Canopus Station
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Second Time Charmer

Posted on Tue May 5th, 2020 @ 10:52pm by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Lieutenant Murray Jacobs & Senior Chief Petty Officer Sharona Deluna & Lu'kat & Commander Calida & Master Chief Petty Officer Ryan Terry

Mission: S2:2: Best Laid Plans
Location: Canopus Station, Small Craft Bay Alpha
Timeline: MD1: 16:345

The walk from the tram station to craft bay was short, but it didn't stop Ingram's stride from seeming to length with each successive perambulation. It was a neat little crowd of people he was leading, neatly dressed in crisp dress uniforms freshly replicated for the occasion.

Well, apart from Ingrams: he had a man from Cardassia as a tailor.

"Chief Ricci you have assured me before, but do so again: every computer system not essential to Station operations is either offline or disconnected?" he asked, probably for the tenth time but who was counting? He held up a hand, turned his head slightly and addressed Meilin. "Your report on what Bar'soon knows of the Myriad was suitably vague and apocryphal. Captain Remas of the Traveller told me that fellow had been traipsing around Messier 4 with Abborax for years, potentially decades. I'd hope he'd said more."

Meilin kept her face politely neutral. The captain had such a way with words. "Our esteemed guest said far more than he realized, but it took some digging to be certain. In the delusional legend of his own mind, Bar'soon believes that he somehow defeated Abborax and led others to escape. In reality, when comparing the records from the Traveller, including the deposition of the holographic crew member whom Abborax subverted, I believe they stumbled on a vulnerability: the Unbound entity, to use their nomenclature, was temporarily disconnected from the ship systems. If we scan the nature of the Myriad proxy and compare it to the pirate signal which hijacked the station's systems, we might be able to isolate the very same vulnerability that the Traveller's crew stumbled upon." A modicum of gloating overtook her face. "We could potentially shut down Haztor where he lives."

Mara politely waited for Meilin to give her report before addressing Ingram herself. "All non-essential systems are either offline or disconnected," she reassured him. "And I've even segregated the vital systems like life support and defense. It's going to be a lot harder for someone to break into them, even if they are able to get into our systems at all."

"Security. Mister th'Zohan, Mister Wick, whilst both of you share a Venn diagram of keeping the peace, your spheres of influence are quite dissimilar. What have you put in place or formulated to combat the Myriad should this Haztor try and pull the metaphorical rug from under our feet? With most of the automatic systems down, firing torpedoes and phasers manually will be troubling. Not to mention station security as a whole," Ingram muttered. "An advanced synthetic proxy running a digitised consciousness. From reports they're very hardy manufacturing, not to mention able to tap into most networked computer systems. I want our Rish guests to be watched, as well as the Xilosians. I'd not put it past the Myriad to try and sow some seeds of discontent to muddy the waters."

Ingram did not wait for them to answer.

"Dr Jacobs, Dr Paulsen, your role in this meeting is to observe the Myriad's guests. It's documented that the Myriad travel with a compendium of life forms, a managery as it were. Given their role in Myriad society, it might behove us to get to know these alien companions of the Myriad. Who knows what sort of intelligence might fall from their lips, or into our arms. That Mazarian fellow with the Traveller, or Bar'soon come to think of it," Ingram tugged on the collar of his dress uniform. "Another defector might fill in a lot more of the map than Commodore Grissom's scouting program ever will."

A brief nod followed Ingram's request/command and Murray cast his gaze about the gathered party. He paid a passing interest to Theylan and Wick, who, like Meilin were tasked with Rish relations and surveillance, but didn't linger there. Murray didn't know who the Mazarian was, but Bar'soon he had at least heard of, if not directly encountered.

"Observation and sociable interaction with a means to alliance, understood Captain," said the Rish medic with an amicable and confident lilt to his words. A small step closer to the inner circle, perhaps, and a welcome one indeed.

Aimee shrugged her shoulders, "Sure I can do that," The Counselor offered in response. She then immediately fell silent after having listened to Meilin's report on Bar'soon the mad. She had barely skimmed over the reports on the Myriad and wasn't entirely convinced that any sort of alliance could be forged. In the end Aimee had diagnosed the Myriad members that Starfleet had thus far come into contact with as having a wide variety of personality disorders. But, then she had diagnosed, mentally of course, Bar'soon with several of the same such maladies which was all well and good.

"And finally Master Chief Ryan. I'll want you working alongside Chief Ricci to help us understand the Myriad's technology. That Thorn Ship of their's is in a trailing orbit behind the station, and if we can keep them here and happy it should give us ample opportunity to figure out its secrets. And Ryan, I read your file including the parts blacked out by those who know best: no yacht shaped incidents." Ingram said.

"Aye, Sir," Ryan said as he gave his uniform collar a tug. Being so big, he had a hard time getting things to fit properly and was constantly making small adjustments. "I look forward to getting my hands on it. As for that last part...that was confidential, Captain."

"Well when one is friends with the Admiral in question, there are certain confidences that surpass Starfleet's rather rigorous code of conduct," Ingram said, brushing aside the comment. "Besides, it was a tacky piece of post-scarcity trash. Nothing but holographic reproductions on the walls. You single-handedly improved the local aesthetic out to about half a parsec. They should have given you a medal. And just so we're clear, be as hands-free as possibly. I would prefer if our Myriad guest did not know we'd looked into the workings of his craft."

"Hands...free," Terry echoed. "But...I'm an Engineer."

Ingram walked up to the heavy-duty airlock that separated the station from the main small craft bay to which the Myriad's shuttle was being directed.

"Anything else before we go in and try a second go at First Contact?" Ingram asked.

He nodded to the Marines at the door, and they activated the controls. With a heavy sigh of hydraulics, the heavy airlock door's opened. The cold air of the small crafts bay washed in, made colder still by the containment shield over the open space door that did as much to keep the air in as it did to keep the cold of space out. The station's fleet fo Arrow class Runabouts had been moved for the occasion, permitting the large space to be of the sole use for the visitation.

Lu'kat stood perfectly still in his regular Type B Cardassian uniform. Cardassians didn't have dress uniforms, nor did Lu'kat saw any use in one. It was one of the many curiosities he had come to get used to humans and many other species. One could dress up all one liked, but in the end, as with all things, it was the worth of the man who wore it that was important. Fools enough in King's clothes, much as there had been Kings in rags. The trick was to be King no matter what your outfit.

Timed almost to perfection, the Myriad's shuttle arrived. Shaped like a hooked barb, with spine protrusions along its aft-facing, it looked dangerous to touch. A pair of stubby landing struts extended from its underside, and it came to a landing silently. No sound of exhaust or thrust, only a steady low hum than even then was beginning to fall below the threshold of hearing.

A hatch opened in the rear, extending out a narrow walkway that connected to the deck of the station, and Haztor walked out. Tall, narrow-shouldered, his hands clasped together at his waist, he looked like an especially bookish human. Pale as winter snow, with eyes like burning coal, and a smile that was as warm as the forge that they had been plucked from. His robes were not flamboyant, serviceable and of a modest purple hue with red highlights.

"Greetings to you all," Haztor said, his voice as soothing as it had been on the station-wide broadcast. "As I stated before, my name is Haztor and I represent the House Of Foxes of The Myriad. It is my esteemed pleasure to bring you the greetings and salutations of the High Executor herself. A rare gift to be bestowed upon those newly met."

Dipping her head in acknowledgement, Meilin said nothing. She was not the contact officer in this instance, but she did not wish to offend either. The biomechanical proxy looked horrifyingly like a yaoguai of legend. Hopefully the scanning protocols she'd implemented were already at work.

Lu'kat felt like a monkey in a zoo, or so he thought that the human expression went. With all the pretty ones stacked out in front for the Myriad's entertainment. Lu'kat did not believe a single word they said. First the Traveller, then they forced themselves upon everyone by hacking into every screen they could find on the station. 'What were they hiding behind their smiles?' the Cardassian wondered. Was Starfleet ready to face them in earnest? Lu'kat hoped they did not have to find out...

"Silence?" Haztor said, looking over the assembled officers and dignitaries. "But we have so much to discuss and learn from one another, to re-learn I should say after the abysmal showing my kind was given by Abborax's foul mishandling of your arrival in our space."

"And given that, you can understand why we would wish to tread carefully," Ingram said guardedly.

"Caution is a wise trait to cultivate in Messier 4," Haztor replied. "But as I said, I am here to make some small amends. I have come with the assurances of the High Executor that the Myriad known as Abborax has been dealt with most severely for his acts in tarnishing her good name. I also come with various trade items and gifts, to show you our good intentions and willingness to trade on an equal footing with your civilisation or any who court our wares."

This last part was said with a smile and a slight nod towards Lu'kat.

Ryan felt incredibly out of place at the assembled meeting of the Myriad and the high ranking officers around him. He looked to Ricci for some form of guidance, but all he really wanted was for the creature in front of him to take his entourage and go play let's make a deal with Ingrams so he could get his hands on the ship.

But, Mara had no better idea than Ryan did. When he caught her eyes, she simply gave him a bewildered expression along with a shrug. She then nodded towards Ingram. They would simply have to wait for his instructions.

"And should we so propose ignorance of these gifts and treaties, and ask to be left in peace?" Ingram asked lightly.

"Then we would ask the same in return," Haztor said with a broad and knowing smile. "But we know from your own history that once a door is open, it cannot then be shut so easily. Better we sort through the issues we have now than allow them to fester. I have come to make amends, and to that end, I would present my associates who accompany me. Call them witnesses to our good character."

Ingram made a nod to Haztor's question, and the Myriad did...nothing. Either by timed command or remote prodding via some digital means, a trio of beings disembarked the shuttle.

The first was a misshapen humanoid rock slide that stomped onto the deck. The rough rocky boulders that made up its arms, legs and torso, were joined together by a writhing mass of liver purple worms that burrowed in and out of the rock at their connecting points. The scent of rotting meat could not be hidden well.

The second was an oddly proportioned non-humanoid. Like a hat stand of sorts, the main spherical body of the alien stood atop ten spindly legs's easily two meters tall and as narrow as a bamboo cane. From under the spherical bulk of its beach ball-sized body, a beaky maw could be seen surrounded by black sensory pits that flickered. Its skin had some of the colour changing properties of a cuttle fish.

And the third...well. The third was regal, beautiful, gayly attired, and introduced after the others.

"This is my bodyguard, the Abilatory Hive known as Cadance. It's something of a poet, most Hives are. The fellow next to it is the scholar Trivane, a member of a species from the far side of Myriad space called the Axial Elective. He is a scholar of history that I have taken under my wing to aid him in his travels to meet the Merchantile Academia. And finally, this charming creature is-"

"Kar'kann'fo'da'gree'nars, Eighth of her Title, holder of the throne of brass, guardian of the sacred skulls of Antiok and ruler of the world of Shishimi and all its celestial companions minus that pissant little moon my twin brothers squabble over," the Shishimi female said, her long ears draped and braided over one shoulder. She stepped forward, past the Myriad's shoulder and smiled the empty vacant smile of blue-blooded royalty. "You have no need to bow, for I am not your liege. But if you want too..."

At first all Meilin did was blink. It made sense, of course, that if Abborax had Bar'soon as a vassal of his court, then Haztor would likely have one as well. But the title... Meilin, like most personnel of Canopus, were intimately familiar with that title.

"It is an honor to make your acquaintance, Lord Haztor, along with your vassals." Meilin pressed her fist against her palm and dipped her head ever so slightly. "Particularly Guì Trivane, whose expertise upon which I most humbly request to prevail." She figured that Haztor did not come all this way with gifts in hand without asking for something in return. If there was a trap, Meilin presumed to spring it on desirable terms -- a potentially direct access to knowledge.

The first Myriad that Murray had ever seen certainly wasn't a disappointment in his reveal. Haztor brought by his presence that comforting warmth of a friendly hearth offset by a beautiful designer tapestry that hid a collection of comfy chairs and inventive torture implements. Or perhaps that was simply Rish wariness, born from eternal travel and varying unwelcome welcomes.

His ears pricked up at the mention of 'various trade items and gifts' but Murray merely watched and waited. A quiet stoicism greeted the sudden influx of associates - a worm-ridden rock face, a spindly legged colour chameleon, and... royalty with a long-ass title. The Rish medic met each new individual with a polite nod, intrigued by both the prospect of poetry from a bodyguard and the mention of a Merchantile Academia. Since he hadn't had the dubious privilege of the previous shishimi's attention, Murray returned Kar'kann'fo'da'gree'nars's vacant smile with a warmer one and, like Meilin, he dipped his head, but he didn't bow.

"An great honour, indeed," Murray said, simply echoing Meilin for the moment, head raised now, eye contact with each newcomer in turn direct and confident.

Aimee, as promised, had remained quiet and was observing the meeting in its entirety. She had noticed that many of her predicted character traits were accurate down to the letter and then there was this additional Shishimi person with another ridiculous title. Aimee wondered if this person was aware of the presence of Bar'soon on the station, but said nothing on that particular matter. She had come out from behind the people that she had somehow managed to block her view with. As firmly as she could, Aimee had bitten her tongue as to not laugh at the sheer ridiculous nature of the group of people. She was determined to remain the ever quiet and vigilant observer for her Captain.

It took Lu'kat a lot of his reserve to not hold up his nose against the smell emanating the creature called Cadance. Then there was the many-legged historian and someone whose species he had already been aware off (he had not yet taken the liberty to meet Bar'soon, considering his doubtful status as sovereign and the potential diplomatic troubles that would occur should his relatives ever show up, as they just now had done). Whatever their relationships with the Myriad was, any of those three was capable of slaughtering the welcoming party on the spot, something Lu'kat was all too aware of.
Lord Haztor's remark about trade had not escaped Lu'kat's ears either. Indeed, it could open up many opportunities, but there were risks involved as well. The terran Europeans came in their wooden ships to the subcontinent of India with the promise of trade as well, 200 years later they were its overlords. His own people had first come to Bajor with the promise of an alliance but left after stripping the planet bare during its Occupation. He approved of Ingram's careful approach.

Upon hearing the title, Mara had to bite her lips to keep from grinning. She managed to not roll her eyes by sheer force of will, but it was a close thing. She wondered if she was lucky enough that Bar'soon still hated her. A girl can only hope....

"This takes time away from our agreement Myriad Haztor," Scholar Trivane said in a high, needling voice. The curved point of the beak nestled in the alien's underside amid its flickering sensory pits snapped angrily. "Our agreement was transportation to the Merchantile Academia, not to pander to the ego's of easily manipulated bipeds."

"You must forgive the Scholar," Haztor said, raising a hand to silence the tall decapod. "He and his people have something of a myopic fixation with a phenomenon they call the Silence-"

"The Silence Of Vanished Stars," Trivane snapped again, that beak sounding powerful and bone-crushing. "It is of singular importance to all biological life within this sphere of stars and within all such aggregates of stellar-mass bodies. To know more of it is perhaps to know the very heart of our own dark future, far beyond the Hard Data Frontier. A tide of darkness, the quiet snuffing out of celestial candles-"

"Haztor Myriad beckoned you to be forgiven, spindly meat," Cadence said in a shockingly urbane and cultured voice. Across the 'head' of the rock golem, strings of wormy flesh began to knit and mesh, forming a latticework across the forward-facing side of the rock. Glowing photoreceptors on the worms hides began to flicker and dance. "Do not test our Master's ire more than you have."

"Of-...of course, yes," Trivane clucked, turning to regard Meilin. "I would, of course, be delighted to share that which I know with a fellow scientist."

"This is boring," Kar'kaan said, draping herself on Haztor's right arm. "I'm bored Haztor. You know how I get when I'm bored, and you know that we don't have any more of them left for me to entertain myself with. I want to go exploring, I want to open all the doors in this stuffy place and see what falls out! Imagine all of them interesting things I could ferret out."

"A tour could be arranged, whilst we discuss matters of administrative import," Ingram said. He began to turn. "Of course, an honour guard of sorts would be required to escort her?"

The hum of a grav sled slowly rose in pitch until it parked right in front of the entourage. "Forgive my tardiness. I am Calida of the Visalayan of Medusa Prime, chief world of the Xi Hydrae cluster. It is my honor to represent the United Federation of Planets in these official First Contact proceedings, and my pleasure to make your acquaintance, Your Excellency Haztor."
The scripted greeting rolled straight out of Calida's vocalizer while her consciousness rolled across the Myriad's retainers. Of course, the proxy was a hollow shell as was to be expected, but the others... well, Calida would enjoy watching them.

"Ah a immaterial one," Haztor said with obvious relish. "And I think a tour would be the very thing whilst I do my best to help mend the broken fences we seem to be standing upon."

"Then it shall be arranged. We'll move discussions to a more private location whilst your entourage are entertained. I am certain I have one or two volinteers in mind who would not shirk at the responsibility," Ingram said.

"A sound idea. I can see already, that we're going to get along just fine you and I Dr Ingram," Haztor smiled.

"Who do you want to escort them Captain?" Aimee asked suddenly.

"Ssssh," said Murray, close beside Dr Paulsen. "The grown-ups are talking."

"How very accommodating of you. Dr Jacobs, Paulsen, and Commande Meilin will escort the Scholar and her highness of leisure. I'm sure Station and local security can provide an escort as well." Ingram said, and then nodded at Haztor. "Then we can retire to one of the conference facilities here to discuss more important matters with myself, Ambassador Calida, and our Cardassian envoy."

"That does sound awfully agreeable," Haztor beamed.

 

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