Fandom: Star Trek (2009)
Prompt: Diplomacy and attempting to bridge differences. Bonus points for working Nero in somehow.
Word Count: 2100
Author's Notes: Most of the events have no played out yet so I'm making educated guesses.
Summary: Sarek travels to meet with the Romulans and attempt to avoid the mistakes made in the Prime timeline.
"We'll be arriving within the hour, sir. If there's anything you require..." The young ensign trailed off. Whether he was uncomfortable in his dress uniform, so crisp and new that the fabric had not even settled in place, or because of the company in the room was unclear. However, rather then prolong the ensign's failed attempts to appear nonplussed, Sarek simply held up a hand in thanks and dismissal. The ensign disappeared quickly, turning on his heel and gone from view before the door had closed behind him.
Left alone in the room, Sarek was once again able to concentrate on his own thoughts. Outside, the endless night sky sped by as the diplomatic vessel hurtled towards its destination. The neutral planet of Agape had been a logical choice. Asking the Romulans to come to the table was difficult enough. Asking them to enter Federation space on the basis of a trust they did not have was simply impossible.
Sarek knew that all of this was wrong. His other-son, the one who had lived with a different version of him, in a different version of everything, had told him about the initial contact with the Romulans. It had not just been hostile but their attempts to infiltrate the Vulcan High Command had belied an inherent hatred of the Vulcans as a whole. In that other timeline, the Romulans had remained hidden and their plan had almost succeeded. But in this revision of history, they had been exposed well before any plans could be executed.
Still, the initial discussions in this timeline had gone poorly. True, they disavowed any knowledge of the Romulan mining ship that was wreaking chaos across the universe but anyone could hear the lust in their voice for that technology. Perhaps it had been lucky that the time traveler had not made contact with them, instead choosing to follow his own personal path. Had the ship fallen into Romulan hands, there's little doubt what they would have done.
Though Sarek supposed the same would be true of his other-son's vessel. While the scientist in him was inherently curious in what secrets the future ship could have held, the pragmatist knew that it was better to wait for it to evolve natural. The time traveler's arrival had already shown the ramifications of devices from a future time arriving in the past. It was not something he would dare risk repeating.
He stood from his seat at the conference table and walked to the open window, watching as the universe seemed to part in the ship's wake. There were no discernible features, just an endless sea of black marred by white streaks. And as he watched the scene he could not help but be reminded of her hair, of how streaks of silver had disrupted it as time moved on. But never marred it, simply worked to make her more beautiful as they aged together.
A lesser man would be hurt by these thoughts but for a Vulcan there was no room to settle in on sadness nor remorse, not even if it truly did stretch as far as the universe itself did. Instead, he pushed it to the side and concentrated once more at the task at hand. At the Romulans who awaited him at Agape, who expected nothing but treachery and deceit from the Federation, let alone the Vulcans.
It would have been easier to send a human. In some ways, they were closer to the Romulans then their blood-cousins. They too would expect double crossing any chance that the Romulans could. They would have sat at the table and stared at each other, each waiting for the other's betrayal, and nothing would have gotten done. So the decision was to send a Vulcan instead.
His other-son would not go, though. Despite age and experience, the human part of him was more visible to Sarek then it was in his younger, true-son. His other-son still blamed himself fot the destruction of the Romulan homeworld and that would have only conflicted in any attempt to negotiate.
And so, it fell to Sarek to go in his stead. True, his other-son had briefed him on what to expect and some of the history between the two cultures. That had not made the task easier, though. It had only made the importance of these meetings even more clear. The war in that other timeline was horrific, something to be avoided at all costs. Some of the Federation felt it was inevitable, that the course of the universe had already been written and that they were only making minor modifications as they played their parts.
Perhaps that was true, but it was not for Sarek to decide. All he could do was attempt to negotiate a way to avoid this in the future. That was all any diplomat could try to do.
The display on the table illuminated and a young woman appeared on the screen. "Sir, an incoming message from you from Agape."
Sarek looked down at the display. The communications officer appeared nervous as she spoke those words, meaning that the caller was more then likely Romulan. It was not unexpected. Most diplomacy did not occur at the table but well beforehand. Sarek took a seat in front of the display. "Put them through."
The officer paused and looked back from the screen. Likely, checking one more time with the captain before putting the call through.
The image of the woman was replaced with a near mirror image of Sarek himself. He was older, his faced belied years of experience though Sarek doubted much of that was with diplomacy. He stood proudly, shoulders back, and held himself up with grace and authority.
"Jolen Tru, Ambassador Sarek" the Romulan said evenly. "I called to see how your voyage was going."
"It goes well, Ambassador Korval," Sarek replied, his own voice steady. "And yours?"
"We arrived as schedule," Korval said.
To an outsider, the statement seemed to hold no other meaning then just that. But to any seasoned diplomat, it was a veiled attempt to assert supremacy. After all, by coming to the meeting place first, they had the upper hand, able to establish themselves and prepare for the meeting first. The talks had not even begun and the Romulans were playing agressive.
"I have been told we shall arrive momentarily," Sarek replied in turn, in a way granting that the Romulans had won that round.
"That is good to hear," Korval said. "I have an issue with the agenda for these talks."
Sarek did not react to this, perhaps another good reason to have sent a Vulcan. The agenda had been debated for months ahead of time. Each detail carefully thought out, each dinner planned to the seat, each photograph prearranged down to the position of each participant. A lesser man would have lost himself to frustration only to have it brought up now that the agenda was not acceptable. But Sarek simply nodded and waited for the other man to continue.
"While a majority of topics here will cover what is important to us, there is one glaring omission that we find unacceptable."
"And that is?"
"There is no mention of the destruction of Romulus."
Sarek leaned back only slightly. It was no surprise that they brought this up now. In fact, during the planning session, several ambassadors had wondered at its omission from the list of Romulan demands. But most had hypothesized, and rightly so it seemed, that the Romulans would spring it on them at the last minute in the hopes of disrupting any chance for holding the negotiations.
"And what would you like to cover," Sarek said.
"We need to know when and how it will occur. Otherwise, how can we negotiate anything without knowing what our future will be?"
Sarek nodded once. The Federation had guarded that secret fiercely. It was impressive that it had remained so given the Romulan's ability to covertly obtain most information they desired. To the Federation it was an important fall back, a way to keep the Romulans in line. So long as they alone knew how the fate of Romulus played out, they held each and every Romulan life in their hands as hostage.
The Vulcan High Council had disagreed with Sarek on this next point. Everyone in the Federation had as well. It was only when his other-son spoke on his behalf that they started to listen. And between the two of them, they had started to make the rest fall into line with the simple logic of their argument.
Sarek looked at the window, watching the black expanse laced with silver slow down and fade away as they approached the planet. How easy it must be for others to give in to these feelings of rage, of revenge. The Romulans had cost him his planet, his colleagues, his love. That primal part, the one that all Vulcans fought to suppress, would relish in watching the whole of Romulus burn. See each and every inhabitant suffer the way his people had.
"It will be the star you call Hobus," Sarek replied. "In the year 2387."
There was nothing from the Romulan on the other side but a blank stare of misunderstanding. Korval wanted to win. He wanted this information to come to him like all things come to the Romulan Empire, through force and superiority and power. But Sarek had known this would achieve nothing expect for a repeat of the same events that had destroyed the other timeline.
"You're lying," Korval said finally, his voice no longer holding the same strength it had earlier.
Sarek typed in a command on the keypad in front of him. "The information has been sent. They will be able to verify it shortly."
Korval said nothing once more. Instead, he watched his own screen until the confirmation came from Romulus. And then, he still cannot find the words to speak. This was unheard of, one does not simply give information of this caliber away for free. It must be won, it must be acquired through any means necessary but never, ever simply handed over.
Sarek watched his counterpart as he stared at the screen. He knows what the Romulans knows. They have lost this negotiation. They have assumed that the rest of the universe was like they were and have come against a foe that will not play by their rules. They no longer even know what the rules of the game are.
"We cannot negotiate," Sarek said, reiterating the man's own words, reiterating the logic he and his other-son presented to the Federation, "if your people are not clear of what their future is."
The Romulan looked up finally, their eyes meeting for a brief moment. In Korval's there was still confusion but in Sarek's there was understanding. There was knowledge of what it is to lose everything. And there was the desire not to have that repeated on anyone else, ever again.
Korval attempted another assault. "We also require the names of the crew of the Narada."
Sarek had not been expecting that. The reasons why escaped him. So he took a moment and thought of the Romulan called Nero, who traversed time itself to avenge the death of his family. He cannot agree with the man's actions but... he can almost understand his motives.
"We were unable to retrieve anything from the wreckage," Sarek said. "The man and his crew are unknown to us."
This may or may not be true. His other-son may know their names, may know many things about them. But Sarek was confident that even if he did, his answer would be the same. Perhaps the Romulans would want to make him a hero. Perhaps they would want to eradicate his line to prevent his birth. Either way, it would not give Nero what Sarek hopes to give the Romulan people as a whole. The chance to live a normal life, the chance to thrive free from the threat of war or destruction, the chance to avoid so many centuries of needless bloodshed.
"I see," Korval said.
"We have arrived," Sarek said, though their arrival has long since occurred. "I understand drinks will be served first."
Korval straightened slightly. "Of course. We have brought our best ale." It was a final attempt, a feeble one at that, to assert control.
"That will be most welcome," Sarek replied. They added a formal goodbye before the screen went blank. Sarek took a moment to stare at the empty monitor. In the background, Agape came into view. There was no guarantee that the Romulans would change, no guarantee that they wouldn't all play out the roles they have in the alternate timeline.
But Sarek cannot help but feel that the future is changing once more.