Canopus Station
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Chatty Chat

Posted on Thu Jul 15th, 2021 @ 1:05am by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Lu'kat

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: Canopus Station, Medical Centre
Timeline: MD2 4.30

Ingram stretched out his arm, rotating the shoulder and bending the elbow as he did so. There was a little tightness in the movement, but nothing he'd not experienced before following a calcium fusion treatment for other breaks.

"We have the Builders hanging around the outer system, and according to the Commodore's Officer, we have an incoming flotilla of ships from a race called the Casstaulli. Allies, I hasten to add, whose homeworld just got incinerated by the Myriad," Ingram sighed. He used his newly mended arm to rub his eyes. "I did not come out here to run a halfway house for decimated populations."

Meilin sniffed at Ingram's remark but covered it up with a faint smile. "And here I thought our mission was to secure and defend the colony that had formed around the makeshift crash landing on Carpathia," she said. "Perhaps we ought to assess matters before we form judgments regarding them."

"No no, we can assess fairly well from your statement. Securing the colony of Carpathia, and the foothold of the United Federation of Planets in Messier 4 and the intergalactic medium beyond. How is that served better by becoming a half way house for the Xilosian's and now the Casstualli, and a trailer park for beings able to bioprint the perfect conversation starter. I hope I'm there when we find their ending," Ingram grumbled. "The first two bring attention to the two major powers of Messier 4: the Myriad and the Concordance. The third...well. We await the other shoe dropping upon us from a great height."

"Allies are helpful," Meilin said, "even surprise ones." She cast a glance at Lu'kat. "Do not be so pessimistic, Captain Ingram. Pragmatism takes the good with the bad. Focusing on strictly the bad is only asking for more."

"Hope for the best, plan for the worst. It is very hard to do both, let me tell you," Ingram muttered. "We'll need to put out a traffic advisory to the Task Force and the traffic controllers that we'll be seeing more and more of those starjammer's entering the system. We'll need to try screening them to make sure they are not carrying worrisome passengers."

“Somehow, I don’t think they’d take very kindly to that,” offered Mara. “And they do seem self-sufficient. Or even more than self-sufficient, if that’s even possible. And friendly.”

Meilin frowned. "Friendly is a relative concept," she said. "Friendliness and harm are not mutually exclusive phenomena. I recommend launching a screen of class 4 probes at high warp daisy-chained into a full search grid. We need to know precisely what is coming our way."

“I’d hate to alienate a potential ally,” replied Mara. “Maybe we should contact the Traveler, see if they’ve had any experience with the Builders.”

“They‘he been crowing about all of their recent discoveries of late, I hardly think Captain Remas and his band of travelling minstrils would keep such a feather in their hat quiet. That skill seems somewhat counter to their skills.” Ingram mused. “Commander Meilin, get the probe chain set up. I want as much warning as we can get about incoming threats.”

PADD in hand, Meilin was already inputting the command order into the station's science array. "Done," she said. "Current project estimates the probes will launch momentarily and will provide relevant astrometric and telemetric data within the hour."

Having finished his medical checkup, Lu'kat joined the others in their conversation, that he had overheard. "Expansion," he simply stated. "Right now Canopus Station is vulnerable. There is no place to fall back to, should our defences break. To protect the centre, we need a periphery. To compare it to your Earth's history, 500 years ago the British Empire had colonised India. To protect it, they expanded outwards into Afghanistan in the west and Burma in the east. Any invading force would have no choice but to advance through miles of desert and jungle before reaching the so-called Jewel of the Crown. The strategy served them well. Russia and the British vied for control over Afghanistan for centuries, but India's position was secure. During your second World War, when the Japanese nation invaded Burma, but were eventually stopped before they could get a foothold in India." Lu'kat paused, not everyone would be familiar with pre-warp Earth history. "Morals and ideologies aside, the concept has proven to work. Settle the Xilosians, Casstualli in the systems around us, shore up defences at Carpathia Colony, and we have the beginnings of a periphery, a first line of defence."

"By placing our newfound allies on the front line," Ingram said. He did not say so in a condemning fashion, more in the tone of 'This is a bad idea, but it's not my bad idea and I won't get blamed for it'. Putting a disposable line of friendlies between himself and the larger galaxy had been a winning strategy so far, proving yet again that you can argue the book 'How to make friends, and influence people' could be considered a survival handbook.

"Huum...maybe not settling them, but perhaps setting up jointly controlled outposts under the auspices of the Long Jump Project. Joint ventures with our new Messier 4 allies, give the Xiloasian's something to do and the Castualli something to do with their fleet," Ingram nodded. "That would be a better sell to Commodore Grissom I think, Starfleet lead but civilian-based. Congratulations Lu'kat, you have risen past my expectations of you."

This all sounded vaguely unconscionable to Meilin. "The Xilosians have no spacepower to speak of. Settling them in a nearby system will mean nothing in terms of defensive measures, especially where warp technology is concerned. Will you have the Rish be your frontline as well? Perhaps the Casstauli can make a show of force, but this proposal is absurd in terms of modern warfare except as a measure for ulterior prejudices against undesirable groups."

Lu'kat nodded at Ingram's praise, or insult, it really depended on how you would look at it. Then he turned to Meilin. "No one called them undesirable before you did, Lieutenant Commander. I'm simply laying out a possible scenario. Canopus Station will reach maximum capacity at some point. Relocating the Xilosians and Casstauli to, as Ingram preferred to call them, joint outposts, can be as beneficial to them as it can be to us in the long term. Whereas regarding matters of defence, these are races who have more experience in battling the Myriad and Concordance than we have. Given the right tools and, if needed, some guidance, provided by us, this could work. At the very least, it is worth exploring every possibility, wouldn't you agree?"

"You were the one who identified moral considerations when presenting the notion," Meilin pointed out. "It would seem disingenuous of you to pretend there are none now."

"And keeping all of our eggs in one basket is hardly a sound survival strategy. Commander Meilin you made a point, make sure the probe survey pass through neighbouring systems to see if we have any habitable worlds. Even something we can dig a surface settlement into could help, not only in providing the Task Force with a defence picket but in resource generation. Not to mention aiding in bringing our population into a better protective stance than it is now," Ingram countered. "Commodore Grissom would need to assign starships to guard and patrol those systems, naturally."

"Thinning out our resources across multiple indefensible locations is not the strategy of champions, much less when they're soft industrial or even agricultural targets manned by civilians," Meilin said. "No offense to our current allies in the Cardassian Union, but that is the worst thing we could do."

As much as she hated to disagree with her friend, Mara had to say, “I have to agree with Lu’kot on this one. I can see where both of you are coming from and both have merits, but spreading out seems the better option to me. Although we are in hostile territory, we aren’t actively at war. Keeping everyone together would just make everyone that much easier to eliminate.”

"Sun Tzu suggests the winner of a war is he who chooses the field of battle," Meilin said. "We cannot do that by offering options to would-be adversaries, except to ensure that some options are more desirable than others." Looking at Ingram and Lu'kat, she barely held her disdain. "If you wish to use civilians as bulwarks to protect your citadel, then do not shrink from the suggestion on moral grounds. Embrace it or discard it, but do not hide the truth of it."

Acknowledging Ingram's and Mara's support, Lu'kat replied to Meilin: "I will concede that my original suggestion was solely focused on potential geopolitical and military advantages, like manoeuvring pieces on a, what is it you say, chess board. However, as you have seen, Captain Ingram was quick to expand on the idea and suggest a more morally palatable execution of the original concept. With your input, I'm sure a consensus can be reached that can work for everyone," Lu'kat said reassuringly, or at least attempted to sound reassuring.

He had specifically avoided the word 'compromise', which he believed to be a preposterous word in any situation, considering it's negative connotations. He had to admit to himself that he hadn't expected Ingram and Mara to pick up on his suggestion so quickly, which, to Lu'kat, was the true praise. The Cardassian was fully aware that Ingram would undoubtedly have his own motives, and that at the first sign of trouble, fingers would be pointed at him. However, this didn't bother the Cardassian very much.

Being in an uncharacteristically good mood, he decided to throw Cmdr. Meilin a bone: "Besides, for any of this to work in the first place, we'll need the Xilosians and the Casstauli to cooperate. That means that we have to convince them it is in their best interest. I would be happy to assist in that area, and I would appreciate your help and see to it no one is misinformed." Outside of that, the Cardassian thought along stereotypical Cardassian lines, there were more ways than one to 'convince' a group of people...

"If I had any desire to persuade people to act against their better interests," Meilin said with a gentle timbre and sweet smile, "I would have persuaded you to go back to the Alpha Quadrant some time ago."

Mara bit her lips at once to stop the smile from coming to her lips and managed to suppress the laugh rising in her throat to a sharp exhale. She vaguely considered suggesting that Meilin and Lu'kat team up to talk to the Xilosian military commanders about it and get their take, but decided that would just be pushing her friend a little too far.

"Commander, spite and sarcasm are unbecoming of someone of your rank and standing," Ingram said. Of course, he was calling a kettle a darker shade of colour than what it was, but that was hardly the point. "The idea will be brought to the Commodores attention, and then he will make a choice as to whether to shelve it or bring it to our allies. It will be out of our hands, so best to make the most of it and give it a good start in life."

"I have been nothing but honest and sincere," Meilin protested, "and in the end I shall do my duty." Of course, cultural and linguistic nuances allowed for 'duty' to mean entirely different things to different people.

Lu'kat found it all quite refreshing, and a good reminder that despite all that had happened over the last couple of months he was still, and would remain, an outsider. At least to some. Humans had a way of trying to coat everything under a veneer of nobility and righteousness, so long as it benefited them. The Dominion War showed the Alpha Quadrant that below that veneer were a people as cunning as the Romulans, as violent as the Klingons, as greedy as the Ferengi, and, dare he think it, as deceitful as the Cardassian...

Something, Lu'kat reasoned, that Ingram seemed to be very much aware of, which Lu'kat respected in the man, yet, at the same time, made him the most dangerous individual on the station.

"I admire your straight-forwardness, Commander," Lu'kat finally said. "Let us take it one step at a time. What is it you say...all roads lead to Romulus? Our end goals are the same: the durable and sustainable security and growth of this station."

"Even if we make them purely outposts manned by Starfleet personnel, it would be best to give them the best data on our new frontier as we can find. It's still a worthy scientific endeavour," Ingram said, getting off of the biobed. "Now, if you don't mind I intend to change into a new uniform and write a report the Commodore will surely be read by one of his aides."

"And I will return to formulating scientific forecasts to model how many casualties may result from reckless colonialization," Meilin said.

"Be sure the file the appropriate 'I told you so's' in my message queue, you know how I appreciate timely form work." Ingram crooned.

Meilin rolled her eyes but said nothing.

Lu'kat had nothing to add, and went back to his office to write a mission report to Cardassia, whom he thought would surely be interested in these newly proposed proposed plans.

"Now, let us be about it?" Ingram said, gesturing to the door out of sickbay. "I have form work I need to complete in my office."

"And that's why I'm never leaving engineering," commented Mara, turning towards the door. "I have enough form work as a department head. Any more and I'd scream."

"An aversion to formwork is a symptom of an erratic mind," Meilin noted to nobody in particular.

“Be honest, Meilin,” replied Mara with a grin, “do you really expect my mind to be anything else?”


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