see what I can do on that score.
Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Ambassador, Admiral, Jake Sisko said as he
shook hands with the two men before taking a seat at the conference table.
No problem, Mr. Sisko, Haywood replied, taking his own seat. Were always
happy to meet with the Press.
Okay, we already have profiles on both of you, so we can dispense with the
biographical questions, so Ill launch right into the weeds. Mr. Ambassador, what does
the Federation hope to achieve on Intar? I mean, except for its location, it doesnt offer
all that much, does it?
One could ask the same about Bajor, Mr. Sisko, Walter replied. But youre
right. The Federations primary interest is strategic. The Tzenkethi are a thorn in our
side, and we need a base from which to keep them in check. But thats not our only
interest. We have a common origin, common interests, and in many ways common
cultural conventions. While their agricultural products are embargoed, the planet

produces a great many products that form a basis for trade. And, ultimately, its the right
thing to do. Hopefully, Intar will follow Bajors example and join the Federation.
Do you agree, Admiral? Sisko asked.
I leave politics to the politicians. My job is to get the ambassador to his post in
one piece.
Okay, what do you think of the Tzenkethi declaration of the Intar system as a
military exclusion zone?
Ive taken my ship into combat zones before. The Tzenkethi are signatories to
the Deneb Conventions, and I expect their military forces to respect diplomatic immunity
under them.
And if they dont?
Thats why were being escorted.
Ambassador, this is your first posting as leader of a delegation. What are your
thoughts on having the top spot?
Its a big responsibility, certainly, Walter replied, but I have a good team, and
Im sure well settle in nicely.
Thats a bit of a canned answer, dont you think? Sisko asked.
No more than that was a canned question, Walter countered.
Touch. He consulted his notes again. What are your thoughts on what
happened to the Edward OHare. I understand it would have been your escort.
Escorting supplies into a war zone is always dangerous, Mr. Sisko, Haywood
answered. Your own experiences back during the Dominion War should have told you
that much. Like I said before, the Tzenkethi have respected diplomatic immunity before,
and I believe they will again. The Nancy Hedford is, after all, a properly marked
diplomatic vessel.
One last question What are your thoughts about the way Intarans treat those
who arent as big as they are?
What do you mean?
I mean no insult, Mr. Ambassador, but you were chosen as much for your Cyrano
Jones disease as for your diplomatic experience.
Its important to be able to deal with people in a way that makes all parties
comfortable. If we encounter a planet where all suffered from a form of anorexia, Im
sure the President would send someone just as tailored to the post.
Tell me, Mr. Sisko, off the record. Were you in the Presidents shoes, would you
send someone the Intarans would refuse to deal with, or would you find someone who
puts them at ease? I wonder what the Bajorans would say about that?
Another point, Ambassador. Your Chief-of-Staff is an interesting person. Ive
asked for an interview, but hes rather reticent.
Thats his prerogative, Mr. Sisko. Its not for me to order him to talk to you.
Cant fault a guy for trying. Well, I believe I have everything my editor needs,
and I have a deadline, plus a ship back to Bajor to catch, so I shall say Thank You, and
Bon Voyage.
Thank you, Mr. Sisko. Should you need anything else, dont hesitate to contact
us.

The shuttlebay was a hive of activity as a squadron of fighters was prepped for
launch and storage aboard the various freighters heading to Intar. It was a hastily
organized, ad hoc arrangement, and looked it, but the unit was efficient. As Walter
entered, another fighter, complete with ordinance and support equipment, faded in the
blue light of a transporter signal.
If thats how theyre putting them aboard, Haywood said from next to him, Id
hate to see how they launch them.
But the pilots dont seem to be going with them, Walter observed, nodding
toward the growing group of marines in the distinctive jumpsuits of combat pilots.
Walter! Charlie! Mecum called from the nose of one of the remaining fighters.
As the ambassador approached, he noticed the fighter was emblazoned with what was
possibly the most famous squadron logo in human history.
Teddy, Mecum continued, these are the gentlemen your squadron will be
escorting. Admiral Charles Haywood, Ambassador Walter Eve, allow me to present Lt.
Colonel Theodora Raskin, commander of the 214th Marine Strike Group.
Sir, Ambassador.
Colonel. If youre having to beam your fighters onto the transports, how are you
going to launch them? Haywood asked.
The same way, Sir. We used transporter launches to good effect back in the
war.
Wait, Teddy Raskin? Lieutenant Teddy Raskin?
Raskin actually blushed. Uh, yes, Admiral. I led the raid on the breeding
facility in the Touron system.
Breeding facility? Walter asked.
The Dominion was growing JemHadar there until this lady took it down.
I had a good squadron, Sir.
You got lucky. You kids racked up almost as many kills as they did at Tanis.
Unfortunately, well never know how they racked up those numbers.
Thats true.
Colonel, Mecum said, signing a PADD that a yeoman had handed to him, it
looks like your craft have been secured aboard the freighters, and you are clear to depart
at the Ambassadors pleasure.
Raskin snapped to attention. Aye-aye, Admiral. Ambassador, we can depart
whenever youre ready. We do have one small ritual first. Its something we picked up
from the Tuskegee Airmen or rather, a fictionalized version.
Dont let me stop you, Colonel.
Wed be honored if youd observe, Gentlemen. Executing a perfect paradeground about-face, the marine walked over to the group, the three men following close.
Huddle up! she called.
Instantly, the pilots gathered around.
Time for action, boys and girls! she called. You know what that means! To
the last craft! To the last photon! To the last breath! We fight!
WE FIGHT!
We fight!
WE FIGHT!
We fight!

WE FIGHT!
To defend those who cannot defend themselves!
OOH-RAH!!!
Man your craft!
Those pilots who still had fighters in the bay headed for them while others ran for
the transporter rooms.
Raskin turned back to Walter and saluted. We launch on your command,
Ambassador.
Walter grinned and returned the salute. I pass that honor to Admiral Haywood.
Haywood also returned the salute. Mind if I call you Teddy?
Id prefer that, Admiral.
Then, Teddy, launch when ready, and form up on the Nancy Hedford.
Aye, Sir.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Two Days Later
Ambassadors log, supplemental;
Two days have passed since the Nancy Hedfords departure from
Starbase 128. like most of the space stations that Ive been to
throughout my career, it seemed cold and impersonal at first. Admiral
Mecum and his crew have made me feel welcome here, though, and
with the arrival of my staff, I feel the weight of his new position starting
to feel a little less heavy.
One person I can attribute that to is my new Chief of Staff, Kehen
Relath. Together with Lesley Caruthers, hes whipped the staff into
shape. Of course, what kind of shape still eludes me. Like me, hes a
rather large person, but his weight is deliberate, unlike my own.
Still, I look forward to seeing the blue skies of a planet soon.
Feeling real soil under my feet again would be nice.

Tzenkethi scout Hagal


Four Hours Later
Hidden under the protection of the ships new cloaking device, Thollen Kol
watched as the Federation diplomatic courier departed from the starbase two days
previously. He knew it would be easy to destroy her. The Hagals passive sensor sweeps
had revealed the ship to be completely unarmed.
Once outside the sphere of the Starbases protection, the diplomatic vessel will
be easy prey, his second-in-command, Ropar, had said, standing to the right of his
command chair. Like the shipmaster, he wore the uniform of the Tzenkethi Navy.
Yes, but that is not our task. If we are victorious in that, the Autarch will award
us with the first kill on Intar

Two days later, the entire crew were wondering if the order would ever come.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Captain?, Ensign Gry reported from the bridge console she had reconfigured
into a science station.
Yes, Ensign? Charlie Haywood asked, walking onto the bridge from his ready
room. Ambassador Eve followed behind him, a smile on his face. They had just watched
an old twenty first century movie together, and it was time to call it a night.
Sensors just picked up a glimpse of something.
A glimpse? Walter asked with concern. A glimpse of what?
Im trying to determine that, Walter, the half El-Aurian said, her eyes on her
sensors. The particles from the anomaly are familiar, but theyve been adjusted a little.
Particles? Act like Im dumb, Jessica, the ambassador said, walking up beside
her, because to tell you the truth, I got Ds in science as a kid.
Oh, I believe that. Charlie quipped, chuckling as he took his seat.
Hey, not all of us can be Starfleet officers.
Any ID yet, Ensign?, Captain DXarr asked her, moving to stand on the other
side of the science officer. With only the Deneb Conventions to protect them, any
anomaly was a reason for concern.
I think were being stalked, sir.
Stalked? Walter asked, turning towards the main view. By who?
It could be anyone with a cloaking device, Haywood said, scratching his chin.
Klingons, Romulans, pirates, or
The Breen, Gry supplied.
Damn, Eve swore. I just read a report that the Tzenkethi were using captured
Breen technology. That asteroid they threw at Intar recently was cloaked by a BreenTzenkethi generator.
Jess, do you think they realize weve noticed them? Haywood asked.
I dont think so, Captain.
Then lets let them think we havent for now. Freddy, steady as she goes. Dix,
put out the word to the freighters, but use tightbeam signals.
Aye, Sir.
Engineering.
Kriyn here! the Hedfords chief engineer answered.
Sparky, I may need all the power you can muster down there. Weve got a
Tzenkethi shadowing us.
See, I told you! You shouldve let me put a photon torpedo launcher in when
This isnt the time, Sparky! Can you do it?
Even if I have to get out and push, Boss.
Lets hope it doesnt come to that, Walter remarked, looking around him. He
couldnt believe that one of the dreams of his youth was happening all around him. Of
course, now that it was actually happening, it felt more like a nightmare.
Just then, the turbolift doors puffed open to reveal Karen Mercer, accompanied by
Brin Karani. Admiral, we need a channel both to Intar and the Daystrom Institute.

This isnt a real good time, Dr. Mercer, Haywood answered. Weve picked up
a shadow.
What sort of shadow? the Trill linguist asked.
Guess.
If I may, Admiral, perhaps I can help pinpoint it. My previous host was a comms
specialist.
Dix, Jess? Think yall can get a fix on him?
I cant narrow it down beyond a general direction, Sir, Gry answered.
Theyre maintaining radio silence, Boss, the Tiburonian added. We might be
able to pick up bleed from their internal comms, but thats Uhura-level wizardry.
Lucky for you, Karani said, walking over to the communications station, I
studied under her. She once showed us a trick she and Ambassador Spock used to tap the
internal sensors of an old Romulan Bird of Prey Yes, there it is.
Well, Ill be Just a hint, but its definite, the first officer said. Bearing onetwo-six mark fifteen.
That puts her right between the lead runabouts, Freddie remarked. His
helmsman must be insane.
Not really, Haywood countered. If I were flying a Defiant, thats where Id
park myself.
Now that we know where he is, Walter asked, do we keep him in the dark?
Sun Tzu did say that all warfare is based on deception. Lets keep him in the
dark. Dr. Mercer, go ahead and make your call. Hopefully, they wont pick up on the
importance of what youre talking about.

Tzenkethi scout Hagal


Are you sure this is what was sent? Kol asked his communications officer.
Yes, Shipmaster. There can be no other translation.
The Autarch must know about this, Ropar added.
Yes, Kol replied, returning to his seat, but we must have more information
before we make our report. He paused, thinking for a moment. Assemble a strike
team. Find out what this Mercer and her team knows.
And if we meet resistance?
Do what you must.
Understood, Master. He stabbed a button on his console. All personnel not
currently on duty, assemble in the transporter room, immediately!
Engineer, Kol ordered, prepare to decloak the ship.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Ship decloaking, dead ahead! Gry called as the readings on her screen changed.
Red alert! Raise shields, pedal to the metal!
Beginning evasive maneuvers, Freddy reported. Accelerating to maximum
speed.
Call the fighters. Get them out there!

Comms are being jammed, Dix answered.


Looks like they did figure it out, Mercer drawled.
Wait Those shots arent meant to damage us, Gry reported. Theyre trying
to overload our shields!
They may be trying to board us, Walter said, voicing his thought.
Yeah, thats what it looks like, Haywood agreed. Punching a button on his
chair, he announced, All decks prepare to repel boarders!
What about the freighters? Haywood asked.
Theyre being left alone, DXarr answered. The Tzenkethi are concentrating
on us.
What about those fighters?
Some of them got out, but there seems to be some sort of transporter inhibitor
field around us. Gry then noticed new readings on her console. Getting transporter
target scans.
Rilaar, Haywood ordered, knowing the Selay was standing behind the
ambassador, be ready.
Theyre not targeted here. Theyre Theyre trying to beam into conference
room five!
My team! Mercer yelped. Theyre after the obelisk data!
Rilaar, Walter ordered, get down there.
My duty is to you
Dont argue! Walter snapped, turning to look up at the Selay. That data is as
important as I am. I have the entire bridge crew.
Walter
Theyre not after me, Charlie.
The Selay drew himself to his full height. Understood, Ambassador. He then
pulled a small object from under his uniform. Take this, and save the last shot for
yourself just in case youre wrong. He then turned and ran into the turbolift.
The ship shook again, this time harder. Weve lost number six shield! DXarr
called.
Transporter signals! Gry added. Were being boarded!
All decks! Repel boarders! I say again, REPEL BOARDERS!

VMF-214/01
Nancy Hedford is being boarded! the captain of the Memphis Belle reported,
his voice distorted almost beyond understanding by the subspace jamming field.
Okay, Boys and Girls! Teddy Raskin called, not knowing if her pilots could
hear her, lets go help the ambassador!
Five, with you, Teddy, her wingman, Lieutenant Paul Pappy Macy, replied.
Se-en on y-r st-b-d, Lieutenant Hutchinson Poe Moran added. Ni-wi-me.
Nine was Second Lieutenant Raven TLai, the only Vulcan in the squadron.
Lets punch it!

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303

Conference Room Five


On your knees, weaklings!
Screw you, you damn
Peter Eden never finished cursing Ropar. The scientists in the room recoiled in
horror save one.
You wish revenge, yes? Ropar asked.
I am a Vulcan, bred to peace, the elderly scientist replied. I am also a
historian, and history teaches that rescue will come.
The past is meaningless. It is the future we seek.
Bridge to conference room five! came Charlie Haywoods voice over the
intercom. Whats going on down there?
You, Ropar said, pointing at Jell Dantoa, answer him.
Slowly, the Bolian moved over to the intercom panel. G-go ahead.
Jelly? Mercers voice called. Jelly, whats happening? What do they want?
We want what you know about the Obelisk on Intars moon.
Who is this?!? Identify yourself! Haywood growled.
I am Ropar, First Officer to Kol, Shipmaster of the Autarchs vessel Hagal. I
assume you are this vessels commander?
Admiral Charles Haywood. By boarding this vessel, you are in violation of the
Deneb Accords, to which
Spare us your lies! We have already executed one of your scientists. We will not
hesitate to do so again.
This is Ambassador Walter Eve, a new voice said from the intercom. If you
depart now, we will let you go, but if you harm anyone else, we will take action.
Brave words, Ambassador, Ropar answered, his voice dripping with scorn.
Your action means nothing to us. He regarded Dantoa. Tell them who it was.
Jelly? Mercer called. Talk to us, Jelly.
They they killed Peter.
The news hit her like a physical blow.
Oh, Dear God, no
In the moments that followed, the life she had shared with her old friend flashed
through her mind. From digs with her parents to the day he asked her to join him at the
Daystrom Institute, theyd been a team. By rights, he should have had a team of his own,
but he knew hed never rise to her level when it came to the Preservers. In so many
ways, he was her other half.
And now he was gone.
Haywood, sensing what was about to happen, frantically motioned DXarr to cut
the audio feed. Walter was already in motion, rushing to where the scientist grabbed hold
of him, a drowning soul desperate for anything to cling to.
They werent just sobs, but screams. Scrams of rage, screams of terror, screams
of denial, but above all else, screams for revenge.
Pull it together, Karen! Walter hissed after a moment. We cant let them hear
us break. Thats what they want.
What I wouldnt give for some anesthizine right now someone growled.

Walter waited as Mercer calmed. You dont carry any?


We dont carry any intruder control systems, Haywood answered.
Whos big idea was that?
The idiots that drew up the Deneb Accords! I dont think any of them considered
a situation like this.
Bridge, came Dantoas voice, the Tzenkethi officer wishes to discuss your
terms for surrender.
We do not negotiate with terrorists! Walter answered.
No, we do not. Bridge to Rilaar, Haywood called.
Go ahead, Admiral.
Are you in position?
Yes, Sir.
Stand by to move in.
This is Admiral Haywood, the commanders voice said from the intercom, We
do not negotiate with terrorists.
Ah, yes. The vaunted Federation stubbornness. The scientist was important to
you, no? Perhaps, if I execute enough of them, you will negotiate. This Vulcan appears
to be a man of importance.
Wait! the Ambassadors voice called.
Walter, do not give them what they want. My life is not important. A Vulcan is
always willing to die for peace.
The intercom was silent for a long moment. Understood.
Think carefully, Ambassador, the Tzenkethi warned.
Tell Rilaar that I will miss our rematch.
I will.
And with that, Ropar pulled the trigger on his disruptor again, and Sapok, one of
the Federations most revered and respected historians, dissolved in a shower of
molecular disruption.
And now, Ropar said, you will tell me what I want to know or you will join
them. And the first thing you will tell me is how to gain control of the Obelisk on Intars
moon
Rilaar, Walter said, very calmly, in Rilaars ear.
Here, Ambassador.
You heard?
Yes, Sir.
Take them down and eat the leader.
The Selay wasnt sure hed heard the diplomat correctly. Sir?
Walter? Haywood asked, himself wondering what the ambassador was up to.
They attacked a diplomatic mission and murdered our people. They are now
considered pirates. Understand?
Yes, Sir. He turned to the rest of the squad. You heard?
The guards nodded, understanding that there were to be no enemy survivors.
Normally, such an action would be against the Deneb Conventions, but the crew of the
Hagal had voided their protection by attacking a properly-marked diplomatic vessel.

Stand ready. Cleveland, blow the door.


Rilaar, Haywood said, before you go in, I want it made clear. If they
surrender, accept it. We dont summarily execute pirates.
Understood, Admiral. Pulling his phaser from his belt, the Selay took his
position and nodded to Cleveland.
The Tzenkethi did not surrender. It took only seconds to secure the conference
room. There was only one body, mutilated almost beyond recognition, and while nobody
would ever confirm it, the remains appeared to have several bites taken out of it.

VMF-214/01
Oh, you are not getting away, Teddy Raskin growled, reaching forward to open
the covers on a series of old-style toggle switches.
Since Voyagers return, Starfleet had analyzed the Delta Flyer design and
determined that the antique-style instruments Tom Paris had used were more intuitive in
combat situations than the configurable pressure pads that had become standard. The
first time shed ever used them, Raskin hadnt agreed, but in the years shed been flying
with them, theyd become comfortingly familiar.
As she flipped the switches, her helmet visor was filled with icons representing
the various targeting and weapons systems of her fighter.
If were going to catch this guy, she added, were going to have to drop that
scattering field. Pappy, you with me?
Im here, Boss.
Poe? Raven?
She couldnt hear a reply through the static, but a flash of running lights to her left
told her that the two squadronmates had heard her.
Lock weapons on antenna arrays. One of them has to be transmitting this damn
dampening field.
Following her own order, she guided the crosshairs of one of the missiles in one
of the now open weapons bays to a distinctive formation that the computer had identified
as an active antenna array. The warbling sound in her helmet changed to a steady tone,
indicating target lock.
Fox three! she called, squeezing the trigger beneath her right forefinger. It, like
so many terms, was a bit anachronistic, since radar had been replaced by subspace-based
targeting more than a century before, but as the missile leapt from its rail, the ancient
combat call reassured her.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Bridge

Jamming just dropped! DXarr suddenly called. Weve got comms with all
ships.
Hail the Tzenkethi, Haywood ordered.
Channel open.

Tzenkethi Commander, this is Haywood. Your people are dead. If you depart
now, you get to live.
Kols reply shook the ship.
This is Raskin. Hes concentrating his fire on you, but the shots arent targeted.
Hes lost it, Charlie, Walter said. Hes firing in a blind rage.
Yeah, I know, but the way the shots that do hit are slamming us around, we
wont be able to take much. Teddy, I hate to have to say this, but take him out of my
sky.

VMF-214/01
Aye, Sir. Black Sheep, this is lead. All able fighters, engage and fire for effect.
Two, with you, Boss.
Seven, engaging.
Nine, acknowledged.
Six and eight, coming up behind you, Boss.
Welcome to the party, Ladies. Everybody target something critical.
Nine has good tone, TLai reported.
Dont wait, Raven. Take your shot.
Fox three.
Fox three, missile away, six, Lt. Michelle Lea reported as two quantum
missiles passed above Teddy, heading for the Tzenkethi ship.
The two lead runabouts were already attacking, peppering the vessel with phaser
shots. The combination attack was having an effect. Already, hull breaches could be
seen, yet he kept firing on the Nancy Hedford, ignoring both the runabouts and the
fighters that were killing it.
Seeing an opening that gave her clear access to the ships antimatter stores, Teddy
fired her own missiles. Fox three.
A moment later, the fighters safely passed through the cloud of dust-sized debris
and gamma radiation that was the Tzenkethi vessel Hagal.

UFPDS Nancy Hedford FDC-303


Two days later
Captain, Fredericks announced, were approaching the edge of the Intar
system.
Slow to impulse.
Shall I inform the ambassador, Sir? DXarr asked, turning from the operations
panel.
Haywood looked over at the empty chair next to him, feeling a pang of sadness.
He hadnt expected him to react with such bloodlust to the death of the Vulcan, Professor
Sapok, but he didnt blame him for it.
No, he answered, lets give him a little more
Admiral, Im picking up a ship on an intercept course, Gry suddenly called
from her station.

One of ours, Ensign? Haywood asked the half El-Aurian science officer.
No, Sir. Its transmitting an IFF code Im not familiar with.
Were being hailed, Sir.
On screen.
The main screen changed to show a rather primitive-looking bridge, though he
could see a few panels that looked like they had been overhauled by the Starfleet Corps
of Engineers. That assumption was confirmed by the presence of two people to one side
of the bridge wearing Starfleet uniforms. The rest of the bridge crew wore predominantly
crimson uniforms, though the shoulders and strips down the front left showed various
colors. Dark blue was apparently the color of command, since that was the color worn by
the person looking out of the screen at him.
This is Captain Daileyr Kayn, Intaran Sea Forces, commanding the Intaran
Exploration Starship Voivonna Namree-Zaye.
Haywood stood up and stepped to the center of the bridge. Im Vice Admiral
Charles Haywood, commanding the Federation Diplomatic Starship Nancy Hedford. We
are under diplomatic flag, and request permission to enter your system.
Permission granted, Admiral. Welcome to the Intar system. He then indicated
the civilian who stood next to him. This is Vice Councilor Nelani Yan, our Chief of
Protocol.
Maam.
Admiral, we heard about what happened. Might I come aboard? Id like to
express my sympathies in person to both the ambassador and Dr. Mercer.
Of course, Vice Councilor. Ill alert them and make the arrangements.
Please, Admiral, there is no need for ceremony. That will come when we reach
Intar. This is strictly personal, though I am here at the behest of Prime Councilor
Kodo.
Very well, Maam. Captain Kayn, would you care to beam over with the Vice
Councilor?
Thank you, Admiral. I would like that.
Then I will meet you shortly.
Well be ready. Kayn out.
Freddie, slow us down to give them a chance to come about and pace us. Dix,
you have the bridge.
The two officers chorused their acknowledgement as Haywood headed for the
portside turbolift.
Were locked on, Skipper. Three to come aboard.
Very well, Chief. Energize.
The three columns of blue energy that appeared quickly resolved themselves into
Kayn, Yan and a man who had not been on the bridge during the call. His dress and
demeanor practically screamed academic, so Haywood proceeded on that assumption.
Madam Vice-Councilor, Captain Kayn, welcome aboard the Nancy Hedford.
Thank you, Admiral. It is an honor to be aboard. This is Dr. Jodh Undarum,
from Citadel University.
Of course. Dr. Mercer has mentioned you. Welcome aboard.
Thank you, Admiral.

Maam, if you and your party will come with me, Ill conduct you to the
Ambassadors office.
Actually, Admiral, Undarum said, Im here to see Dr. Mercer. Is there
someone who could escort me to her and her team?
Of course. Tapping his commbadge, Haywood said, Bridge, this is the captain.
Dix, would you and Ensign Gry please report to transporter room one for escort duty?
Right away, sir.
Thanks, Dix. Out. He then turned back to his guests. They should be down in
a minute or two. I understand you folks have had some excitement these last few weeks.
If you can call swings from hope to abject terror to global jubilation
excitement, Yan answered.
Oh, Ive been through that sort of thing myself, Maam.
Please, Admiral, call me Nelani. While Im sure many in my government will
insist on titles, I am not one of them.
In that case, my name is Charlie.
I have to say, Undarum said, looking around, Im fascinated by the design of
this transporter room. Its not like those aboard the Ernst Ruska.
Thats because this is a much older ship. Before she was refit for diplomatic use
and re-christened as the Nancy Hedford, this was the USS Kilimanjaro, a type they called
a heavy frigate at the time, but would probably be classed as a destroyer these days.
Kayn nodded, understanding the classifications. I can see the need for such a
change. He turned to Undarum, who was wearing a look of mild confusion. Our own
ships have gotten quite a bit bigger, just in the time since unification. The first carriers
would fit inside a contemporary submarine with room to spare. My last command was
bigger than this ship.
Yes, I see what you mean. Just about everything gets either bigger or smaller
over time, I guess. Sometimes both.
Exactly.
At that moment, the doors puffed open to admit DXarr and Gry.
Ah, good! Haywood said. Ensign, would you escort Dr. Undarum to Dr.
Mercer?
Of course, Sir. Doctor, its an honor to finally meet you in person.
You, too, Ensign.
If youll come with me, please.
As the two scientists headed out, Haywood turned to his first officer. Dix, this is
Captain Kayn, of the Voivonna Namree-Zaye. Id like you to give him a tour of the ship,
if you would.
Id be happy to, Boss. Captain, lets start with engineering. I think the overhaul
of the warp core might be of interest
And youll take me to see Walter yourself, Yan said, watching the two captains
walk out into the corridor.
Thats right. Hes pretty broken up over what happened. Im not sure hell want
to talk.
Then Ill do the talking.
Ambassador, theres someone here to see you.

Tell them to go away. Im not ready to talk to anyone.


There was a pause, and then the door opened, casting a shaft of light through the
darkened office.
Dammit, Leslie, I told you
But it wasnt Leslie Caruthers standing there. It was Nelani Yan.
Hello, Walter
I see you finally gave her a name, Haywood said, several hours later. The
Intaran script is a nice touch, too.
Yeah, she was looking a bit blank, Walter answered.
I dont remember Dagobah being a river, though.
It isnt. Its a fictional planet from a series of films popular at the turn of the
twenty-first century. Sapok did an analysis once that drew some surprisingly accurate
conclusions about the relationship between a cultures fiction and its readiness for alien
contact. It seemed fitting.
Im told the Daystrom Institute has already named their new archaeology annex
after Dr. Eden.
Yeah. The Intarans are also honoring him at a number of their universities.
Suddenly, Haywood stuck out his hand. Well, Walter, its been an adventure
having you aboard.
Its been a real adventure being aboard, Charlie, Walter answered, taking the
admirals hand. How long will you be in orbit?
About a day. Well be transporting the new Intaran ambassador back to Earth.
Hopefully, the trip back will be a bit less exciting.
Amen to that. You should get this bird off my deck ASAP. We need the room
for the Intaran shuttle.
Walter looked around. Yeah, Ive got an embassy to run, and you need to get my
old quarters ready. Take care of yourself, Charlie.
Will do, Walter.
As Haywood headed for the nearest turbolift, Walter turned and walked up the
ramp onto the modified Arrow-class runabout/captains yacht.
Kehen Relath was at the top, waiting for him. Were ready for departure,
Ambassador. Captain Vallejo reports that Unity Airport and the chancery are ready to
receive us.
Thank you, Kehen. Did they send a pilot familiar with the airspace up for us?
Yes, Sir. Commander Richards himself beamed up to fly us down personally.
Then I believe I should go introduce myself. If youll excuse me
Triggering the ramp as he passed, Walter headed forward, where he found his
pilot, Lt. Tobin Holbe, going over the controls with a tall man Walter assumed was
Richards and a young woman wearing an ensigns pip on her red collar.
Commander Richards, Walter said, stepping up behind the three people, thanks
for beaming up.
The man turned, assuming a polite smile. Ambassador Eve, I presume. Im
happy to be of service.
You presume correctly, Commander. And who is this lovely young lady?

Richards smile widened. This is Ensign Jenna Stirling, one of my best pilots.
Of course, one would expect no less of someone who came to us from the Enterprise.
A rare honor, indeed. Welcome aboard, Ensign.
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, Stirling answered in a melodious voice.
I assume you two and Lt. Holbe were able to work out a flight plan?
Yes, Sir, Richards answered. I was just briefing the lieutenant on some of the
quirks of the Intaran air traffic control system. Its a bit antiquated, even in relation to
when Earth was at their tech level, but it seems to work for them.
Then lets not keep them waiting. We can depart whenever youre ready.
Aye, Sir. Ensign, take navigation, if you would.
Aye, Commander.
Mr. Ambassador, youre welcome to ride up front, if you like.
Thank you, Commander, but Ill head back to my suite.
Very good, Sir.

UFP Chancery
Planet Intar
Ambassador, its time.
Walter looked up from his desk, seeing Relath at the door. Like Walter himself,
he was dressed in his ambassadorial garb. Standing up, Walter tugged the wrinkles out of
the white uniform he wore. I feel like a penguin in this thing.
Nonsense, Walter. You look good. The two men had formed a quick working
relationship borne of a professionalism that came only with lifetimes of experience, but
they genuinely liked each other, and had already discovered a favorite spot for lunch near
the embassy. The cars waiting out front.
Then lets be about it.
Dont forget the letter, the Chief of Staff reminded him, indicating the large
white envelope, hand-printed in both English and Intaran script.
Oh, yes, cant forget that.
Tucking the ornate letter under his arm, Walter followed the Betazoid out.
It took only a few minutes to reach the embassys lobby and pass through the
security barrier. Beyond, they exited into a bright morning, where they found two cars
waiting for them. Standing next to the lead car was Imbru Mio, Yans primary assistant.
Good morning, Your Excellency.
Please, Mr. Mio, save the Excellency bit for the other ambassadors. Youll
come to find I detest such formalities.
Of course, Sir. If you would join me in the lead car
Certainly.
I will keep a tricorder lock on you, Mr. Ambassador, Rilaar said from where he
stood between the two cars.
Thank you, Rilaar.
Excuse me, Mr. Ambassador, Mio asked, but why is such a thing necessary?
The ambassadors safety is my responsibility, Mr. Mio, the Selay answered.
With the Tzenkethi posing the threat they do, one cannot be too careful.

I see. Shall we go, then?


Actually, theres one member missing
My apologies, Ambassador, Wirrt called, rushing from the door of the embassy.
I was having a bit of trouble with my decorations.
No harm, no foul, Mr. Wirrt, Walter assured the Ferengi. Youll be riding with
Relath and Rilaar in the trailing car.
Wirrt stopped. Are you sure? Perhaps a contribution could allow me to
The pointed clearing of Walters throat stopped the Ferengis words cold. Of course.
Forgive my breach of protocol.
Im sure there will be plenty of opportunity for discussions with the Council, Mr.
Wirrt, Mio assured him. After all, we are quite eager to open trade with the Ferengi
Alliance.
Of course, Mr. Mio. Again, forgive me.
It took only seconds to load the two cars, which then set off through the streets of
Unity, led by an escort of two police motorcycles.
It took them just under ten minutes to reach Council House, a study in glass and
steel. As the cars pulled to a stop at the east portico, a nearby marching band played four
sets of ruffles and flourishes. A few moments later, after the dignitaries had exited, they
began the Federation Anthem.
At the end of the Anthem, the military honor guard fired three volleys of six shots
into the air.
Interesting that your diplomatic honors should so mirror our own, Walter
remarked to Yan, who had met him on the steps of the portico.
Not really, now that we know Intarans and humans are the same species. Im
told parallel cultural development is rather common amongst humanoids.
There is that. This is Lieutenant Payan, Prime Councilor Kodos military aide.
How do you do, Your Excellency?
Quite well, thank you, Lieutenant.
And this is Mr. Ayen, Manager of Council House. I believe the Federation term
would be Chief Butler.
Ah, the true head of Council House, Walter joked, shaking the mans hand.
I merely oversee the facilities, Your Excellency.
Oh, please, theres no need to be so formal.
As you wish, Mr. Ambassador.
I see you have your letters of credence, Yan said. Shall we go in?
Of course.
Prime Councilor Aram Kodo, Yan said, formally, I present His Excellency
Walter Eve, Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the government of
the United World of Intar from the United Federation of Planets and Ambassador Pro
Tempore from the Klingon Empire.
Your Excellency, Kodo said, a wide smile spreading across his deep brown
face, welcome to Intar.
Thank you, Prime Councilor. On behalf of the President of the United
Federation of Planets and by the command of Emperor Kahless the Second of the

Klingon Empire, as given by Chancellor Martok, I present these Letters of Credence to


the United World of Intar. May the peace that exists between us continue and
strengthen.
Using both hands, Walter then presented the two envelopes to Kodo, who
received them accordingly.
On behalf of the Government of Intar and the Three Peoples we represent, I
accept these credentials and recognize you as official representative of the Federation and
Klingon Empire.
Thank you, Prime Councilor. If I may break protocol, I would like to present
Daimon Wirrt, the Special Trade Representative of the Ferengi Alliance.
Of course. It is an honor to meet you, Daimon Wirrt.
It is my honor to meet you, Prime Councilor.
The Federation is providing Protecting Power for the Alliance until formal
relations can be established, Walter explained.
Of course. Im sure our future meetings will be profitable for both our
peoples.
Indeed, Prime Councilor. As the Ninth Rule of Acquisition states, Opportunity
plus Instinct equals Profit. To that end, Grand Nagus Rom has sent a number of gifts to
you and your government in the hopes that we may enter into a partnership beneficial to
us all.
And this is my Chief of Staff, Kehen Relath of the planet Betazed; my social
secretary, Leslie Caruthers of Earth, though she was raised on Vulcan; and Petty Officer
Rilaar, my bodyguard and Starfleet Attach.
Welcome to you all. Your Excellency, shall we retire to my office? Theres
someone waiting with a report for both of us.
Of course, Prime Councilor.
The someone was Yineth Nikara.
Mr. Ambassador, welcome to Intar, and thank you for seeing me, Prime
Councilor.
You did say it was rather important. I take it your mission to Tzenketh was a
success?
That is still to be seen, Prime Councilor, but I do have information that explains
the Autarchs vehement desire to possess this planet
THE END