Elyos smelled the sweet potato fries at about the same time that he felt the approach of Whetu and her sense of general satisfaction. Since he was in the commissary, this wasn’t unexpected. At least her company was enjoyable. During the War, Klingons and Romulans had passed through the station for emergency repairs. Klingon aggression and Romulan overwrought emotion generally left him tired. His easygoing Deltan nature usually allowed him to soothe frayed nerves, and there certainly were a lot of those lately, but it drained him and cost him a great deal of his own personal calm. Of course, the commissary itself had the same translucent panels and smooth, softly-colored walls found all across Starfleet’s modern design. The aesthetic helped to evoke a high-tech sense of soothing placidity.
“Hey, big brains, what’re you working on today?” Whetu said as she slid uninvited into a seat across from him at the table. She placed her tray in front and leisurely continued her sweet potato snack.
Elyos was not especially fond of that nickname, but he figured that the best way to get past it was to move on. He tilted his hand and placed the PADD he’d been reading onto the table next to his own beverage. In his usual laconic tone he said, “Comparison specs for the dreadnought upgrades. Command’s a little worried about force parity and they want to make sure that we’re not going to lag behind in the postwar era.”
Whetu let a dissatisfied snort through her nose. “Really? The Hestia is hot off the gantries and they still want more?”
Elyos laced his fingers together and said, “They always want more, of course. The Federation’s been at war for some time now. Many of our senior officers were raised through the ranks on the back of that war. They’re used to seeing threats and enemies. Starfleet Command has made it clear that if another threat arrives, or if our alliance with the Republic and the Empire falls apart, we’re not caught behind the curve.”
Pointing with one of the sweet potato fries, Whetu said, “They’re not wrong. Anything could be next. Kelvans? We don’t know what happened to them after the Iconians moved to Andromeda. Metrons? They said they’d come back to check in on us. Excalbians? The whale probe that showed up in the late 23rd? All these species have really advanced powers and any of them could give us problems at any time. And that’s assuming that the Klingons don’t decide that now is the perfect time to bring the Federation to heel.”
Elyos turned the PADD around and pushed it toward Whetu. He said, “Take a look for yourself. Personally, I think that is why diplomacy is important. Diplomacy and persuasion are skills, and they can be honed and improved, just like technology. Diplomacy is a better technology for dealing with such supra-advanced entities.”
“In the meantime, though, tech parity at least keeps us from looking like prey to the Klingons. Diplomacy will let us be allies as long as our fleet doesn’t look like it’s ready to be rolled up and destroyed in a glorious battle,” Whetu said. With her free hand she scrolled through some of the PADD listings, checking the comparisons. After a few moments of highlights, she sighed in amazement and said, “This is a lot to take in. Dreadnought refits? Aren’t those ships already powerhouses? I’d think that it would be more effective to start with refits to the smaller vessels. Faster, less work, quicker to field.”
“Consider the politics,” said Elyos. “The Klingons have to save face. They suffered terrible losses during the war, just like we did, and they have to present themselves as victors who are ready to roam the quadrant once more with the biggest, most dangerous ships in space. The Romulans don’t want to be victims of Klingon aggression, so they’re making sure that they can keep pace. It’s like bringing someone an intimacy ring back home: you never want to be seen bringing a smaller, less impressive ring to your lover than the one that your neighbor brought to his partner. Otherwise you might give the wrong idea about not caring as much.”
“I’m… not sure I’m entirely comfortable thinking about starships like tokens of affection like that,” Whetu said, one unfinished fry halfway to her mouth. “This is more about who can wave the biggest stick.”
“You should’ve done more comparative cultural studies,” Elyos replied casually. “It’s not my fault that Deltan courting rituals are a weak topic for you. Admittedly, we are quite a bit more sophisticated on that subject than Humans.”
“We’re getting a little off-topic here,” Whetu said with a cough. “Look, we know that the Klingons and the Romulans are going for lots of systems improvements, making new command dreadnoughts to show off how their fleets are just fine and ready for anything, and please don’t look behind the curtain.”
“Meanwhile,” said Elyos, “We have our own orders: Update the Galaxy dreadnought and make sure we don’t fall behind. Hence this capability comparison.”
Whetu leaned back in her seat, still holding PADD in one hand and sweet potato fry in the other. “Isn’t that ship getting a little long in the tooth? I mean, the Andromeda-class is basically a huge overhaul for a Galaxy, as-is. And this is trying to extend that even further. Why not just improve the Odyssey?”
“My guess is that Command has special plans for the Odyssey,” said Elyos, but with a demurring motion he added, “not that a minor ensign such as myself would be in those kinds of meetings. As for the Galaxy dreadnought, well, the Admiralty has spoken, and being an admiral has certain privileges.”
“Hmm.” Whetu finished the fry in-hand and started concentrating more intently on the PADD. “So what’s your pie-in-the-sky?”
“I already have a short list on the PADD there,” said Elyos. He stood slightly and leaned over the table, tapping the screen to bring up his notes.
“Ah, right. Yamato-class dreadnought. Subsystem redundancies, sure, just staying on pace with the neighbors, tied into the weapons power systems. Command facilities – I guess if one of the Admirals wanted this ship, that makes sense, need a place to plant your flag. Significantly increased tactical capabilities. I guess for captains who like using kemocite weapons it’ll be serious. Replaced some of the engineering functionality with the new command arrays and general flag suite modules – kinda shooting for the moon?” Whetu said with a snort. “This is quite a laundry list of upgrades.”
Elyos sat back down and said, “Even straightened out the phaser lance array.”
Whetu chuckled and replied, “Of course. Priorities.” She passed the PADD back to Elyos. “So what are you going to say in your final report?”
Elyos thought for a moment, then said, “I hope that we continue the fine Starfleet tradition of pursuing diplomacy. And if the diplomats don’t do so well, here’s the gunboat to go with it.”
Staff Game Designer
Star Trek Online