Oct 21 2010 9:30am
President Nanietta Bacco rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she asked her secretary of defense, “Is this as bad as Starfleet says it is, or are they overreacting?”
“I don’t think they’ve exaggerated the threat, Madam President,” said Raisa Shostakova, a short and squarely built human from a high-gravity homeworld. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be standing in your bedroom at three a.m., waking you from a sound sleep.”
“Don’t be silly, Raisa,” Bacco said. “I haven’t had a sound sleep since I was sworn in.” She stood and cinched the belt of her robe around her waist. Another visitor signal buzzed at her door. “Come in.”
The door slid open. Bacco’s chief of staff, Esperanza Piñiero, hurried inside, followed by the director of the Federation Security Agency, a lanky but dignified-looking Zakdorn man named Rujat Suwadi. Heavy dark circles ringed Piñiero’s brown eyes, but the white-haired Suwadi carried himself with a crisp, alert demeanor that did little to endear him to the Federation’s sleep-deprived head of state. “Sorry we’re late,” Piñiero said, sounding short of breath. She brushed a sweat-soaked lock of brown hair from her eyes and added, “The transporter network is all backed up because of the elevated security status.”
“I know,” Bacco said. “Raisa filled me in about the breach on Mars. Do we know for sure who hit us?”
Piñiero threw a look at Suwadi, who replied, “Not with absolute certainty, Madam President. However, the preponderance of evidence suggests a Romulan vessel facilitated the spy’s escape.”
Shostakova said, “I’ve ordered Starfleet to step up patrols along our border with the Romulan Star Empire. If they were involved—”
“Then that ship could be bound for any of a dozen nearby worlds aligned with the Typhon Pact,” Suwadi cut in.
Piñiero noticed a pointed look from Bacco and took the cue to ask Suwadi, “How likely is it that the Typhon Pact was involved in this?”
“Extremely probable,” Suwadi said with confidence. “They are the only power in local space with the resources and motivation to perpetrate such an act.”
“That we know of,” Shostakova added, apparently hedging her bets against the unknown. Her comment seemed to irritate Suwadi.
“Well, yes,” he said, rolling his eyes at her. “It wouldn’t be possible to speculate on the capabilities of entities we don’t even know of, would it?
In the interest of preventing an unproductive feud between the intelligence chief and the secretary of defense, Bacco interjected, “Actually, an unknown entity was involved in the breach. What species was the spy?”
Piñiero plucked a thin padd from her coat pocket and glanced at its screen. “Admiral Akaar says the spy called himself a ‘Dessev.’ Whatever the hell that is.” Narrowing her eyes at Suwadi, she added, “Have you ever heard of these people?”
Suwadi’s mouth wrinkled into a grimace. “No. To the best of my knowledge, there might not even be such a species. It is entirely likely that the infiltrator misrepresented himself entirely—from his given name to his world of origin.” He sighed. “Clearly, more stringent controls are required in our hiring process for civilian employees at high-security facilities.”
Bacco wondered if it would be impolitic to slap the Zakdorn in the back of the head. “Really? Are you sure?” She cast an intense glare at her chief of staff. “Esperanza, initiate full security reviews of all personnel at facilities that require clearances higher than level five—Starfleet and civilians.”
“Yes, Madam President.”
“Suwadi, I want to know what the hell you’re doing now that the barn is burning and the horses are gone. Are we looking for the stolen plans? Digging up background on the spy? Tell me you’re not just standing there looking smug.”
The intelligence chief shifted his weight awkwardly back and forth as he replied, “Well, I’ve been in contact with my opposite number at Starfleet Intelligence, and they appear to have taken the lead on researching the background of the spy known as Kazren. As far as tracking down the plans—”
“Let me guess,” Bacco interrupted. “Starfleet’s already moving on that, too?” She exhaled angrily and shook her head. “Once again, I am reminded of why we need the military. You can go, Mister Suwadi. I’ll call if I need you.” Suwadi stood and blinked a few times in surprise, his jaw moving up and down despite no words issuing from his mouth. Bacco added, “I said, you can go.”
Verbally lashed into retreat, Suwadi nodded at his president, backpedaled three steps, then turned and made a swift exit. As the door closed behind him, Bacco turned her focus toward Piñiero. “How do we spin this for the media?”