((CO’s Ready Room – USS Narendra))
Sometimes Sal Taybrim could have quite the air of mystery about him. Did he enjoy such puzzles? Yes. He liked puzzles and even surprises. Maybe he liked the reactions they got – usually positive reactions. Maybe he felt that life needed little punctuations of mystery and surprise to keep it interesting. Or maybe it was just that over-active empathy trying to set up the perfect scenario.
Whichever it was, he was slowly bringing out more and more information into the light and letting her digest it as she went.
Taybrim: Of course there’s a twist. The Romulans requested to speak with certain officers who have been involved in fighting against the Cult of Molor to hear directly from them. People the Romulans feel they can trust. In our case that’s one specific person we all know – Nijil.
Certainly this was a big ask, even a big change. But he hadn’t yet impressed how long this mission would take and how long it would draw their first officer away from them. He was getting to that.
DeVeau: The commander?
Sal nodded gently, continuing to explain.
Taybrim: Nijil is Rekarian – that’s a Romulan offshoot race. He may not talk about it but he knows more about Romulan culture than most anyone else on the station and the Romulans seem him as one of their own to a point. I can see why they specifically want the report from him.
She knew much about his species and the cultural and diplomatic implications about it as well as the purely biological ones. So far everything was following in a logical pattern leaving that one question – why bring her to the ready room of the Narendra.
Well, for a plan that Sal was about to reveal, of course.
DeVeau: Yes. That makes sense.
Taybrim: So Starfleet has put in a request for him to lead the diplomatic mission and he has accepted.
There was the backstory neatly laid out. Nijil readily accepted in his gruff way. It was a perfect opportunity for him to stretch his experience and directly benefit his own people as well as his Starfleet extended family. And the Romulans – and any innocent Klingons. It was a good mission all around.
DeVeau: There’s more to this than telling me about Nijil’s report to the Romulan Senate.
Ah, there was the question. He smiled gently, pleased that she was catching on. This was part and parcel of working with him closely, to pick up on what he was laying down without him having to come out and say it – that was instrumental in diplomacy and often in their missions. Too many missions had communications monitored by an adversary and needed subversive communication between two people that understood each other well. This was a tiny test drive on a relationship to be built over time and strengthened through action.
Taybrim: There is. This mission in intensive and secretive. It will take Nijil away from the StarBase and put him in a full communications blackout to protect both the mission and the envoy from the Cult of Molor.
DeVeau: I see. How long will he have to be gone?
Taybrim: Starfleet estimates two months, but if I know their estimates it could easily be twice that. Part of this is the careful travel through Romulan space and another part is the intensive negotiations. Long story short, Nijil will need to step back from being the first officer of Ops while he tends to this important mission.
Now his dark eyes fell upon her, asking without putting words to the question yet. Now things came full circle. Only one person was sitting in this room with him – Alora DeVeau.
DeVeau: What do you wish of me, Captain?
Taybrim: I am formally asking if you would feel comfortable stepping up as the First officer of StarBase 118.
There was the question. Gentle and yet weighty.
Taybrim: I know you have not been on this manifest as long as others, but you have been serving in Starfleet for longer than I. And I recognize the value in experience across many different regions. You have a talent for working well with others and approaching problems from many angles. All are good qualities for a leader.
He spoke with confidence, picking out elements that made her both a good chief science officer and a good leadership officer.
Now he smiled, gently and stood, offering her a hand up.
Taybrim: Well, there is another reason we are on the Narendra. We are going for a shakedown cruise into Federation territory, to the middle of nowhere and test this fresh crew. We’re also meeting with an old friend and bringing a new crewmember onboard. Certainly something that I forgot to log on the records, but Starfleet will forgive me because Intel gave permission.
His dark eyes now twinkled merrily. He liked it when all the pieces of a puzzle fit together.
Taybrim: We’re picking up a Military Intelligence office, someone who I count as a dear friend. The rendezvous is uncharted and unlogged because Starfleet Intel works in mysterious ways. But rest assured it is well within Federation territory, just off the beaten path. Just a simple shakedown cruise, complete with a mysterious passenger pickup.
Now he was well and fully enjoying himself, that much was clear. It was almost infectious. The idea of playing spy while going on what was very much a routine mission has an air of enticement.
Taybrim: I’m offering you the chance to sit in the center chair on this quiet little shakedown mission. It’s a good way to get your feet wet. ::he grinned.::
Fleet Captain Sal Taybrim
StarBase 118 Ops