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A diplomatic approach: Chatting with Leland Bishop

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Ensign Leland Bishop, the Diplomatic Attache aboard the USS Victory. The purpose of our chat was to get an inside perspective on what it’s like working as a Diplomat in Starfleet.

Can you give us a little bit of background on what exactly the Diplomatic Corp does for Starfleet?
Certainly! The Diplomatic Corps serves the Federation as an extension of its political will into the far flung reaches of space. We conduct First Contacts, arbitrate disputes, conduct trade and military negotiations, and entertain dignitaries just to name a few duties. One little known fact is that we are actually a Federation subsect that works side-by-side with Starfleet. I do hold a rank in Starfleet as well, but our first duty is looking out for Federation interests, whether that be at an Embassy such as Duronis II or serving (as I do) as an attache to a starship crew. Think of us as “the face” or perhaps more accurately “the mouth” of the UFP.

So you’re sort of the referee in Starfleet, if you will. What exactly drew you to serve in the Diplomatic Corp of Starfleet?
I suppose it was my desire to effect change and protect my people. I learned early on that I’m not much of a shot with a phaser, but I’ve found that words and laws can be just as potent as any weapon when it comes to protecting the UFP. I knew from an early age that our freedoms are only secure as long as we are vigilant in maintaining them. There are some dangerous folks out there…

Don’t worry, I’m a terrible shot with a phaser as well. What was your most satisfying moment(s) as a diplomatic officer?
My current mission aboard the Victory is proving to be quite a challenge. We’ve just initiated First Contact protocols with an aquatic race called the Sunak Triumvirate. While under normal circumstances, dealing with other cultures can prove difficult, we often find that we share some common ground. The Sunak however possess a truly “alien” mindset, so the usual bag of tricks won’t necessarily work. It’s making me think outside the box and that’s very rewarding.

What is/are the most challenging aspect(s) of your job?
Fitting in with a ships crew can be a bit daunting at first. Since Diplomatic Officers have only recently been assigned with any regularity to permanent posting on starships, there can be a bit of an adjustment period as we find our equilibrium with the crew. Many of my duties were once the sole province of commanding officers, ships counselors, etc. So new Diplomatic Officers should be mindful not to overstep their bounds and learn exactly what is needed by their particular crew. That can (and should) vary from ship to ship.

I can imagine it’s an interesting balancing act. So going off of that, personally speaking, what do you see as the greatest diplomatic challenge facing a diplomatic officer and why?
For me it’s the constant preparation. For a Diplomatic Officer our shifts and our studies never end. I have to be prepared for any and all contact my ship may make. That means countless hours spent on research and contingency plans. Even then, things almost never work out as planned. Makes for an exciting line of work, but stress relief is something any good diplomat should pay close attention to.

In all of your studies and preparation, which faction, in your opinion, poses the greatest threat to Starfleet?
Honestly, I believe that we’re out of the woods for the time being as far as major military conflicts. Of course that’s barring the discovery of a wholly new threat, but as far as the major powers go, The Dominion War left quite a few of the larger empires with a lot of rebuilding to do.

That, in fact, is where I could foresee our greatest challenges in the near future. With the Cardassian Union crippled and with the Romulan Star Empire nearly so, we may see a lot of power vacuums and splintering of governments in the coming days. I’m less worried about the threats we now perceive than the newer, smaller threats that may erupt in those formally strong blocks of space.

Thank you for all of your answers, Ensign. One last question: What advice could you give to any future diplomatic officers?
Seek a mentor. Pure and simple. It can be very difficult for a new Diplomatic Officer to find his/her feet. For me, I found a great sounding board in Lt. Cmdr. Brek from the Columbia. He’s hung up his purple shirt for the time being but probably knows more about the ins and out of this subtle dance than I ever will.

OCC: Which Captain from the series was the best diplomat? Who was the worst?
OOC – It’s really difficult to put that definitive a label on any of them. Archer was running around without much in the way of policy to guide him. Kirk played fast and loose with the Prime Directive on many occasions but was inordinately successful in doing so… I think I’d have to put Picard at the top of that list. He was about as close to letter perfect as a Captain can get under most circumstances. Even when he went off the reservation a bit, he still carried the sprit of the law very close to his heart. Janeway probably gets the bottom vote for me. I know she was doing what she had to do, but a fair amount of policy was tossed aside once the Voyager got lost.


Captain’s Log: The Ferengi Encounter

Editor’s note – 

By the current stardate of 239103.27, the Ferengi are a well-established and universally recognizable species with our galaxy.  The Ferengi are valued members of  modern society, with impacts on the economy and politics of the Federation.  Some of their species even serve in Starfleet as officers.  The majority of their interactions with Starfleet and other organizations/races are documented and recorded in the annuals of history.

The official first contact between The Federation and the Ferengi occurred nearly 30 years ago in 2364.  The USS Enterprise-D and a Ferengi vessel were trapped in orbit together while investigating the Delphi Ardu System.  However, prior to this first contact, multiple encounters – some hostile – between the Ferengi and the Federation took place. Unfortunately, documentation and evidence of the Ferengi as a warp-capable species was ignored and not categorized in Starfleet records.

One of those encounters occurred between the USS Galway, a Baton Rogue class s vessel and sister ship to the USS Glasgow.  Built and commissioned in the mid 23rd century, the Galway was active from 2227-2239 and during its encounter with the Ferengi, captained by a Bolian female named Haln Atrol.  The below except from Captain’s log comes just after their encounter with a Ferengi trading vessel.

 

CAPTAIN’S LOG, STARDATE 223410.18
“Truth be told, I am still trying to wrap my head around exactly what happened yesterday.  Command had seen fit to assign the Galway on a routine mapping mission of the asteroid belt surrounding the planet Maxia Zeta III and Maxia Zeta IV.  Our long range probes had detected high concentrations of valuable ores and metals in the asteroids.  My science officer, Lieutenant Fulton, and I had been chomping at the bit to get a look at the asteroids from our previous pass through the system, so Command’s order was received with tangible joy.”

“Everything was running smoothly as we approached the system.  Dropping out of warp, our scans immediately detected two unknown vessels already in the asteroid belt.  Bringing the unknown craft up on the viewscreen, it was nothing that I nor anyone else on the bridge had ever seen before.  The ships had a distinctive crescent shape and were rust-orange in color.  When I attempted to hail the vessels, I received no reply, but the vessels began scanning us. Raising the Galway to yellow alert, I attempted to hail the vessels again.”

“My communications officer, Ensign D’Ovidio, reported that the alien vessel was blocking our hails.  Tactical reported that the ships were mining the asteroids of their valuable minerals and had raised their shields and were charging weapons.  Shocked at the aggressive stance taken against a Federation vessel, I moved us to defensive position and went to red alert.  The monotone chiming of the ships alert system ringing in my ears, I took my seat at the command chair and prepared for whatever these unknown assailants had up their sleeves.”

“As our ship drew closer, the unexpected aliens began moving away from the asteroids belt.  Whatever their intentions were, and despite having the numbers, they clearly were not prepared to give their lives for their cargo. I was hunched forward, hands pressed together before me, concentrating, when I was roused from my thoughts by Ensign D’Ovidio.  The aliens were hailing us.  Funny, I thought, that they had waited until they had filled their holds with minerals and ore before deciding to communicate.  I nodded in acknowledgment, took a deep breath and opened a channel.”

“The alien before me was, for lack a better word, frightening in appearance. Large orbital lobes covered its bald, rusty brown colored heads.  Jagged, pointy, crooked teeth filled their small mouths. Massive rounded ears jutted outwards from their stocky, round skulls.  It had its hands raised, blue fingertips pressed together before its face, much I as I had only done only moments before.  Frankly, it was terrifying.”

“I shot a steely glance at my Lieutenant Fulton.  The human shrugged his shoulder, letting me know he had nothing on record for this species based off their appearance.  There was a moment of silence as what I can only assume was the Captain of the other vessel and I locked eyes.  Since they clearly had warp technology, I was not worried about violating the Prime Directive.  Rather, I my heart rate jumped as I realized I may be making first contact with an unknown species.  I have transcribed the conversation with the alien captain below.”

Atrol: “Greetings, I am Captain Haln Atrol of the Federation starship USS Galway. Greetings.”

Alien: I am captain of this ship.  What business do you have hear? We have the exclusive mining rights to this system.

Atrol: We are assigned were to survey – “

The words hissed from his mouth as he struggled with our language.  Nonetheless, his rudimentary grasping of it led to me believe this was not First Contact, but rather a case of avoided contact.

Alien: “I care little of your mission, Captain.  We were here first.  The minerals belong to us.”

Atrol: “And who exactly is us?”

Alien:  “That is proprietary information, Captain.  Besides, you are a…female…it is below me to speak to you on matters of business and commerce.”

At this point, I felt my neck flush with anger.  I kept my composure, but clearly these aliens were misogynistic and greed oriented.

Atrol: Captain, you scanned our vessel and ignored our hails.  One would assume those are the actions of someone trying to hide something.

Alien: Your accusations matter little, female.

At that point, the alien before me sneered and closed the channel.  Before I had any time to react, he had wheeled his two ships around and began preparing for a jump to warp.  Tactical, to their credit, attempted to track their coordinates, but they jumped faster than we could react.

Whose this aliens were remains a mystery.  Nothing on them comes across in our searches of Starfleet’s records.  What I am certain of is that even if the Galway doesn’t encounter them again, some other Federation ship will.  And when they do, they had better be prepared.  This species is cunning, cutthroat, and aggressive.

END LOG

Captain Haln Atrol
Commanding Officer
USS Galway