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SD241902.22 - Joint Duty Log - CO & CD - "Wakey Wakey"

Posted on 241902.22 @ 17:08 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Lieutenant Commander John Smith

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Apsha
Timeline: Current

=^= Justifall City =^=

Few braved the streets in the middle of this blizzard, or so it seemed. Those unlucky few who had to be outside rushed from place to place as if something were nipping at their heels. That *something* was a gust of wind that scythed through the city streets like the icy blade of death himself, and there was little question that every day would tug a few from this mortal coil; drifters hunkered down in alleyways didn't always find their feet again in the morning.

Perhaps, John mused, this was just his tainted viewpoint. As the transporter's forcefield released him from the momentary shelter, the wind and snow had slapped him hard 'cross the face, making it clear what Apsha's Mother Nature thought of this interloper. Right now the feeling was mutual, so the former marine opted to stride quickly inside the inn before him.

After a moment of icy hell, some sort of intangible field was entered, and suddenly the diplomat felt warmth envelop his body. He felt his head swim as the swift change threw his internal thermostat for a loop, not helped by the fact that the exact opposite had occurred not ten seconds ago.

Refocusing on the now, John looked around at the Stenellians occupying the lobby. A pair of bellhops, a guy behind a counter, someone taking coats, and a pair of touristy types furtively staring over their maps at this strange pink interloper in a Starfleet uniform.

The padd slipped slightly in John's hand, and he gripped it a little tighter as he recalled his reason for beaming down. Ten smart steps later, and he was in front of the uniformed Stenellian behind the desk, who watched this weird fellow with a carefully-crafted smile.

"Hello sir, how may I help you today?" said the Stenellian, professional and polite.

"Hello. I am looking for another like myself. A Starfleet Commodore by the name of Rochelle Ivanova. Has she checked in?"

"I'm afraid we are not at liberty to discuss the disposition of our guests, sir." the Stenellian asserted. "However..." he drifted off, allowing his eyes to flicker towards the hearth a short distance away.

Following the man's gaze, John noticed that one of the wingback chairs around the hearth packed a furry bundle. Nodding to the desk worker, John approached the bundle and leaned down, peering into the hood of the travelling coak.

Instead of a Stenellian tourist, this bundle seemed to contain a gently snoring Commodore.

"Captain."

The sound of a familiar voice and title stirred Rochelle from momentary slumber and found her blinking awake and moving her ear off her shoulder much to the dismay of her neck. Falling asleep in a chair wasn't exactly the best idea she'd had all year - then again it wasn't exactly something she'd planned. The warmth of the fire combined with the swaddled security of her parka had quickly lulled the restless one to sleep and chased away all plans of exploration throughout the city. Javaan was off running with his teacher and a group of students - the peacefulness of the moment had leaned itself to...

"Smith." She blinked blearily, her brows furrowing as she hesitantly reaching to rub her stiff, sore neck and wondered, for the briefest of seconds, what the man was doing anywhere near her sleeping form. A furtive glance around the room recognized that she wasn't in the off-limits territory of her bedroom, nor the relative privacy of her room. She'd fallen asleep in the main parlor of the inn and he'd come along to find her in that compromising position. In response to her mental mulling over of the details, horrifying as they were, she offered him a small, reticent smile, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

So smooth. So absolutely smooth. Not even a hint of acknowledgement granted to her public trip to the land of nod. Lucky for her, for them, Apsha was a safe world and Justifall a safe city. There were - no longer - any Romulan terrorists waiting in the Empress' parlor for a chance to jump out and strike at them in the radical readiness of war.

Maybe...

"Is everything alright?" Her hood was easily removed with a gentle pass of her hands, scarf loosened, and her entire body shifted from a slightly slouched position to something far less informal. From there she motioned for the diplomat to take a seat and her chagrin took a backseat to business. Embarrassment could come later, maybe even in a sheepish recounting of the situation to Ra'lin over hot cocoa and stringing garland on the tree Javaan had begged for even though Christmas wasn't exactly commonplace in the Ascendancy.

"Yes, ma'am." Smith replied, folding himself into the indicated windback chair. The material was soft, the padding gently supportive, and he could already feel the steady warmth of the fire melting any icicles that may have formed during his brief exposure to the sub-zero temperatures outside. Little wonder the Commodore had nodded off here.

Not that he would be so disrespectful as to mention it.

"I've come to discuss our supply situation." he announced, keeping his voice down. Though there was nothing here that was secret, it was still best to be discreet. After all, even the most innocuous information about their needs and plans could lead people to anticipate their actions, which was often hazardous.

"Our recent efforts to request shipping data from various groups necessitated the disbursement of funds and various material. While much of this was replenished, certain materials were not. Here is a full list of the materials we now lack, along with a formal request for permission to begin negotiating for these materials from local business groups."

As the Commander relayed the problem, he proffered a padd. Locked under a seal keyed to the Commodore's biometrics, the list contained a selection of foods, a few spare parts, and a somewhat substantial supply of latinum.

It took a second for the meaning of his words to register, and when they did the look of mild suspicion that had darkened the contours of the woman's face chose to remain for the time it took her to unlock the PADD and begin to skim through it. From there her lips pursed into a thin, grim, little line and she may have leaned a bit further back into her seat as if to subconsciously skulk away and hide from the ramifications that came with such news and of course, such a request. A quick glance towards Smith's face told her that he wasn't panicked or flustered - if anything he was perfectly comfortable with everything he presented her and even more ok with the coming work to retrieve what had been lost in search of information.

Watching various emotions play across his Commanding Officer's face while she read the padd, John kept his face carefully blank. A lot of the techniques employed by the diplomacy corps rode the thin, beige line just this side of bribery, because that was how the game was played. Sometimes bribery itself was permissible, given the right set of circumstances. Both of these things combined to create diplomats who, it often appeared, could flaunt the spirit of the anti-bribery regulations, if not the actual letter of them. This made people uncomfortable, especially when circumstances required...significant expenditure.

As recent circumstances assuredly had.

Setting the plastic device in her lap, Rochelle briefly closed her eyes to steel away both cobwebs and irritation long enough to compose a proper response and line of thought, "And who will be conducting these business meetings?"

"My team and I are prepared to conduct most of the negotiations, though the contributions of the other departments would be a significant asset. The Jem'Hadar, for instance, might respond better if we bring a security detachment, Lieutenant Dai'xun could be beneficial if we leveraged her name, and we should really bring an intelligence officer if we're trading information. Ensign Diangelo, for example." he added, recalling her cooperation when obtaining the shipping data a few months back.

A hand came up to still his thought patterns and words, "Ensign DiAngelo is a loose cannon," she began, leveling her gaze with his, praying to whatever god just so happened to be listening that he'd understand the sense of urgency that he understand exactly what it was that she was trying to convey, "If you include her on something as urgent and delicate as this, you are to make sure that Commander Archer is well versed in what is going on. You take full responsibility for anything that may go awry." Rochelle drew a short breath to say more but chose to bite her lip and shake her head, resting her hand back on the arm of her chair. Out in the open with sensitive ears all around them wasn't the correct venue to get into the details surrounding her lack of confidence in the young spook, it could be used... Twisted. Last thing she needed was that degree of a mess to mop up when things were going relatively well.

"Be careful using Dai'xun, she is closely related do the Empress, but I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir." She nodded with a small, perhaps apologetic smile, "Rumor has it that the Emperor is set to return shortly... He handles the vast majority of the Ascendancy's finances. Are you prepared to speak with him?" The question was a loaded gun with a hair trigger - but Rochelle had to ask it knowing full well that Romulans weren't exactly the crew's most favorite group to deal with.

"I had hoped that would not be neccessary, Captain." said John, avoiding the question. "My intention is not to entangle us with the Ascendancy's finances, but rather to have the good Lieutenant sit beside the negotiator at certain sessions. Her assistance as a Starfleet officer is welcome, as is the additional...gravitas her presence will lend to the talks. I'm sure that, given her Starfleet uniform, none will mistakenly assume she represents the ruling family and lower their prices. We will almost certainly be sure to confirm our negotiating partners know this in advance."

John's expression didn't change as he spoke, projecting a guile-free professionalism with all the genuine nuance and flavour of a mass-produced plastic toy. The idea that anyone could take his words just now at face value was both absurd and mildly comical, but it was best to cover one's hind quarters over these things, even if the covering was a tissue-thin layer of transparent lies.

And by lies, he meant completely innocent truths. Oh my, yes.

The Captain's response over the Ensign in Intelligence, however, gave him pause. Whatever had happened, had almost certainly been severe enough to send a ripple over the Captain's placid pond. He knew it was none of his business, and there were a number of non-verbal signals being sent out here in rapid succession to hint at something bad, but the Commander wasn't a psychic. He could only read faces, not minds, and the Captain's face wasn't telling him anything he could use. Her words seemed clear enough though, so he made a note to inform "Archer", and to monitor the Ensign's first few sessions closely.

"Did you have any other concerns over the list, Captain?" John asked, refocusing on the task at hand. "Specifically item twenty-three." he added, referring to the largest item. Though most of the list was rarities, baubles, foodstuffs and electronics, the last item was more...banal.

In response, the firebird Captain's lips pressed together and the PADD was promptly turned off. No sooner did the screen's light disappear from life, did the woman turn her gaze once more towards the ambassador. It could be said that Rochelle was often hard to read and kept a relatively fierce poker face - but there were times when there could be little to no doubt about just what the brazen little woman was thinking.

This was one of those times.

In those bright, arctic blue eyes there lay written a complete manifesto surrounding the layers and levels of her out right irritation and a silent demand that it be remedied... Fast. It was a slow burn, one that threatened to be more of a backdraft waiting to explode in the face of the one that failed to remedy said situation. A hand lifted, the same one that had gently shushed him moments ago, to bring a finger to the inner edge of one of her eyebrows for a brief rub at the first twinges of what was likely to be a roaring headache in the next few hours immediately following this wonderful encounter. This, she decided, was the very reason he'd chosen to approach her in a very public setting. There couldn't be any explosive or colorful language and he'd be able to escape without being singed... Mostly.

"I expect to find the ship's accounts re-filled," She spoke plainly, her hand falling back to the arm of her chair. The eyebrow she'd touched quirked a bit higher than the other, driving her point - and shift of mood - home, "with interest. I also expect that the next time there's an issue you'll be sure to contact me before you make fiscal decisions or barter with Vindicator property. Shouldn't be a problem, right Commander?"

The Commander's jaw tightened as he watched the Commodore's swift change in mood. He had anticipated a number of reactions, but this hadn't been one of them. She could have been astonished at the vast sums expended in such a short period of time. Or perhaps impressed by the way he, on his very first assignment on the Vindicator, had immediately utilised the full might of resources on hand to assist in the location of the kidnapped officers.

He certainly hadn't expected to be dressed down, even mildly. Had she forgotten the fire that had lit her from within during the Vindicator's desperate search for their abducted comrades? If he had asked her back then about the sums of money required to obtain the data they needed, would she have hesitated? Heck, if he'd asked for her legs, she'd have requested a hacksaw and a mop!

"Yes ma'am." he replied, keeping his thoughts to himself. Whatever her reasons were, this was the wrong place to get into them. Perhaps later he could make gentle inquiries via her XO, but right now he had negotiations to begin.

Rising briskly from his seat, the Commander stood at formal attention, his eyes staring off into the distance as he waited to be dismissed.

"Commander..." Her mouth tasted sour as she wrapped it around his title. Rochelle was many things. She was a true fighter, you could see it in her eyes. Born strong, she was made stronger by the universe - sculpted her to be her own hero when the worlds she traveled let her down. And she kept picking herself back up. What it didn't allow for, was the bone deep tiredness and downright surliness that had come flooding in during recent times. Her soul had no room for such darkness when she, by rank and rate, was supposed to be a bringer of light and a harbinger of hope... So sayeth the Federation. Even with her own rancid brand of melancholia, she couldn't ignore the dampening of his mood. Where once had been his usual chipper - maybe even playful - nature now stood a rigid and distant man.

It wasn't right.

Shaking her head, Rochelle slipped her hood back and gestured for him to stand down and sit. Running her tongue over her lips and said, "I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one." She started, hardly oblivious to the fact she was weaving her way through an apology - but why? "I've learned that people will forget what I've said, what I did... But they won't forget how I've made them feel." Even in her head it sounded like cheap swill, broken and silly. "Anyway... It's not even me you need to be looking over your shoulder for." Rochelle shrugged ever so slightly, "The ship's Quartermaster is downright savage and apparently has a a recipe or two for human trachea laying around." It may not have seemed like much to most, but her attempt at humor and the way she removed her scarf and held it out to him as a fuzzy, warm, faintly daisy scented olive branch, "Godspeed, my friend."

Bewildered and worried by his CO's demented ravings about hearts and tracheas, the diplomat took her meandering speech as a dismissal and nodded in response. He then turned and headed for the exit, weaving his way past a pair of visitors. The door swished open without a sound, and a moment later he was out in the snow once more, tapping his badge for a beam-up.

What he didn't see was said CO watching him beat his hasty retreat with a quirked brow and the shake of her head. For a fellow human, the man seemed to lack a greater base of understanding - that or she'd thoroughly insulted him with her display of irritation and bumble-footed attempt at an apology and humor. Either way, it would come out in the wash at some point.

=^= End of Log =^=

Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX78213-F

&
Lieutenant Commander John Smith
Chief Diplomat
USS Vindicator

 

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