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Posted on Mon Jan 27th, 2020 @ 6:33am by Captain James McCullen & Lieutenant Kalos Ibraxol

Mission: Reaching Out in Hope
Location: Diplomatic Office, USS Sentinel
Timeline: MD10, 1530 Hrs

Captain McCullen strode into his ready room with a frown on his face, deep in thought. On the verge of an important missions, literally hours before they were supposed to meet with a species they'd never spoken to before, his Chief Diplomatic Officer Lieutenant T'sa had gotten herself critically injured and comatose in sickbay. It was the worst timing, and he'd been left without one of the core assets on his team.

His only recourse was that T'sa was part of a team and he was hoping, while trying very hard to not imagine the worst, that her assistant chief was up to the task. He hadn't had a chance to speak with Lieutenant Kalos Ibraxol before, aside from perfunctory greetings on the fly, but he'd heard good things.

The captain took a minute to collect himself, briefly entertaining the idea of going to the gymnasium and hitting a punching bag very, very hard and then dismissing it, instead focusing his stress and anger on the task at hand, getting his mission back on track.

"Lieutenant Ibraxol," he called out as he tapped the comm circuit on his desk, "report to the captain's ready room immediately."

Ibraxol's response came within a few seconds. "On my way, sir."

McCullen pulled up the man's file, Lieutenant Kalos Ibraxol was a middle-aged Betazoid male who had been in Starfleet for twenty eight years. In that time he had moved from posting to posting, going where Starfleet needed diplomats. It seemed to McCullen that the man had always been an integral member of the team, but had never stepped up to take charge. In many ways Ibraxol was far more experienced that T'sa had been, and it gave the captain pause. What was a man with twenty eight years experience and a rich career doing on an Intrepid class ship in a subordinate position and why was he only a lieutenant?

The door chimed and McCullen looked up from the records, standing as he pushed the control to unlock and open the door and then stepping out from behind the desk to greet the lieutenant.

Ibraxol stepped into the room, nodding in greeting at the Captain. He read a sense of tension from McCullen, and smiled, trying to make him feel more at ease. "Good afternoon, Captain McCullen." He extended his hand for a handshake. "What can I do for you, sir?"

McCullen pushed a smile, taking the lieutenant's hand and giving it a firm shake before returning to his chair, gesturing across the desk in invitation. "Would you sit down please, Lieutenant?"

"I assume you've heard about lieutenant T'sa's... accident?" The captain began, "I'm sorry to tell you that she's badly injured, comatose and unlikely to recover for several months at least." McCullen paused to let that sink in and study the man's reaction.

"Of course, Captain." Ibraxol nodded and took a seat, crossing one leg over the other. When McCullen mentioned T'sa's accident, his smile wavered, his face falling into a more solemn expression. Upon hearing the Captain finish his sentence, his face fell and he looked downwards. "I... had heard about her accident, but I didn't know it was that severe." He tucked a stray lock of curly hair behind his ear, taking a deep breath. "I had just talked to her the other day - some small-talk about Betazed's diplomatic history. It's... strange how quickly things can change. To hear of her condition is terrible."

"I agree, lieutenant." McCullen sighed, resting his elbows on the edge of his desk and steepling his fingers under his chin as he leaned forward. "It also presents us with a serious problem. Lieutenant T'sa had been working with Chief Ganador to prepare for first contact with the Stakoron in... less than eight hours. That responsibility is now yours. As of this moment you're acting chief diplomatic officer and you'll lead the diplomatic efforts on Stakoron II." The captain leaned forwards a little more, looking into Ibraxol's eyes, "I need total honesty here, lieutenant. Are you up to the task? The Federation is counting on the success of this mission and there isn't any room for personal ego, career concerns or pride."

Ibraxol listened intently, tilting his head. His eyes widened slightly in surprise - he hadn't come on board the Sentinel with the expectation of being the lead on a diplomatic mission so soon, let alone as a result of an incapacitated fellow officer. But he certainly wasn't complaining - he was excited at the opportunity. When Captain McCullen finished talking, he nodded quickly, leaning in and looking him in the eye - he knew that eye contact was generally valued as an indication of honesty, and the Captain had asked for that.

"Absolutely, Captain. The key of diplomacy is to put your ego, your pride - all of that - to the side, and make the Federation's concerns your own during negotiations. Particularly First Contact missions - first impressions are key. I've been on two First Contact expeditions. I know I can do it." He hummed. "I'd heard Lieutenant T'sa talk about Stakoron, so I know some basic information. They are a reptilian species, and were under the Dominion's control for a long time - until the Dominion suddenly pulled out, part of a larger trend in the Gamma Quadrant. In the wake of the Dominion, the Stakorons aren't quite sure how to run things themselves, and reached out requesting aid - a request we are coming to answer. May I ask, Captain - is there anything else I should know? I will, of course, consult all of the available information, but if you have anything that could help I would greatly value it."

McCullen settled back into his chair, slightly surpassed and very relieved that Ibraxol seemed to know what he was about. "Our goals here," he began, "are establishing a diplomatic dialogue, providing aid where they need it and giving advice whenever they want it. Their leader is called..." the captain paused to check his notes, "Rusan. Menteri Rusan, we believe that's a title, not a first name. I'm giving you access to all of Lieutenant T'sa's files, please study them and I recommend you meet with Master Chief Ganador after that."

Ibraxol nodded. Establish a diplomatic dialogue, aid where they need it and advice where they want it - that should be manageable, especially with Lieutenant T'sa's files and the input of Master Chief Ganador. He made a mental note to contact Master Chief Ganador as soon as he got back to his office and had read through Lieutenant T'sa's files. "Thank you, Captain - I will get to work immediately." He straightened in his seat. "Is there anything else I should do or know, Captain?" He says, tilting his head. He was eager to get to work, but didn't want to leave without the Captain's permission.

"I don't think there's anything else I can tell you, Lieutenant." McCullen replied, "but if you need anything, I'll be available at any time."

"Thank you, Captain. I'll let you know if I need anything, sir." He stood, and bowed his head ever so slightly to McCullen - a habitual goodbye gesture from working under Vulcan mentors that he hadn't yet shaken - and turned to leave, already trying to consider what to wear to the first contact, and mentally scheduling time to review T'sa's notes and meet with Master Chief Ganador.

 

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