By Jack Elmlinger, with Christina Moore
“I never thought that this day would come.”
Tattok almost couldn’t believe the words coming out of Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev’s mouth. The Roylan vice-admiral sat in a circle of chairs. He faced the Commander-in-Chief, the Deputy C-in-C, the Director of Starfleet Special Projects, and the Chief of Starfleet Operations. Of course, in reality, he was the only sentient being in the room. The others were attending the meeting in his office at the Federation embassy on Cardassia Prime by the means of the holographic communicator.
“Neither did I,” was his answer.
“Still, we knew that this day would come,” Admiral Emiin Drakoor said, a serious look on his face.
“Indeed,” Admiral Elliot Haywood said. “Redeployment of the Eleventh Fleet.”
“Your work with the Cardassian people has been excellent, Tattok,” Nechayev told him. She looked at him with her familiar determined look. “Prime Councilor Lang has spoken your praises many times. The work that you’ve done with the Detapa Council, helping them rebuild their government and their military…”
“It’s from all of the superb work of the personnel under my command, Admiral. I only gave them orders.”
Why is she posturing? he wondered. I know that I performed my duties to the best of my ability. Am I being set up for something?
Nechayev nodded and looked at Haywood. “Do you want to tell him, Elliot?”
“Of course, Alynna,” Haywood said, his attention directed towards the diminutive admiral. “Because of your diplomatic efforts with the Cardassians, the Command Council would still like to offer you the position of Deputy Director of the Starfleet Diplomatic Corps, Admiral Tattok. The position of Director is open and we considered you for it but—”
“Politics and the Federation Council kept you from appointing little old me to the position,” he guessed.
Haywood nodded. “It’s not quite like that, Admiral. The President believes that the Federation Council should have a Director of the Diplomatic Corps who is prepared to answer directly to the interests of the Council. Your history as a Starfleet officer had prompted them to select someone who is more amenable to their requests.”
“Basically, someone who can be their puppet,” commented Drakoor. He came from the same school of hard-knocks like Tattok did, coming up the ranks of Starfleet. He was a member of a small contingency of Capellans in Starfleet that had faced their own difficulties, though theirs were cultural whereas Tattok's were mostly height-oriented. Even his own appointment as the Deputy C-in-C had come with its own air of controversy at the selection process.
“Agreed,” Haywood said, “though the real handling of the department would be under your authority.”
“I’d be like the power behind the throne?” Tattok asked the Director of Special Projects. He was unsure about taking such an assignment like that. “What about the Eleventh Fleet? You mentioned redeployment, but the way you're talking, it sounds like Starfleet is disbanding it.”
“There have been some members of the Federation Council who have suggested that the Eleventh Fleet be disbanded after its service in Cardassian space is over. However, we’re not sure if that service will ever be over with the Maquis and the True Way making our operations troublesome,” Necheyev told him.
“The Diplomatic Corps position might sound like enforced retirement,” Dodge began, his New Zealand accent evident, “but the services that you can bring to the arena of diplomacy can mean a lot to the future of the Federation, Tattok.”
“What about the officers under my command? What about Commodore Markham?” he asked the assembled admirals.
“I’ve discussed the redeployment with Commodore Markham and about her next assignment.” This statement came from Admiral Drakoor. “She’s agreed to remain on Cardassia Prime as our military liaison at the Federation Embassy. When you decide to accept the Deputy Directorship of the Starfleet Diplomatic Corps, she’ll remain under your command for the time being.”
“There are a few exploration missions on the agenda of the Federation Science Council that a number of the Eleventh ships could undertake once the redeployment orders go out,” Haywood said.
“And though not under Eleventh Fleet command,” Drakoor said, looking at a padd that a disembodied hand handed to him before disappearing. “the starships Berlin and Dublin will be working in your region on temporary assignment, but their captains report to the Director of the Starfleet Exploration Division.”
“For now, all the ships under your command, Admiral, will be kept in place but we will be evaluating them on a case-by-case basis,” Dodge put in. “For your flagship, the Veritas, we’re convinced that Jabari Haywood has earned his captaincy, and upon Markham's official departure he will assume command.”
Tattok nodded at the mention of Markham’s First Officer aboard the Sovereign-class starship. Admiral Haywood’s son had a history of being an excellent officer, which he had garnered on his own and not as a result of his father’s prestige. It would be quite the feather in his metaphorical cap for Admiral Haywood to have another captain in his family.
“Pick something else, please,” Tattok said, his intense look set on the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet. “I have some experience as a diplomat but I don’t want to spend the rest of my career as one.” He picked up a padd from a side table. “Now,” he continued, clearing his throat, “may I suggest that we discuss the logistics of the Eleventh Fleet and the affect that it will have on Cardassian space?”
The admirals nodded before the conversation continued. Nechayev looked at Haywood. They understood that they’d have to find another solution to their problem.
The incessant buzzing of the intercom dragged Tattok out of a somewhat restless sleep. He'd made it through his workday without thinking about his reassignment by keeping busy—there was certainly never a shortage of things to do at the Federation Embassy—but upon retiring to his apartment he had found it next to impossible to keep the looming changes off his mind.
As a starship commander, having some skill at diplomacy was required. He'd needed those abilities again to settle a room and get various persons to listen and work together since taking command of the 11th Fleet. But just because he had a knack for getting disparate individuals to cooperate didn't mean he wanted to do that job for the rest of his career. Necheyev knew that, certainly—whatever had possessed her to consider him for the Diplomatic Corps?
It had been with such thoughts on his mind that he'd settled into his bed, but falling asleep had been difficult. The Roylan felt as though he'd just dropped off when the intercom began to ring. He'd ignored it at first, but eventually gave up and sat up with a grumble.
"Go for Tattok—and you'd better have a damn good reason for waking me up."
"Forgive my disturbing you, Admiral sir," said a nervous-sounding male voice, "but we're receiving a transmission from Admiral Necheyev's office. She's requesting to speak with you right away, sir."
Curious, Tattok thought as he threw back the bedcover. "Then by all means, patch it through," he said to the communications officer.
"Sending to your home terminal now, Admiral."
Tattok called for the lights at 75% as he padded out of his bedroom and into the sitting room. The comm light on his desk was already blinking, and he climbed up into his chair before switching his monitor on. Admiral Necheyev came onscreen, looking as perfectly coiffed as always.
He suddenly wished he'd thought to at least don a uniform jacket. Thankfully she could not see he wore nothing below his bare chest as well.
"I'm deeply sorry for disturbing your sleep, Tat, I know it's still late night on Cardassia," Necheyev said. "But you asked us to find another solution for you and I believe I have one."
He felt his eyestalks twitch with anticipation. "Is that so? What have you in mind for me this time, ma'am?"
Admiral Necheyev glanced off-screen, he assumed at a padd or other monitor. "Vice-Admiral Rakinash has taken an emergency leave of absence—he received a call about an hour ago that his father has passed away."
Rakinash was one of the few admirals Tattok had something in common with; the two of them were both diminutive in stature, and it had been a pastime whenever they met to discuss the challenges they faced being very short in a galaxy of tall people. The Ithenites, he knew, practiced a year-long period of mourning when a parent died, so he would be gone from Earth and leaving his position open for some time.
The only drawback to taking the position, even temporarily, would be having to work alongside Harrison Dodge.
As if reading his thoughts from a few hundred lightyears away, Necheyev said then, "I know you don't always get on with Dodge, Tat, but think of it this way: it's not the Diplomatic Corps. I think you can handle one year working alongside Harrison, and considering your aversion to the other option, you're the first person I thought of to fill in for Rakinash. What do you say?"
"After that one year?" he countered.
Starfleet's C-in-C lifted a shoulder. "I don't know. I'm sure we'll re-evaluate then, and hopefully find a situation that's satisfactory to all."
Tattok suppressed a sigh. He really hadn't much choice—it was either a temporary assignment with Operations, or permanent misery in the Diplomatic Corps.
Considering he would look horrid in Diplomatic purple, the Roylan nodded. "Thank you for coming to me first, Alynna. I appreciate it. And I'll do it—shouldn't be too far removed from commanding the Eleventh, I should think."
Necheyev grinned. "Excellent. Now, let's discuss the logistics of your transport to Earth real quick, and I'll let you get back to sleep..."
Admiral’s log, supplemental...
I never thought that I would be leaving Cardassia Prime so soon after returning to duty. However, I’m proud of the work that has been done here. Commodore Valerie Markham will be continuing here as the Starfleet liaison to the Federation Embassy and to the Detapa Council. Half of the fleet has been redeployed. All that’s left for me…
“Well, this is one hell of a goodbye.”
Vice-Admiral Tattok looked up and nodded. He agreed with Master Chief Petty Officer Wayne Hollis, his chief bodyguard, as they walked into the embassy’s transporter facility. The aging security officer had led the Admiral’s protective detail since the Roylan had been assigned to command the Eleventh Fleet. He had even worked for Commodore Markham during his leave on Bajor.
A line of Starfleet and Cardassian officers stood at attention in the room. Markham and Legate Relan Dolak stood at attention in front of them upon the approach of the admiral and his guards. The red-haired woman smiled, taking a step forward. In her hands, she carried a small metal case.
“This is quite a send-off, Valerie.”
“It was the Cardassians’ idea. Something about being such a great guy or something?”
“If you’re hoping that manipulating my favor will help you to advance your career,” Tattok began, his voice sounding stern even though his words were meant as a joke, “you’re mistaken.”
“I just wanted to make sure that you got off the planet without an assassination attempt.”
“That’s why he keeps me around, ma’am,” Hollis told her, a smile on his weathered face.
“I’m only here to balance his data work,” his administrative aide, Lieutenant Commander Lanatyr ch’Dahni said from behind Tattok and Hollis. The diminutive Andorian carried a briefcase with him. He looked up and smiled at Markham. “It was good working with you, Commodore.”
“You’re just saying that because I don’t put up with any of your bullshit.”
“Mainly because you’re the first person to drink me under the table,” the Andorian added with a chuckle.
Ignoring the banter between Markham and ch’Dahni, Legate Dolak stepped forward and offered the Roylan his hand. “Admiral Tattok, on the behalf of the Cardassian Militia and the Detapa Council, all of Cardassia would like to wish you the best in all of your future endeavors. Without you and the Federation’s humanitarian assistance, Cardassia would still be a haven of disaster, death, and despair after what the Dominion did to us. You have helped raise us up from the ashes and enabled us to breathe new life into our world.”
“He sure does like the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he?,” Commander Amber Stone, the Admiral’s Chief of Staff whispered to Master Chief Hollis. She stood in the middle of the formation behind Tattok.
“I’ve learned that a lot about politicians, ma’am,” the security officer whispered back to her.
After Dolak completed his lengthy speech, Markham stepped forward and held the case in her hands out for the admiral’s inspection. She opened the case as she presented it. Inside of it was a copper-plated spyglass from the 18th century. Inscribed on it was a quote and the signature of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.
The quote said: Desperate affairs require desperate remedies.
“This…” he started to say. Lord Nelson was an inspiration to him when he studied tactics at Starfleet Academy. When he commanded the Bowie as a captain, a long time ago, the tactics of the wet-navy flag officer had inspired him to defeat a couple of Tzenkethi destroyers during a skirmish.
“Too much, sir?”
“No… no…” he said, taking a deep breath and exhaling it. Usually he wasn’t so emotional. Their faith in him and his abilities went deep to his heart. It inspired him. “It’s… it’s perfect. Thank you.”
Markham gave him an old-styled salute and said, “Commander, Eleventh Fleet, departing.”
“Permission to disembark?” Tattok and his staff moved to occupy their positions on the transporter platform. The Roylan looked by Valerie and returned the salute. Amber held the spyglass in its case for him as she stood between Hollis and ch’Dahni.
Tattok nodded to the transporter technician. “Energize.”
The four humanoids were converted into four pillars of blue energy, disappearing into nothingness.