Canopus Station
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The Room Where It Happens

Posted on Tue Oct 12th, 2021 @ 9:00pm by Commodore Theodore Grissom & Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Bar'soon'fo'da'gree'nars & Kisbeck Prime Philospher & Viscount Vittels & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Major Samuel Braddock & Lieutenant Commander Amie Cerys & Lieutenant Commander Jillian Toomey & Lieutenant T'Niam & Lu'kat & Commander Calida

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: Canopus Station, Admin Block, Diplomatic Suite
Timeline: MD7

A Xilosian, a Casstauilli and a Shishimi walk into a cocktail party...

There had to be a joke there, something to break the ice. But there was not. The simply dressed onyx skinned Xilosian delegation, their head fronds a mix of colours, were distinctly separate to the serpentine finery of the Casstauilli. Long and slender bodies, wearing vests and tunics of machine spin gold and silver to compliment a riot of scale colours, the Casstauilli were befitting their royal bearing.

And then there was the Shishimi...entombed within a little fort made of peach daiquiris he'd brought with him from somewhere. How he'd been able to get them in past the door guard was still something of a wonder.

The three groups, representing the Messier 4 races actively willing to aid the Federation, had been summoned under the banner of intelligence and technology sharing, as well as mutual defence. Grissom was also attending, ready to present the proposed Peel Tower outposts that would project the frontier of security out past the Carpathia system.

Ingram stood, aloof and above the petty wants of the buffet table and wandering drinks servers.

"So much to be done and yet we spend time drinking about what will be," he grumbled he thought to himself.

“Think of it as schmoozing,” replied Mara, who stood nearby with a glass of something or other grasped delicately in her right hand; she didn’t trust her left hand yet, even though she had it for several months now. She had long ago found a dress dress uniform which hit her about mid-thigh and wore it today. After all, if she had to be in a dress uniform, she may as well be in a dress uniform. “Even you have to see the value in schmoozing.”

"Yes but I avoid the use of that word when there are many more suitable to rank and station. Such as networking?"

“That word isn’t nearly as fun to say,” replied Mara. “It’s like, why would you say tricked, when bamboozled is available?”


Jillian was there because she had been coerced into being there and worse, forced to wear this Federation's version of a dress uniform. Which, she discovered, was no less uncomfortable than her Federation's dress uniform. Only uglier with a side of anger to really keep the back straight.

She glanced around and saw Ingram talking to some woman in a clearly bastardized version of what she considered a dress uniform, and that it didn't even reach her knees. It was what JT called a THOT uniform, but she kept it to herself as she looked around and took in the other delegations that were attending.

Out of the three, she focused on the one that seemed to be wearing a drink and had huge floppy ears and stared at him until she felt her vision start to waiver and had to look away. Maybe they wouldn't make her interact with whatever it was, but she determined to play nice.

Sam walked in shortly after, resplendent in his more formal Dress Blues, complete with standing collar with Starfleet arrowheads on either side and the small medals and badges on his chest glinting in the light of the room, complete with a royal blue shoulder cord. Snagging a glowing orange drink from a passing tray, he blended into the crowd, trading respectful nods with the various diplomats. He had never been one for parties as they made him slightly uncomfortable- he liked to say that the heat in these rooms tended to cause him to wilt.

In the corner, silently watching people to and fro while pretending to study her fingernails, sat Meilin. She wore a simple duty uniform of Science teal, content to blend into the surroundings like an invisible NCO or perfect wallflower. Only her pips betrayed her greater standing among the crew. The foreign dignitaries--if one could call them so, given the antics of the Shishimi--were best observed without inserting herself into the centre of attention. She did, however, spare a fond nod of greeting for both Mara and Philosopher Kisbeck when their eyes met.

T'Niam was not in the habit of being late but her absorption in her work had made it a near thing. She walked into the room in the requisite dress uniform, though it was softened by the simple tail she had gathered her hair into. A drinks server offered to obtain water for her and T'Niam declined with a polite shake of her head, appropriating a glass of Earth-style champagne and studying the soft colour and miniscule bubbles with a small uptick of her lips. She could see Meilin off to one side and changed her course to meet her, only pausing when she caught sight of Kisbeck and she offered him the greeting gesture he had shown her, sadly sans false fronds.

"Hello, T'Niam," Meilin said softly.

When the doors opened next, it appeared at first as if no one was there. But then the hum of an automated grav-sled entered the room with a golden pod affixed to it. "Greetings, honored guests, intrepid officers, welcomed souls all." The sanguine words trilled mechanically from the vocalizer atop the Medusan carrier pod which contained Calida, a Starfleet Commander and representative of the Diplomatic Corps. She proceeded to the center of the suite, and there her sled halted to become a temporary centerpiece of the room.

In walked Lu'kat, his Cardassian uniform finely polished as always, but for today's occasion freshly oiled as well, giving it an extra fresh gleam. While this event was to be a celebration of achieved accomplishments, cooperation and strengthening alliances, Lu'kat's facial expressions only showed such emotion which he deemed appropriate for the occasion. Anything more would be... unprofessional. And so he went to mingle, ensuring everyone would see proper Cardassian conduct and diplomacy at work: present a well-oiled machine of bureacratic and procedural finesse and efficiency, with a dash of flexibility and hint of quid-quo-pro (though others might view it as favouritism) if one would play their cards right.

"On behalf of her eminence the Arch Duchess, we return your most welcome greeting to his gathering," the Casstaulli head delegate said. He was tall (or was it long), his scales a delicate robin egg's blue with a grey belly. He sat coiled upon himself, his upper arms folded demurely before him. "To see so many, both in kin and kind, is a welcome sight to an old soldiers eye in these hard times."

"And as is known, the eternal gratitude of the Xilosian people is provided to all here," said Kisbeck. He was dressed in a light coloured Federation business suit, that one the angular shoulders and black onyx skin of the Xilosian just looked odd. "Were it not for the kindness and generosity of our Federation hosts, we would not be here to stand in thanks.

"No one bows for me...anymore..." came a sob from Fort Sauced.

"Mara," Ingram said under his breath. "You are on interdiction duty, no more drinks make it to that blue-skinned Buffoon. Everyone else you represent this stations administration, and by that regard me. Act accordingly."

“Why me?” Mara hissed back, but she didn’t continue. She knew full well why her; she was good at it. She had been good at distracting Spires and she would be good at distracting Bar’soon, too. She moved to begin her task of silently and sneakily swapping out the alcohol for synthahol, trusting that the deposed monarch was too drunk to notice.

"Because you bamboozled me with your lexicon of verbal whit. You clearly have a talent to speak to him in a language he might recognise," Ingram said as he snagged a glass of something light and bubbling from a passing server. "Also consider this payment back in regards to your little excursion."

"I have not arms to toast in the bipedal fashion, but allow me to speak the words without them. Honor to the august Casstaulli Arch Duchess and her retinue!" Calida said. "Honor to the courageous Xilosian Philosphie and company! Honor to the inimitable Shishimi monarch and his Em-bar-see!" There was not a hint of mockery in the even diction from the vocalizer, and yet there seemed a current of humor that radiated outward from the Medusan pod anyway. "Long may peace reign."

A polite but heartfelt applause arose from the gathered crowd, the Xilosian's and Casstaulli joining in a moment later.

"You speak of peace," Count Vittels said, his sibilant voice rising as the communal good cheer receeded. "And yet both my august people and those of the Xilosians stand in your grace because of war and displacement. We ourselves have only felt the leash of the Myriad, and many of my people see this new era as a chance to bring prosperity to others of Messier 4 by undoing the bonds that you yourselves did for us. We Casstualli have had peace at another's hand for centuries, and now that we are free we find that word...somewhat saccharine. Her Emminence, the Arch Duchess, would prefer more concrete pronouncements. Deeds speaking more readily, than many words."

"To that end," Commodore Grissom stated from his little flotilla of Task Force officers. "We are proposing the establishment of Peel Towers along the frontier of our space. These will be modular outposts, either on a planet or in orbit, and operated in partnership between the Federation Starfleet, the Xilosian Military Cadre, and the Arch Duchesses Royal Gaurd. These facilities will not only provide early warning, but will act as hubs for the creation of commerce and trade between Messier 4 and the United Federation of Planets and its partners in the Long Jump Mission. And will be patrol by Starfleet and Royal Guard vessels. For more details, I'd pass over to Captain Ingram and his staff who will be overseeing surveying and implementing these facilities."

And then...silence. Silence enough that you couldn't quite hear Grissom tossing Ingram under a bus full of Pakled honour students.

Lu'kat was pleased to see these plans were to be carried out. For too long Canopus Station had been a lone outpost in troubled waters, vulnerable to attack at every turn. If they were to make this venture profitable (which so far it hadn't, depending on generous subsidies from the Federation and Cardassia's trickling supply of materials for the Long Jump Project), expansion was the only way forward. High investments would increase their chances of high returns.

Amie had been wandering was it? She was quiet, her mind still going over her last mission. Of course, she was glad to be back home, and was sipping a drink even though she was on duty. Honestly, she needed it. She'd been listening, as Intelligence officers often do, and picking up on bits and pieces. She still had to talk with Ingram, or was it Grissom, but there was much going on and that would have to wait.

Jillian watched and listened to the pomp and circumstance and took note of the various titles of the represented aliens. She felt like she should have brought a member of her crew, but neither Reggie nor Song was a fitting representative and if she had her way, she would have yeeted them well before now.

(Meanwhile Somewhere Else..."Justice!! Get your dang nano probes outta that!...Oh well dang now I gotta get the cutting torch again gosh darnit.")

"Thank you, Commodore," Ingram said, using the time-honoured tactic of kissing ass and sipping from his glass to buy time. "The crew of Canopus Station have more experience, and indeed are best suited to this task than any here. We've been here longer, we've traversed many of these systems that will be of paramount importance to our future security, and that wealth of practical knowledge will be a boon. This project will take the full might of my staff, who you see here."

He indicated with a nod the other people he was dragging under the Pakled school bus with him as an honour guard.

"Obviously our Science team will be focused on determining which systems are most suitable for these Peel Towers. They'll do this by using long-range sensor data, as well as detailed surveys collected by our Fighter Wing. This will greatly accelerate plans, as well as gaining our pilots more training hours and familiarity with the terrain as it were. Commander Meilin, Major Braddock?" Ingram said, turning to look at them.

Sam gave a respectful nod. “I’ve developed an ongoing mission plan with randomized sensor pickets and permanent asset placement at strategically vulnerable points as determined by our intelligence team. Further details are… best discussed elsewhere, but rest assured, this area will have the full protection of Starfleet’s fighter assets.”

"Our probe network is in the process of determining which locations, if any, will offer a comparable level of sustainability as the Carpathian system," Meilin said, pointedly eyeing Ingram. "Rest assured that our recommendations will be based upon the highest scrutiny."

"And indeed this will be an Intelligence lead mission, with any data not relevant to planetary geophysics or stellar physics going to my head of Intelligence, Commander Cerys. Long-range sensors can only tell us so much, and any data found or inferred might well prove to our advantage. Isn't that right?"

Amie raised an eyebrow, but nodded. "That is very true. Send things my way, I'll take that type of work any day."

"Engineering will of course be aiding in the rapid construction of the modular Peel Towers, as well as streamlining and improving current designs to meet any particular situational need. Chief Ricci has experience working in the hazardous Messier 4 environment, and I am sure that will come to the fore. No doubt."

As he had pretty much explained it all, Mara had nothing to add, so she simply smiled politely and nodded as she covertly swapped out another of Bar’soon’s glasses for an identical one which contained synthahol.

"And of course supplying, not to mention implementing the logistics train needed to keep the Peel Towers online and coordinate the efforts of Starfleet and the Royal Guard, would be the responsibility of our Chief of Operations Lieutenant Commander Toomey. A task of diplomacy as well as organisational prowess."

"Anything within reason that doesn't include turning yourself into a drink unless you plan to be drank later, and from a drinks viewpoint, that is quite terrifying," JT said with a bright smile.

The onyx skinned Xilosian delegation's fronds turned a vibrant pink colour. "Is that...I mean I'm not sure if that was covered in the briefing pack," Kisbeck said slowly, trying to parse Toomey's saying. "I mean...can that happen?"

"Sure, if you're a glass of liquid," JT said. "Just imagine getting turned upside down and poured into a cave and through your body's digestive system, if you have one and drink liquids, that is. Quite terrifying for the drink."

Across the room, T'Niam's lips twitched upwards at the observation.

Kisbeck and his entourage exchanged looks, slowly but surely putting on a strained laughter.

"Human humour lacks the photonic cues we're used to," Kisbeck said, looking at Toomey. "You had us going there for a moment."

"Of course," JT laughed. "I apologize if you thought I was serious." She made a mental note to see if Portia could transport/transplace them somewhere later and give them that sensation.

"Ah, no harm done as is said in the Federation. We are eager to learn more of your idioms, so that future misunderstandings can be avoided," Kisbeck chuckled. The laughter he made was strained by the fact his second in the leadership of the Xilosian's, Force Commander Kle, was still in the brig after a shoot out on a survey mission.

"I'll be happy to provide you with some," JT offered.

"No doubt aided by our head of psychology, Dr T'Niam, who has already made strides in understanding the cultures and lifestyles of our new Messier 4 allies so that embarrassing misunderstandings and miscommunications can be avoided."

T'Niam did not pause to consider why Captain Ingram chose to use her salutation rather than her rank, given that she was in uniform. She inclined her head respectfully to all of the leaders present, raising one hand in a flawless salute of her world. "It will be my privilege to further the understanding between our peoples. My door is always open and it is with great anticipation that I accept this role." She looked towards the Castaulli delegation, bowing her head briefly in acknowledgement of their concerns. "I look forward to fostering an environment of mutual exploration and advantage." That said, the lieutenant lifted her glass in the Human tradition and nodded.

"We would be most welcome to a cultural exchange to ensure such misunderstandings," Vittels gestured with one of his upper limbs at Toomey. "Can be avoided. A jest is one thing, but sometimes true meanings are more important than good humour. The Arch Duchess would welcome such a visit, and gladly opens the Cities of Brass, Glass and Air to any Federation member who might desire a visitation."

The Cities were, of course, the giant floating arrangement of interconnecting rings, rotating stately like some massive Torrey in which an entire civilisation reside. The message structures rested in the clouds of Tangerine Dream, the gas giant around which Carpathia and by extension the cocktail party orbited.

"A most welcome invitation," Commodore Grissom interjected.

"Indeed," Vittels said. "Over the centuries we have amassed a great deal of intelligence on the Myriad and their operations, as well as less solid data on other Messier 4 client species. We would of course provide this information to our most staunched allies, alas our recording mediums and your data architecture are not compatible. So a more physical excursion might be required."

As the Casstaulli noble spoke, electing the attention of many in the room, one of the servers made his way through the crowd. Unlike many of the others, he carried only a single fluted glass instead of a tray, and kept his eyes down cast as he walked steadily towards the task force of enlisted officers in dress uniforms surrounding the old battleship at anchor: Commodore Grissom.

"We would naturally be willing to commit as many resources as are necessary to coordinating and collating our respective databases," Meilin put in. It was perhaps out of line for her to say so, but she was unsure of how much some of her colleagues truly cared for present company beyond their utility as early detection units and cannon fodder. With proper data sharing, there would be nothing to keep Starfleet's local dictators from claiming they could not have predicted breakdowns and chokepoints when their allies would have access to potential casualty projections from the start. “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

Again, Meilin cast a challenging look at Ingram as if daring him to argue the sentiment.

"Full transparency is a cornerstone of any good partnership," Ingram intoned gently in a manner that suggested punishment was in abeyance and not withheld. "After all in an endeavour such as this, we are not served well by entering into such plan blind folded."

Lu'kat took this as his cue to speak up. "In the interest of transparancy", he began, "please allow me to announce that the Cardassian High Command has promised to double its shipments in a bid to prepone the completion of the Messier-side Accelerator, in a show of goodwill towards Starfleet and our allies here, strengthening the ties that bind us."

What Lu'kat did not say, was what it had cost him to get his superiors in the Alpha Quadrant to make this concession. They had not been pleased with their asset on Canopus Station. No, not pleased at all. Despite outward experiences, Lu'kat wondered what his bosses, or should he say his wardens, were plotting behind his back...

Amie had gone back to listening. Granted, it was what she did most of the time. She wasn't outspoken at these events, but did enjoy gathering information, even if it didn't look like she was.

As Lu'kat and others raised up the Alpha Quadrant as the high example of interspecies cooperation that it sometimes pretended towards, the server altered course. Edging around the gathering, but still on course for the Commodores group. He held the fluted glass in one hand, with his other hand holding his palm over the opening. Everyone had ignored him, as a good cover should, and he was but a scant ten meters from-

"OH! There it is!" Bar'soon stepped out from the crowd, empty glass in one hand and his other now gripping the stem of the servers glass. He gave a little tug, but the glass refused to be relinquished. "Now now, it might be room temperature but I'm sure it's equally palatable."

"Its... it's not for you Sir," the man in a server's uniform said.

"YOU MEAN THERE WAS A TABLE SERVICE!!!" Bar'soon screamed in outrage. This level of shouting was enough to rattle the man's nerve, and the glass slipped slightly in his hands. A dash of the golden fluid within splashed out from under his hands, and onto Bar'soon's cheaply replicated attire where it soaked in. Darkening the fabric...then darkening further before curls of smoke arose from it-

The bright actinic flash of ignition filled the area around the two in a fuzz of white light and a smell of roasting fat and meat. Bar'soon was thrown back, a blackened crater coring out his chest cavity as he landed on the floor, The server, half-blinded by his action but still holding the glass, tried in vain to reacquire his target.

Look on the bright side, thought Mara, already moving to watch the exit. At least you don’t have to keep him from getting drunk anymore. It was a possibility, of course, that the contents of the glass were completely innocuous to its intended recipient, but it was equally as likely that someone was attempting murder. In either case, Starfleet training kicked in. Watching who left in the next five minutes would narrow the suspect list in the case of the latter.

The Server, still blinking away the false images burned into his retinas, finally regained some of senses. Hand still held over the mouth of the fluted glass, keeping the fluid within from flying out.

"Grissom!" he shouted, staggering forward with the glass held out. The Commodores hangers-on had closed ranks, a wall of dress uniforms and fruit salad. The muted 'connection failed' of multiple comm badge chirps filled the air.

The scream and the bright flash got JT's attention and she looked over to where the...walking drink...seemed to have a hole burned in its chest and a panicked waiter. "Whatever he's having, I'll pass," she said.

Meilin had already moved toward the Server and slapped a cuff around his arm. It sent a shock through his body that left him quivering on the ground. Fortunately she had relieved him of his glass flute before he toppled. "I suggest we get this man to the Infirmary immediately," she said coolly. "He will require assistance."

Lu'kat made his way to Captain Ingram upon witnessing the events. "Interesting," the Cardassian said to the party, "who do you think would have most to gain from assasinating the Commodore?" Despite his light tone, he was on guard, Grissom might not have been the only target. Besides, there might be accomplices trying to finish the job.

"I'm sure it's a shortlist," Ingram said. Two of the Commodores' security officers stepped in to take the care of the assassins transport to sickbay. Before that Ingram stepped over to him, and carefully peeled what looked like the palm of his left handoff. What was left dangling in his fingers was a glossy handprint, like a sticker from a child colouring book. Except for where the palm was there was a pad of flesh-coloured material. He took it carefully to where Meilin stood with the glass of sparking death, and placed the ungloved pad over the top of the glass.

"Let's get that to a science lab, something that abuts an exterior bulkhead of the station just in case," Ingram said.

"Is the view nice?" Bar'soon wheezed, carbon black smoke sputtering form his lips as he sat back up. His chest cavity had...mostly....filled back in, and from a medical standpoint, it was a fascinating process to watch. What was less sanguine was the blasé faire attitude Bar'soon seemed to have with not only meeting the grim reaper but also refusing to give him a tip. As the final seam of pastel blue flesh sealed shut, disgorging a rivulet of rapidly dissolving dead flesh, Prince Never Was sat up.

"And hurry," Ingram said. "He's up now, he might well try to drink the rest of it."


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