Canopus Station
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Backroom Politics

Posted on Wed Jul 14th, 2021 @ 12:34am by Lu'kat

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: Cardassia Prime, Lakarian City, Private Room of a Coffee House

The dimly lit room showed the pale features of four Cardassians speaking in hushed yet serious tones. Even though good money was paid for the privacy of this room, it was clear that these four were all too aware that listening devices or other means of espionage could very well be monitoring their every move, every word…

One of them, an ancient battle worn and scarred Cardassian, held a padd in his hand. From the padd a small hologram of a man appeared, along with his obituary. In contrast to the scarred elder, the deceased old man in the hologram seemed untouched by war, well-fed, almost soft to the touch. But from his eyes shone a ruthless determination and cunning nurtured by years of deceitful politics and assertive diplomacy.

The ancient Cardassian spoke: “The demise of Dracys is a great loss to the Cardassian Union, of course. The man was almost single-handedly responsible for restoring order and justice to the chaotic anarchy that reigned immediately after the Dominion betrayed us so horridly. For that alone, Dracys deserves to be honoured and remembered. But….”

“But what?” Another Cardassian interrupted, this one younger, very young in fact, barely old enough to remember the War, much less the atrocities committed during and immediately after its conclusion. “Dracys was a saviour to our people, Cardassia would not be where it was today if it weren’t for him!”

“Quiet! You insolent child…” the ancient Cardassian responded. “Remember your place, boy… Your father might have pulled you up to this position, but I can just as easily bring you down. Remember that.” Then, as if the young Cardassian wasn’t there, the ancient Cardassian continued: “But Dracys was also a power-hungry maniac. Yes, I said it. Who played a key role in provoking the Cardassian-Federation war in the ‘40s? Who had a leading hand in enticing our forces to attack the Federation outpost on Setlik III? Who provided the intel convincing Enabran Tain to attack the Founders? Who was the first to support Gul Dukat when he started negotiations with the Dominion, and who was there after Dukat’s fall? Yes, Dracys, the man behind the man. Always there, in the shadows, whispering, gaining, benefiting, while those in front of him rose to power only to ultimately meet their doom. Who would have thought that one man could shape the fate of an entire galaxy such as he did… And now, he is gone. At last. A terrible tragedy for Cardassia, yet, quite possibly, also its salvation…”

The young Cardassian shifted uncomfortably in his seat, clearly wanting to speak out, but holding his tongue, knowing full well the consequences if he didn’t.

“Could you please get to the point, Emiritus”, urged the third Cardassian, clearly in his middle years. “Why have you called us to this place, which is built on the bones of millions of our brethren, surely it is about more than just a history lesson?”

“Patience, Gul Madras. I did not grow to this age by being hasty”, the ancient Cardassian retorted. “The point, gentlemen, is that even in death, Dracys’ machinations continue to hold Cardassia in its grasp.” His fingers moved over the padd in such a quick and practiced fashion which showed how old age had never deterred the ancient living fossil from keeping up with the times and the most modern forms of technologies. Seconds later, a map appeared.

“You might be aware, that for the last couple of years Cardassia has involved itself with the Federation in a seemingly daring PR stunt, which is our participation in something called Project Long Jump. The mutually agreed on goals are very simple and straightforward. We supply a few essential and exclusive resources needed to build two Accelerators, between the Alfa Quadrant and a region of space referred to as Messier 4. In exchange we get a very generous share of the profits this Project is designed to generate. Eventually.

“What do you mean, eventually?” The young Cardassian asked.

“What I mean is, Glinn, that for profits to make it back to Cardassia, the second Accelerator in Messier 4 must first be completed. Right now, we are literally throwing much needed funds down a hole in the universe, draining our already tight resources and holding back the reconstruction of our Empire. However, once two-way travel is established, the Cardassia can profit in weeks what it would otherwise profit in a year. But Dracys, for whatever reasons he might have had, only allowed a trickle of resources to flow to the Federation, slowing down the project considerably.”

“I’ve never liked this deal”, Gul Madras said, “what’s keeping the Federation from cutting us off the moment they no longer need our help? Surely this must have been considered?”

“Indeed, and it was. It might very well be one of the reasons why Dracys put so much of his energy into reducing output towards the Federation. With Dracys’ untimely death, the entire project is at risk of failing, and if it does, it will have brought us nothing… In addition, I have received disturbing reports from our agent who is based in Messier 4 at Starfleet’s headquarters there, Canopus Station, I believe it is called. His reports not only speak of many untold riches he has lined up for transport to Cardassia as soon as it becomes possible, as is according to the original plan, but he also speaks of powerful hostile unkillable aliens, capable of destroying worlds and civilisations (not unlike the Dominion), mind-boggling special phenomena such as something called the Mire. ‘Tis a dangerous place, this Messier 4. One would think the expedition was doomed from the start, that Dracys had lost his mind for agreeing to it in the first place. But somehow, these humans have stood fast and kept themselves afloat amidst seemingly impossible scenarios.”

“Yes, and?” Gul Madras was unable to suppress his impatience.

“And you are right, Gul Madras”, the ancient Cardassian replied. “Indeed, what is keeping the Federation from backtracking on their deal and cut us off at their earliest convenience? Our agent’s latest reports are even more worrying. Starfleet is consolidating its presence, it has already colonised one planet, sharing it with Romulans, no less! And now there are plans to start settling other nearby worlds, all controlled by Starfleet and the Federation. Now, I ask you gentlemen, where does that leave us?”

Some unintelligible murmur from the young and middle-aged Cardassian was what had to make do for an answer. Then Gul Madras spoke more clearly: “This information is all provided by our one agent, is it not? Are we sure we can trust this information?”

The Emiritus’ expression was unreadable. “No… He is a creature of Dracys, some fool who has been living tied to Dracys’ leash for over a decade.”

“Then, again I ask you, Emiritus, why did you call us here, what do you want to say? Out with it, old man!” Gul Madras almost exclaimed before he composed himself.

“Manners, my dear Gul. Mind your tone with me.” the ancient Cardassian responded. He sighed. “Our agent’s reports need to be verified before any major action can be undertaken. This is where Legate Quetta comes in”, he nodded at the fourth Cardassian, who had remained silent until now, “I’ve ordered him on a mission to inspect Canopus Station on behalf of the Cardassian Union, to either confirm or deny these reports, oversee the final stages of the second gateway and to establish formal diplomatic and bilateral relations with the locals in Messier 4.

“What about our agent?” the young Cardassian asked.

The Emiritus smiled a crooked smile. “Oh, I wouldn’t worry too much about him.”

Gul Madras lips curled up ever so slightly. “You need us to sign off on the mission, don’t you?”

The ancient Cardassian met his gaze with piercing eyes. “Obviously…”

Gul Madras’ smile disappeared as if it had never been there. “I see. And if we don’t, I’m sure we’ll never see the outside of this room ever again, I trust?”

“Unfortunate accidents do happen, from time to time, best to be careful,” the Emiritus said matter-of-factly. “You, Gul Madras, command much respect in the military. I am not fooled by your seemingly ‘lower’ rank of Gul. We all know who has the military’s ear. And you, Glinn Surat, have your father’s ear in the civilian government and are authorised to sign documents in his name. A great privilege, that, and quite useful to me.” He paused for effect. The look on the two Cardassian faces was something to savour. The ancient Cardassian always prided himself for seeing through the façades and layers of deception through which the Cardassian elites handled their affairs. “But no worries, I’ll make sure you’ll be handsomely rewarded for your cooperation…”

“Right, I’m sure we will,” Gul Madras replied ambiguously. One the one hand he felt that this was a great opportunity to expand his own influence, but on the other, he knew that this was nothing more than a simple power grab left by the power vacuum created by Dracys’ unexpected death, of which Gul Madras was now wondering whether it was entirely by natural causes. Still, the Gul pressed his thumb on the authorisation page of the document, which would allow for the Legate and his staff to travel to Messier 4 on a Galor Class starship, accompagnied by two Hideki patrol ships.

Glinn Surat also pressed his thumb on the authorisation page of the document, wondering how Starfleet and the Federation might react to the Cardassian taskforce showing up on their doorstep.

And with that Legate Quetta’s inspection mission was approved. The Emiritus wasted no time and left the coffee house, transporting to an unknown location on Cardassia Prime as soon as he was out the door. Sitting down in his chair behind his desk, he activated a comm and simple stated: “Step 1 complete.”


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