Canopus Station
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All For The Want Of A Ferengi

Posted on Sat May 30th, 2020 @ 12:36am by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & The Narrator & Senior Chief Petty Officer Sharona Deluna & Lu'kat & Commander Calida

Mission: S2:2: Best Laid Plans
Location: Canopus Station, Admin Block, Conference Room A
Timeline: MD1: 17.00

"From your own private collection?"

Haztor regarded the hololithic artwork projected onto the wall of the conference room. It was a landscape, a sandy beach, but rendered in the Bajoran avant-garde style with minimal brush strokes for detail, but with broad swathes of colour to grant it context.

"One of Pesher The Elder's works, from before the fall of Bajor to the Cardassian Occupation," Ingram said as he poured a glass of water for himself and Lu'kat given they were the only corporeal residents in the room.

"I find it...fascinating. New. Huum. We Myriad have a saying, that there is nothing new under the light of suns. We see so many make the same mistakes, toying with atomic energies before they are wise enough to wield them safely, to reaching for the stars with conquest in their hearts," Haztor turned his head slightly. "Would you part with this for an exchange? I can be generous in my terms."

Lu'kat regarded the painting, sipping his water. Pre-occupation Bajoran art was deemed quite valuable to the Bajoran people, who thought of their past as a glorious era in which their people were uninhibited in their freedoms, development and wealth. This was true, in a sense, though Lu'kat also knew of the troubles their society faced, the tears in their social fabrics which the Cardassians had gripped into and tore further. Still, it did not matter in the current political climate. The Bajoran Centre of Arts had been scrounging the entire Alpha Quadrant for their lost and stolen artefacts, and sparing no expense, were willing to dive deep into their pockets for the safe return of its heritage. The fact that Ingram had one such piece of art hanging in a non-descript conference room, one of many such rooms, in a Starfleet space station on the other side of the galaxy, said both something of the wealth the Ingram family had at its disposal, and the value Ingram personally put on such an item. Especially since it had just become an item for barter.

"Let us discuss our future, and it might be given as a gift to a new friend in Messier 4," Ingram said.

"To business then?" Haztor said regretfully and turned to look at the trio assembled there. "The short of it is, you are infringing on the border of our space. This world and its system are of no interest to the Myriad, and so we choose not to contest them. But your...actions within Messier 4, have led many of our grand Houses to ponder why you are here. And now here in greater numbers."

Sharona waited just behind Ingrams and to the side, a PADD in her hand. The Selelvian observed Haztor but said nothing as she waited to take notes, record the transactions and spew out a mountain of red tape if the Captain required it.

"The Great Houses of the Myriad did not originate in Messier 4," Calida trilled through her vocalizer. The five-dimensional vantage point of a Medusan did not directly translate to discourse with corporeal beings, but such insight did bear certain advantages. "Perhaps our reason for being here is not so unlike your own?"

"Ah, but we did arrive here first. Our vessels made the long migration from our home stars aeons ago, making star fall here some time...oh...around the time the human race began to record their history on cave walls," Haztor replied with a smile.

"And yet stellar diplomacy is not first-come, first-served. There is a nuance to it that we must abide," Ingram retorted. "Our deals so far with the Myriad, and various other races with Messier 4, do not paint the actions of your Great House favourably."

"By comparison to your own histories?" Haztor asked. "You'll forgive me, but we do know a fair amount about your own cultures. Wars, genocides, conflicts and social integration issues that have spanned generations and formed the basis of many of your collective species identities. Strife and unrest that many species under our stewardship have not faced because the beneficent hand was there to show them the brighter path. We are merely stewards of a vast stellar college, guiding our students to their rightful place."

A hum emitted from Calida's carrier pod. "What rightful place is that?" The muted inflection of the tinny vocalization failed to capture the candor that was carried by the Medusan's ambient telepathy. "Perpetually Bound existence? Since we have laid our collective histories to bare, perhaps we ought to hear of the Myriad's intentions for coexistence with the Federation."

"Survival, of course. It is the root directive any pieces, even an Unbound one," Haztor explained. "The history of the Alpha Quadrant has been one of ceaseless assimilation into a single hegemony. Oh, you bring out the pony show as you call it, the self-governance, the Prime Directive, but all you do is remove autonomy. At least the Myriad do benefit our clients, to help them avoid the pitfalls others fall into. The High Executor herself wishes only for the Federation to know, that the stars of the Myriad are not for them. interference will be...suitably rebuffed."

"With all due consideration to our representative from the Cardassian Union," Calida said, indicating Lu'kat who had been a fly on the wall for the most part. "I might recommend that you invest more research into the affairs of the galactic quadrants before making such broad-sweeping generalities. Or, perhaps, we might beg the audience of a superior representative of the Myriad, if not the High Executor herself -- one whom would know that no single hegemony exists such as you described." Diplomacy was all about give and take. "It would be unfortunate for misunderstandings to arise in peace talks due to a lack of information or the specious transmission thereof."

Lu'kat gave a nod of acknowledgement to Commander Calida. "Well noted, Ambassador Calida. The Myriad would do well to remember that it is with the aid of Cardassia the Federation was able to build this station."
Soon we will reach a point where renegotiation will be necessary, in order to ensure optimal benefit for all parties involved. Lu'kat thought.
"And while the Cardassian Union is willing to let the Federation have a leading role in these negotiations, the Myriad will undoubtedly realise the wide-ranging implications any treaty will have upon this piece of the galaxy and the Alpha quadrant. Our first encounter with the Myriad was unfortunate, but it has happened, and the consequences are that in the Alpha Quadrant the people look less than favourable upon you. Your attempt at reparation is admirable, but now, more than ever, it is up to you to turn that negative perception around."

"Are we at war?" Haztor asked with a smile. "The acts of a single rogue trader hardly constitute the will of High Executor herself. No more than your ship captain invading one of our resource gathering systems and trying to abscond with private property in the form of material illegally salvaged from one of those asteroids. I am here to unruffle feathers, and ensure that all of us are on the same page as your most colourful expression goes."

"You're here to tell us to keep to ourselves?" Ingram asked, sipping from a glass of water he had poured for himself.

"The United Federation of Planets, and by extension its inquisitive Starfleet, has a history of placing its sensory organs where they are not welcome. Like the Romulans of old, you expand ever outwards. Oh, never in conflict, never with a view to conquering your just so happens the locals like what you sell them. Peace, prosperity, the utopia of good governance and civilisation. In that respect, we share a common cause. I am merely here to say that this market is sewn up, it would be poor ground in which to try and trade. A good businessman could tell you that. Like an Ingram."

"I always took after my mother, my father saw my lacklustre enthusiasm for the family business to be his greatest failing in life," Ingram said conversationally.

"Yes, I imagine it was," Haztor smiled thinly. "But, to sweeten the appeal of leaving Messier 4 in our good hands, I am authorised to dispense with various technologies and data your civilisation might find useful."

"It does not seem that the Myriad resides within the entirety of Messier 4," Calida observed, "so perhaps it is premature and imprudent to speak of leaving the entirety of the globular cluster in anybody's sole hands. The Federation's highest ideal is to explore new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations. Our Prime Directive is not to interfere in the natural evolution of any species. We also believe in forging alliances wherever we may, and if that requires honoring political borders, then so be it. However, if the Myriad were to forbid the free exchange of ideas between peoples, that would be an unfortunate scenario to which the Federation could never agree."

"And what happens when those words don't want your attention, when new life actively seeks its privacy? Will your Federation force itself on worlds under Myriad care, when we have asked that that should not be the case? If need be, to help assuage your consciences, representatives of those worlds can speak to you so that you might know their answers before blundering into a situation you will find most unpleasant."

Calida's carrier pod hummed again. The air rippled with telepathic amusement. "Since the Federation has never forced itself upon any world in its history, then perhaps the noble representative of the House of Foxes is assigning the Myriad's values to another government. The Federation's Prime Directive is one of nonintervention and it is irrevocable. Violating it generally leads to the severest punishment our government levies. Such is the conscientious ethics we bring to Messier 4, though it is understandable if a society driven by conquest invariably suspects the same from all others -- a thief most fears being robbed, after all." Her vocalizer almost punctuated the statement with a terse trill. "Nonetheless, let us make good on your admirable suggestion: at an appointed time and place we should hold a formal summit where our regional powers and... clients... may come and enter into an accord of peace and mutual respect for the benefit of all. Is this amenable to the Myriad or shall we renegotiate previously spoken words?"

"Of course not, the Myriad desire this outcome! We want the Federation to know that we are neighbours rich in bounty, but somewhat less giving in our privacy. A formal gathering would allow both sides to show their respective populations their true intention in a public forum," Haztor smiled congenially. "I would be correct in assuming you, as this station Diplomatic Head, you are volunteering the services of your station to such an endeavour?"

Lu'kat's mind was already contemplating what this would mean for Cardassia, and for him. Cardassia would certainly want to send an official delegation of their own to safeguard its interests. That created...opportunities... for him.

"Before I allow our Chief Diplomat to respond to that inquiry, Miss Deluna?" Ingram said, an imperious raised hand and beckoning finger tap. "I want a low level accredited access to our database created for Haztor. Nothing classified, nor below Class 3. Attach my authorisation to the formwork. It should allow Haztor curated access to our cultural databases and the like."

And given those databases were hard-wired into near air-gapped senility with the rest of the station's data architecture, it was safer than trying to safeguard the rest of the network blunted through it was.

"Certainly, Sir," Sharona said, grateful to have something to do other than listen to the diplomatic butt kissing. She busied herself with her PADD and set up access for Haztor and entourage to access only the non-critical low level cultural database, but put a block on her species ability. "Done, Captain."

"Excellent," Ingram said with a smile. "Diplomate Calida? A small olive branch to aid you."

~Savvy~ Calida impressed onto Ingram's mind care of their longstanding bond from their years of service together. "Perhaps the honorable Myriad representative can reciprocate in some fashion?"

Haztor smiled, and held up one hand. The fingers and thumb of the offered alabaster limb folded away, flicking back on smooth hinges and glossy servo's to reveal a recess within the forearm. With the other hand, Haztor reached into it and pulled out a small coppery rod.

"In expectation of a mutual exchange of cultural data, a sampling from our data troves collected over the last four hundred kilo years and sixty thousand species. No technology files above your own current level of development, but a gesture of our enduring belief in reciprocal trade," Haztor said, his hand folding back into its normal configuration as he placed the rod on the table. "It should be an easy enough matter for your data retrieval experts to access the data held within."

Ingram eyed the copper rod with a raised eye brow, and then made the same beckoning gesture to Sharona.

"Have trove, was it?" Ingram asked of Haztor. "Have it taken to one of the station's science labs for data interrogation. I think one of the Blue Level labs would do nicely."

The Blue Level labs were ones with their own internal power sources, their own life support. And in the event of something unfortunate happening had high powered impulse motor's buried in their bulkheads to shoot them out of the side of the station and into open space at speed. It was the sort of lab where the Starfleet Advanced Design Beauru had experimented with self-replicating nanomachine manufacturing.

A lot of Blue Level labs were nothing more than floating grey blobs of nanomachine detritus drifting in the shadow of Neptune. There was a reason they were called the Extreme Danger Bug Room.

"Most generous," Calida conceded. "To your earlier question, the use of Canopus Station is certainly an option for peaceful delegations, but our traditions hold that such events are best held in neutral locations to be hosted by third-party officials. The resulting accord or treaty would then be named after the neutral location."

"And what neutral location could we find, as I do not think the Concordance would be at all willing to grant us a space to conduct such a transaction," Haztor said with a flip of his hand.

"What about the Harbour Master?" Benjamin asked. "His sort seemed willing to trade with any and all who came along, and even the Myriad seemed to hold him in high regard."

"The Bone Golems...interesting, yes. Yes I think one of their ilk could be convinced to host us. They wander through Messier 4, somewhat nomadic. Though I think the Harbour Master is not someone you want to meet again this side of the galactic disk after your last meeting destroyed The Mire," Haztor drummed a finger on the table. "I have a few Bone Golem contacts I can reach out to, see if any want the honour of hosting the first extragalactic accord between our two people."

"Is there a system or celestial body wherein your contacts could host a delegation?" Calida asked.

"There are one or two barren systems of little interest to the Myriad, I'm sure one of them is bound to be close enough to your Station to allow easy access," Haztor smiled. "Also, as a point, your engineering inspection team are being safely returned to your station. They snuck aboard my shuttle, and I thought it best to welcome them with a tour of my vessel."

At this Lu'kat raised an eyebrow, and regarded Captain Ingram, waiting for an explanation.

"I will ensure they are suitably reprimanded," Ingram said after a moment.

"Oh, no need. The Myriad like to see curiosity in others. It helps lay the foundations for future trade when one knows what the other party is seeking," Haztor replied. Ingram was about to open his mouth to say something else, when an icon on the desktop before him began to blink gently. "A problem?"

"Not as such," Ingram said with a thin smile, reading the security summary. "Just station administration. A moment. Miss Deluna?"

He flicked the data sprite from the table desktop computer to her personal pads. The file header read 'Security Alert: Bar'soon & Other'.

"If you could make sure that gets filed with all suitable effort, you have my permission to use any tool necessary to get the job done thoroughly," Ingram smiled. "But done quickly."

"Right away, Captain," Sharona said as she looked at the Security message and sighed. Of course it would be Bar'soon, she sighed again. However, his phrasing of the order left her realizing that she had carte blanche to do whatever she could to kill the buffoon. If he could die. However, she now had all the tools - explosives included - to see what it would take to kill him once and for all. With a smile that had little to do with being friendly, nice or pleasant, the Selelvian turned and practically sprinted out of the offices.

"There. But a moment," Ingram smiled. "I look forward to seeing what we can both agree to in the coming days Haztor."

"As do I, Captain Ingram," Haztor rose and Ingram with him, and bowed his head towards Calida and Lu'kat. "To you both, I look forward to seeing you both again soon."

"Until our next convergence," trilled Calida's vocalizer.

Lu'kat also rose. "Important steps have been taken today. I'm confident our next meeting will further our mutual goals towards peaceful and lucrative cooperation between us." He made a mental note to catch Ingram later about endangering everything by letting his crew members sneak aboard Myriad vessels.

"Of that, I have no doubt."


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