Obsidian Command

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Politics, Diplomacy, and a Handful of Grease

Posted on 06 Mar 2024 @ 4:57pm by Lieutenant Commander Maurice Rubens

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Promenade
Timeline: Day 24 - 1030 HR
1340 words - 2.7 OF Standard Post Measure

“Where’d Gordon go?”

Honor stopped short, hand resting on the back of the chair. It had taken her a while to find the little cafe where Rice had holed up. Since Harshman had taken his office, Rice was wandering from one nook and cranny restaurant, bar, or cafe to another trying to find the perfect spot to camp. He hadn’t found it yet.

The place only had six tables with two chairs each. Rice was the only person in the place, the breakfast rush was over and lunch was still an hour off. There was a pot of tea and a cup on the table in front of him and he was hunched over a PADD, still reading. He hadn’t even looked up when she’d come in, just blurted his question.

“Good morning to you, too,” she replied.

Now he looked up, the corner of his lips barely betraying his discontent. He arched his eyebrow.

“He went down to the planet to see an old friend.”

“There’s an old friend down on the planet? Who?”

“I think he said ‘Madison Indri,’” His eyes swept up to meet hers and she suddenly realized the reason for his curtness. Deep circles hung under his red eyes. “Have you slept?”

“No. I’ve been…lawyers. Searching for them. Thinking about them. Having nightmares about them,” Rice cleared his throat, obviously replaying the beginning of their conversation in his head. “I’m sorry for being…well…sorry. Please, sit down. Do you want anything?”

Honor shook her head. “No, I’m all filled up with coffee. The talks are paused, Gordon’s down on the planet, and I’ve just had some downtime. Must be the first time years. What’s this about lawyers?”

He winced and shook his head, “It’s a mess is what it is. Involves Major Wallace, Chief Xeri, and one of their kids. Just a…er…personal. Anyway, Madison Indri. He say anything else about why he was going to visit her?”

She frowned in thought and shook her head. “You know her?”

“Not really. I think I met her at a conference once? She was part of the triad for the 9th Fleet then. I definitely didn’t know she was on Loki III. Not exactly a place to retire,” he sucked his cheeks then let out a breath. “Probably worth a little investigation on my part. I don’t particularly like the idea of a former admiral just hanging out down there. Has anyone reached out to Inimik yet?”

Honor gave him a flat look. Gordon was having to dust off old contacts and reach out to new ones. It was going to take a little time. Rice shrugged, understanding her. “Okay, yeah. I left you folks in a lurch by not giving you my contacts. The less I’m connected to this, the better it’ll be for everybody.”

“You could always try to make nice with Harshman.”

Now Rice gave her a flat look. “I’ve already groveled enough for that woman. Let’s talk about something else. How was Romulan space?”

Rice retreated to a place where no one would look for him: Moon’s new shop. There was no one else in there; Moon was sitting in one of the overstuffed chairs sketching with pen and paper new iterations of Ibis Xeri’s dress. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. She smiled, but barely looked up.

“Have you had lunch?” she asked.

“Just finished. Have you?”

She shook her head. “I can’t get this to look right. Once I do, then I’ll eat.”

“I’ll make a big dinner,” Rice replied. “Can I use your viewer?” He didn’t wait for a response, she was furiously erasing several lines she’d just drawn.

Moon’s office really wasn’t an office at all: it was a workshop. Dress forms and worktables, racks that, although empty now, were ready to store cloth, rolling carts with everything from shiny, silver fabric shears to thousands of pins ready to jab. The size of it suggested a whole team could work there. The size was something Sylvie had suggested: somewhere to grow and expand.

He plopped down in front of one of the three workstations and issued a string of orders to the Computer, asking it to bounce him off specific subspace channels to the person he wanted to contact. It took several minutes to connect, only to discover a busy signal. He left a message and decided to wait to see if there’d be a response before long. He pulled out his PADD and began working Ikemba’s case.

His mind kept drifting back to Gordon and Madison Indri. It couldn’t be a coincidence that he suddenly journeyed to the planet to see a retired admiral. An admiral who would’ve had plenty of experience with Romulans. What was the old man up to? Whatever it was, he needed to make sure that Gordon didn’t stray into politics he didn’t understand. Rice needed the meeting with Inimik to go well, not just because it was their best chance, but because it might just lead to more options.

Rice wasn’t sure how long he’d been sitting there when the viewer blinked to life. He quickly accepted the communication. Cormac O’Braonain looked like he’d been dipped in brownish-red freckles and had then lit his hair on fire. Despite being thirty pounds overweight and with a bulbous nose and on the farside of forty, the freckles and hair gave him the look of a twelve-year-old boy who’d simply ballooned.

“Rice,” Cormac grunted in his gravely voice, thick with a Dublin accent. The combination always made it sound like it was painful to talk. Indeed, Cormac was not known to be loquacious.

“Cormac, I need to call in a favor.”

“Yeah? That’s new.”

“It’s mostly due to my career change, if you want to call it that."

“Sure, enough.”

“I’m massaging a situation. Gordon Stillwell is going to be approaching Inimik, the Romulan Free State Senator. She needs to be receptive to whatever he’s bringing.”

“What’s he bringing?”

“Something about the Artifact.”

“That’ll work as a bribe. Why do you need me?”

“I don’t think he’s going to be bribing her.”

Cormac snorted. “That’s the old timers for you.”

“Federation Intelligence have anything that could be passed on to help him with whatever he's thinking of doing? Nothing that will destabilize anything.”

“Got some opposition research. Some pro-Republic upstart party on a couple of Free State planets is making a play on a couple of the Vi's seats.”

“Do the pro-Pubs have any hope of winning?” There’d been a few pro-Romulan Republic parties over the years. None of them survived the combined powers of the other Free State political parties and the Tal Shiar.

Cormac snorted derisively. “No, but if they show good it'll make the Vi look weak.”

Rice though about it. The Vi were a smaller party in the Free State political constellation, so what was a small threat to others were grave for them. If just a handful of party members thought the party's power was waning and jumped ship to one of the larger, more stable parties that’d be the end of the Vi. “Yeah, that’ll do it. Can this be sent via back channels? No one can know where it came from, although it needs to be clear what it's for.”

The Irishman gave Rice a look that meant, I’m a professional. “What do you expect him to get from Inimik?”

“An agreement to support a military alliance.”

Cormac snorted again and rolled his eyes, “Old timers.”

“Stranger things have happened,” Rice said, though he agreed with the assessment.

“Thank you, Cormac. One favor called in…”

“And a dozen more to go,” he finished for Rice. The viewer cut off.


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