<Office of the President of the United Federation of Planets. Secondary Residence, Vulcan. Present Day>
“I'm sorry? You're going to do what?” The question came from Miranda Bennett, the current Chairman Pro-Tem for the Federation Council, and representative from Sherman's Planet. She acted as the voice and spokesman of the Council and was often included in cabinet level meetings, strictly out of courtesy rather than statute. At least, until now.
Across a deep cherry wood desk, which dated back to the time of Revolutionary France, (indeed, it was one of the few pieces that was recovered from the President's office after The Stand) Vladimir Kostya leaned back, steepling his fingers. “You must understand, Miss Bennett…”
The distinguished woman bristled. “Council Member.” She corrected with ice-cold clarity.
Kostya chuckled. “Of course, forgive me,” he offered. Then he went on. “I'm a military man, and the first thing I learned in Starfleet was to follow regulations. I've reviewed the rules of this office and your presence in my cabinet meetings is no longer required.”
Like many other members of the UFP Council, the elected representatives of the Federation, she'd heard rumors that Kostya would attempt to cut the legislature out of what had been a remarkably cooperative process, but up until a few seconds ago, she hadn't believed it. Years of political experience came into play as she fought to keep her face a mask of calm. “Mister President, I must protest.” She said firmly. “The Council Chair has ALWAYS been included on policy discussions to better…”
Kostya raised a hand and leveled his sparkling blue eyes at a woman he was seeing less and less need for. “The Chair's presence was a matter of professional courtesy. Like everything else to do with my office, it happens or DOESN'T happen at the pleasure of the President. Frankly, I do not see the need for you, or anyone else on the Council, to have advance knowledge of policy initiatives you would be fully advised of in due time. It's just a pointless tradition.”
“You do understand how this will look.” She cautioned the President. “You'll be seen as cutting the Council out of the decision process!”
Kostya shook his head. “Oh, don't be dramatic,” he shot back with just a touch of venom. “There will be no change what so ever to the ratification process. The Council's role remains unchanged.”
“Does it?” Bennett responded coldly.
Kostya simply nodded. “Thank you for your time, Council Member Bennett.” The President then looked past his guest, giving a nod to the Starfleet Lieutenant who'd been assigned to his personal protection detail.
With military precision, the Lieutenant opened the office door, and then stepped toward the still seated Council Chair. “If you'll follow me, Council Member?” The young officer offered his arm, though it wasn't necessary.
Bennett rose from the seat giving Kostya a curt nod. “I know the way out,” and she headed to the hall.
Once Bennett was gone, and the Lieutenant had followed, Kostya allowed himself to smile. “One down, about a thousand to go.”
A few moments later, Oliver Rymer, now Kostya's Chief of Staff entered the richly appointed office. “You're still in one piece,” Rymer observed. “She must be losing her touch.” The seasoned political advisor sat down.
“Nothing I couldn't handle.” Kostya fairly beamed with self-satisfaction.
“Good to see your confidence isn't suffering any.” Rymer observed. “Still, there is a little damage control to do.”
Kostya tilted his head. “Oh?”
Oliver nodded. “There are still rumblings on the news nets about a `lack of diversity' in the cabinet.”
“Pfft” Kostya waved dismissively. “Screw those people! I'm allowed to appoint anyone I damned well want to.”
“And I don't disagree, Chris, not in principle, but you do have to be careful of perceptions. Remember what happened during the Maxwell hearings.”
Kostya brought his fist down with a solid “thud” on the desk. “He was railroaded, and YOU know it! Hell, you TOLD me it was going to happen!”
Kostya's remark was in reference to a misstep in the earliest days of his administration. Riding a wave of surging popularity after The Stand, it seemed that the Federation Council wouldn't dare deny the man who would save the Federation ANYTHING. With that in mind, Kostya had, against is Chief of Staff's recommendation, nominated Ben Maxwell to be Special Advisor for New Member Petitions.
By all accounts this relatively low-level position was one that Maxwell was well qualified for, except for the fact that the former Captain had been run out of Starfleet for nearly causing a war between the Cardassian Union and the UFP. Of course, in the long run, Maxwell had been proven right. However, he was also a convicted felon, and despite Jack Warner's best efforts, his position in a “law and order cabinet” was an idea that Kostya couldn't sell to the general public.
“All the reason you should listen to me now.” Oliver explained. “You need more non-humans in the cabinet.”
“And I suppose you have a few ideas?”
Rymer nodded. “A few. Don't worry. We've looked carefully at all of them, and they'll fit with the long-term plan.”
“Really?” Kostya's surprise was genuine. Though he'd never admit it out loud, he and most of the far-right “Neo-Crats” as they were called, blamed the vulnerability that the New Dawn had exploited on the Earth's over-complicated relationships with alien, specifically NON-HUMAN governments.
This xeno-phobia was so well entrenched that it had been easy for Kostya to propose, and for many to accept, at least privately, that most aliens simply couldn't be trusted. To that end, it was an unspoken, but widely understood policy goal to minimize and eventually eliminate non-human participation in the affairs of the Earth specifically, and eventually, the UFP itself.
The barriers to success were enormous, but Kostya was nothing if not determined. “And just how did you manage to talk anyone into that?”
Rymer pulled a small data chip from his suit pocket, handing it to the President. “It was easier than you might think. There are plenty of beings in the galaxy who would prefer to stick to, shall we say…more familiar neighborhoods.”
After a few chirps from his console, Kostya was looking at the files of two proposed cabinet members. One, a distinguished-looking Vulcan, likely in his mid 90's, the other, a female Deltan with the most striking violet eyes Kostya had ever seen.
“You must be joking!” Kostya spat in disbelief. “You want me to put a DELTAN in my cabinet? That's ridiculous!”
“Hardly,” Rymer countered. “Malia is a fantastic judge of human behavior, she's incredibly poised in the spotlight, and…she's funny. In short, she's an ideal Press Secretary.”
“Press…” The President broke into a full-throated belly laugh. “No, absolutely not. Not in a million years! The press would eat her alive! Anything she said would immediately be suspect!”
Rymer shook his head. “We can spin it.” He commented. “No one thinks twice about having a Betazoid as a counselor or even a commercial negotiator simply BECAUSE of their empathic gifts. A Deltan should be no different.”
“Except that she'll make every man in the room forget his own NAME if she looks at them right.”
“EXACTLY” Oliver nodded. “It's the move everyone sees coming, so why would we do it? For anyone to even make the suggestion that she'd do something improper because of her biology actually works to our advantage.”
Kostya halted his protest for a moment, letting Rymer's point of view sink in. “Hrrmm.” He grumbled. “What about the Vulcan?”
“He was much simpler to convince. He sees our plans for Starfleet as a, and I'm quoting now…'logical and prudent extension of largely favorable conditions'.”
Kostya's eyes widened. “As easy as that?”
Rymer nodded. “For him at least, yes. I'd like to make the appointment announcements on Monday, unless you have anything else?”
Kostya shook his head somewhat dismissively. “Just the Marine thing, but Kaito say's it won't be a problem.”
`The Marine Thing' was part of what the Kostya administration called `The Vigilance Initiative'. The plan, simply put, was to formally militarize Starfleet and order that every ship be deployed with a minimum of one squad of armed Starfleet Marines.
This policy would mark another hard right shift in the day-to-day operations of Starfleet, which had long maintained that it was NOT a military organization, despite many of the trappings that illustrated the contrary. To Kostya's way of thinking however, this would simply codify what was already operationally true, and as such, wouldn't be much of a problem to sell, especially since the Starfleet CnC, Fakunakue Kaito, was a true believer in Kostya's long-term goals.
Again, Oliver Rymer nodded. “One step at a time, eh Chris?”
“For now,” Kostya agreed. “Get your Vulcan and that woman…”
“Right.” He grimaced. “Bring them in and I'll see what they've got.”
Rymer stood up, headed for the door. “Thank you, Mister President,” he said with a polite nod as he left Kostya alone in his office, where he could once again rest secure in the knowledge that he was the most powerful man in the galaxy, and no one would EVER take that away from him.
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