Starbase 72 - Minos Korva System
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A Matter of Appearances

Posted on Sun Feb 10th, 2019 @ 8:10pm by Admiral Zachary O'Connell

Mission: Task Force Operations
Location: Starfleet Academy: Bajor Campus
Timeline: Prior to Bajor's Special Election

The timing was certainly unique concerning Admiral O'Connell's surprise inspection of Starfleet Academy's Bajor Campus. Not only were classes still well underway during what appeared to be a treacherous political climate, but there was also the matter of the political elections the following day. Over the last twenty years, the Federation had seen much from Bajor, from the end of the Cardassian Occupation, to the wrestling in the early provisional government, including The Circle's ill-fated power play. Then it was on to a non-aggression pact with the Dominion during the war and finally their admittance into the Federation.

Until that moment, Earth, Tellar, Vulcan, Andoria were always considered to be the most valuable and crucial worlds in the Federation as they were the founders. Other worlds had their notability and claims to fame, but none had the ability to challenge the core worlds for importance like Bajor. The wormhole was not just a gateway to an area of space tens of thousands of lightyears away, but it had made such a mark on the political landscape. Though the Federation now controlled it, the wormhole's fate would always be in Bajor's hands.

The Federation deliberately would not interfere in the elections of any world, especially one of its members. But, it had every right to be concerned of its security. This was why Admiral Zachary O'Connell had set foot on Bajor. Officially, he would be inspecting the Academy Campus. Unofficially, he was on tap to keep an eye on the election and whatever fallout might come should one of the xenophobic parties rise to power.

But that was not his concern for the moment. Finding Captain Kennedy Harper was.

Kennedy was aware of Admiral O'Connell's visit to Bajor, as well as his inspection of Starfleet's newest academy, though, the Captain didn't know exactly when he'd be arriving. Was she nervous about his visit? Absolutely. Would she show it? Absolutely not. After all, there was nothing for her to hide, but there were still things that she needed to oversee. And that was why she was standing in the center if campus talking to Morales, the grounds keeper, about some changes she wanted to make in the next coming weeks. "I trust you and your team will be able to get this done for me. Time isn't an issue as long as it does not disrupt classes."

Morales nodded his head, taking notes as Captain Harper spoke. "Yes, ma'am."

"Thank you, Morales. I'll let you brief your team. In the meantime, I have a ton of work to do," she said, offering him a smile before she turned and began walking toward the administration building.

Admiral O'Connell had just been deposited in the administration building just a few moments before. As was customary, a small security contingent had been assembled, composed up an enlisted sergeant and a small handful of cadets. Zachary grinned as he stepped off the transporter pad, remembering that it wasn't that long ago he'd been so young and naive.

Once inside, Captain Harper spotted their guest almost immediately. She offered him a smile and clasped her hands behind her back as she approached. "Admiral O'Connell," Kennedy said, offering him a nod of respect. "I trust your trip was a good one?"

"Uneventful," he confirmed as his Yeoman, Petty Officer Tanika, stepped in line beside them. "I trust you remember my aide, Miss Tanika," he indicated. Zachary had come to rely on the yeoman's talents during the Consortium Crisis in the Gamma Quadrant as her Betazoid giftings enabled her to detect unstable minds in their vicinity. After the Freedom's Legion revealed themselves, Zachary made it a point to keep her close during his travels.

"Uneventful is good," she stated before turning her attention to his Yeoman. "I do remember her. It's nice to see you both again. Can I get any of you anything before we begin?"

Zachary shook his head, but it was Tanika who spoke up. "Admiral, Captain. I received word just before we beamed down that Governor Eniara is on site."

The Admiral turned to look at the Petty Officer in surprise, then looked back to the Captain. "Did you know about this, Captain Harper?"

"No, Sir," the Captain replied with a look of surprise of her own. "I had no idea the campus would have another visitor today."

He nodded. "We probably shouldn't keep her waiting," he stated. "I can always perform the inspection later. I'm sure your cadets could afford to learn some patience."

"Absolutely. This way," Kennedy stated, gesturing with her hand before moving in that direction. It certainly seemed the campus was seeing its share of officials, and it was unlikely this would be the last time.

* * *

To say that the last few weeks had been busy for Governor Eniara of New Bajor was an understatement. Since being announced as Asarem's successor as leader of the Federation-friendly Federalist Party, Pol had not had time for anything that wasn't campaign related. She had set a mandate for her new party, and a simple one at that - outright majority and outright victory. Okay, it was probably easier said than done which was why she had spent weeks travelling the planet, attending events, delivering speeches and rallying people to her parties cause. Tomorrow would be the culmination of it all - the people of Bajor would go to the polls and elect their new leader. If that happened to be her, she was ready (not that she would have believed that just twenty-nine days earlier), but there was one last thing she could do to try and sway some last minute voters - reaffirm the relationship with the Federation and show people just how strong that relationship was. Screw Betazed. Sod Trill. Who cares about Denobula anymore? No, Bajor had become THE prime piece of real estate for the Federation in the last decade and the auburn haired beauty was determined to prove her people's continued importance - not just to the Federation, but the entire galaxy.

That all started today, now even, with her final visit of election season. No, it wasn't to a political hotzone where her party stared down the barrell of defeat, nor was it in a relative safe zone where she could rally without fear of losing the faith of those around her. Instead, her final visit of the season had brought her to the home of Starfleet's trainees on the planet. The chance to mingle with the younglings as they underwent their training was one she could not pass up. She had the chance to impart not only her knowledge but also her experience. They lived on her world. They trained with her people. She would make sure they all knew about her planet's significance on the galactic stage and how important it was for Bajor and the Federation to have an almost symbiotic relationship going forward. That was why she was stood with her senior aide, waiting patiently in a side room for someone to collect her.

The door opened at last, revealing a Benzite Petty Officer. "Governor Eniara?" she asked. "Admiral O'Connell and Captain Harper will be here shortly. Please come with me."

"Sanara," Eniara smiled as she placed a hand on her senior aides shoulder, "why don't you chill here for a bit while I take care of the pleasantries?" the Governor of New Bajor smiled as her aide nodded in acknowledgement. "Okay Mister Starfleet, lead the way!" she smiled before cheerily falling in to step behind the Petty Officer.

The Benzite led the way into the grand hall. Several members of the state and Federation media had already gathered, snapping whatever imagery they could while other reporters lunged in to grab a statement or two. Other Starfleet cadets and officers had gathered, unable to resist the opportunity to see a Bajoran official in person.

On the opposite side of the Hall, near one the larger and more elegant meeting rooms, stood Admiral O'Connell and Captain Harper. "Governor," the Admiral greeted as the Benzite and Eniara approached.

Kennedy watched as their new guests arrived. "Governor," she said in greeting with a nod of respect. Would she ever get used to speaking to such officials? Not likely, but she'd still keep her head about her.

"Admiral O'Connell; Captain Harper," the auburn haired woman grinned as she stood closer to the two Starfleet officers. "It is a pleasure to meet you both at last! I hope you don't mind me dropping by, but we need to talk," she told, turning briefly to smile and wave at the members of the media looking their way.

"Of course," the Admiral replied. In a way, he wished the local government had at least reached out to the Academy so that they could be better prepared. But, here they were and there was no reason to block the Governor now. "Captain, do you have somewhere appropriate?"

"My office," the Captain suggested. It was, after all, one of a handful of the more secure areas on campus.

"Lead the way, Captain," the Admiral said with a gesture. Then, to the Governor, he asked, "Is this your first visit to the Academy Campus, Governor Eniara?"

Kennedy gestured for them to follow her, opting to stay quiet while the two talked behind her. She was thankful they didn't need to leave the building, but would need to go up a floor as her office was in prime position to overlook the campus. Nerves started to set in for the Captain. She could handle being around Admiral O'Connell alone, and was sure she could handle being alone with the Governor, but having the two of them together was quite intimidating. Her only hope was that it didn't show.

"It is, yes," Eniara smiled as she walked alongside the Admiral and took in the sights around them as they followed the Captain. "It is a very beautiful complex you have here, Captain. I'm glad the government was able to make this dream a reality. Just another way for Bajor to repay the faith that the Federation has shown us," she remarked sincerely.

The Admiral himself was a man of faith, though he was rarely vocal and forward about it. Therefore, he was able to appreciate the use of the word by the Bajoran. "It is incredible the destiny and purpose each life has, from the workers in the fields to the minds of tomorrow. Many people are aware of their purpose all their lives and others must be subjected to the utmost of pressures in order to find it."

"I couldn't agree more Admiral," Eniara smiled. "If you had asked me seven years ago if I thought I would be returning to Bajor to run for election, I'd have laughed in your face. It's amazing how things change. You think you have your whole life planned out and one day, everything changes," she shook her head slowly with that weary smile of hers. It was so strange to think about how much things had changed in recent weeks. She'd been happy on New Bajor, but who was she to reject the call of the Prophets?

"Thank you. It's definitely an honor to be in my present position," Kennedy said as they came to her office. She nodded to her Yeoman and punched in her access code, then gestured for the two of them to go inside. "After you."

Governor Eniara took a few steps inside the office and looked around with a slight smile. It was much more functional and simplistic in design and nature than that of the Shakaar Suite in the Great Assemby Hall that she had called home for the last few weeks.

Admiral O'Connell was the last to enter, having relayed instructions to his aide to ensure that they were not disturbed. "What can we do for you, Governor?" he asked, taking a moment to look around Harper's office.

"Can I get either of you anything?" Kennedy asked. "And, please, make yourselves comfortable."

"Some ice cold water would be lovely Captain, thank you," the Bajoran smiled as she took a seat and made herself comfortable as suggested. "I came to discuss some recent developments that you need to be aware of," she told.

If there were two words Zachary ever feared, it was recent developments. Paired together, they were the most ominous and damning combination that any language ever produced. He ceased his visual inspection of the office and found a seat near the Governor. "If you didn't have our attention already, Governor, you certainly have it now."

"Firstly, my office have been monitoring all of the regular opinion polls and predictions ahead of the election tomorrow. I'm sorry to say, but even the most reliable sources are showing a forty-two seat majority for the Social Constructionists," the Governor told with a frown. "It looks like there is going to be a pretty seismic shift when it comes to the makeup of the government tomorrow."

Captain Harper returned with two glasses of ice cold water, handing one to the Governor, and placing the other on a table near Zachary before she settled down.

"I must admit," the Admiral said as he nodded to the Captain, "that I'm not entirely up to speed on Bajoran politics or parties. Can you elaborate?"

"I hate to say I'm in the same position as Admiral O'Connell, though given my position as Commandant of Starfleet Academy Bajor, that's going to change," Kennedy stated. After all, keeping up with such things was her responsibility, and she planned to see to it that she was up to speed in the future.

"Right now, every party in the Chamber is advocating for amendments to Bajor's relationship with the Federation, or in some more extreme cases, revoking the membership treaty entirely," Eniara told with a concerned look on her face and a slight rub of her nose ridges, "everyone except my Federalist Party which is fighting to maintain the status quo. If the Constructionists win, Minister Orpad has made it quite clear in recent debates and at his rally in Ilvia that he will seek to radically alter the terms of the treaty or even hold a referendum on the treaty altogether." The Governor of New Bajor took a sip of the water given to her before continuing. "The Breloc Tejar affair has seriously damaged relations between Bajor and the Federation in the eyes of the Chamber of Ministers and even the general population. If my party does not hold a leading role in the government following the election tomorrow, I fear that the further decline of relations will be swift," she concluded.

Zachary frowned. The trial the Governor referred to related to a very public and very ugly war crimes tribunal of a Cardassian national who had voluntarily returned to Bajor. The very event divided Bajor down to its core, leading the Federation to step in and move the tribunal to the Trill homeworld. Public reprisal had eventually forced the First Minister's resignation and prompted this special election.

Admiral O'Connell, like most in the Federation, was hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst in this situation. Bajor hadn't been a Federation member for long, yet this situation so early in the planet's membership made him wonder if Bajor's entry into the Federation had been rushed. "That certainly is quite the predicament. Obviously, the Federation would like to avoid anything that would damage our existing relationship, especially since we were among the first to recognize Bajoran sovereignty after the Occupation and Captain Sisko's involvement in keeping Bajor neutral during the Dominion War."

"And we're working to that end," Eniara told, "but it would be remiss of me not to warn you of the very real possibility that this could all go very wrong, very quickly."

"Certainly," the Admiral replied, biting back a sigh of resignation. What was supposed to be a simple trip now seemed to be turning sour. "Well, no matter what happens, we all should double our efforts to assure Bajor that not only are they important, but that the Federation very much values its relationship with the Bajorans."

"I have to say Admiral, that's good to hear," the Governor told with a sigh of relief. "When Councillor Goram returned from the Federation Council, he was less than thrilled about their blasé attitude to Bajor's possible withdrawal. From what he says, it sounded like they didn't really care and were more bothered about saving face than working to keep the membership treaty in place," she revealed, looking between the two officers, quite happy to share the findings with both of them since she was not a member of the fleet or even the Council.

Zachary maintained his frown. He had no love for politicians, especially since those politicians had kept his hands tied with the growing threat with the Alrakis Pact in the Inconnu Expanse. "With all due respect, Governor, I have a disdain for politics, especially for the inaction that is often associated with governments. As the Commanding Officer for Task Force 72, part of my job is to ensure the safety of the Federation. For me, Bajor is included in that mandate. I'll go as far as I am legally able."

Eniara smiled at the leader of Starfleet's Task Force 72. It was refreshing to hear of someone in their leadership caring about Bajor's future. "I'm delighted to hear that Admiral. Perhaps, then, you can shed some light on a matter for me?" she asked.

"The best I can do is try," Zachary informed the Governor. While his own position was high enough in Starfleet's structure, there were still matters to which he was not privy to.

"I'm not privy to everything in my government but there are some things that I have been granted access to," at this point she produced a Bajoran PADD from the pocket of her pant suit. "Bajoran Intelligence has apparently gathered data about a group who has been distributing anti-Federation and anti-government propaganda."

Zachary accepted the padd and took a quick look at the information. There didn't appear to be any sort of names attached to the intelligence, but the Admiral already had a feeling as to what this was about. "It sounds like," he said, looking at Captain Harper, "Freedom's Legion has found Bajor."

"So it seems," Kennedy said with a frown. It was really only a matter of time before it happened. She really hoped they wouldn't find their way onto campus, but that line of thinking just wasn't realistic. "The question is, what can we do about it?"

"Sorry, what?" Eniara quizzed, putting a hand up to stop the two Starfleet officers. "What is Freedom's Legion?"

"Homegrown terrorist group," Zachary answered rather succinctly. "They emerged just a few days ago and interrupted a dinner for project benefactors. Since then, Starfleet's been trying to track down other cells or individuals, but we hadn't had much to go on. This," he held up the PADD he was given, "is the most information I've ever seen, but it's still not much to work with. Best we can do is let some demonstrations organize so we can find some persons of interest."

"If they have found Bajor, that would definitely put the academy on their radar," the Captain said with a frown. But, as the Admiral pointed out, they had to allow things to happen just to get anywhere.

"Hang on," Eniara threw her hands up in protest, "you want us to run the risk of these terrorists actually organising things on Bajor?"

"Unless there's a name in here," Zachary said, waving the padd, or any sort of forensic evidence to work with, then this is practically a dead end. Terrorists will organize wherever they see fit, but we don't have enough to build proper profiles in order to start singling everyone out. Otherwise, you run the risk of profiling every Bajoran who votes for seceding from the Federation."

"I can't believe it has come to this," she frowned, shaking her head. "Do the general populace of other Federation worlds know about this... Freedom's Legion?" she queried, hoping that his answer would be one she wanted.

"FNS broke the story just a few days ago. We didn't know about it then either," Zachary explained. "We're all still trying to catch up to this."

"Well, I can't guarantee anything yet, but should I get elected, you'll have an ally in government Admiral. If we can assist at all, please let us know," the Governor told, still looking a little uncomfortable at the talk of this new threat but determined to help her colleagues from the Federation. "In the meantime, we'll proceed as you suggest."

"Thank you, Governor," Zachary said with a nod. "And don't think we're just going to be silent on the sidelines. Where possible, Starfleet will beef up security and will be ready to shut these organizations down. I've dealt with insurrections before. I don't like to be held at bay or hostage."

"That makes two of us," the Captain stated. "If anything happens here on campus, I'll make sure you both know about it."

Governor Eniara rose to her feet and again offered her hand to the Admiral in friendship. "I look forward to a long and healthy relationship between Bajor and the Federation. I hope to see more of you both in the coming weeks," she smiled sweetly.

Zachary rose to his feet as well to accept the proffered hand. "As do I, Governor. If time permits, perhaps we can interest you in a tour of the Academy?"

Kennedy smiled. "It would be my pleasure to show you around," she said. "In fact, I think there are some areas that Admiral O'Connell still hasn't seen yet."

"I'd love to," Eniara grinned, nodding to both respectfully for the invitation.

"Lead the way, Captain," Zachary gestured towards the door and stepping aside as to allow both women to exit before him.


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