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Captain Diego Herrera, "The Address"

Sedrin Belasi

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((Assembly Chamber, Prak Zel))
::Following Minister Haksar into the lion's den, Diego caught himself tapping his PADD against his leg and quickly flipped it through his fingers to look at the display. He had left himself bullet points to guide his speech along with the necessary logs and records from his various sources. As he was shown to the lectern in the centre of the room, he was pleased to see an LCARS interface, which was going to make the technical side of the affair relatively easy, at least.::
::Many of the seats around the chamber had now been filled, and those that weren't were about to be, it seemed. Zakdorn were filing in through doors on the upper level. The atmosphere was entirely different now to how it had been during their previous visit. Granted, there had been tension between Haksar and Wadke but this was more electric. Anticipation from both sides laced the atmosphere; this felt comparable to the feeling that Diego often experienced at the beginning of a Parrises Squares match, with two sides staring each other down, each trying to anticipate the other's tactics and plan accordingly.::
::Tapping at the lectern controls, Diego transferred the files from his PADD to the device, ready to start his presentation. Instantly, the viewscreen switched to a split field, with the Federation logo on the left and the Zakdorn emblem on the right. Diego turned towards Haksar, who was still positioned nearby.::
Herrera: Everything's set, unless you can think of anything else?
Haksar: I have full confidence in you Captain, and you too Ensign. ::Smiling:: Just be true to your convictions and you will be fine.
Herrera: Alright. ::He clapped a hand on the Minister's shoulder in thanks.:: You've been a big help.
Haksar: Not at all. Thank you Captain! And it's been a pleasure working with you madam.

Androsia: Yes Minister, as always you have remained a true delight and a refreshing presence here on Prak Zel. Whatever success shall be had here today, I know you have played a key role in it. Thank You again.
::The Minister left to assume his position in the Assembly Chamber. Diego looked around the room for a moment; a sea of faces looked down on his position with great interest and comments were already being passed between members, all lost in the sea of general conversation. There was a seat placed alongside him on which Ensign Androsia could sit during the address and as she was about to settle, Diego took one final opportunity to ease his nerves.::
Herrera: You'd better be ready for questions.
Androsia: My dear Captain, THEY had better be ready for some answers. Do not fear, you will do just fine, of this I have no doubts.
Herrera: ::Smiling:: I'm not worried. If the Minister's appetite is anything to go by, we'll be done in time for lunch.
Androsia: Very true, though too I fear it is the Zakdorn and Klingon appetite’s alike that have caused this issue in the first place. But nonetheless, you must focus.
::A pre-recorded chime rang throughout the building, followed by an announcement that the assembly was in session. Diego listened as his name was announced, as was Androsia's, alongside the matter for discussion. The massed Ministers fell silent one by one and Diego left them that way for a moment before launching into his address, tapping at the lectern controls to bring up his first visual rendition of a sensor log.::
::On the wall, the Klingon moon Praxis exploded.::
Herrera: 2293. The Klingon empire experiences a disaster that throws their home planet into turmoil. This was the trigger for one of the most important events in the history of the Federation: the signing of the Khitomer accords. Since that day, we have been allied with the Klingons, for better or for worse, for almost a century. We have traded with each other. Explored each other's culture. Protected each other. ::He paused just long enough to let that sentence hang in the air.:: There have been times when we have stood together to face unrelenting enemies. We stared into the eyes of the Dominion and we did not blink. Even after General Martok was replaced by a changeling and our two powers stood on the brink of war, we were able to patch things up and put our differences behind us.
::The viewscreen changed to a display of the Klingon incursion into the Trinity sector, depicted as a tactical map.::
Herrera: Recently, something changed. The Klingons' thirst for war reawakened. After the Hobus supernova, they were given the opportunity to exact what they would consider to be revenge against a long standing enemy. The Federation objected. The Romulans are in no position to threaten us on any major scale, after all. Their homeworld and their fleets are in disarray and it will be decades before they can rebuild. Even then, they would need our help and support and in that time we have an opportunity to forge peaceful relations with the Star Empire. It's happened before, briefly, on a range of different occasions. Unfortunately, that doesn't appeal to the Klingon psyche.
::Knowing the next part of his speech well enough that he did not need to look at his notes, Diego wandered out from behind the lectern, leaning back against it and folding his arms.::
Herrera: If we go back to Praxis for a moment... that was the start of quite a different journey. You see, the Klingons made peace with the Federation because they needed us. Their technology was not as advanced as our own. They had concentrated for too long on making weapons, ships and cloaking devices, but without resources to power them, they were dead in the water. We supported them as they asked. We took the initiative in forging peace with their worlds. Without our help, who knows whether they would have survived the explosion of Praxis and maybe the Romulans would have had a chance to finish them off? Sure, the Klingons fought alongside us during the Dominion War, but who was first onto Cardassia Prime? It was Starfleet who sent support to the Cardassian Resistance and that led to the Founder Leader being taken hostage. Who fought against the Scarlet Brotherhood when they threatened to take control of Deep Space Nine and the wormhole? Who was it who came out on top when we last locked horns? Without wanting to cause any offence, the Klingon invasion forces did not even push us into a position where a drawn out conflict ensued and that meant that we did not even reach a stage where the superior tactical minds of the Zakdorn were called into play. Wouldn't it be infuriating to engage in fight after fight alongside an ally that wasn't patient enough to listen to you? That has consistenly depended on the Federation for aid? That has lost out to us so many times when we have fought? ::Turning around, he changed the screen to a map of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants:: If our methods are so weak, why is our territory larger than the Klingons'?
::Returning to his original position, he showed footage of the first fleet engaging a Borg Cube at Earth.::
Herrera: Maybe the Klingons did employ tactics in certain situations. Where were they when the Borg attempted an invasion of Earth? Where were they at Wolf 359? Perhaps their long-term goal in that regard was to let Starfleet get wiped out while they turned a blind eye?
::Without warning, he cut the video feed altogether.::
Herrera: Or, maybe they didn't. Maybe there isn't going to be a war. Maybe we're looking at a rogue faction of Klingons that has very little support on the High Council. Think what would happen then if Zakdorn IV were to withdraw from Federation membership and join the Klingon Empire. Would you still enjoy the same privileges you do with us? There's a common misconception throughout the Federation sometimes that the founding races receive preferential treatment. I can't argue with the fact that there are still more humans in Starfleet than any other race, but we're talking non-military benefits as well here. The Zakdorn, by virtue of being members of the Federation, have access to some of the greatest scientific minds in the galaxy. There are opportunities to interact with other species and benefit from their unique talents. Vulcan logic. Human resourcefulness. Bajoran spiritualism. Trill experience. Bolian enterprise. By replacing that all with the Klingons' prowess in battle, your world would lose more than it would gain. And while the Klingon High Council might be grateful, where are the guarantees that they will look after your non-military interests in the same way as the Federation?
::He looked around the room, trying to make eye contact with as many people as possible in quick succession. When next he spoke, he had dropped his voice to a near whisper.::
Herrera: Will you sacrifice culture, science and risk your race's identity over the half-truths the pro-Klingon movement offers you? Or will you see this for what it truly is: an ill-planned attempt to switch reason for armament? I'd like you all to think about that carefully for a moment before I open the floor for questions.
::Conversation bloomed once more around the room as Ministers considered what had been said. Diego looked to his diplomatic officer for her reaction.::
Androsia: Captain...if they don’t see the logic and reason and truth and passion from what you’ve said...I don’t think they are deserving to be in the Federation from this point on.
Herrera: That should provoke a few interesting questions, I hope.
Androsia: Oh no doubt about that. Nows time that we hear a few challenging roars. But don’t worry, I am with you in this and you did as admirably if not more so as could ever be asked of a true StarFleet Captain.
::Another chime brought the Ministers slowly to silence. The grilling was about to begin.::
Captain Diego Herrera
Commanding Officer
USS Vigilant
Edited by Diego Herrera
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