Canopus Station
Previous Next

An Ambassador's Portfolio

Posted on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 @ 3:41pm by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lu'kat & Commander Calida

Mission: S1E3: Moments Of Consolidation
Location: Carpathia System, Canopus Station, Diplomatic Quarter
Timeline: MD9 15.00PM

The room had been commissioned by a committee, designed by appointment, and then built by the lowest bidder. But in all truth, it served the role of stage well enough. An oval table of glass inlaid with the new LCAR's smart systems that could access the tables own holographic systems as well as the room's projectors to dramatic effect. High backed chairs were configurable to everybody type known to Federation science, as well as a life support system able to selectively contain said chair in an atmosphere curtain able to sustain anything from a fluidic atmosphere to a D-class environment.

The curved walls were festooned with holographic reproductions of vistas from across the Alpha Quadrant, with the notable exception of a sandy dune strewn view out across the wastes of Carpathia. Next to that particular view was the mission logo for Canopus Station, a red triangle containing a Starfleet delta and a likeness of the vast space station. There was space beside logo for other mission patches, but for now, it held pride of place.

Lu'kat stepped into the room. Upon arrival to the station he had compartmentalised his personal troubles into a far corner of his mind for later process and evaluation. First, he had to get himself familiar with his new surroundings and situation. He had spent the last couple of hours in his assigned quarters researching everything about Canopus station, Messier 4 and how he fit into it all. This region of space was....rough... for lack of a better term, and Lu'kat had found himself intrigued with the little information regarding the Myriad and the Concordance, already analysing threat levels and the challenges Starfleet, and by extension Cardassia, would face with them in the future. A preliminary assessment did not make Lu'kat happy, that at least he was sure about. So far, Starfleet's position in the Messier 4 cluster was weak and vulnerable, that needed to change. Quickly.

He sat down on one of the chairs at the table. He had prepared a number of talking points on a padd which he neatly placed in front of him and waited in silence for Captain Ingram to arrive.

And he did so trailing a cloud of assistance, some of whom were even present in pyhsical form as he directed instruction from face to floating holographic pane. The urbane sophistication that came along with the Ingram name was not lost on this one, and indeed he worked the crowd of lackeys and hanger's on as a concert pianist might for a command performance.

"-and that will be the last I will hear on the matter. Open up more of the residential block, I want the Xilosian's moved out of the AgriDome before they begin to think about putting down foundations for more long term dwellings. We have the space, and we're nowhere near capacity....Yes I'm sure Engineering will have something to say, so have them put it in writing directed to the Station Administrators Office. That dome has a purpose to fill, and acting as a tent city for the long term is not one of them," he said, and a trio of ensign's peeled off and headed back to the door. He eyed the holographic comm's panes. "I'm going into a meeting, I won't be long. Make sure Captain Vorgson has the time table for the mobile smelter, I want to go over its launch when I meet him. We can't build Phase 3 without it, and I don't want it delaying the current work load."

With a wave the comm's panes vanished, and he took his seat at the table with a toned down glower aimed at Lu'kat.

"I'm sure this meeting will be a useful diversion of our precious time," he said with a thin smile. "Time that is fleeting, though perhaps you're one of those who subscribes to the Loznir Hemmic Paradigm that time is merely an illusion of rational thought computing the universe?"

"Not all illusions are immaterial." The voice trilled through a speaker box of a larger golden metal box that was already present at one end of the conference table. It was coupled by a gentle but definite feeling of condescension. "I do not believe we are here to quantum theory, but the state of affairs in this sector." The all-encompassing atmosphere of condescension turned beneficent, even grateful. "Firstly I wish to thank Captain Benjamin Ingram for welcoming me to his command, and to welcome Lu'kat to the same on the captain's behalf. We are Canopus Station." The statement was almost sacramental in its loaded yet obscure philosophical value.

This, to Ingram's ears, sounded a little bit too much like participatory democracy for his liking.

"Fine words, to be sure. But as of this moment, Canopus Station is a military outpost in a very distant corner of the cosmos far from reinforcement," Benjamin pointed out. "Expedition Three, which brought both the Starfleet Corp of Engineers, their construction ship, our guard fleet and Lu'kat here, is the ideal foundation for the Phase Three construction programs as detailed in the Long Jump time table. That time table did not take into account immediate hostile action, nor the condition of Carpathia colony. Time, as a theory of thought and a material concern, is very much a factor. A factor that does not need a committee-"

He looked around the table.

"-to fritter away more of itself."

"Speak your mind, Benjamin Ingram," Calida intoned through her trilling vocalizer, "for the benefit of all present." The not-so-subtle implication that she knew his thoughts was amplified by the amusement in her abiding telepathic ambiance. Whispered chuckling outside the audible range echoed throughout the room.

"Then I shall speak plainly, for all to find meaning," Ingram said, looking at Lu'kat. "You are both here as representatives of your respective powers. The United Federation of Planets, as a primary shareholder in the Long Jump Project, and the Cardassian Union for its material contributions to the cause. But as of this moment, unless either one of you has degree's in engineering or some hidden mechanical skill to aid in the digging of your fortifications, you are both unnecessary. If you both wish to sit and twitter your complaints and ambitions in this echo chamber to avarice, then I would ask to be excused from it."

Calida soothed the amusement so abruptly it nearly ionized the air in the chamber. The telepathic equivalent of an electromagnetically-driven throat clearing. "Then you are excused, Captain Benjamin Ingram, from your seat at the table of power. Lu'kat and I may take it from here."

"Table of power...this table is built upon the foundation of this station. Its strength is derived by the force of arms it can project. As it stands that power is muted, dimmed, as we ramp up to full readiness. I would remind you both that Long Jump phase 2, the construction of this very station, was projected for the second year of the project. But here we are, not three quarters of a year after the Traveller arrived in Messier 4," Ingram tapped a finger against the smooth glass table. "This whole project was mishandled on the very start, understaffed and underfunded. So you would forgive me if I choose to focus on the very real concerns of the material problems that must be solved."

He made a conjuring gesture to the rooms holographic systems, and a scale model of the Carpathia system appeared. Bands of sensor screens and fans of fire lanes spread out from the candy cane coloured gas giant about which Canopus Station orbited.

"Until the lunar shore batteries and minefields are fully online to the satisfaction of the ranking military commander, what is the goal of this committee save its own weight in expended air?" he asked the box.

"You may decompress the chamber to a vacuum if you wish to save on life-support." Calida let the preposterous notion hang in a pregnant pause in satire of Ingram's bluster. "Otherwise, your concern for wasted time and air would be better manifested by directly addressing the matters at hand for which this station was constructed, and not merely its survival. In my not inconsiderable time with Starfleet, I have seen support withdrawn from projects and infrastructures deemed unsuitable for continuation... for one reason or another."

The all-encompassing sense of amusement returned, but rather than background ambiance, it rather dulled what was otherwise a rather pointed threat.

"Please. This station has a grand purpose to fulfil, no doubt. But that can not be so if a Myriad thorn ship comes into orbit and is able to single-handedly turn off the main reactor core. The shore batteries are our best defence, and must be a priority," Ingram said with a frown. "But I am sure you have a list of talking points to show us how wrong I am. please, illuminate us poor three-dimensional beings."

Calida hummed through her containment pod, bypassing her vocalizer for a moment, before a chime sounded--as if to give a bullet point. "Having reviewed the Traveller's logs," she said through her vocalizer, "it is believed by Starfleet Intelligence that installing my pod into the station's core infrastructure will serve to thwart the Unbound capabilities of the Myriad. The diplomatic dossier made a brief mention, if you wish to reference it. Such an arrangement will foster a more equitable scenario when treating with the Myriad than was before." Another chime. "There is, therefore, no such martial need to eclipse the original mandate of exploration and cultural development." A third chime. "Concordantly, exaggerated war-time emergencies do not exonerate humanitarian abuses and neglects, to say nothing of failed opportunities for scientific discovery and advancement." Yet a final chime. "Which of these topics should we cover first?"

Lu’kat remained silent while the two bickered on. The Captain struck him as a man with a clear sense of his priorities and an acute awareness of the perilous situation the station found itself in currently, both were sentiments that Lu’kat could appreciate. However, one should always take heed to balance one’s priorities carefully, and Ingram showed severe imbalances, as the talking box, Lu’kat was greatly intrigued about Commander Calida and had made a mental note to find out more about it , pointed out. What Ingram overlooked, was that the defense and security worked in tandem with diplomacy and trade. There was no better mechanism to ensure peace than to carefully interweave it into a myriad (pun unintended) of treaties working to the mutual benefit of those parties involved, making war a financial and economical noose one would think twice about tying one’s neck around.

Having lived among humans and their Federation lackeys for the past 8 years, Lu’kat had realized one important thing about the Federation: a façade, that is what it was. Sure enough it worked hard to ensure peace and prosperity and inter-galactical cooperation to make the universe a ‘happy’ place, but it did so with a clear and uncompromising purpose: political stability and economical prosperity. The Gentlemen Majores of the Federation were businessmen pur sang, and anyone believing otherwise would be wise to have themselves undergo psychological examination to check for signs of brainwashing.

There was one point, in any case, Lu’kat vehemently disagreed with the Captain. Now was the time that the work of representatives were of the highest priority, and Lu’kat would make sure that the Captain would think so too. But first, he had some priorities of his own to voice.

“The first order of business should be to align this station’s primary goal to a strategy to which we can all agree on, simply put: we need to put our priorities straight. Both you, Captain, and Commander Calida, put forward very valid and critical points but they will not mean anything if a consensus is not reached that incorporates all of them:

1. Security and defense
2. Scientific discovery and advancement

and to bring forward my own recommendations:

3. Diplomacy and trade with the local powers to benefit the Federation’s and Cardassian interests.

These three objectives should be put forth in tandem, carefully balanced. Each component serves to strengthen the others. Good security fosters the scientific temper and trade. Diplomatic and trade treaties will promote stability throughout the sector, making this station less dependent on heavy armaments. All can have their place, all can work together, if we choose to.”

Lu’kat awaited their response.

"We are in agreement," Calida quickly responded. "Well spoken."

Ingram chose not to answer with words but instead made a gesture to the rooms holographic. The Carpathia system vanished, replaced this time with a slowly spinning orb painted in sulphurous yellows. Here and there a dark caramel coloured splotch would appear, hidden behind thin vapid clouds. Then false coloured ripples dopplering from red to dull yellows began to appear on the surface, pockmarking the equator with a handful appearing on the northern and southern hemispheres.

"Xilos," Ingram said simply. "That was a world nearly sterilised five years ago by a neighbour to us in Messier 4. Bombarded with kinetic strikes, atomic weapons, and nerve agents. I think Earth has a religious text or two that go some way towards depicting what happened to this world. The industrial capacity and motivation to accomplish this feat means the perpetrator of the act is a civilisation at least on par with the Federation. And until more information is gleaned on them, I would be remiss in my duties as Station Commander to not think most stringently to our defence. That is not an over exaggeration."

He turned his attention to the talking trouble box of Calida.

"And the idea of installing you within the station's infrastructure as a vital part of our defence strategy is...intriguing, it is an untested quality. One by which we only have the single means to test," he shook his head. "Or there will be more of a humanitarian crisis than the one we are currently suffering. We are moving the Xilosian's into the unused residential blocks. Medical has determined that they would need significant support were we to place them on Carpathia, as their homeworlds climate seemed to lack deserts of any particular need to evolve adaptation. And as for trade and exploration..."

He looked to Lu'kat.

"I will be honest. I have found little time to indulge myself in the latter, the simple pleasure of lab work and educated discourse. Though this system does possess a rich trio of asteroid belts, not to mention two sunward worlds that might well be rich in heavy metals useful in production. My Chief of Security was vetting some of our civilian assets in the hopes of finding suitable candidates to offer survey and extraction contracts too. Perhaps you would like to be involved in that endeavour?"

Lu'kat took in the holographic images shown to him about the planet Xilos. The prospect of similar events happening in the Alpha quadrant was truly terrifying. Cardassia had just survived its own catastrophe, no matter how well his people retaken what they had lost, it would not be ready to face a new threat, and neither were the other powers in the Alpha quadrant, Lu'kat reckoned.

Were they ready to deal with such civilisations as ruthless as those responsible for the destruction of Xilos? They would have heard of the Federation by now. Lu'kat wondered how he would react to an unknown power suddenly setting up shop in his backyard. His conjectures did not put him at ease.... He wondered what reason they would have to not have made formal contact yet, much less destroyed the base entirely.

The captain's offer was very welcome, and Lu'kat showed his agreement through a simple nod.

"I can make an inventory on the available resources and calculate what can be shipped back to the Federation and Cardassia and what can be used here to strengthen our position by way of using it to shore up our defences and, not least, what we can trade with the locals here. Make it clear to the Myriad and Concordance and anyone else out there, that it will be more profitable to engage with us in trade instead of engaging us through weapons fire.

Establishing formal first contact with local powers should be prioritised as well. The longer we do not the longer we fly blind. We need intel and we need it yesterday. Frankly, I find this entire mission too premature. History teaches us successful expansion depends on the relations with and cooperation by the local powers, and even then fortunes can be turned." He did not need to mention Cardassia's shameful role in giving the Dominion a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant, as that was quite apparent. "So far, all we have is a bunch of strays from a wrecked planet. And what will we do when their enemies discover we are harbouring them here? Hmm?

And, of course, it goes without saying, any first contact should be under strict coordination through Federation AND Cardassian representatives both." Lu'kat directed his gaze at Commander Calida to stress he was talking in their mutual interest.

"Formal first contact? And how, pray tell, do you see that playing out? The Myriad and the Concordance are entrenched powers with a tech base on par with the Federation, if not surpassing it in the case of the Myriad. Canopus Station does not have the might of the entire Fleet at its back. Drawing attention to ourselves would be an action I could classify as...rash," Ingram mused. "I'm not opposed to it, but I would rather not have our location publicly known until we are ready. A first impression is, after all, an act with only one unique instance."

"Such is the nature of all negotiations," Calida vocalized. "Imagine the state of the Ingram dynasty today if its forebearers waited until they cornered before taking action. By taking the first step, we are able to leverage the initial terms of our relations in this sector. Do your duty, Station Commander, and see to defenses, but do not neglect the big picture for the obsessions of lesser, martial-minded men. The big picture is ours to leverage, if only we seize it." She paused for effect, then emitted a telepathic push of persuasion. "Our presumed enemies will not benefit from a war with the Federation or the Union so long as we demonstrate as much. Stay an enemy's hand long enough, and it will become open to peace and even trade. One need only look around this room for evidence of that fact."

Ingram was silent for a moment, contemplating a retort or new line of attack. Then he merely spread his hands and leaned back in his chair.

"Time will be the test of that theory," he said by way of reply. "I look forward to your hypothesis proving true."

Lu'kat, sensing the meeting had drawn to a natural conclusion, started to gather his things. "As do we all, Captain, " Lu'kat said as he got up. "I'll interpret this meeting as my formal welcome and introduction to this station, and look forward to working with you,", he shifted his gaze at Commander Calida, "both of you. Before I take my leave, however, Captain, I would be careful not to underestimate the locals. If they are as powerful as your intel suggests, then they already know we are here, and they apparently choose to remain silent and mysterious, until such time they choose not to."

"If only wishing made it so-" Ingram began to say, before the glass pane in front of his chair lit up. He leaned forward to look at the message header, and then rapidly input a code into the glass pane's controls. A holographic window popped up in front of him, revealing a back to front view of Canopus Station CIC. "Report."

"Short range sensors have detected the gravitational bow wave of at least several ships at medium warp heading towards the Carpathia System," the duty officer reported. "We've retasked a mapping probe we have in that quadrant of the system to focus its arrays towards them for a higher resolution image of what's coming our way. But preliminary data suggests the lead signature is a Starfleet warp core."

"And the other signatures?" Ingram asked.

"Unknown designs at this time. But from a curioury examination of the data, we think they're all running in the red to keep up with the lead ship. We estimate them to be two hours out from the Carpathia System at current superluminal velocities."

"Very good. Take the station to Yellow Alert and send out an alert to all system defence craft to await further orders. I'll be with you presently," Ingram waved the holographic window away and looked to his guests. "I think that neatly bookends our meeting concerning the Station's current circumstances. Unless anyone has anything else they'd like to put forward as 'new business'?"

He was already rising from his chair as he spoke.

And there it was. It seemed the time to reveal themselves was now. The fact that signals were headed by a Starfleet signature worried Lu'kat. Perhaps one of their ships was fleeing towards the illusion of safety of Canopus station, and thereby dooming them all to almost certain attack and subsequently most certain death. This was not how he had planned his first day to end.

"None that can't wait," Lu'kat answered. "I'll join you to the CIC."

Calida hummed like a generator before speaking through her vocalizer. "I recommend having Operations connect my pod to the cybersuite security mainframe at this time."

"Fine!" Ingram said, a note of exasperation in his voice. "You can both join me in CIC. Calida your aid will be appreciated if this is a ploy of the Myriad is appreciated. Lu'kat...dodon't touch anything. You are a shareholder in the Long Jump Project, not a command level staffer of Starfleet or this Station. Now, let's get to it."


Previous Next