"Anything new that I should know before we attempt to make contact?" The captain asked.
A look from Chief Science Officer de Coursey told the young science ensign that it was alright to proceed. He took another look over his instruments.
"A fairly typical Class M world sir. Nitrorgen/Oxygen atmosphere, gravity, industrialization all close to levels that might be expected of Earth in the mid Twentieth Century. Most of the pollution is centered around the larger cities and areas of industry."
"Do you detect any sort of military structure?"
"There IS..." he looked once more through the scanner, "but very little. Technology on par with mid-to-late Twentieth Century Earth."
"Interesting." Maddox mumbled, "Alright then, it's no good observing in a vacuum, let's contact them. Lieutenant?"
The red headed communications officer was already at her controls, "I believe I have them now sir."
What appeared on the forward viewer looked to be the the interior of the office of an entertainment executive. Framed, autographed pictures hung on every wall, plaques and trophies lined several shelves off to one side. In the back was a great window that looked out over a vast series of studio buildings and exterior setpieces.
The older man at the desk in the center wore a slick, smoke gray suit with a nehru collar and a huge white smile. He was a man who had the look of someone in charge, and who always got his way with a wink, a smile and a firm handshake.
Captain Maddox leaned toward the viewer as he began, "I'm Captain Samuel Maddox of the USS Endurance, representing the United Federation of Planets. We've been sent here to observe conditions on your world to gauge its suitability for a mutually-beneficial 'Cultural Exchange' between our societies."
The man in the gray suit looked surprised and excited, he straightened visibly in his high backed, leather chair, "Hey that's fantastic Captain! I'm Nick Tinker, president of programming here at the Planetary Broadcast Network."
"President of programming? Oh I'm sorry Mr. Tinker... I needed to speak with your planetary governing body." Maddox said.
"Oh, the board of directors and I here at Planetary Television ARE the governing body for the planet," He smiled, then leaned in and put on his 'reassuring' face, "...at least until our numbers fall lower than Harlington-Straker Studios across the street."
Tinker gave a laugh that seemed timed perfectly to the 'punchline' of his own joke.
Maddox shifted in the captain's chair, "So you and your people there at Planetary Television..."
"Yes Captain, we're the governing body here on Viden. I can see that this must be very confusing to you. Why don't you and your people come down for a visit. We can have lunch and talk all about it."
Maddox looked over at de Coursey with a raised eyebrow, then back again toward the viewer.
"Fantastic," Tinker didn't wait for an answer, "I'll transfer you to Virginia who'll schedule you in... see you soon captain!"
The viewer flashed over and an image of a woman the captain could only assume was 'Virginia', Tinker's secretary, filled the screen.
"Are you available for a one-o'clock captain?" Virginia said in a pleasant, professional tone of a woman who is accustomed to talking to people for a living.
Maddox looked befuddled, then to de Coursey for confirmation, "Are WE available for a 'one-oh-clock'?"
de Coursey, off screen, nodded.
Maddox looked back wide-eyed to Virginia on the viewer, "We ARE available for a 'one-oh-clock'."
"Thank you captain I'll pencil you in." She said making a note on her desktop machine, "We'll see you then, buh-bye."
The viewer returned to the orbital view of Viden II.
Maddox stood up from the captain's chair as if to leave the bridge then stopped suddenly, "Can... anyone tell me what a 'one-oh-clock' is?"