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Zarias Cluster: Republic of Cardassia

"Welcome back to FNS' continuing coverage of election night in the Federation!" the talking head grinned from the holoscreen in Annabeth's quarters. The senior staff had been in the captain's living room for the past three hours. They eagerly watched the returns to see if President Zife would remain commander-in-chief of Starfleet or if they would have a new boss come Inauguration Day.

"This is a lot closer than I thought it would be," Adamson said sipping a beer while seated on the carpet. Scharr nervously leaned forward in an easy chair. His antennae were sharply curled.

"I don't know if Zife can pull this off," he muttered.

"Most of the inner systems went for Bacco," Katie said. "It's definitely a comment on his leadership," she said shaking her head.

"He led the Federation through the war!" Phil said grabbing a handful of potato chips. "How much more leadership does he need?"

"That's the problem," Daredevil said staring at the screen. "Most people in the Federation don't want to think about war anymore. Only the systems on the border with Cardassia and the Romulan Neutral Zone are going for Zife."

"What happens to Starfleet if Bacco actually pulls off her platform?" Katan said shaking his head. T'les was sitting next to him but didn't say anything.

"It doesn't matter," Annabeth said softly. "We serve our nation and our president according to regulation and the Articles of the Federation. Whatever happens, we're all going to remain professional. Is that understood?" she said making eye contact with each person in the room.

Everyone nodded before turning back to the screen. A pair of news anchors was standing in front of a colored star map of the Federation discussing the developments.

"Looking at these results and going on exit polls," a human female said pointing at the inner systems of the Federation, "this is a major comment on the direction people want to see the Federation take in the next four years. President Zife ran his re-election campaign on maintaining the status quo."

"What exactly do you mean by that, Christy?" A Rigellian male asked while nodding his head.

"Well Toras," she said zooming in on the planets within five lightyears from Sector 001, "President Zife's platform was really more of the same. He ran on his war record. He ran on his experience, national defense policies, and his passable economic numbers. However, he came into tonight with a lot of baggage. The last two years of his presidency were tarnished by the quagmire in Cardassia, disintegrating relations with Romulus, and the Tigranian Affair between Starfleet and the Klingon Empire.

Quite frankly, looking at these numbers, most people in the Federation didn't buy it. Earth Councilor Nanietta Bacco ran her campaign saying she would aggressively sue for peace with other countries, create new opportunities for citizens inside the Federation, have greater transparency of leadership, and reign in Starfleet's influence on foreign policy.

That obviously really resonated with a lot of voters as we can see by looking at this map: Earth went for Bacco, Tellar Prime went for Bacco, Trillius Prime for Bacco, Betazed for Bacco, Andoria went for Zife…that's not really the surprise but the numbers are a lot closer than anyone expected. Even on Bolarus, Zife's home planet, the numbers were actually fairly close. Zife only won there by five percent. Vulcan is still too close to call.

The only places where Zife really performed well were on the border planets like Archanis, Benzar, and Tzenkath. These planets were obviously very concerned with defense because they're in striking range of the Romulus Pact. However, I don't think it's going to be enough for Zife."

"Based on these projections, what is your assessment?" Toras asked.

"Honestly," she responded, "my gut is telling me that very shortly you're going to see the first human president of the United Federation of Planets in forty years. If I were at Bacco's headquarters in Buenos Aires right now, I'd be getting the champagne ready to pop."

"Hold on, hold on," Toras said placing his finger to his earpiece.

"This sounds big," Katie said shifting in her seat.

"It looks like that champagne is going to pop at Bacco's headquarters sooner rather than later. With 82 percent of the precincts reporting, the Federation News Service is now prepared to call the battleground planet of Vulcan for Bacco, putting her past the magic 760 planetary electoral vote total. This means that Nanietta Bacco has just been elected the next President of the United Federation of Planets. She unseated incumbent Min Zife in one of the most historic elections in this country's history!"

"That's it," Scharr said shaking his head. His voice sounded calm, but his antennae nearly twisted off his head.

"What do you think she means by 'reigning in Starfleet?'" Adamson said nervously.

"I think we're gonna find out very shortly," Daredevil said taking another sip from her beer.

Annabeth continued to stare at the screen. She was still in disbelief that the false accusations surrounding Tigranian may have actually changed the course of Federation history.

"We're now receiving word that President Zife has called Councilor Bacco to concede the race," Toras announced. "We're now going live to Argentina where President-Elect Bacco is about to address her supporters."

The screen cut to a convention center in downtown Buenos Aires. It was packed with thousands of cheering supporters. Many held up blue signs emblazoned with "Bacco-Zonorax 2378: The Change We Need!"

"Ladies, Gentlemen, and Non-Gendered Species," an announcer said triumphantly over the speakers, "The President-Elect of the United Federation of Planets, Nanietta Bacco!"

The crowd went wild as a short-haired woman in a blue dress walked out from the wings of the massive stage. She smiled and waved her arms with every step. She took her place at the podium and started clapping her hands.

"Si Se Puede!" she called out triumphantly raising her right arm.

"SI SE PUEDE!" the crowd cheered back at her. Bacco beamed from ear to ear.

"Yes we can!" she laughed. "Eighteen months ago when I announced my candidacy for president, not a lot of people thought that we could unseat President Zife but here we are tonight!"

Another massive cheer shook the rafters of the hall.

"Yeah!" Bacco said clapping again. "We said we could and we did!"

"Well, she's pretty proud of herself," Katie quipped.

"Wouldn't you be?" Phil said to her.

"I wouldn't be stupid enough to get into politics, Babe," Katie replied taking a sip of beer.

"I know we want to celebrate, and we will shortly," Bacco continued, "but the election was the easy part. It's time for us to get down to work and put the Federation back on track. No more political elites putting our families at risk, no more sacrificing our children's futures to expand into other nations' territory, and no more unjust wars in our name!"

The enthusiastic cheers from the crowd continued. Her last statement made the men and women in Annabeth's living room even more nervous. From where they were sitting, guarding against the Cardassian State and the Romulans didn't seem very unjust.

"In five days, I will stand underneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, place my hand on the Articles of Federation, and be sworn in as your next president," she said triumphantly, "but even before I begin the inaugural parade down the Champs-Elysees to the Palais de la Concorde, there will be three executive orders awaiting signature on my desk…"

"Here we go," Katan said steepling his fingers.

"First," Bacco began, "will be an order creating a special delegation to begin immediate peace talks with both the Romulan Star Empire and the Cardassian State so we can put aside our differences and start building bridges between our societies…"

"How noble," Scharr said sarcastically, "I'm sure they'll just roll right over and do whatever she asks…"

"Tren…" Annabeth warned.

"Hey Ma'am," he said shrugging his shoulders. "She's not president yet."

"Second," Bacco continued, "as commander-in-chief, I will order Starfleet Command to create a responsible, measured plan that will have all Federation forces out of Cardassian Space by the end of next year. They need to get out of the war business and back to their real jobs of science and exploration."

"She can't be serious," Daredevil said in shock. "If Starfleet leaves the Republic of Cardassia, the Romulus Pact will march straight to Cardassia Prime and build a summer home!"

Annabeth rubbed her eyes. Bacco's pledge was surely being broadcast live to both the leaders on Romulus and Simperia. They would immediately alter the balance of power in this part of the galaxy.

"Finally," Bacco explained, "we're going to send the strongest possible message to other nations that if they want to be considered a friend of the Federation, than they must ascribe to our values of inclusion, democracy, and our dedication to peace. Using my executive authority as president, I will immediately suspend the Treaty of Alliance with the Klingon Empire. When they decide to stop dragging the galaxy into conflict and interfering with our government, then we might reconsider!"

Another roar burst from her supporters but the spirit in Annabeth's quarters dropped.

"The Treaty of Alliance is the only thing preventing the Romulans from attacking us on two fronts," Phil said in shock.

"She said she wants to send a message," Daredevil said. "Well she's sending one all right: the Klingons and Cardassians are on their own."

"By trying to get us out of a war she may put us right into one," Katie said totally defeated.

"There is an old Vulcan saying," T'les finally spoke. She squeezed Katan's hand tighter. "Humans often manage to obtain that which they do not want."


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