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Murphy's Law

Posted on Tue Jun 18th, 2019 @ 5:04pm by Captain James McCullen & Commander Temerant Bast

Mission: Reaching Out in Hope
Location: Ready Room, USS Sentinel
Timeline: MD1, 1300 Hrs

= Captain's Ready Room =

Captain James McCullen sighed contentedly, leaning back in his chair and, with no small amount of satisfaction, dropping the last PaDD he had picked up from his pending pile into the stack of completed paperwork. For once, for the first time in what seemed like... well, ever, his desk was clear. Being in space, free of the hundreds of shipyard workers, requests, requisitions, complaints, problems, and the myriad of other issues felt like a vacation.

The comm circuit chirped on his desk and he leaned forward to activate it. Prompting whoever was bothering his micro-vacation with "McCullen, go ahead."

"Sir," it was the voice of the junior ops officer on duty... the captain took a second to dredge up the name... We'chak, a Bolian with an easy smile. "You've got an incoming hail from Starfleet Command, marked as your eyes only."

Well, damn. Murphy, that bastard. McCullen thought to himself, there was always something. "All right, ask Commander Bast to join me in my ready room and pipe the message through here."

"Aye sir, transferring now." The Bolian replied, then cut out as the display on his wall lit up with a security access interface. "Computer," the captain droned, pushing himself to his feet, "decode transmission, authorization McCullen Alpha-seven-four-Bravo."

A moment later, the face of Admiral Dias Maxiel appeared. The Axanarian didn't looked particularly stressed or harried, which was a good sign. McCullen had never met the officer but knew of them by reputation as a level-headed and calm person. "Admiral Maxiel," the captain started, "how can I help you, sir?"

"I've got new orders for you, Captain McCullen. Your current mission is being cancelled, it's frankly foolish to waste an Intrepid class vessel on a cargo run and we've got more pressing engagements that need tending to. I am led to believe you have a diplomatic staff aboard?"

= Bridge =

"Sir, the Captain asks you to report to his ready Room," called out Ensign We'chak, from the Operations station.

Bast looked up from the report he'd been absently looking at (to say he'd been reading it would have been an overstatement - he was usually very diligent about this aspect of his work, but this being the forty-third such report in the last two hours, his mind had begun to wander).

He nodded. "Ensign We'chak, you have the conn," he replied as he stood, and walked over to the door to the Ready Room.

= Captain's Ready Room =

McCullen looked to the side as his door chimed. "Sir, would you mind if my XO came in on this conversation?"

"Not at all, Captain." The Admiral nodded, giving something that was supposed to be a smile and looked more like a snarl. "We learn by doing and watching, I always brought my exec in on calls such as this. I'll hold on."

"Enter," the captain called.

The doors parted to admit the First Officer. Bast walked in and saw McCullen standing in front of the wall monitor, which was displaying the image of a Starfleet admiral he didn't immediately recognize. His spine instinctively straightened and he positioned himself a few steps behind his commanding officer, hands clasped behind his back.

"Admiral Maxiel, this is Commander Temerant Bast, my executive officer." McCullen suspected the admiral already knew exactly who Bast was, but it was politic to make the introduction anyway.

"Commander Bast," the Admiral snarl/smiled again, "your history makes for very interesting reading, quite at odds with the glowing reports I've been getting about you. Your own command in a few years, perhaps, hn?"

"Thank you, Admiral," replied Bast with a slightly furrowed brow, unsure if the statement was a compliment or not - if his reputation was at odds with glowing reports, wouldn't it imply that he was a person of ill repute? "I've had the opportunity to learn from the best. Captain Geisler, and now Captain McCullen. Good things come to those who wait, or so they say. I still have much to learn before I can claim the center seat for myself."

"Indeed, Commander, indeed." The Admiral nodded as if some wise sage, then seemed to refocus, blinking slowly twice before continuing, "captain, the diplomat?"

"Yes, Admiral." McCullen confirmed, "Lieutenant T'sa is the head of our diplomatic department, she's put together a good team. She's reliable, direct, and efficient, and she has my confidence."

"Hnn," the admiral paused to consider something, or stall, McCullen wasn't sure, "competent, good grades, not much experience but that doesn't matter. Mr. Bast, what's your opinion of your diplomatic officer?" The Admiral smiled again, seeming to enjoy testing the commander.

"Much of her experience comes from her diplomatic career prior to joining Starfleet," Bast pointed out. "So it might not necessarily show up in her personnel file. I've had the privilege of meeting her some fifteen years ago, when she was serving at the Vulcan embassy on Andor. She is highly competent."

"Hnn," the Admiral grunted. If he was as surprised as McCullen was at the discover that Bast had met T'sa before she had joined Starfleet, he didn't show it. "Very well. We'll proceed with the team you have in place." The Admiral paused, "your mission is an open-ended one. Of late, we've been watching The Dominion contracting, they've been pulling out of non-critical worlds, withdrawing into their core. We don't know why, but this presents an opportunity for the Federation. These worlds have effectively been abandoned by The Dominion, after years of oppression and management. Many of them have no idea how to govern themselves and they're looking for leadership, help and a friendly ally. In steps the Federation, you see?"

"I see," McCullen replied, he wasn't sure about the way the Admiral put it, but, he reasoned, if those worlds needed assistance and the Federation could peacefully expand in the Gamma Quadrant, it wasn't a bad thing. "It's a diplomatic mission, then?"

Bast raised an eyebrow at the notion. Diplomacy might be his father's domain, but he'd absorbed very little of it himself. It hadn't necessarily been due to lack of interest, but rather to the nature of the relationship between fathers and sons.

"Your mission is diplomatic, yes, and open-ended. At least six months, likely longer. Your primary mandate is diplomacy. Find civilizations that are in need of friendship, trade deals, technical assistance, mutual defense, things like that, and make allies. We're not necessarily looking for Federation members, just yet, but candidates, to be sure. Secondary to that, exploration and science, and if you can find out any more of what The Dominion is up to, more's the better, see?"

An open-ended diplomatic and exploration mission. McCullen let that sink in for a second. An open-ended diplomatic and exploration mission! It was a captain's dream, to be given a general area, a mandate, and free-reign. He could hardly believe his luck. "Yes sir," he managed in a fairly level tone, keeping the stupid grin that wanted to come out carefully off of his face. He glanced to his side at Bast, meeting eyes with the man and trying to convey his excitement without speaking.

Bast caught his commanding officer's eye and gave a discreet nod with a sideways grin, out of sight of the admiral.

McCullen swallowed the grin, "I assume there's a dossier of planets you need us to visit, as well as areas to avoid and restrictions on what we can offer diplomatically." It was the most professional he could manage, given the excitement he was feeling.

The Admiral smiled, or snarled, whichever it was. "Indeed, Captain, a full dossier will be sent to you, as well as a list of things you can and can't do. Your first orders are to report to Opaka Outpost at New Bajor, you'll receive the latest tactical briefing and diplomatic reports there. Your first diplomatic mission is to be the planet Stakoron II, they've had some dealings with Alpha quadrant races in the past, with the Ferengi."

"Yes sir," McCullen replied, he'd never in his life heard of Stakoron II, but the objective was clear. The Ferengi connection could be a problem, they tended to leave a bad taste. "I assume we're to depart immediately?"

Bast cocked an eyebrow. He'd spent some time in the Gamma Quadrant on a previous assignment, but he had to admit he knew next to nothing about Stakoron II, other than the simple fact of its existence.

"All of your relevant orders will be sent to you in the next few hours. For now, you are to set course for Deep Space Nine and the wormhole immediately." The Admiral said, "any questions, gentlemen?"

"Will we be taking on an additional diplomatic detail?" asked Bast. "Lieutenant T'Sa is highly qualified, but she is only one person."

"You'll be picking up additional people at Opaka Outpost," the Admiral replied, seeming pleased at the question. "One of them is Starfleet, a senior enlisted man with years of experience in the Gamma Quadrant. You'll also be receiving remote support from a civilian, a diplomat of some note, Mr. Devan Kilvin, who'll act as a diplomatic advisor." Admiral Maxiel smiled at Bast as if he knew something, but McCullen was perplexed, he'd never heard of the man.

Bast's tightly-pressed lips were the only indication that he did indeed know the man, but the First Officer remained silent.

McCullen felt the tension in the air and the look on Bast's face told a story, but this was not the time to press the matter. "Understood, Admiral, thank you, sir." He replied, "we'll set course for Deep Space Nine as soon as our shakedown trials are complete, which should be in a few hours."

"Very good, Captain." Admiral Maxiel replied, maintaining the slight smile, "The dossier and your official orders should be with you now, contact me again if there are any pressing questions. Captain. Commander Bast. Good luck on your mission. Maxiel out."

The screen cut to the Federation logo and then to black, and McCullen turned to his first officer. "Mr. Bast?"

Bast took a deep breath before turning back to the captain. "Sir, I think you should know. Ambassador Kilvin is host of the Kilvin symbiont. The host, by his given name Devan Lochees, is my father."

"Ah," McCullen replied, putting the puzzle pieces together in his head. He was left wanting more information, clearly the idea of his father being a part of this mission displeased Bast in some way, but he didn't wish to pry into others' personal lives, beyond what duty called for. "I gather, then, you have a... difficult relationship? Is that going to be a problem?"

"The Ambassador is rather... Controlling person," Bast said, after searching for the right words for a few seconds. "When I was a teenager, there was nothing he wanted more than to get me interested in politics, and perhaps follow in his footsteps in the Diplomatic Corps. When I chose a career in Engineering, it proved to be something of a disappointment, and he made sure I knew it. We haven't had that much contact since I was Joined myself, since his job keeps him offworld for extended periods of time. But don't worry, I won't let my relationship with my father get in the way of my duties as your XO."

James frowned slightly, remembering his own difficulties with his parents. He had no desire to overstep the bounds of his relationship with his XO, but he felt the need to say something. "I'm sure it won't... However, it's not really my place Mr. Bast, but I have been though what you are experiencing I urge you to try to fix your relationship if you can, you'll both be better for it."

Memories emerged to the surface of Temerant's mind. Lamorra Bast had had two children, and Wilem Bast had been a father of three. He'd experienced his share of parental conflicts, and knew them from both sides.

"Believe me, Sir, I know all about it. I remember trying very hard to reconcile my son with his father, only to have to go at it again thirty years later with my grandson."

"Ah," the captain had forgotten to account for Bast's previous incarnations and the memories that came with them, the commander probably had more experience as a parent and as a child than most. "I've been lucky for the most part, my kids and I have always gotten on well, bar the usual teenage streaks of rebellion and hormonal mood swings."

"Yes, we've all had our share of those," agreed Temerant. "I'll certainly do my best not to let past conflicts influence my professional relationship with the Ambassador. The mission comes first, of course."

"Of course, commander." McCullen replied, feeling the personal moment slip away as Bast turned the topic back to the mission. He pulled himself up and out of his chair, "we're going to have to cut the shakedown a little short, if you could get us on course for Deep Space Nine and get started on briefing the department heads for a trip to the Gamma Quadrant, I will personally brief Lieutenant T'sa and then go light a little fire under Mr. Hunter's ass to get his warp trials taken care of."

"Yes, Sir." With a final nod, Bast turned on his heels and walked back out onto the bridge.

"Helm," he called out. "Cancel our current destination. Set a course for Deep Space Nine, Warp Seven." He took a seat in the Captain's chair, which had just been vacated by Ensign We'chak. "Senior staff, please report to the briefing room in one hour."

==

McCullen sat down at his desk, sagging into the chair and taking a moment to try and process what he'd just been told. It took him a minute, but he eventually activated the comm unit. "Lieutenant T'sa, would you join me in my ready room, please?"

= Diplomat's Office =

"Of course, Captain," T'sa tapped her combadge to reply "I'll be there momentarily"

 

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