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Post 22 - Action Items

Posted on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 @ 6:43pm by Fleet Admiral Sturnack & Rear Admiral Joshua Whitford & Commander Marlena Glenn & Admiral Maurice Chambers & Vice Admiral Augustus Taqin & Rear Admiral Mazikeen Caine (Smith) & Rear Admiral Ojo Ris & Captain Jocelyn Blake

Mission: Episode 1: Acta Non Verba
Location: Pike Conference Room, SFC Complex
Timeline: Day 16 - 0702 Hours

[Pike Conference Room]
[SFC Complex]
[Day 16 - 0702 Hours]

The Division Heads had all been summoned. True to form, Marlena had been exceptionally prompt in arranging the meeting about to take place. She'd even been able to ensure ample supplies of pastries, coffee, tea, and little green bottles of boutique French water had been provided. As Aide-de-Camp to the CinC, the Commander had positioned herself along the back wall, sitting with a PADD in-hand and ready to take notes or support the CinC as needed. A member of Sturnack's security detail stood nearby, positioned -- as always -- just in case.

Sturnack, meanwhile, was standing at the window. Looking at its view of the bay and its landmark bridge, the Vulcan seemed particularly lost in his own thoughts. At least until the doors swished open and the first of the invited guest list for the meeting arrived. Turning, Sturnack nodded to Rear Admiral Whitford in greeting. "Hello Admiral," he offered, arms moving to clasp behind his back.

"What? You mean The Talking Heads aren't even here yet?" Whitford waved while grumbling, looking around the room with disdain. "Don't tell me they didn't take '30 minutes, no exceptions' seriously," he said, adopting a low-pitched, mocking tone as he quoted the message Marlena had sent out. Like a tiger taking down a baby wildebeest, the DCinC scooped up a pastry from one of the several trays laid out with such. He also snagged one of the green water bottles. "Really? Who drinks this stuff?" Whitford smirked, rolling his eyes as he opened the bottle and took a drink.

Caine arrived with Kat in tow both had handfuls of PADDS with them. "Kat let me know the second the Kiev and Bethsada arrive." Coming and taking her seat grabbing a cup and pouring coffee before handing it to her aid. "You are going to need this," she said with a grin as KAt chuckled and accepted the coffee. She finally noticed Whitford. "hello Sir." addressing Sturnack and then Whitford. "Admiral Whitford." she said drily.

"Ah, Commander Glenn's attention to detail is welcomed," Maurice smiled as he snagged a bottle of water. "Good Morning, Admiral Sturnack." He nodded towards the Vulcan and took a sip from the glass bottle, obviously ignoring Whitford. Seeming to notice the DCinC for the first time, he chuckled, though it was absent of mirth, and lowered his voice, "Whitford, always a pleasure, and congratulations on the DCinC promotion, still failing upward, I see. I can't find the words to express to you how comforting it is to know the average Vulcan lifespan is well over 200." Smiling, he tilted his bottle and headed for his chair, "Not sure what made me think of that."

Whitford let the comment pass without remark, having experienced a long history of such antagonism with Chambers. Though the man technically outranked him in pips, Whitford was now the DCinC -- putting him head-and-shoulders above someone in a Director position. He could snipe back but, given the look on Sturnack's pensive face across the room, chose to err on the side of delayed retribution instead.

Jocelyn had joined the group not exactly on the heels of Admiral Chambers, but close enough to catch the end of his comment. A tiny part of her brain registered the distaste on Whitford's face as Chambers took his seat and she made a note to ask Marlena about the exchange later. It may have been petty, but anything that would give Whitford the appearance of having bitten a lemon was worthwhile information at this point.

Hoping to avoid too much attention herself she settled into the furthest possible seat from Whitford towards the far end of the table. Her glasses were a deep forest green for the day, a deliberate choice meant to bring out their hazel and draw attention away from the pink puffiness that even her best efforts with makeup had been unable to hide. As the others entered she busied herself reviewing the first reports of the day knowing that the press would be assembling in the briefing room in under half an hour. She couldn't help wondering what this meeting might entail and if it was likely to result in keeping the ever ravenous press waiting.

Ojo Ris and one of his aides appeared in the lobby by transporter. He handed the aide a black PADD with a red filter over the reading interface. Then the Bajoran tugged on his uniform top. He was all about the business as he breezed inside with the air of one kept to a strict schedule. Inside, he took a moment to survey the setting and the players already there. Much could be said by body language, by punctuality, by engagement. The Chief of Intelligence located his chair but did not immediately sit.

"Oh! Someone legitimately deserving of a promotion, congratulations Admiral Ojo," Maurice's eyes sparkled as he sat the bottle on the table. He chose not to look behind himself towards the other Rear Admiral he had just spoken with. "Truly, your timing is impeccable. Though I suppose we might worry about an Intelligence chief who wasn't, wouldn't we?" He asked, nodding his head as if in deep thought.

The tall and broad Bajoran nodded at his older senior, the Chief of Operations. Ojo wasn't one to seek rank- and if anything it took him out of the field more than he liked- but Ojo was a creature of duty. "Thank you," the Intelligence Chief said to the Chief of Operations. Ojo's long face flicked with a hint of amusement. "It goes with the job description," he dryly mused himself.

With a smirk, Chambers turned his gaze to the Press Secretary, "Do you know most people think this room is named for Christopher Pike? Not so, the fish. " He lengthened the sh for dramatic effect and retrieved the bottle of effervescence. Spreading his arms wide and shaking his head, careful not to slosh the liquid from the bottle, Maurice played his best show and chuckled, "yes, it is quite true, if you check the building history, you will find the room and name predate the Fleet Captain. All of the original conference rooms were named for Earth fish. Now, would anyone care to guess why this one still remains?"

Amusement colored the press secretary's expression along with a touch of surprise at being addressed by the Director of Operations. She set her PADD down and picked up her coffee tumbler, taking a slow sip. When no one offered a response to Chambers' inquiry she filled in the space.

"I assume it was a matter of convenience," she said, a small smile echoing in the words. "No point changing the name of a room that we can now simply attribute to Christopher Pike." She sipped her coffee again, then added, "I wonder if Captain Pike himself was ever aware of the transfer of the room's meaning?"

"Not a bad guess," Maurice said, head nodding in approval. "However, it only became a matter of convenience later. You see, back in 2286, Starfleet released a list of planned building changes. Public record stuff, not much different in the way we do it now. However, a sharp-eyed reporter took the cryptic single-line description, Reclassify Pike Conference Room as Roth Conference Room. Well..." Chambers paused to ostensibly for a drink, but possibly for dramatic effect, "Hiram Roth, the President, was across town as a presser with the Nyberrite Alliance ambassador. This reporter gets a tip and asks, Mr. President, how do you feel about Starfleet Command renaming the Christopher Pike Conference Room after yourself, and were you aware? Being a politician, he naturally said he was totally unaware and did not approve. So Starfleet withdrew the change, and everyone began assuming the room was actually named for Chris Pike. The story dominated the news cycle for a couple more days, and Starfleet considered releasing a statement correcting the assumption, but the whale probe showed up, and everyone forgot about it."

"Your stories are folksy as always, Admiral," Whitford smirked at Chambers, "and clearly, there's an audience for them." At that, looked pointedly at Blake before flicking his eyes back to Chambers. "Maybe now isn't the best time to regale us with your wit, though? We should probably get to the matter at hand. It's a pretty serious problem for, well...mostly serious people," Whitford said as one of his eyebrows raised, daring anyone to challenge his assertion. The man looked then to Sturnack, who'd quietly assumed his position at the head of the table. "I think we can get started, sir. Everyone's pretty much here. And if they aren't, well...that's a discussion I can have with them later."

As if on cue, Augie stepped in and quietly moved to an open seat. He moved swiftly, though without looking like he was hurrying, a skill he'd taken pains to learn over his lifetime.

"That will not be necessary," the Vulcan subtly shook his head. "This meeting was on exceptionally short notice. I'm sure the others will arrive when they can. Please," he looked around the room, "take your seats everyone." He waited for several moments as discussion quieted and people lowered into their chairs. "As of 0455 hours this morning, the USS-Martin Luther completed its investigation into the two coronal, mass ejections of the Chalvanan sun," the CinC began. "Their analysis," he looked over to Marlena -- who then hit 'send' on her PADD -- before looking around the table again, "has just been sent to you. In short, the ejections were, indeed, confirmed to be artificial in nature. They had suspected this might be the case but now we have official confirmation."

"We'd been thinking along those lines. Admiral Caine's actually been prepping resources to evacuate Chalvana I just in case the Prime Directive didn't apply," Whitford looked over at the Trill. "Guess this means you've got the go-ahead on that. Let's have you--"

"There is more," Sturnack interrupted Whitford mid-order. "The Martin Luther's investigation turned up some alarming evidence that is particularly topical at this moment. While great lengths were taken to no doubt avoid discovery, tachyon particles were found near the Chalvanan sun. There are also residual traces in the star's plasma -- near the ejection sites," the Vulcan clarified, "that indicate an energized magneton pulse was used to incite the ejections. The pulse carries a....Romulan signature," he said, letting the announcement hang heavy in the air.

Ojo had taken his seat when bidden to. He listened and looked into the depths of possibilities of what might be said. It could have easily been the Romulans- it wasn't out of the realm of Tal Shiar tactics. The question was why, and who benefitted? The Bajoran waited for more information, scrolling into his display with flicks of his finger to identify the location- and neighboring resources- of the Chalvana system.

The aging Admiral had slipped into his chair with practiced ease, though he had the benefit of having had the same seat for years. He pursed his lips expecting Whitford to jump back in half-cocked, but he seemed bemused by Sturnack's interruption of his authority. Maurice started, clearing his throat, "This certainly smells like a Tal Shiar operation, but they aren't usually so sloppy, are they, Admiral Ojo? Would it not have made more sense to use a non-Romulan device."

The laconic Bajoran nodded his head in crisp fashion once, "That means it was not the Tal Shiar. The Tal Shiar are not sloppy," his dark eyes pointedly looked up at the gathering, "Ever." Ojo tugged his uniform, "Someone wants to damage the conference. So, who benefits from it falling apart."

Jocelyn watched the exchange quietly, disquiet from the news settling onto her chest like a weight. A whole civilization was being wiped out because of this action. Who would do such a thing? A notification flashed across her PADD reminding her that the press briefing was in 15 minutes and along with it a headline notification from The Galactic Dredge. She had begun to follow the rag against her better judgement after it had written about her earlier in the week.

"Admiral?" she inquired to get Sturnack's attention. "We don't feed heavily biased news sources for a number of reasons, but there has been a hike in xenophobic reporting amongst a number of publications. Most of their sources aren't cited, but there are a few groups here on Earth that are happy to be quoted as unhappy with the Federation and Starfleet for continuing to reach out to numerous species deemed "lesser" by these groups. I don't know if any have the resources to carry off such a thing, but whomever it is has to be entirely comfortable with extinguishing the entire population of Chalvana I. That suggests a significant disregard for life and a xenophobic extremist group would fit that description well."

She quieted then, aware that she had spoken up in the midst of numerous admirals with years of experience beyond her own and waited for the what felt like the inevitable and obvious dismissal that she was about to receive with Whitford in the room.

Ojo looked at Jocelyn with a penetrating look- and then on his horse face, the quirk of a smile on one side, "Federation Intelligence handles the domestic intelligence data. But they forward the relevant, external threat data to us in Starfleet." He again nodded once, with a glance at Whitford, "They're on the list of potentials. So are homegrown Romulan dissidents and anyone who might lose from Romulan-Federation cooperation. Groups like the Corvallens and Barolians."

"... The Klingons," Maurice offered nonchalantly with just the tiniest tilt of his head.

Ojo's eyes stayed on Jocelyn with a narrowing discernment, "During the Dominion War, the Klingons never welcomed the Romulan entry. They were something to tolerate." Ojo murmured in his deep voice. "The hatred is mutual."

Looking at Ojo, Caine said, "I'm putting together a fleet to save Chalvana I people, do I need to worry that my rescue fleet will come under attack? This could be a ploy to get rescuers in one place to attack and destroy our aid ships and make others believe that Starfleet can't even do a simple rescue operation. Destroying the faith in us." Then looked around the room at the other members.

"I think it quite likely that a group with the resources to damage a star in a way as to implicate the Romulan government is also more than capable of attacking a rescue fleet." Augie weighed in, though his eyes were far away as he turned the problem over in his mind. "And while the Tal Shiar is never this sloppy, they are underhanded enough to make sloppy the pretense as to why it isn't them. We can't rule them out, or anyone on the data we have. Romulan and Klingon cloaking fields utilize similar technology, but the reason we can sometimes see the Romulans through the cloak is due to their power core technology requiring extremely precise tuning. While your average Federation or Romulan citizen may not have that information, every major intelligence service in the quadrant will undoubtedly have it. Do we have any other clues?" He wasn't quite ready to suggest needing to trip whatever trap is set up in order to get more information, but he was almost certain they'd need to. The field was too wide right now, too full of potential antagonists for this event to be pointed at anyone specific.

Ojo looked at Caine while the Director of Homeworld Security spoke. "Protect your soft targets," was his advice. He looked to Admiral Chambers there.

Whitford spoke up then, having latched on to something Taqin had said. "You know, that's actually not a bad point. If the Tal Shiar were behind this, it'd be easy to stand behind an argument like 'We're not that stupid.' I agree, definitely can't take them out of the running here. That said, the embassy is opening in a few days. This is a terrible time to suddenly be questioning our ostensible allies," the Admiral drawled out with a sigh. "Optics on this are not gonna be good. And guess who it falls to," his eyes sharpened as they shifted to Blake, "to communicate this out in a way that isn't going to incite public disaster..." The way he said it, it seemed like the Deputy Commander-in-Chief thought that was exactly what was going to end up happening.

Before Blake could potentially rise to Whitford's bait, Sturnack spoke up again. "I have other relevant news that, unfortunately, impacts concerns around the embassy. President Patel informed me a few minutes ago that Praetrix Donatra's scheduling commitments have shifted. She is no longer able to virtually attend the opening on its scheduled date. As she is acting as keynote speaker for its launch, and obviously Romulan interests are inherently involved," the Vulcan explained, "President Patel has authorized the embassy's opening a day earlier than planned so that the Praetrix may still participate. Between the events taking place in the Chalvana system and now, the sped-up opening of the Romulan Embassy, there is much work to do in very little time."

Leaning back slightly in his chair, the Fleet Admiral conjoined his fingers in a steeple-formation. "Admirals Caine and Chambers, combine the efforts of Interstellar Aid and Operations as best you can to address the situations on Chalvana I and III . Please meet promptly and provide us with your plan -- including estimates of how many can be saved from Chalvana I -- ahead of the 1930 hours press briefing this evening. Admiral Ul-tan and Captain Blake," he looked to the Acting Director of Communications and the Press Secretary, "you'll need to prepare comments around the situation. Coordinate with Caine and Chambers as needed, please. You'll also want to partner with Admirals Ojo and Taqin," he turned then to the two men named. "Given the new opening date of the Embassy, we'll need to ensure that all arrangements are still executed. That includes any vetting of associated Intelligence and Security concerns."

"What questions are there?" the Vulcan concluded his commands, opening the floor for the opportunity to clarify assignments as needed.

Caine looked at Chambers and nodded, before speaking, "Sir With your permission. I'd like to have a few none evacuation ships present when we start. Just in case this is a ploy, I really don't want us to be caught with our proverbial pants down and lose more good people." She paused, " maybe 3-4 ships." looking at their Vulcan leader.

Sturnack nodded in affirmative. "You and Admiral Chambers can decide how many -- and which -- ships are needed for this effort. I am also authorizing the suspension of the warp speed limitation for the duration of the Chalvana operations. Formulate your plan and inform us as to its contents as soon as possible," the Vulcan replied, signaling that Caine and Chambers were being trusted to come up with the best possible approach to addressing the situation.

Hearing no other questions as he looked around the room, Sturnack then rose from his chair. "We've much to do and little time to do it in. Coordinate with each other as needed and keep my office in the loop. Thank you," he nodded deeply, "for your time." Amidst the sound of the others rolling back their chairs, standing, and resuming conversations -- this time focused on the matters at hand -- the Vulcan moved towards the door, Commander Glenn falling in behind him. "I'll need President Patel as soon as she has a few minutes, Marlena. The Vice-President, too -- I need to talk to him about the Embassy reception."

"The fun never ends," Marlena quipped sarcastically as the pair exited the conference room and disappeared into the complex beyond.

=/\= A joint post by... =/\=

Fleet Admiral Sturnack
Starfleet Command


Admiral Maurice Chambers
Director, Starfleet Operations
Starfleet Command


Vice Admiral Augustus Taqin
Director, Homeworld Security
Starfleet Command


Rear Admiral Mazikeen Caine (Smith)
Director, Interstellar Aid
Starfleet Command


Rear Admiral Ojo Ris
Director, Starfleet Intelligence
Starfleet Command


Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary, Communications Dept.
Starfleet Command


Rear Admiral Joshua Whitford (NPC of Sturnack)
Deputy Commander-in-Chief
Starfleet Command


Commander Marlena Glenn
C-in-C's Aide-de-Camp
Starfleet Command


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