Canopus Station
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Posted on Thu Feb 6th, 2020 @ 12:46am by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Senior Chief Petty Officer Sharona Deluna

Mission: S2:1: Into The Drowning Deeps
Location: Canopus Station, Station Operations
Timeline: MD3: 0930

"Ahh Senior Chief Deluna, please come in."

Ingram was sat behind his black desk, which was backdropped before the curved glass wall that looked out over the amphitheatre of Station Operations. Out beyond the glass, the organised chaos of Space Traffic Control and Station Administration rolled along unimpeded it seemed by any audible sound. The slight white noise whine filled the air, just on the edge of hearing, cancelling out any of the hubbub outside.

And once the doors were closed, the silence was deafening.

"I hope you are settling into your quarters. I had seen something in the morning dispatches concerning some minor engineering work you were involved in, or mentioned I should say?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

The whine of the white noise tweaked Sharona's sensitive hearing and she made an effort to ignore it. She started to respond to the usual pleasantries when he brought up something about engineering. "Engineering?" she asked, an eyebrow going up. "I haven't made any reports about Engineering."

"Yes," he said as he turned his head slightly to the right and gestured to the desk's smart system. A holographic screen shimmered into the air, projecting the stylised angular pathways of the new model LCAR's system. "Huum...ah yes, here it is. Ten 5 kilogram duranium blocks which drained local power reserves, followed by unspecified damages to ceiling panels caused by a pursuit by a foreign political refugee, and a citation for unauthorised use of Station maintenance crawl spaces."

Ingram turned his head back towards Sharona.

"I'd have thought that quite memorable."

"That had nothing to do with Engineering and everything to do with one pursuit by a certain foreign political refugee," she said in a dead voice.

"The same one that was reported as arriving in Central Administration with a cooking utensil stuck in his chest, and then later was accosted by a fluid medically indistinguishable from a mild caustic acid," Ingram said carefully. "I think it is safe to say that, were you to be given the opportunity, a fresh first impression would be preferred?"

"That...depends, Sir," Sharona said with a polite cough and pleasant voice, but her eyes. They spoke volumes of terror, fear, and madness. "Would I be armed and protected by a legion of Security personnel?"

"I'm not even sure the Klingon Imperial Legion would do you much good. If I wasn't a dyed in the wool scientist I'd say you'd found an unstoppable force. Entropy meet thy enemy," Ingram and gestured to a chair. "Please take a seat. I think after that incident a rest is the very least that can be offered."

He then turned to the still illuminated screen, and a flicked a finger across it.

"There, citation removed. Fleeing from a vastly superior enemy force is prudent, not worthy of scorn."

"Can we fit him in a torpedo and fire him into a star?" she asked as she took the offered seat.

"If only wishing made it so," Ingram said as he returned his attention to Sharona. "I will get to the point Miss Deluna, I have never had a yeoman before and so I am less than adequately familiar with the role you play on my staff. I have had aides before, but they have been of a more academic variety and schooled along similar lines as to myself."

He gestured to the screen.

"A brief glimpse at your personnel jacket tells me we attended somewhat different campuses for our educations, though we both joined following other career paths first," he smiled thinly. "Tell me what it is that you can do to help me in the administration of this station and by extension the rest of the Messier 4 Expansion?"

"As for the administration of the station, that's not a single person but an entire department, Captain," Sharona said. "I'm just one wheel in that cog. However, as your Yeoman, it would be my central job to sort the important from the unimportant and bring those particular details to you organized, alphabetized, and in order of importance. In other words, I'd be your filter that sorts the...what is the human phrase? wheat from the chaff?"

"To triage," Ingram said with a raised eyebrow. "Huum...and to do this effectively one would assume that broad allowance for your oversight might be permitted. Certain day to day correspondences that usually clutter my desk could instead be filtered and filed by your good self?"

He tapped a finger on his desk.

"Huum, you must pardon me. The idea of freeing myself from this desk, it is a powerful incentive to hand you the command codes and go forth screaming my freedom to the world," he grinned. "I have nearly forgotten the simple joys of scientific inquiry. It would be nice to feed that voracious appetite for knowledge once more as I did aboard the USS Odyssey."

"Triage, yes. An escape from your duties, no," she elaborated. If she couldn't escape Bar'soon, he wouldn't escape his duties. In fact, she made a mental note to send him everything until she learned what was important to him and what wasn't.

"But are we not explorers? Diviners of knowledge from the infinite vastness of the cosmos?" he asked wryly. "After all the Canopus Expedition is the preeminent scientific exploration in the entire United Federation of Planets. We stand on the doorstep to the universe itself...what grander place to stand than at the feet of giants that have watched over every soul born within the Milky Way?"

He sighed heavily and reached for the terminal screen.

"And yet...a highlight reel of sorts from the morning briefing packet assembled by Administration: power allocation budget meeting, a holo conference with the Mission Control via the Phase Space Transiever to organise the logistics of Expedition Four, as well as a safety briefing held by the Vacuum Mining Guild who will be taking over operations within the Carpathia System when they arrive in Exp 4 with their mobile mining ship. And of course, the engineering report concerning a man with more titles than letters in his name. If I swear on whatever holy text you choose to provide, that he will be my sole responsibility from now on...what say you to take all of that off of my plate so I might once again be a scientist?"

"We are divining knowledge, Sir," Sharona reminded him. "However, there's a price that comes with Command and you acknowledged it when you switched from Science to that uniform you now wear. I'll handle the mundane so you can focus on the important and maybe, just maybe if you're good, I'll even handle some of the important things to give you a little free time."

"Free time, now there is a theory I'd put to the test," he said with a wan smile. A smile that very nearly evaporated when a little message icon appeared on his desk. "Dammit it all, I thought I'd programmed this damn thing to flag those messages for an auto-response. I don't suppose since you arrived here with the 3rd Expedition you've had a chance to meet the Xilosians?"

"Yes and I've heard about their offer," she said as she came to her feet and advanced on his desk. "May I?" she asked.

"Insistent people, I'll grant them that. Survived a nuclear bombardment that did for the microbes what K2 did for the dinosaurs on Terra, and yet now they want to get back to the work of soldiers. As you can imagine, the Starfleet Diplomatic Corp is less than excited about putting an endangered species back into the firing line," Ingram nodded and rolled to one side of his desk. "Every other day Forward Commander Kle, their highest-ranking military officer, sends an official letter of protest to my office. Those letters get CC'd automatically to the Chief Diplomate of the Station, Calida, and to the Chief Counsel who is sat at One Federation Plaza in New York City. I know this because I have seen the skyline of that old city numerous times from holo calls from the Chief Counsel urging me to make it stop."

He leaned his head back.

"Alas I can only think of duct tape and sedatives, for words have failed me up to now."

Sharona moved behind his desk and bent over it to examine his settings, then began to enter in various Administrative commands and a subroutine based on her Communications knowledge. She switched her weight from her left foot to her right unconsciously, causing her hips to swivel slightly, then looked over her shoulder at him. "Do you ever want contact with him again?"

"'Her'. The Xilosian's are a surface level matriarchal society, their entire military apparatus is dominated by the female sex due to an unfounded social opinion that males are too prone to fits of emotional pique. An opinion I have seen shared at many a scientific conference during the first-night mixer," he shook his head.

And then he stopped, leaning forward in his chair and tapping a finger on the desk.

"Now there's a thought," Ingram said, looking at Sharona. "It might well be that this Kle has a bias against me from her own species social background. An anchored bias, if you will. And they do say send a fox to hunt a fox. I'd not order you to have a meeting with her, speak buck to buck as it were, but I have a feeling she'd listen to you. You might even find a place her people can fit into the station's needs. A sort of Community Outreach program?

"Let me send her Form J-17a," Sharona said. "It'll take her a few standard years in order to get to the end, by which time, she'll need to complete part b of that and have to return. No one has ever completed Form J-17a in the history of Starfleet. Did Bar'Fool ever fill that one out that I gave him?"

"Given you gave it to him only yesterday according to the filing computer, no. And given his attention span being picoseconds long, I have a feeling he will be filling that form out in time for someone's grandchildren to read it." Ingram mused.

"As for female military, male dominated military forces were essentially predatory and would turn against the civilian population in the absence of an external enemy, whereas a female one would tame and calm," Sharona said calmly.

"Yes well these Xilosian's have had something of a bad history with first contacts and extraterrestrials, what with the Concordance bombing their homeworld back into a radioactively interesting rock. I want them to be our success story, proof that the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet have come out here to do good by the people of Messier 4. But I think Kle and her Military Cadre have something of a vendetta they want us to help them finalise in open war with the Concordance," Ingram explained.

"So they're xenophobic and you want to put a feather in your cap and a box set on your collar, yet, you don't want to take a call from her? Is that the jist of it?"

"It's because she already knows my answer. I've had meetings with the woman, she barged in on meetings I've had with other representatives of the Xilosian people. She is a soldier, and to that end, she wants to fight and fight now. Apparently, we did to good a job rescuing her people from their wrecked planet, she thinks we can take the Concordance on head-on," Ingram shook his head. "That and she is more than aware we've lost most of our Marines. She's selling her dream of a Xilosian backed militia as a stop-gap measure to reenforce Station Security with an already trained fighting force. As you can imagine the Diplo Corp are not happy with the idea of dependant refugee's taking up arms with 'Made in the UFP' stencilled on the side."

"Cut your ties with them, then," Sharona said. "They want to drag you into a war and the Diplodunk PADDpusher " She said something in Selelvian that made absolutely no translation about them. "would crucify you if you allowed it to happen."

"True enough to a point. But I have a feeling a war is exactly what we will have, and if not the Concordance then indeed the Myriad. We are strangers to this land, and so far with the exception of our Carcosian guests of the moment, we have found nothing but hostile powers. Religious viral fundamentalists on one side, and a race of beings who could best be described as the Anti-Prime Directive," Ingram explained. "Kle and her Cadre of military followers have on the ground experience with the Concordance, their tactics as a force and the effects of their fungal infection on a population. We cannot stand to alienate them. A Catch 22 situation."

"I am afraid that's beyond my grade to even hazard what you should do in this instance," Sharona admitted.

"No, but you do make for a good sounding board at least. I tend to think better when I'm able to think out loud, let the bigger ideas roam around and stretch out," Ingram mused. "Thank you for that Miss Deluna. If this is the sort of insight I can expect from you in the future, I think we will get along splendidly."


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