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Literary Challenge #57 : The Sheliak Corporate

pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
edited February 2014 in Ten Forward
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

Today we start the two-week run of the fifty-Seventh Literary Challenge: The Sheliak Corporate
((Submitted by our very own CaptainSmirk!))

The Sheliak Corporate has contacted Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Force in regards to their concern over the possibility that the New Romulan Republic will want to expand its colonial holdings to include worlds previously uninhabitable by most humanoids, due to their irradiated environments.

The Sheliak fear the new governing body of New Romulus will not abide by the existing treaties between the Sheliak and the Romulan Star Empire after their well-known public refusal to accept the Tal Shiar as their ruling class, making all previous treaties between Empress Sela and the Sheliak Corporate null and void.

The Romulan physiology to withstand a higher exposure to these radiated planets (as evident by their occupation of Mol'Rihan despite its peculiar radiation characteristics) has drawn concern by several branches of the Sheliak Corporate that the Romulans will specifically target planets to infest that are more suitable to the Sheliak, out of the sheer lack of interest in said planets by other humanoid species. They are demanding a new treaty to be established, and insisting that the Federation and Klingon Empires enforce this treaty upon their newest allies, the citizens of the new Romulan Republic.

In order to avoid any aggressive behavior similar to the Sheliak reaction to the Enterprise-D and it's handling of the lost colony on Tau Cygna V circa 2365, Starfleet/ KDF has ordered you to attend initial treaty preparations talks and assist the Romulan Republic delegation sent to negotiate this new treaty.

Write a log entry with how the talks went, and what the outcome was. If you'd like to write from the Romulan Republic's point of view, write a log entry with your thoughts of the Sheliak not choosing to interact with your government on this matter.

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
Post edited by pwebranflakes on

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  • themariethemarie Member Posts: 1,037 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    The armored form of Commodore Jacque Deloi strode into her ready room, as if propelled by an imaginary gust of wind. Behind her damage control teams worked to restore the Gamma-Type bridge to full operating capacity.

    Stripping off her MACO-A.D.A.P.T.E.D. helmet, she flung it behind her desk. In moments she had most of the armor stripped off, reveling the peculiar grey and white uniform of her fleet. Sighing she picked up the now dented carbon-stained and dusty helmet... dusting it off carefully and setting it on the rack next to the door.

    Captains Log, Stardate [redacted]:

    "Aproximatly six weeks ago, I was contacted by my superiors outside the normal chain of command. I was briefed on a situation involving the classification R-3 lifeform known as Sheliak. These lifeforms are based on a chemistry similar to tourmaline and seemingly have hydrofluoric acid for blood. There are also indications that they smell faintly of elderberry but this is unconfirmed at this time. These beings are known to thrive in radioactive and radiometricaly-active regions lethal to most other forms of carbon-based life. Several decades ago there were a series of skirmishes with the ruling body of the Sheliak, and several treaties were signed. Normally, planets with a radiometric profile unfit for carbon-based life-forms are ceded to "The Corporate" , the ruling body of the Sheliak."

    Pausing briefly, Commodore Deloi picked up a polishing rag and set herself to polishing her armor. After several moments she returned to her dictation.


    "This has been the status-quo for many decades, until recently. It is commonly known that the Romulan Republic set up a new homeworld on a Class-M planet with a... rather interesting radiometric profile. The Romulans were able to clean up and dissipate most of the environmental radiation using existing Romulan planetforming technology, and with the help of Klingon and Federation science. Word made it back to the Sheliak Corporate and within days the Corporate was screaming treaty violation."


    The commodore paused her dictation once again, this time she grabbed a tool out of her desk. With a practiced motion she popped the dent out of her helmet. Satisfied, she resumed polishing and dictating.


    "The Corporate stated that the Romulans violated numerous protocols, paragraphs, sections and pages of the existing treaties, and demanded reparations. This included ceding over 100 worlds of unique radiometric profile to the Corporation along with the removal of the Romulan Republic from New Romulus, and of course the complete restoration of the planet's unique radiometric signature. I am no legal expert, just a humble Betazoid engineer with a Marksman badge someone promoted too many times... but I happen to feel that is just a bit excessive."

    Jacque rolled her eyes as she added that last part. Satisfied with the condition of her helmet, she set it back on the rack... and turned her attention to the 18" long plecostomus in her fish-tank. She lifted the lid, and sprinkled some Bolian Fish Nutritional Pellets into the water. Watching them sink, she continued.

    "Well so did my superiors... the ones outside of the chain of command. We held a short meeting to discuss options, and decided to take direct action this time. Unreasonable diplomatic demands and a hard unwavering commitment to such demands is a symptom of governmental infiltration, it fits the pattern perfectly. By who or what agencies the Sheliak have been compromised we do not know. It was decided to execute Option 29791-Bravo."

    The large fish quickly consumed the soggy pellets and resumed sucking on the large rock in the back of the tank. Satisfied that her pet was in good condition, she resumed her log entry?

    "Eighteen hours ago USS Proud Marie, USS Bad Moon Rising, USS Dyson, USS Star Control II, carrier USS Fortunate Son supported by elements of the 29th Catian Fighter Squadron and the runabouts of the 771st Flying Tugboat Squadron crossed over into Sheliak space. USS Dyson, USS Star Control II engaged a Sheliak outpost, destroying it with tricobalt devices. Pressing further into Sheliak space, the taskforce engaged several patrol craft, multiple freighters and civilian craft, and a single Sheliak destroyer. 29th Squadron elements and 771st Squadron elements engaged and dispatched additional Sheliak outposts and stations along a three light-year front. USS Proud Mare, USS Bad Moon Rising and USS Star Control II then engaged the primary Sheliak Star Navy units. In a running battle, the bulk of the Sheliak space forces were obliterated. This includes 18 cruisers, six more destroyer-types, two dozen colony ships and three very large dreadnoughts. Casualties on our side were limited to the near loss of the USS Dyson and the loss of over three dozen runabouts. Boarding actions have netted us a total of two cruisers and one fully operational outpost."

    Deep breath, close eyes... tap the nerve cluster behind the ear...

    "All in all Operation Unblemished Pickle was an unqualified success. Though I am loath to engage in battle, the Federation cannot afford to open another war on yet another front at this time. Sometimes the best defense is a swift and decisive offense. With any hope the message has been received: Do not toy with the Federation, do not make unreasonable demands and DO NOT dictate policy to us.

    We have had ENOUGH."


    "...computer: encrypt and seal log authorization Deloi daystar-blue sigma catfish onion three one."
  • drajoradrajora Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    "Ah, come in Admiral"

    Admiral Karlyn Venas of the Romulan Republic entered an office that officially didn't exist. The giant of a Romulan behind the desk rejoiced in the title of "Administrator of Logistical Planning", but to those with the ears and eyes for the intricacies of the Republic he was nothing more or less than the Covert Intelligence Task Force Commander.

    "Jolan Tru. Please sit"

    Karlyn sank into the thick padded comfort of what appeared to be a command chair from one of the older pre-Catastrophe ships. It had the sharp edges of Klingon ancestry, as well as the smooth roundness of a distinctly Romulan design. An usual chair for an unusual office.

    "How may I serve the Republic?"

    The Administrator leaned back in his own seat and steeped his fingers.

    "We have a delicate situation arising near the Federation Neutral Zone. What do you know of the Sheilak?"

    Karlyn tried not to blink in surprise.

    "Second rate power. Moderate threat rating, xenophobic. The Federation has a treaty with them, I believe.

    "Right from the Basic Overview manual. Not bad. We have a limited opportunity here, and the situation requires a deal of finesse. Naturally, I immediately considered you and the Scythe for the job."

    The flicker of his eyes gave it away. One did not approach Admiral Venas when they wanted to be subtle. Force was to be projected. Power to be exercised. The Scythe was an assault warbird. The word 'assault' was there for a reason.

    "As I stated, it would only be my duty to assist the Republic."

    "Excellent." The Administrator pressed a key and the doors to his personal chamber hissed open. Karlyn repressed another blink of surprise and made a mental note to acquire a few more spies inside Central Command.

    In the doorway was a strikingly beautiful woman, dressed in a Republic uniform. That was her initial and immediate assessment. Then came the closer look. She was standing almost unnaturally still, her skin tone seemed just a tiny bit too uniform, her eyes had a odd golden tint to them. She was simultaneously a perfect Romulan - and at the same time too much of a perfect Romulan.

    Some snippets of reported conversation clicked, and she mentally forgave at least one spy. Karlyn got up and paced around the woman, inspecting her again.

    "A Soong-Type Android? Mark IV? V?"

    "Mark Six actually. We made some improvement. This is Subcommander Saga. She will be your contact, personal assistant and legal aide for the mission."

    "Legal aide? I was unaware that taking a simple cruise to the Neutral Zone would be in breach of Republic law."

    "You're going to be visiting the Sheilak, Admiral. You're going to need a lawyer."


    The R.R.W Scythe shimmered once and then vanished into her cloak as the warbird swept over the invisible line that served as the Sheilak Corporate's official borders.

    The concept was simple enough. The Shells were getting nervous about additional Romulan colonization, so they wanted a new treaty. One with both Starfleet and the KDF enforcing the Shells will on the Republic. That was an insult that could not stand.

    Hence this prickle-ball of a mission. Because like all good bureaucracies, there was always, always an ambitious corporate go-getter working the background. The Shells were almost Romulan like that.

    The chirrup of a sensor contact focused her attention back to the bridge.

    "Admiral, we have the Sheilak vessel on sensors. They are transmitting the correct recognition code."

    "Excellent. Are the relay buoys in place?"

    "Affirmative Admiral. We're getting good signal from the array."

    Karlyn grinned. First rule in negotiations. Do so from a position of strength. The Scythe would remain cloaked, her comms scattered through a network of planted relays. The Shells would talk, apparently to empty space, and empty space would reply to them. The message was clear. The Scythe could be anyware - like behind the Shells with weapons trained, also, that the Shells weren't important enough for the Romulan Republic to deign to appear face to face with.

    Words are pretty, all the better to conceal the knife.


    Three hours later, Karlyn had come to the realization that the Sheilak were the most annoying, uptight, hide-bound, irritating, precise and nit-picky race in the Galaxy. No. The universe.

    Saga and the Scythe's computer had been handling the negotiation. The android was able to converse in Tektek'coran with the Sheilak, who preferred it as a 'more precise language' to Romulan. More insults. They'd been hammering out a brief agreement. For. Three. Hours.

    She broke off her musing as the door to her ready room chimed for admittance. Signalling acceptance, she watched as Subcommander Saga walked in.

    "Admiral. The mission parameters are clearer. We are contractually obligated by Section 417 to-"

    "Shorter version, Subcommander."

    "Acknowledged. There is an internal power-play at work within the Sheilak Corporate. A faction known as the Compact are at odds with the faction known as the Director.

    We have met a Compact ship and accepted a contract to remove the Directorship - which appear to be the faction in command of the Corporate. In return, the Compact have agreed to cede several worlds to the Republic when they take over the negotiations."

    "Excellent. At last." Karlyn grabbed her overcoat and began buckling it up.

    "Admiral? I do not take your meaning."

    "What I mean Subcommander, is that now I know who to shoot." She stabbed a key on her terminal.

    "Helm! Take us to the second set of co-ordinates. Remain cloaked and do not exceed warp five."


    Karlyn frowned at the ungainly ship on the viewscreen. It looked identical to the Compact ship. Useful for subterfuge, but it did make target acquisition a tiny amount trickier.

    "Tovan!"

    "Admiral?"

    "Confirm it's them. We don't want to shoot our allies by accident and have to go through another three hours of talking."

    "The ship has the correct codes, and the frequency the Compact gave us confirms that the Sheilak Directorship is aboard the vessel. Their shields are down, and we are in optimum firing position."

    "Hunh"

    "Captain?"

    "I'd have expected that irritating Starfleet captain to have shown up by now. Intelligence did report that Captain Persico was assigned to the negotiations, correct?"

    "Ah, affirmitive, Admiral. However, there are no additional ships on long-range sensors, apart from the prey and our the hyperonic radiation field currently masking the other Sheilak ship."

    Admiral Venas leaned back and rubbed her hands along the command chair armrests.

    "Pity. I was looking forward to a rematch. Very well. Subcommander Saga, you may decloak and open fire."

    Twin lances of plasma hammered forward as the predatory shape of the R.R.W Scythe abruptly wavered into existence, their crawling green fire as merciless and pitiless as the eyes of the woman who sat in the command chair.


    Ambassador Anderson's Personal Log, Supplemental. USS Enchantress.

    "We have arrived at the rendevous co-ordinates to meet with the Sheilak representatives. Initial communications with this 'Compact' have been promising and I am optimistic that we may be able to negotiate a favorable treaty. Their tone at the table is much less strident than their initial communications led Starfleet to believe.

    The Klingon and Romulan contingents have signaled that they are due to arrive within six hours. I look forward to their arrival. Captain Flores is arranging a reception in Ten-Forward at 1800 hours tomorrow. Good thing I brought my formal uniform."
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    The Odyssey class vessel dropped from warp and took up a position near the Ha'apax class warbird that was waiting. As Admiral Rykon entered the Bridge, Captain Grylak stood from his command chair. "We've arrived at the coordinates and the Stormrow is waiting for transport."
    "Good. Tell Terrh Movar I'll beam over shortly. Any word on the Sheliak yet?"
    "No. Their communication is scheduled to come through in ten minutes."
    "Good. This treaty has been a nightmare to write. I hope it's specific enough for them. Tell the transporter I'm on my way down."




    A few minutes later, the Admiral materialised on the Romulan ship. Waiting to meet him was Terrh Movar. The Romulan negotiator greeted Rykon warmly. "Admiral. Welcome to the Stormrow. I've reviewed the treaty, and though it does go into great detail, there are parts we simply can not accept." Rykon knew this was coming. "Let's go to the Wardroom and discuss it there." The two men made their way to the room, taking a seat either side of the table. A comm from the Bridge indicated the Sheliak ship had arrived and were transmitting. This surprised Rykon, as he thought they were communicating long range. They obviously put alot of importance on this meeting. The Sheliak opened their comms and was routed to the Wardroom. The Sheliak ambassador appeared on screen, and after introductions, they got to business, with Movar taking the lead. "While we accept and recognise the boundaries of the Sheliak Corporation, these planets along the border clearly fall in neutral space. They contain resources we need to rebuild our people." The Sheliak was not impressed. "Those planets contain a specific radiation signature that is ideal for our colonies. We will not allow you to infest them when there are plenty of other planets for you that require less planetforming."
    "Less planetforming to establish a colony, yes. But we don't need them to establish a colony, we need them for mining purposes."
    "In which case, we will not allow you to infest them. Our needs are greater. We will claim them for the Sheliak Corporation."

    Rykon held up a hand to interject. "Gentlemen. We've all read the proposed treaty here. Let's stop postulating and chest thumping, shall we? What this basically is boiling down to is a lack of trust on both sides. The older treaties with the Romulan Star Empire declared these planets Sheliak planets. Now, at the time, the RSE was still some distance away from this sector, and happily signed that treaty in return for some favours. Now, that government has fallen and the Romulan Republic is wanting to establish mining operations on those worlds."
    "And the Romulan's have no intention of upholding their treaty!"
    "Easy Ambassador. While it is true, that treaty served for many years, with the fall of the government, it became void. That is why we are all here now. To make a new treaty." The Sheliak scoffed. "And when that government falls, we must do this again?"
    Movar was surprisingly calm. "The Romulan Republic is a much more stable than the Star Empire. We will honour the treaties we make, but not those of corrupt governments."
    "And that is why we will never allow Romulans to infest our worlds."
    "ENOUGH." Rykon looked at the Romulan, then slowly at the Sheliak on screen. "Please stop referring to the Romulans as an infestation. It will only antagonise them and cause problems. Now, as I said, we've read the proposed treaty. In it, the current border stands. Neither species will cross into the other's land for colonisation purposes. That includes the establishment of settlements, mining operations, or trading. It also states that the Romulans are free to colonise any planet in the disputed 'No Man's Land' that does not contain the radiation signature as stated in the treaty. Likewise, the Sheliak will not colonise the planets that do not contain the energy signature. Both sides will take this as the primary consideration above all other when searching for new sites in the disputed area. If a planet contains a radiation signature that will support the Sheliak with some planetforming, they will be free to do so, PROVIDED, there is not a Romulan settlement already established. Any request to remove them will have to be delivered through the proper diplomatic channels BEFORE any further action is taken. The attempted forced relocation of any existing colonies, by either party, will be viewed as an act of agression."


    He paused, letting it sink in. Both ambassadors remained quiet, so Rykon continued. "In the event a Sheliak planet contains materials that are essential to the Romulans, a formal request can be made to the colony for a short term operation to be set up. The Sheliak retain the rights to deny access to their colony world, and only their colony world and it's orbital moons, or they may extract the materials themselves and allow shipments to be picked up or delivered via their own couriers to a designated Romulan location. If access is denied, the Romulans must abide by the decision and not attempt any mining operations on the planet or it's orbital moons. Any attempt to do so will be viewed as a breach of Sheliak space and accordingly, an act of aggression. If such an act of aggression is proven by either party, a third party will be called in to mediate the process. This third party will be decided upon by both parties. If a third party can no tbe agreed upon, a Federation member will be called in. Finally, to address the concers of the Sheliak Corporation in regards to the future of the treaty, the Federation will be a co-signer to the treaty. We will act as mediators in the area, and ensure both parties adhire to the treaty, including their future governments. I hope that will address any concerns you have." He waited patiently while the Sheliak thought it through.



    Finally, the being nodded. "Those terms are acceptable. But we still have some issues with the terminology of the treaty document." Rykon looked to Movar, who was deep in thought. Finally, the Romulan answered. "At least you are happy with the rules set down. We'll abide by them. And we don't have any issues with the termonology." Rykon looked back to the Sheliak. "Well, at least we've reached an agreement on the important parts. Now, about those wording concerns..."





    A number of hours later, after the post conference dealings, Rykon beamed back to the Hailstorm. The Sheliak and the Stormrow went to warp going their seperate ways. Rykon made his way onto the Bridge, greeted by Grylak. "How did it go Sir?" Rykon waved a hand and sat down exhausted in the chair to the left of the Captain's. "Of all the treaties and border skirmishes I've dealt with, the Sheliak are the most detail demanding I've known. Remind me to send some bottles of Romulan Ale to Ambassador Jiro's team. They certainly worked overtime getting the finer points in." Grylak smiled as he sat in the centre chair. "At least we kept peace in this sector. Helm, take us out. Warp five."
    *******************************************

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • deltaquadrantboydeltaquadrantboy Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    I have a story diplomats.

    This is what happened

    Hello everyone oh hi worf how are you since our last incident with the iconians

    Worf: well

    Me: good!
    Hello spock! Oooooo captain tpel! Or commander been a while representing romulans agian?

    Tpel: hello i am well yes i am by the way. I would like you to meet the federation prototype android mark seven she is part halogram part droid as a think of friendship the feds gave to us as a gift. Were very happy. Her name is subcommander m~nel honestly she is smarter then me so she should be captain bassicly she actually is captain.

    Me : is that admril Janeway it is! Hello admril Janeway! What are you doing here?

    Janeway: hey! Im going to lead the meeting! Oh dear theres the sheliak.
    Alright all rise and raise you left hand. Do you swear that this will stay between us and no one else?

    Everyone: i do

    Janeway: alright have a seat we shall begin,ok from here you are scared that the romulans are taking up to much land from you.

    Sheliak: yes

    Me: may i your honor? Ok is there a way to give you something for the land.

    Sheliak: no our land is precious to us.

    Me: is there anyway we can satisfy you fpr your land?

    Sheliak: yes but you have to guess.

    Me: spock what do you have to say?

    Spock: give back there land

    Tpel: no!

    Spock: very well

    Sheliak: we want you to give us access to dysons sphere

    Me Tpel and worf: no!

    Tpel: maybe we could give you our ships.

    Me: think about this Tpel.

    Tpel: my decisions

    Sheliak: agreed

    Janeway: i think we should put this on recess
    For an hour. Tpel admril spock and worf meet at my ship. Lets have lunch.

    We all beam up

    Me: still going for intrepids ha! I go for it to :)

    Janeway: Are you SERIOUS!
    It could cause a war

    Spock: illogical

    Tpel: look we have our land they are happy we are happy. Ok?

    Everyone except tpel: very well.

    1 hour later

    Sheliak:
    we agree to the decision

    Janeway: very well dismissed

    That was my story
  • worffan101worffan101 Member Posts: 9,518 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    I wasn't expecting this prompt, but I'll give it a shot. Nemesis unit designation Three never did learn the subtleties of diplomacy. Sometimes, that is a good thing.
    The Sheliak's lead negotiator is quite clever, for a rock.

    They were smart enough to demand third-party arbitration before we or the Republic could. So now I can't even suggest getting the Dominion as arbitrators (thereby delaying these negotiations for a month or so while the Founders delay; they owe me a couple of favors).

    Assistant Sub-Manager X'gr'tch'x thinks a lot of this bit of cleverness, and himself. I can practically feel the smug, arrogant superiority radiating off of him. And so can the Breen next to me, if I'm any judge.

    Thot Gel is inspecting its suit, in the manner of a human checking his or her fingernails. The Sheliak is going on and on in poorly-accented English.

    I should probably explain that part. See, the Sheliak insisted that negotiations take place on their vessel, without universal translators. The idea being to reinforce their superiority over us humanoids. I am, frankly, impressed by how well the rock has picked up English with only a few days to learn--although, he still sounds a bit like he's from Ireland, Scotland, West Virginia, and Australia at the same time. The environment on the ship is hostile--toxic, in fact--but Assistant Sub-Manager X'gr'tch'x assures me that they are getting that fixed, which is bullcrap but more diplomatic than admitting that he wanted me using a rebreather and/or an EV suit to reinforce his feelings of Sheliak superiority.

    Fortunately, my Original was designed to survive atmospheric attacks such as mustard gas and chlorine for extended periods. This low-oxygen, high-CO2 mix is just mildly annoying. I crunch some antacid tablets as the rock talks to counteract the acidic CO2 derivatives in my bloodstream.

    "And so, as ye're surely feelin' bye now, we Sheliak are superior, and ken tolerate environments that ye humanoids cannae stand! Surely ye of all people can understand our concern that them there Romulans migh' become a wee problem for us if they can adapt to these here conditions and start takin' worlds that we've goot our eyes on! Unless ye want us to go all crikey on ye, ye'd best enforce this on yer "allies" in that Rommulan "Republic". Ye ken?"

    "Oh, I ken, sure enough. I ken that your English isn't very good--great job actually reading my file and figuring that as my native language, by the way, and a very impressive effort for a guy with only two days to prepare, but it's still bad English. So. To business. You've got a nice set-up here, with the chlorine and argon clogging up the air and lots of carbon dioxide, but let's face it, I can tolerate this for days, months if I have these antacids, without suffering any ill effects. So your posturing and preparations aren't very effective. Now, to business. I came here with one deal, and one deal only. Take it or leave it. You guys learn to keep your population under control, try expanding away from Romulan space, and learn to coexist with others."

    "Impossible!" shouts the rock, slipping back to his own language, which I spent two months learning the basics of from files retrieved by the Klingons from a wrecked Sheliak ship. I'm good with languages. "Sheliak cannot be expected to coexist with lesser life forms! How dare you even suggest--"

    "I'm not just suggesting, I'm ordering you to do it. We've scanned your ship, and we know this is the Corporate's most advanced vessel, and that you had orders to blow us up and claim ignorance if we wouldn't agree to your terms. Hell, I at least knew something was up as soon as you insisted on meeting in this nebula. So. You've broken treaty terms, and we've got the TRIBBLE coms to prove it, and my ship has more raw firepower than yours. Also, I'm here with an antimatter bomb strapped to my spine, and my subdermal plates temporarily surgically realigned to serve as a living grenade. I'll need to regrow half of my liver, most of my pancreas and spleen, and one of my kidneys when I'm done here, but for now I'm a live grenade with shrapnel capable of shredding your ship like butter. If you do not sign the terms as I've laid them out and allow me safe passage back to my shuttle and from their back to my ship, I will activate the bomb, destroying your ship, and my crew will leave this nebula and broadcast your TRIBBLE coms messages to the entire quadrant. The Klingons hate oath-breakers, they won't deal with you for a loooooooooong time if they don't just kill you. The Tzenkethi will break off all diplomatic ties, for sure. The Ferengi will go out of their way to stiff you, because the Grand Nagus owes me a few favors. Who knows what the Breen will do; I bet you hired them as mercs. I'll just tell you that my ship has been retrofitted with Voth technology, including some very nasty auto-targeting modules, and that dinky frigate is toast the first time a torpedo hits it. So. What do you decide?"

    Assistant Sub-Manager X'gr'tch'x looks like he's...shriveled. Interesting. The Breen is mildly interested.

    "Ok, Ok, you have a point, but we are Sheliak! We are superior! We cannot live alongside lesser life forms! It would be an insult to our glorious culture!"

    "Have you tried sharing the planet? I mean, if you lived in different areas, like, say, Sheliak beneath the surface and in more toxic environments, and Romulans in less toxic areas? Or maybe just TRY getting along for once?"

    "We cannot live with a humanoid infestation! It would defy the time-honored traditions of the Sheliak, and--wait, how can you understand me?"

    "We got what amounted to a Sheliak-Klingon dictionary from one of your wrecked ships. I learned the basics. It took me two months; your language is highly complicated, almost illogically so."

    "How dare you insult our language in your pathetic and illogical Federation speech! We are the Sheliak! We are so far superior to you that--"

    "You're talking to the woman who can kill you and alienate your Corporate from the galaxy."

    "--that you may, in fact, have a point. Um. Yes. Look, I don't have the status to authorize this..."

    "We know. We knew you guys were going to try to force us as soon as you named a low-ranking piece of office plankton as lead negotiator."

    The rock looks like it's thinking. Then it switches back to English, with a much better accent.

    "May I be honest for a moment here?"

    "Sure. I've been totally honest, too. Never did learn to lie to rocks."

    "Right. Um. Look, my superiors will kill me if they hear I said this, but...well...you seem to be sort of, um, clever. And...your idea has merit, from a humanoid point of view, but the Corporate will never accept it."

    "Incriminating information that will alienate your species from the galaxy."

    "Oh. Riiiiiight. How about a compromise? I take this to my superiors, and we come back in six of your Terran months? And this time we meet on some neutral ground, and you pick the arbiter?"

    "I think Command will be amenable to that. I'll add a provision here that whoever we choose has to be immediately available?"

    "Ah, yes, thank...you. We can draft something up quickly, I suppose."

    "Don't try to double-cross me. Remember, I have basic knowledge of your language and an antimatter bomb in my abdomen. If you double-cross me..."

    "I die. Yes, I remember."

    A couple of lower-ranking Sheliak enter, and we spend the next four hours outlining a thousand-word delay-of-negotiations deal. The Breen puts its feet up on the "table", and appears to go to sleep, despite some scandalized noises from the lower-ranking Sheliak.

    We finish eventually, after a thorny argument over who has to bring the food to the negotiations. I stick out my hand for the rock to shake.

    "Glad to have that done. Hope your bosses aren't too hard on you."

    The rock is a little resentful, but mostly relieved. It's hard to tell from its appearance, but it's obvious from the tone it uses.

    "I hope so. Oh, I am so very definitely getting demoted for this."

    "Well, just tell them the truth."

    "They don't like the truth. They like what makes them look good. Sheliak supremacy, remember?"

    "Sounds like you have some hurdles to overcome."

    "Indeed." The Assistant Sub-Manager makes a weird gesture towards me. I take it as a sign of respect, even though it looks rather like a rock monster giving me the finger.

    The Sheliak lead me to the shuttlebay so I can leave. The Breen "wakes up" as soon as its employers start to leave, and walks mostly silently behind us. Very professional.

    I can practically feel the Sheliak's relief as I get into my shuttle and leave. As soon as I and the Breen are out of their shuttlebay, the massive dreadnought turns laboriously and streaks away at maximum impulse.

    This is going to be a long chat with Command. Well. We didn't even need to bring the Romulans over. Subcommander Nadel is going to be pissed that she flew her shiny new warbird into this corrosive nebula for nothing, but it's better than what the Sheliak had planned for the treaty negotiations.

    My abdomen itches. Yeah, I need to get that bomb out and realign my plates. It'll be days regrowing those organs, but it was so worth it to see that Sheliak shrivel like a raisin.
    Six months later. Tellar V.

    First officer's log, supplemental. Azip Shran, first officer, USS George Takei.

    My Three is chatting rather pleasantly with the rock who she threatened to blow up.

    Assistant sub-Manager X'gr'tch'x has turned out to be a perfectly nice if rather stuck-up sort, and has assured us that the vaguely disturbing bubbling sounds that it made in response to Three's joke about two Klingon women and a Ferengi were, in fact, laughs, and not some sign of disturbing gastrointestinal distress.

    The same cannot be said for Chief Senior Director Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x, which apparently translates as "Destined for Glory". The apparently rather important Sheliak strode in to these negotiations in what must have been a frothing rage, attempted to ignore Three's flippant remarks, and attempted to demand a new negotiator.

    Fortunately, my Three called in that favor that Odo owes her, and that favor that Worf owes her, and that favor that Captain Shon owes her for saving his blue behind in that Iconian base that they landed in after the New Romulus Gateway Incident. So the entirety of the Federation Diplomatic Corps has been "abducted".

    Admittedly, they are all either eating tulaberries and chatting with Vorta or drinking bloodwine and trying to avoid accidentally flirting with Klingon women, but the fact remains that they are not available and that they were at least technically abducted. Because their paperwork says that they are supposed to be in places that they are, in fact, not located at. And the logs of every single Federation diplomatic ship in the galaxy record an admittedly suspiciously formulaic raider attack at exactly the same time.

    Love my Three (as I do) or hate her (as Admiral Janeway surely does), you have to admit that she has some serious balls. She was up for over a week straight setting up this scenario, and she's barely holding it together. A normal human woman would probably be nearly dead by now.

    The Nausicaan arbiters aren't doing much arbitrating. They basically dropped the two diplomatic teams off here and went off to play violent games involving ripping each others' arms off on their rather pointy starships. Really, it was just icing on the cake for Three to choose them, but it's some damn good icing.

    Assistant sub-Manager X'gr'tch'x was canny enough to realize that this mess was all a set-up. Chief Senior Director Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x is apparently not. It is currently engaged in making a noise not unlike sandpaper being ground slowly down a particularly fine blackboard. Apparently, this is some sort of explanation for why the Sheliak absolutely MUST have assurances that the Republic will stay away from Sheliak-friendly worlds with high radiation levels.

    Never mind that Sheliak space is halfway across the quadrant from the Republic. But apparently this is a thing, and it must be dealt with for some reason.

    X'gr'tch'x surreptitiously passes me a PADD. The message on it reads:

    "I'm really kind of sorry for this. The Chief Senior Director isn't as intelligent as xe likes to think xe is. Xe was the one who came up with the plan that you discovered. Also, I apologize for considering orders to destroy your ship. No hard feelings?"

    "No hard feelings," I write back. "Also, Three left a dump of silicon hydrides on Andoria, and paid some Andorians to hold it for you. Just show up and pick it up. I hope you like it."

    I hand the PADD back. Three is saying something about macerating Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x and using his pieces for jewelry. She's stressed; we had planned to wait on the threats. This rock must be pretty obnoxious.

    X'gr'tch'x replies, "Oh, thank you! How did you know that I am a user?"

    I write back, "Three guessed. Said that people like you with bosses like yours get driven to the drink a lot. Hope it lasts you a while." Meanwhile Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x is making a sound like a shuttleload of mine tailings caught up in a fight between two squished Bolian mud frogs.

    Three waits exactly one minute (Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x's noise starts to sound more like a bugling Andorian snow lurker being crushed between two colliding geological plates), then moves in a blur. One moment she's lounging in her seat, relaxed, and the next she's standing on the table with Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x lifted into the air by one hand at what might pass for a torso.

    Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x must weigh three hundred kilograms, and is easily Three's equal in height. She lifts the Sheliak into the air with casual ease, and slowly slides out her left armblade. Then she says something in Sheliak. X'gr'tch'x rumbles in a rather perturbed fashion.

    "What did they say?" I hiss across the table.

    "Um..." says X'gr'tch'x nervously. Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x is squealing like a Ktarian party favor. "Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x said that her primitive mother must have been a loathsome creature indeed to whelp such a disrespectful brat. She took offense to that, and said that if xe insults her...Primary? Template? No, it's "Original"--if Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x insults her Original one more time, she will personally crush xir to dust with her bare hands and will use the dust as grit for her stone polisher. I think that's correct."

    I try to resist the urge to ogle my Three's muscular back and rear. Elements, but I love her.

    "Right. Um. What is...the rock emitting now?"

    "The humanoid equivalent would be self-urination. I sympathize--I've never heard anyone speak our language in that tone. It is terrifying."

    X'gr'tch'x's matter-of-fact statement belies his disturbing rumblings and shifting strata.

    Being a practical sort, I get up and tug on my Three's arm. She snarls at me. Her eyes are bloodshot. Not good.

    Historically, when Three's eyes have looked like that, she's triggered one of her psychological...well, floodgates. She is likely in full sadistic psychopath mode right now. I need to tread carefully.

    "Honey. Three, sweetie, listen to me. If you kill that stupid rock, the Sheliak battlecruisers in orbit will shoot the George Takei, and someone could die. The engineering teams are probably still on deck 6, and you know what that means."

    She hisses, a low, feral sound complete with flecks of spittle. But her eyes are worried. Thinking, even though they're still bloodshot. Good start. She's still got the Sheliak hoisted by its equivalent of a petard.

    "Sweetheart, that rock isn't worth it. It's just a stupid middle manager with stupid ideas about its own inherent superiority. It probably doesn't even know that you're a clone; X'gr'tch'x said that it never reads reports."

    She looks down slightly. Her effortlessly-raised arm lowers almost imperceptibly. X'gr'tch'x is frantically speaking in Sheliak. Apparently its boss is just smart enough or terrified enough to listen, because it stops struggling. Good. That should stop Three's hunter instincts form triggering.

    "Sweetheart, remember, Admiral Quinn said to not start a war here. If you kill this stupid rock, you'll start a war, and that'll be a violation of your Contract-holder's orders. You don't want to break your Contract, right?"

    She's looking a little less bloodshot now. Her arm lowers slowly. Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x is making low rumbling noises that are probably apologies.

    "That's it, darling. Let it go."

    It's not something that my Three is good at. She was designed as a killing machine; releasing prey isn't something she is built for. But she does it. Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x's lower strata touch the ground, and she releases it.

    "That's it. Come here. There, there. Here, cry on my shoulder."

    She practically collapses on me and starts sobbing. She never does that. She's heavy; I can barely support her bulk.

    "X'gr'tch'x, I'm going to take Three to the ship. Commander Gamat'elon will be down shortly to negotiate. I'll be back in a couple of hours. If you have a problem with that, you can call Command on that PADD."

    "Take all the time you need," rumbles X'gr'tch'x as its boss does what might be called a sustained shiver.

    I take her up to the ship and get her to her quarters. She's sobbing and apologizing as I help her out of her uniform. Apparently rising to insults aimed at her Original is something that units like her aren't supposed to do. She says that her Original has been trying to modify her and her clones' DNA to remove that particular psychological flaw.

    I tuck her in, and give her a kiss for good luck. Her self-preservation systems kick in, and she's out cold before I make the door.

    I beam back to the planet, and it's a miracle how willing to compromise the Sheliak are. Ktr'xch'jk'rch'x agrees to a treaty that states that if at any point in the future the Sheliak and the Romulan Republic dispute a world, they must attempt cooperative habitation under Federation and/or Klingon supervision for at least a Terran year. It gives me a rather hurried gesture with some of its middle strata, and then beams up with almost unseemly haste.

    X'gr'tch'x thanks me politely and wishes me good luck, in flawless Andorian. I wish it the same, in slightly less flawless (ok, rather broken) Sheliak. I make a note to Starfleet Command saying that this Assistant sub-Manager is easier to deal with than most other Sheliak.

    By the time I get back, it's been ten hours, but only because I stop by a market to get my niece a souvenir, and end up getting side-tracked with some lost Nausicaans (who fortunately get back to their ship before it leaves without them; their captain being apparently at least as drunk at they are). My Three is just waking up.

    "Sweetheart, I'm so sorry about my flaws causing trouble down..."

    I silence her with a kiss.

    "All is forgiven, my love. Get enough sleep?"

    "Yes. I slept for a full ten hours. Approximately five times my normal amount."

    "Good. Alright, darling. We got the treaty, and it's a damn good one. I'm in a good mood, and I want to spread it around."

    "I've got to go on duty in..."

    "Two hours. Gamat'elon has the bridge. We're headed to the Sphere to help Admiral Tuvok's team at the star observatory. Until we reach the gateway...make me happy, darling."

    She smiles, and pulls aside the covers.

    We end up being five minutes late. Gamat'elon takes the hail from Command. But that's perfectly alright by me.

    End log.
    Founder and Grand Vizier of the Glorious Regime of Sovereign Ba'al. Hail Ba'al!
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  • ryan218ryan218 Member Posts: 34,131 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    U.S.S. Victorious, Exeter-Class. Captain's Log, Stardate 91664.6. Lieutenant Commander Ryan Allington reporting.

    Initial talks with the Sheliak have gone as well as could be expected. That is to say, not at all. With the Sheliak being as... observant... as they are, negotiating a compromise between them and the Romulan Republic has been difficult. The Sheliak have accused the Romulan Republic of violating several treaties between the Corporate and the Star Empire.

    However, I have managed to convince the Sheliak that there are more than enough worlds similar in radiometric profile to Mol'Rihan within Federation Space to reach an agreement; in return for the Federation conceding the Dralos Gamma and Torias Major Systems to the Sheliak Corporate, as well as a rather generous trade deal, the Sheliak will renounce prior claims on the Dewan System and all other Sheliak-friendly inhabitable worlds within the Republic's expansion zone set up by the Federation and Klingon Empire.

    It seemed that this was the best way to keep the Sheliak from engaging in a war with the Romulan Republic, dragging the Federation into the conflict. Starfleet is already spread thin fighting the Borg, Elachi and Klingon Empire without having to deal with the Sheliak pestering us.

    However, the treaty still has to be worked out, and there's no guarantee the Sheliak will be satisfied to the new trade deal.

    And when the Sheliak aren't satisfied, I have to learn entire treaties word-for-word just to find a single loophole to get them to talk!

    Fortunately, they quickly fold once you make it clear that if you don't get an agreement, you'll call in a species of reptiles that are still in hibernation for 6 months to mediate.

    End log.
  • markhawkmanmarkhawkman Member Posts: 33,575 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    Mission log of 7 of 13, commanding officer of the "Breen is Futile".

    Stardate 83427.3; Starfleet Command has received a 'request' from the Sheliak Corporate to send an intermediary to treaty negotiations between the Sheliak and the Romulan Republic. Admiral Quinn personally selected me as one of the representatives of Starfleet. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held at Starbase 234 on Stardate 83430.

    Stardate 83430.4; The negotiations started as scheduled. The Romulans seem to have been suspicious of the motives of the Sheliak. One of them said, and I quote; "The Sheliak Corporate has far better ways to protect systems it has a legal claim to than engaging in treaty negotiations with a government that is uninterested in the affairs of the Corporate." Another of the Romulans suggested that they believed that the Sheliak were using this as an excuse to try annex systems that weren't rightfully theirs. the Sheliak were surprisingly unmoved by this and didn't visibly react at all. The mediators from the Klingon Empire kept one hand on their disruptor pistols at all times during the more heated parts of this exchange. They seemed convinced that a fight could start at any time. That did seem possible, but unlikely.

    Stardate 83430.8; After several hours, the Sheliak and Romulans have reached something half-way between an impasse and an agreement. It's not clear at this point if the negotiations have finished or stalled, but something unexpected happens. The Acamarians and Suliban show up. The Suliban seem to have intercepted the coded transmission and deciphered them quickly enough to arrive at the conference before it ended. The Suliban seem to trust the Sheliak as little as the Romulans do and showed up due to being concerned about the outcome of the talks. The Acamarians seemed to be here more out of curiosity. They detected a Suliban convoy heading for the Starbase and followed it to find out what the Suliban were doing.

    Stardate 83430.9; The Sheliak delegation didn't seem to be bothered by the intrusion much. But since they were not authorized to negotiate with the Acamarians or Suliban, the Sheliak completely refused to discuss matters with them at all. However, they did mention the possibility of doing so later. The Sheliak then left abruptly after telling the Romulans that they would send a message for when talks were to resume, and warned us to use better transmission security protocols next time. After the Sheliak left, one of the Suliban gloated that it was actually the SHELIAK transmissions that had been decoded, not transmissions from the Federation , Republic, or Empire.

    Stardate 83430.95; All interested parties have since left. The only agreement reached was that the Romulans wouldn't try to colonize worlds ceded to the Sheliak by the Federation Treaty of Armens. Of course, none of those worlds is even close to Romulan territory, so it's a moot point. Even so, the Sheliak seemed somewhat satisfied by this, even though it wasn't a signed treaty. The Acamarians looked thoroughly bewildered by why the Sheliak felt the need to negotiate at all. The Suliban... It's hard to guess what they were thinking when they left...

    End of log.
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    My character Tsin'xing
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  • charbonne1000charbonne1000 Member Posts: 1 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    My stab at Star Trek fanfiction, please be kind... :(

    Subcommander Rh'vaurek sighed as he read the briefing from New Romulus regarding colonization of new planets. Specifically, planets that were unfit for regular humanoid life due to their radiation levels. It was definitely one of those messages, and he could tell.

    As someone that had been in charge of finding Romulan colony worlds as a Centurion, he couldn't help but recall how many of them just wanted a safe place far from Tal Shiar control as they could get. Not that he blamed them. After all, it took months before he could get over most of the conditioning they had tried to instill in him while a captive.

    The ironic thing was that most of the problems the Sheliak had to the Romulan Republic were unfounded. Resistant as Romulans were, they were however not immune to the effects that long-term exposure could bring. Hiven, his chief medical officer, could attest to this, as he'd had plenty of experience treating crewmembers that had been sent on missions to irradiated areas.

    Then again, maybe it was the fear that a new power within the Alpha Quadrant was growing that prompted such a demand. Rh'vaurek was convinced that had to be the case, as he didn't think that any of the Republic's leaders would put themselves in such a position as to lose support from either the Federation or the Klingons.

    As his eyes skittered across the script, he was reminded again why he was a subcommander and not a diplomat. This entire event would have caused him to lose his cool and probably detonate the entire talk chambers just from sheer aggravation rather than any malicious intent. He shoved those thoughts to the side, reminding himself to see the ship doctor soon, since he was certain that thought was more Tal Shiar than what he used to be like.

    After completing the briefing, he stood and stretched before making his way to the replicator in his office. "Coffee, black." When the drink materialized, he took it and walked back to his desk, already considering his reply back to command. So maybe he hung around the humans longer than he should, to be honest. It wasn't like he could grow to like most of their food on Earth.

    Only coffee had managed to stick with the Romulan, and he took a sip before he started on his message back to the admiral. "From Subcommander Rh'vaurek to Admiral T'nae. I might sound a bit biased, but why would we go to radiation rich worlds in the first place? Wouldn't that be a bit of a step back from what we were trying to accomplish in the first place? Besides, they want those worlds, they can have them. There's thousands more than that in the galaxy."
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    "Excuse me, Captain," gasped Admiral Jac Cheliss. "I don't think I heard you properly."

    "I said 'no', Admiral," Captain Ael t'Kazanak replied calmly, not moving from parade rest before the admiral. "I must decline to follow your order, on the grounds that sending a Romulan wearing a Starfleet uniform, to enforce a pattern of behaviour against the Romulan Republic would be inflammatory and counter-productive. There are other officers with a greater flair for diplomacy than I. I would respectfully suggest assigning them as envoys."

    The Betazoid admiral took a steadying breath, and expanded his consciousness, brushing against the Romulan officer's psyche. Not probing, not even her most surface thoughts, just enough to catch the flavour of her mood.

    Concern

    "What is really on your mind, Ael?" he asked gently. "Your status as a Federation citizen gives you an ideal perspective to discuss the Sheliak concerns with the Republic."

    Ael resolutely stared at a point three inches above Cheliss' shoulder.

    "Permission to speak freely, Sir?"

    Cheliss gestured expansively.

    "Granted," he said. "And stand at ease, you're not about to be thrown in the brig."

    "Aye, Sir," Ael acknowledged, relaxing her posture and fixing Cheliss with her pale eyes. "It's Ambassasor S'rR's, Sir. She disappeared on Caladan nearly a week ago, and so far, an investigation by her security escort and my chief of security has failed to locate her."

    Cheliss face drew into a frown.

    "You believe she has been abducted?"

    "It would certainly appear so, Sir," Ael replied. "As her hosts, we have an obligation to ensure her safety. And as you are no doubt aware, before resigning her commission, S'rR's served as Admiral Kane's attache when he was the head of Starfleet Intelligence..."

    Cheliss nodded as Ael left the thought unfinished. The information which S'rR's had been privy to was classified at the highest level, and in the wrong hands, could be used to catastrophic effect against Starfleet. It was imperative that she be located.

    "Whatever it takes to find her, Captain," he said. "Ensuring her safety is your only priority from this point onward. Find her, and bring her home safely."
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  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,640 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    Personal log: Veronika "Ronnie" Grau, officer commanding USS Falcon, NCC-93057
    Datarecord: 2/12, 2ndry adjunct unimatrix 07 (pending reassimilation/reclassification)


    I come bounding onto the bridge of the Falcon, plump myself down in the command chair, and beam at everyone. Bet that's got them worried already.

    "Tallasa," I say, "would you like to pick three words to describe me?"

    My Andorian */*species 4644*/* exec's antennae droop. "I'd... rather not, sir," she says.

    "Oh, well. Apparently," I say with a broader smile yet, "you could choose tactful. Or even diplomatic. Persuasive. Soothing, even."

    "Technically," Saval, my Vulcan */*species 3259*/* science officer says, "those are four words, sir."

    "Also exact," I say. "Our two weapons are fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency. Lay in a course for Zeta Ancillae IV, maximum cruising speed, and set us up to broadcast diplomatic credentials and ID. I am now the Federation's representative, with orders to reconcile the dispute between the Romulan Republic and the Sheliak Corporate."

    Tallasa stares at me as if I've gone mad. Madder. Her sister Jhemyl has started to lay in the course, and I can see her hands moving slower and slower on the console, until they come to a dead stop. Saval just blinks - which, admittedly, is high emotion in a Vulcan.

    "Some mean-spirited people who have no faith in their commanding officer's tact and diplomacy," I say loudly, "might think to contact Starfleet Command and get confirmation of these orders. Well, I already did that. Apparently, every diplomat in the Federation is... on holiday, or on a coffee break, or something. This one has really and truly been dropped in my lap, boys and girls, so let's get on with it."

    Tallasa finds her voice. "This is... this is unexpected, sir."

    "Too right it is." I let the smile drop. "This business looks distinctly dodgy to little Ronnie. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. But we're not going to work out what it is by hanging around here, so let's get to the state of Denmark and start some cautious sniffing. These days, the state of Denmark is on Zeta Ancillae IV, apparently. Step on the gas, Jhemyl."

    ---

    The Sheliak. */*species 8821---exercise caution---unsuitable for assimilation in most cases*/* Major bad news. They are a non-humanoid, xenophobic species, existing in temperatures and radiation levels that would fry a human in short order. They are technologically advanced, probably ahead of the Federation in many respects, and they are prickly, obstructive, and territorial. We do not need problems with the Sheliak. But we may get them anyway, oh joy.

    I grab the paperwork and review the situation as the Falcon plunges across space towards Zeta Ancillae. The Romulan Republic has been rehabilitating New Romulus, cleaning up the weird radiation fields that used to render the planet uninhabitable except by weird things with six eyes. The Sheliak are, apparently, miffed about the possibility of the Roms using this technology to terraform Sheliak-compatible worlds. Frankly, I don't think they've got too much to worry about, New Romulus is kind of a special case, courtesy of the Iconians */*species 29*/*, the tech the Romulans */*species 3783*/* have developed probably won't have wider applications. But the problem is going to be convincing the Sheliak of this... and it is further complicated by the fact that the Sheliak won't talk to the Republic.

    An awful lot has suddenly been dropped on the narrow shoulders of yours truly, and even my Borg-reinforced shoulders may not find it easy to cope.

    I'm still staring at the transcripts of the negotiation sessions when the intercom chimes in my ready room. Tallasa's voice says, "Coming out of warp in ten minutes, sir."

    "Right," I say. "Be right with you."

    I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to do this at all.

    ---

    Zeta Ancillae IV is a ghastly irradiated rockball, the sort of planet only the Sheliak could love. Starfleet Corps of Engineers has bolted together some prefabricated habitat modules on a small asteroid moonlet of the planet; it's crewed by a small technical staff, and is currently the temporary home to an angry and disconsolate group of Republic diplomats.

    "They are intransigent," Ambassador Rodumus tells me glumly. He is the Romulans' senior negotiator; he is tall and suave and patrician-looking, and if he can't get anywhere, I don't see what Starfleet expects a small scruffy cyborg to accomplish. "At first, we thought there were grounds for reasonable discussion - then, they broke off the negotiations entirely, they ordered us off the planet, and submitted the request for your government to take over."

    "I'm guessing you're not best pleased about that," I say.

    "The Romulan Republic should be - trusted - to handle its own affairs."

    "Makes sense to me. But then I'm not a talking hot rock. What's the protocol for getting in touch with these guys anyway? I read through the treaty, there's normally quite a rigmarole...."

    "The Corporate has erected a force-field dome on the planet's surface, with a class M environment inside it. We are - or were - allowed to come and go as we please, between this facility and the dome. The Sheliak apparently regard this as a great concession on their part."

    "Probably is. Their sort of xenophobia runs pretty deep.... Can you figure out what, if anything, you did to set them off?"

    "Regrettably, I cannot. I was very cautious to stay within all the known diplomatic protocols. And yet, still, I managed to cause offense...."

    Oh, God. A career diplomat can't avoid getting these guys TRIBBLE off, and here's me taking over, and I can cause offense in my sleep.

    "I understand," Rodumus continues, "that the Sheliak have also been in contact with the Klingon Empire over this issue. Thus far, I am not aware that the Klingons have made any formal diplomatic response. However...."

    "If a Klink ship shows up, I won't shoot it right away. This just gets better by the minute, doesn't it?" I scratch an itch by the Borg implant covering my left eye. "OK. I'd better go down and check out this concession of theirs, hadn't I?"

    ---

    It's not much of a concession. The hemispherical force shield is about eight metres across, and there is a beam-down pad and a pillar-like thing that's obviously some sort of communicator, and that's it. Nothing but a circle of hot, bare dirt. There is some sort of metal doohickey just outside the field, evidently a generator for the force shield and the class M environment... I have no idea how it works. I just hope it doesn't stop working while I'm here.

    Even with this thing going, the air is hot and stuffy, and very little is visible behind the shimmering glow of the shield. The atmosphere seems to be mostly murk, and there are things moving inside it.

    One of the things comes up to the perimeter of the shield. It looks like a pile of wet muddy rocks, except it moves. It makes a noise like an accident in a brickyard, and the pillar says, "I am Mediator 6923. Lesser species cannot pronounce my name. You will state your identification in accordance with protocol."

    "I am Vice Admiral Veronika Grau." I don't add call me Ronnie, everyone does - I think I deserve brownie points for that, anyway. Mediator 6923 rearranges itself in some obscure way - I hope it's making itself comfortable. It'll be in a better mood if it's comfortable.

    There are more breaking and grating noises. "Accepted and verified according to credentials previously transmitted. You will arrange for protection of Sheliak interests against Romulan intrusion."

    "I don't have authority to make binding agreements on behalf of the Romulan Republic," I say.

    "The Federation is allied with the Republic, and the Federation's obligations under the treaty are specified."

    "The Federation recognizes the Republic, and has cooperated with it in some ventures, but that is not the same as a formal alliance."

    "I refer you to the definitions in Appendix 83, subsection D, paragraphs 43 to 52 of the prolegomena to the Treaty of Armens." Oh, hell. It took three hundred and seventy-two legal experts to knock that treaty into shape, what chance do I have of following it?

    "I'll have to check with my legal advisors to see if your interpretation is correct," I say guardedly.

    "It is correct. We do not make errors, creature."

    "Assuming - provisionally - that's the case, how do you want us to proceed?"

    "I refer you to the treaty itself, section 12, subsections A through E...."

    This is going to be a long, long day.

    ---

    A cool glass of water in my ready room is very refreshing. About a litre of Saurian brandy would be a lot more refreshing, but something tells me I really shouldn't.

    "I wound up pleading indisposition," I said. "Told the mediator the force shield was interfering with my neural circuitry and affecting my memory."

    "That may even be true, sir," says Saval, who is reading the transcript with every appearance of interest. "Some of these references and precedents you cite are unfamiliar to me."

    "Yes, put that down to lapses in memory," I say. "Sounds better than admitting I made them up. Listen. I can't handle this guy, he is going to make me sign up to something the Romulans won't swallow, and then we'll be in a worse mess than before. I said it before and I'll say it again, play 'As Time Goes By' - no, wait, that's not it." I swallow the last of the water. "This is a set-up. And we need to work out who's setting us up and why."

    I stand up. "Tallasa, I've got an EV suit somewhere, haven't I? I remember walking around in one, on Nukara...."

    "Sir..." Tallasa begins, in her I am going to try being reasonable before I use violence voice.

    "It's so I can hang around in that force field bubble and be shielded from interference. Right?"

    "Of course it is, sir," says Tallasa in tones of the deepest gloom.

    ---

    The surface of Zeta Ancillae IV is rocky and hot and generally unpleasant - what I can see of it, through the murk. The visual records I've seen of the Sheliak always had them working in a pretty clear atmosphere, I thought: what happened? Maybe this is a seasonal thing. Or an aesthetic thing. Or a thing for which I have no cultural reference point. Anyway, I plod on. The gravity is well above Earth normal, too. Damn it.

    A voice in my ear says, "Halt!", just as something large and rocky looms out of the mist ahead of me.

    "I'm looking for Mediator 6923," I say. I just hope the universal translator copes. It coped with "Halt!", but "Halt!" is one of those fundamental concepts, particularly as uttered by large hostile security guards.

    "You are trespassing on the sacred soil of the Sheliak!"

    "Well, of course I am, I wouldn't be looking for Mediator 6923 on flippin' Risa, would I?"

    "Return at once to your vessel and no more will be said of this."

    I stand still, fold my arms, and say, "No." I'd look him in the eye, if he had eyes.

    "I will deal with this." Annoyingly, the translator uses the same voice - but a second ambulant rockpile has loomed up, and it's clearly this one who's speaking. I'll give the Sheliak one thing, they don't half loom well.

    "Are you Mediator 6923? I'm Veronika Grau, call me Ronnie, everyone does." Oh, damn. I said it.

    "You are violating diplomatic protocols -"

    "Yes, I know. I wanted to talk to you. In an informal, undiplomatic, non-legally-binding way. Just you and me, buddy. Creature to creature."

    The first Sheliak shambles off. The second one stands very still.

    "Very well. Talk," says the voice in my ear.

    "Thanks. First off, I'm not a diplomat. Oh, I'm a senior officer of appropriate rank, and all that guff, but I'm not a diplomat. We'll get back to that, because I think it's important. But you are a diplomat, and so's Rodumus, so why aren't you talking to him?"

    "The Romulan creature is not reliable. He says one thing, then he says another. He does not deal in good faith."

    "OK. OK. Assuming you're right... why? The Romulans want this negotiation to succeed. They don't want a conflict with the Sheliak Corporate...." Something clicks inside my miswired head. "And you don't want a conflict either, do you? We've been grumbling about Sheliak arrogance and legalism, but the fact is, by your standards, you guys have been falling over yourselves to be accommodating, here. Class M reception room on your sacred soil, trained mediator on hand... you don't want a fight any more than we do!"

    "The resources of the Corporate could be better used than in conflict with the Romulan creatures," 6923 admits.

    "So you don't want a fight, and the Roms don't want a fight, and despite all appearances I don't want a fight. So who does? Cui bono? Follow the money."

    6923 shifts about a bit. "I do not think my translation system is capturing your speech correctly."

    "Oh, that's all right. It probably is, it's just that sometimes I don't make much sense. I told you, I'm not a diplomat - which is why I think someone is setting up these negotiations to fail. You and me, 6923, good buddy, we are being set up for a fall, here, and I don't think you want that, do you? On a personal level."

    "It would be preferable if the negotiations were successfully concluded," 6923 says, which I think is Sheliak for my job's on the line here. The big rocky bulk is shifting around again. "But you say you are not reliable. And Rodumus contradicts himself - it is not a question of misinterpretation or shades of meaning. I understand your limited languages and I make allowances. The Romulan creature explicitly contradicts himself. I can provide you with references in the transcripts -"

    "Yes. Yes, you do that." Ideas are bubbling up in little Ronnie's head. "The Federation, good buddy, has enemies. They'd just love to have a conflict between us and the Sheliak. And some of those enemies are very good at infiltration." 6923 can't see me smile, behind the faceplate of my helmet. And he wouldn't recognise a smile if he could see it. But I smile anyway. "Let me suggest something. Rodumus might say different things at different times if he was actually two different people...."

    ---

    "I need," I announce, as I step off the transporter pad, "complete transcripts of the negotiations, complete logs of all the transporter activity between the station and the surface, and all available security visual recordings from the station itself." I pull the suit's helmet off. Smoke is rising from the soles of my boots as dust from the planet's surface burns away in our air. "Also, I will need several hours alone in my ready room, and I will probably need a stiff drink and a bucketload of painkillers afterwards. This is not going to be fun."

    "Sir?" says Tallasa.

    "We have a ringer, folks. Someone has been impersonating Ambassador Rodumus. The Sheliak granted access to that dome of theirs at any time, right? Someone has been putting the Ambassador's face on and beaming down while the Ambassador is safely tucked up in his little Romulan bed. Big question is, who?"

    "How do you intend to find out, sir?" Tallasa looks worried. "The security records won't be complete, even if they've not been deliberately tampered with."

    "Right. Right. What we need, I'm afraid, is computer-like attention to detail, scanning and analysing every second of the records we have... and we also need an organic brain's ability to make intuitive leaps, play hunches, generally work from inadequate data. We need a composite mechanical-organic brain." I sigh heavily. "Now, where oh where are we going to find one of those...?"

    ---

    "Are you sure this is a good idea, sir?" Tallasa hisses at me as she climbs into the cupboard. Her tone shows pretty plainly that she doesn't.

    "Not really," I say, "but it's the best I can come up with at short notice. Saval, hide behind the wardrobe. I'll just stand by the door." Technical Specialist Arthur Corley's quarters on the station are not very large, they don't offer a wide range of hiding places. Especially when the people doing the hiding are carrying phaser rifles of the stonkingly huge variety.

    "We should have more people," Tallasa whispers urgently. "If he's what you think he is -"

    "There isn't room for any more, and this is our best chance to jump him."

    "At least let me get more security people in the corridor -"

    "He'd smell a rat. Now shush, I think I hear him coming." And I shut the cupboard door on her. Oh, man, that feels good....

    Footsteps in the corridor outside, and a brief pause, while Corley checks the hair on the door's access panel is in precisely the same place as when he left it. It is, of course. I put it back very carefully.

    The door hisses open. I get a brief look at the man as he steps through, and before my presence has had time to register with him, I hit him. I hit him as hard as I can, all my Borg mechanical parts tuned up to full force.

    I'm not sure what I'm expecting - for him to splash like liquid, or morph into some tripod monstrosity. Whatever fight it is, I have to be ready for it -

    What I didn't expect is for him to go down at the first blow and lie senseless on the floor.

    Tallasa bursts out of the cupboard with her phaser rifle at the ready. "Sir -"

    "Ow," I say. I look at my Borg-augmented hand. "I think I broke a... strut, or something." */*confirm mechanical damage---actuators Z9838321 and X5287149 out of alignment---initiating autorepair*/* "Ow. Saval, take a look at him...."

    "Is this the right one, sir?" Tallasa's antennae are drooping.

    "Should be. It's definitely Corley, and he was the only one I couldn't account for when the fake Ambassador was fake-Ambassadoring. Saval, scan him."

    Saval has his tricorder out, is examining the inert form. "I have a possible energy signature," he says, frowning in concentration. "Consistent with...." His eyes widen and he does the Vulcan eyebrow thing. "Sir, he's wearing a holo-emitter."

    "I was right. Oh frabjous day, calloo, callay. Pull the power cell, let's see what we've got."

    Saval reaches for something at Corley's waist, and the shape on the floor flickers and changes -

    Tallasa says some words in Andorian that a well-brought-up first officer shouldn't know. Saval blinks several times, rapidly.

    "Oh, Jesus H. tapdancing Christ on a pogo stick," I moan. "Think, Ronnie. Think...."

    ---

    Franklin Drake glares at me through the force field. The dressing on the side of his head isn't improving his looks... or his disposition.

    "Well, it's your own fault," I say crossly. "I thought you were an Undine or a Changeling or something, of course I hit you as hard as I could."

    Drake just carries on glaring with those worrying yellow eyes of his. Maybe I should have had the medics check him for jaundice as well as skull trauma.

    Finally, he says, "So how do you intend to salvage this situation?"

    "Already salvaged," I say cheerfully. "Now that my good buddy 6923 knows Rodumus was being sabotaged, the two of them have got back round the negotiating table and are threshing things out. The Sheliak are scared, Frankie, they are practically falling over themselves to get an agreement drafted. And Rodumus knows his stuff. Everything will be signed, sealed, delivered and tied up with red tape in a couple of days."

    He doesn't look happy. "Speaking of tied up," I continue, "I guess I will have to turn over the saboteur from a Federation terrorist group who was trying to muck up the negotiations. I wonder how the Sheliak will interrogate you? They're awfully technically advanced, I bet they're good at it."

    Drake is on his feet in an instant. "You can't do that," he hisses at me. "Not for my sake, Ronnie, for the Federation's. There are things I know, that - You can't do it!"

    And I wonder if I am the only person now alive who's seen fear in Franklin Drake's eyes.

    I grin at him. "Oh, c'mon, Frankie, I know I can't do it. Ronnie says relax, Frankie. We told the Sheliak you were an Undine infiltrator, and we didn't have the resources to take you alive. They bought it, they know we're inferior sorts of creatures who can't do simple jobs like that. I hope there wasn't anything important in that suitcase of yours, by the way. We had to disintegrate some mass with phaser fire, just for the look of the thing."

    He looks at me in a way that makes me very glad I'm on this side of the force field. Then he sighs heavily and says, "It would have self-destructed anyway, if it was tampered with.... So. You win this one, Ronnie."

    "I do? Great. Indulge me, then. What was the big idea?"

    He shakes his head. "The Romulan Republic is... growing too fast. It's unpredictable, and it's as friendly with the Klingons as it is with us. We decided it needed... an obstacle. A problem to draw its attention away from the Federation."

    "You don't think D'Tan's got enough on his plate with the Tholians and the Tal Shiar and the Iconians and the Hirogen?"

    "We think our potential enemies can never have too much adversity." He smiles.

    "Oh, great. What about our potential friends? We can work with the Republic, Frankie. I'm saying that, me, and I used to shoot Roms for a living. Anyway, you don't get to sit in back rooms and decide who our friends and our enemies are. It's against the constitution. That's what we have elected representatives for."

    "You think our representatives are chosen wisely?" he asks scornfully.

    "They should be. I don't vote. Anyway, enough of this." I turn to the master console for the brig, and pick up a small package. "Computer. Security field off." The force field drops.

    "I'll need some time to arrange transport," Drake says.

    "Oh, you'll have plenty of time." I step into the cell. "Computer. Security field on." The field glows into life behind me.

    Drake looks puzzled. Afraid, and now puzzled - any more unfamiliar emotions and his face will break. "What - ?"

    "Precautions, Frankie, precautions. I give you credit for knowing your stuff, I reckon you must have all sorts of contingency plans and fall-backs. I still don't know how you finagled me in as your choice for worst possible diplomat." I grin at him; well, I bare my teeth at least. "And you know all sorts of tricks with security, back doors and trapdoors and what-not, I bet there isn't a cell in the Federation could hold you. But you don't have any back doors to my systems." My grin gets wider. "So we are going to sit tight in here until Rodumus and 6923 have done their deal, and I will keep my eye on you. Every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you. Till it's time for you to go back to Hollywood." I may be mixing up my twentieth-century musicians, there. I don't care.

    "You're going to stay in this cell with me until the meeting is over?" He sounds anguished.

    I hold up the package in my hand. "If you want to pass the time," I say, "I brought travel chess."

    ---

    Mercifully, it's less than forty-eight hours before Rodumus warps out with a draft agreement under his arm. And a discreet, anonymous-looking civilian cruiser warps in, to take a passenger off my hands.

    It feels good to be back on the bridge, even with Drake glowering at me from the viewer. "We'll meet again, Ronnie," he says.

    "I'm betting on it," I say. "Let me know whenever you want more top-level diplomacy done."

    "I think," Drake says, "we might use other resources for those tasks. Goodbye." And the screen goes blank.

    "Bye, Frankie," I say. "Have a nice trip back to Hollywood."

    Tallasa's face is thoughtful. "He's a dangerous enemy to have, sir."

    "Oh, relax. It's all in the game to people like him. You get caught out, you resign graciously, thank your opponent, get ready for the next match. Like the chess game."

    "You threw the board at his head and called him a cheating, conniving, backstabbing weasel, sir," says Tallasa.

    "Only once. And he had it coming, that fool's mate was a cheap trick." I sigh contentedly. "Let's move on, shall we? Back to the front lines, back to people shooting at us - I prefer being shot at, it's so simple." I settle myself into the command chair. "Soothing, even."
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  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    Present Day

    Captain Jax paced the bridge, nervously glancing at the viewscreen from time to time. It was over an hour since the Sheliak were supposed to have responded, and although his interactions with them were brief, he knew that this was highly irregular. While he tried to maintain a calm demeanor for the sake of his crew, the pacing only served to make them nervous.

    It didnt help that the Commander from the Judge Advocate General, who was staring at the viewscreen, was sweating through her uniform. Jax watched as she bit her lip, kept playing with her blond ponytail, and shifted from foot to foot as if she needed to go to the head badly.

    Jax's First Officer intercepted him at the aft Engineering console. "Whadda you think is takin so long?" the Tellarite angrily growled. "Not like them to be tardy. I don't like it."

    "Neither do I," Jax said flatly. "Command said to let the Romulans lead, and their Treaty proposal was exceedingly simple."

    Jax recalled the meeting in his ready room the day before. The Romulan SubCommander's proposal was far from complicated. It mapped out the sector, showing the previous Treaty the Romulans had with the Sheliak. A line snaked through the map; one side in green, the other in red.

    An hour and a half ago, the SubCommander hailed the Sheliak vessel, with the Ajax looped in as a witness. The offer from New Romulus was simple: maintain the border. You stay on your side, we stay on ours. That was it...and it made the blonde from JAG exceedingly frantic. She claimed that it wasn't detailed enough, it was vague, it could be interpreted in too may ways.

    And now they waited to see how the Sheliak would respond.

    Ensign Jannasta whispered over the little noise there was. "Captain, the Sheliak are hailing us."

    Jax straightened his jacket and walked towards the center of the bridge, his First Officer and the JAG Commander joining him to either side. "Onscreen," he ordered.

    An image of the Shelik Director appeared on one half of the screen, the Romulan SubCommander on the other. The latter had an extremely bored expression on his face, and the former...well, Jax couldn't tell. Shame I never paid more attention in geology lectures, he thought.

    The Sheliak spoke, voice full of disbelief and anger. "You mock us with this...this....treaty!" he spat out. "What happens if your ships cross the line?"

    The SubCommander stifled a yawn, looking as if he'd rather be in bed. "Director," he said, his voice dripping with condescension, "New Romulus has no interest in expanding. We need to rebuild our civilization practically from nothing. We are no threat to you, not with the majority of our resources in dire need elsewhere. We will honour the treaty and stay on our side of the border."

    The Sheliak Director was trembling when he replied. "Treaties work to protect both parties. What if we do not honour the treaty? What happens if we cross the line? This is what a treaty spells out...consequences!"

    This time the SubCommander did yawn, and Jax heard a whimper from the JAG behind him. The SubCommander gestured dramatically towards space, saying, "This is what lies behind our borders should you cross them." He snapped his fingers, and his image disappeared from the screen, replaced by an image of his T'liss class Warbird. There were dozens of distortions in space, and the familiar sound of a decloaking ship was heard, multiplied many times. At least forty Romulan ships came into focus. Jax counted at a dozen Double D's, a handful of Mogai, and five Scimitars before they again faded into space, cloaking once again.

    "Is that clear enough, Director? Do you need me to spell out the consequences in some document? As I said...the majority of our resources are needed elsewhere. But our military forces...they can be wherever we need them to be. And our alliance with the Federation is one of mutual defense. Can you afford to fight both us and the Klingon Empire? They'll also love to come in and play, given the number of truces they have on various fronts with the Federation."

    The Sheliak Director was motionless and speechless for a moment, but found the ability to respond. "We were not aware so much of your military survived the destruction of your planet. It would be a shame to enter a state of war when your civilians are vulnerable."

    "Are you threatening us, Director?"

    "No, you misunderstand. It is clear that you have no wish to infest our planets...as you have the ability to do so if you wish. We will honour the treaty...and provide humanitarian assistance to your civilians if you ask."

    "Very generous of you, Director. I will take the offer back...home." The SubCommander's voice broke for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure. "Shall I assume you will sign the amended treaty?"

    "I already have.. We wish you...Jolan Tru." The viewscreen shifted as the Director ended the transmission, and a tone from the computer verified that a signed copy of the treaty was received by both parties.

    Jax let out the breath he was holding. "SubCommander, I really wish you let me know you had a fleet with you,"Jax sighed.

    The SubCommander didn't bother to reintialize visual comms. "I don't. There are four ships, all jury rigged with multiple Photonic emitters. Seems like a lot more, doesn't it?" Jax couldn't know for sure, but he'd bet that the Romulan had a sly grin on his face.

    "You bluffed? With stakes this great?" Jax asked incredulously.

    The image of the T'liss faded as it engaged her cloak. "It worked. That's all a bluff needs to do. If it didn't...then we'd see how much the Federation honours our treaty. Jolan Tru, Ajax."

    There was a wet, meaty thump from behind him. Jax looked around and saw the JAG had fainted to the floor. Jax motiioned to the MACO at the turbolift to pick up the JAG and take her to sickbay. He looked at his First Officer and sighed. "He bluffed with our lives. I don't like that one bit."

    The Tellarite growled back, "Romulans are sneaky, Sir. We already knew that."

    Jax looked out the viewscreen at the now empty space. "Yep...and we learned something about the Sheliak today. They were basically threatened with war and backed down. Quickly. Almost cowardly, given that they offered assistance too. But it makes sense....the existing treaty we have with them."

    "How so, Sir?"

    "Back on Earth, long ago, if a man had a grievance with another, they would duel, or have their hired guns fight for them. But once we became civilized, instead of weapons, men used laws to protect themselves. They used contracts and agreements to hide behind. And some unscrupulous individuals would become bullies, harassing the poor, knowing that they could hide behind the law to protect them. Well...I now believe the Sheliak were bullies, making threats based on a half million word treaty composed by almost 400 lawyer types. They thought the Romulans were weak, and treated them as if they were insignificant insects not worthy of a fight."

    "And the Romulans basically told them to come get some."

    "Aye," Jax said. "When a bully is stood up to, they often fold. And everybody knows what the Romulas are capable of when pushed. The Sheliak don't want to risk a repeat of the time the Tal Shiar partnered with the Obsidian Order and devastated a planet. They realize now the Romulans won't hide behind a bunch of words."

    "Still a huge gamble."

    "It worked. That's all that is relevant. The Sheliak know that if they go against the Romulans, the Romulans are going to come back swinging weapons hard. But I'm not sure how the Admiralty is going to feel about the Romulans using us as one of those weapons."

    The Tellarite pointed at the JAG lying on the floor, now being attended to by a couple of corpsmen. "If her reaction is indicative of how the admin types are going to behave, there will be a lot of unpleasant conversations between the Federation and the Romulans."

    Jax smiled, saying, "That, my friend, is above our pay grade and not our problem. Let's grab a drink and figure out how we're going to word our debrief."

    "Romulan Ale?"

    "Sounds appropriate!"

    *************************************************
    In the B'Tran Cluster

    "Mask energy signature," Sotek quietly commanded.

    Lt. Commander Carter, sitting at Ops, whispered back, "Aye sir, ship rigged for ultra quiet."

    Sotek stared intently at the viewscreen, the majority of it filled with an asteroid. To the upper left corner, he could make out the debris field they were investigating, a Borg Sphere slowly weaving through the wreckage of a large ship.

    Commander Marrow quietly asked, "You think they saw us?"

    Sotek glanced down at the panel to his side, examining the data. "Unknown. But if they did, I would assume they would be making their way here directly."

    "Active scan from the Sphere," Carter breathed out.

    "Keep the asteroid between us and it, Ensign," Sotek said to the young Benzite at the Conn. "Minimal use of the RCS."

    "Aye aye, Sir", the Ensign said. He was breathing hard, vapor spilling out over his face as he expertly tapped away at his console.

    Marrow tapped his own panel, muttering, "We're reading as an empty space. If they scan here they'll see a hole where there shouldn't be one."

    "Steady," Sotek said. "Reverse flow on the Bussard Collectors..just enough to mask the hole."

    "Another active scan....and they're coming closer!" Carter squeaked out, earning a disapproving look from the XO.

    Sotek studies the viewscreen, then said, "Conn, take us in closer to the asteroid. Z plus 500 meters...do it at a crawl."

    Marrow muttered, "Captain...that's cutting it close."

    "I know," Sotek said. "It gives us ten point three meters to contact."

    Carter called out, "Sphere is turning about and picking up speed."

    "Direction?" Sotek asked.

    Carter checked her readout. "Away from us...we'll stay in the shadow of this asteroid."

    "Good. Hold position."

    The bridge was nearly silent, only a few muted beeps from various systems occurring. They sounded like klaxons that could be heard across the sector to the crew of the Honolulu.

    A few more moments passed, and Marrow called out, "Sphere has departed the system. No probes or sensors were deployed." He tapped his controls, then confidently stated, "We can keep going, Sir."

    Sotek uttered a quick sigh of relief. "That was the third Borg vessel in as many hours. Take us to our last search position and resume passive scans."

    Carter, visibly shaken from the close call, spoke up quietly. "Sir, lateral sensors have completed their cycle, and there is no evidence of Thermathic anywhere."

    "Are you positive, Commander?" Sotek asked.

    "Aye Sir. Ran the results three times. Nothing."

    Marrow looked up a Sotek with a puzzled look. "Thermathic?"

    Sotek stood up and walked to the Science II console. He tapped the screen quickly, bringing up schematics for his XO. "Thermathic, Commander. A gaseous thermal dampener. Caustic if it comes into contact with oxygen, and lingers in an area of space for three weeks before it decays. Used by Federation ships to rapidly cool down heated warp coils on articulated arms, and to prevent friction when separating components. Thermathic is what causes the glittering affect when a saucer separates, or when nacelles retract."

    "Like on a Galaxy...or an MVAE...or..." Marrow's head jerked up and his eyes widened as things became clear. "Or an Aquarius."

    Sotek smiled. "Like an Aquarius. Even if the Rouge Valley was not here, there would be residual Thermathic from both sides of the chevron."

    "If there's no Thermathic, then this isn't the Bonaventure!"

    "Correct."

    "Then what ship is this? And where's the Bonaventure?"

    Sotek frowned, squinting his eyes. "Two very good questions, Commander. Ones I intend to have the answers to. Ensign," he called out towards the Conn station, "lay in a course for Deep Space 9. There is a Ferengi trader there I would very much like to have a discussion with."
  • allen1973allen1973 Member Posts: 22 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    DIPLOMATIC ENVOY STARDATE 59468.23
    Joint Universal Arm of Orion Galactic Diplomatic Notation:

    Sheliak Joint Conference on Colonial Perma-cultural Eco-toxicology.

    First it was a question of proper formulation. The Sheliak should not consider Romulans 'vermin.' This was the initial concession. The secondary concession was that colonial instances have been proven to promote trade, diplomacy, and so on. There were examples of terra formation efforts, trade, treaties, and so on. General Mongdech, always a competent academic observer noted that in the past the Deferi had negotiated war treaties with the Klingons and the Sheliak against the Breen, although such treaties were kept quiet so that general populaces wouldn't know to the degree of the Breen threat, Klingons were dogmatically determined to end negotiations with the Sheliak once the Breen were no longer considered a threat to interests in the vicinity of Deferi space-to such an extent that unfortunately the Sheliak were not interested in fighting the Dominion. Everyone could easily regard that as a major loss for both the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
    Secondly, unfortunately led to misconceptions about transient xenology in relation to Sheliak and Breen, rumors were that one was the offshoot of the other. This argumentation escalated in an unamicable fashion and seemingly was getting out of hand.
    Thirdly; This embarrassed the Sheliak, Generals, Admirals, and the general consulate decided that a formal request of the socio-dynamics between the Sheliak and the Breen would have to be submitted in a regular perfunctory manner.
    Fourthly; All concerned parties had their environmental research requests prepared to turn into the Sheliak delegation. The Romulan consideration requested a physiological toxicology trade share program in which teams from both sides would teach and train the principles of terra formation in regards to colonial efforts and in turn give historical representation of how these methodologies had endeavored. This kind of formula was repeated with variations. It was made known by the Klingon Mong-Dech that botanical biospheres were adjusted to climates before being replanted in terra-formed areas, and they wanted to know how the Sheliak handled such problems, and in so asking the Mong-Dech realized that all were of similar considerations. How do you retrofit your environment? Also many delegates were surprised that the Klingons had any ecological concerns at all let alone any ecological programs. To find out that Klingons were as adept as the Federation was met with skepticism by the Ferengi. Ambassador Quark noted that while Klingons spare no expense in their ecological operations, they usually do not require purchases of botanical samplings outside of normative diplomatic resonance.
    D?Tan briefly noted the major differences in perma-cultural eco-toxicology, and Admiral Tuvok countered with Vulcan reports of similar comparative modality. The Sheliak scientists with, Mong-Dech, D?Tan, and Tuvok worked briefly to describe the differences and similarities in methodology. A publication has been released to this effort.
    Fifthly; Non-Sheliak parties were amazed that the Sheliak would take such considerations seriously. The Sheliak had prepared informal, [by Sheliak standards,] treatises for each formal represented body with their preemptive considerations on all such said considerations and requests.
    Sixthly; Borg initiative agreement consignments took up the remainder of the first day. There were personal reports on all sides in the areas of tactics, science and engineering. The Sheliak kept a commentator's appraisal as their viewpoint, in that it remained an informal stance, and they knew that their precision was not met by other species, so to their own competence, they created a new paradigm of diplomacy, if unorthodox by their standards, comprehensive to all others.
    Seventh; Complements on the new Sheliak diplomacy modality finished the day into the early evening with every participatory party clearing up any misgivings, and thanking the Sheliak formally for their expediency in formulation. This is what created publication compliance within the joint diplomatic scientific embodiment.
    Eighth; The following days of this diplomatic venture carried out like a colonial trade fair, individual lectures and conferences had been scheduled. Holographic diorama exemplifying colonial considerations and terraformation within the consideration of eco-toxicology all led to a further dynamic of comprehension in that when the lectures occurred, lecturers could simply reference their personal species diplomatic representative diorama and comprehension was total and thereby universal.
    Ninth: The last few days of the interstellar permacultural eco-toxicology conference led to amazing events in co-diplomatic scientific miscegenation. Colonial considerations were tied into neighboring colonial concerns for de-borgification centers so that all cultural ties could be acclimated onsite. The treaty dates were set for the specific arrangements to be made and that those planets with various climates that were chosen for this operation would have reflected preferences toward xeno-socio-dynamic neutrality.
    Tenth: It is rumored that secret meetings regarding the New Republic's relationship to the Star Empire were also convened at this convention.
    Eleventh: Despite the serious political connotations this is widely regarded as an epiphany in universal diplomacy. Colonies will provide safe harbor for developing de-borgified, as well as provide cultural education and miscegenation in all areas as noted.
    Twelve: Once The Sheliak had observed their translator considerations in regard to their countenance, it was decided that The Sheliak would create special reconnaissance for any party interested in regards to providing defense against the Borg and the Tholians. Specifically to Admiral Tuvok, it was noted by the Sheliak that they would not be held unhonorable by their lack of personal misunderstanding of Klingon bureaucracy. [It would seem that The Sheliak believed that they should have had better Federation Intelligence on Klingon political resonance, and their lack of understanding may have cost lives, they were again embarrassed, and by note of General Mong-Dech and General Drex, son of Martok; disappointed to not be more inclusive to the military campaign against the dishonorable factions.]
    Thirteenth: The revelations of the depth of Sheliak rationality has concerted a new awareness of Sheliak political connotations.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,812 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    "...let me get this straight..." Sa'ana spoke up, "You, Sub-manager, are offering to give us a War, and all we have to do, is let some Romulans settle on a few worlds-you do realize, that this isn't a Federation or Starfleet insignia I'm wearing, right?"

    "I do not see the relevance of your question, but yes, that is not a Starfleet Insignia, it is the insignia of the Klingon Empire-why is that important?"

    "It's relevant only in that I have to ask, You're offering to give us a war, and I don't have to, oh, shake your hand or kiss you or anything?" she continued.

    the Mineral-silicate creature fiddled with it's equipment worriedly, "Is your translator malfunctioning?" it finally asked.

    "No, I'll tell you what, I'll alert the mining guild to ready additional processing faciliities, to handle the Sheliak bodies that contain so many valuable minerals and compounds-You have no idea how much wealth even ONE of your species contains, wealth that's usually expensive and hard to obtain-only you're offering to let us kill you by the thousands over some half-assed colonists-And you're offering to legitimize this deal by calling it a war...do you want a cut of the profits-assuming you survive?" she asked,"Personally, I mean?"

    The alien was flummoxed, and agitated.
    "Please explain!" it demanded.

    "Simple-You're threatening to attack valued allies of the Klingon Empire, which is justification for our defensive actions on a moral level-and you're offering to declare war...you DO understand that the fundamental structure of your society-a corporate, business model, is anathema to the Empire's morality from the beginning, and your biology contains a lot of valuable, hard to mine mineral compounds in a portable, in your case, self-portable, concentration, and since by definition you're not 'honorable' your fallen can be scooped up like so many pebbles and tossed into a processor furnace, right? and you DO understand that while ordinarily, the Federation might come to your aid if asked, they certainly will not, if they feel you initiated this war for unjust reasons-which they do feel, being as they value the Romulan Republic almost as much as we do...so then you must also understand-and perhaps your research department will concur, that the results of the last few clashes between the Empire and the Sheliak did NOT go your way...and you can certainly check OUR wars-won-and-lost record...so obviously, you must be looking for a means to pare down your population, but lack the corporate will to do so yourselves-so you're offering us work we love, and payment and all we have to do, is encourage these refugees to settle on some Kahless-forsaken blasted rocks that you might-someday-in the future, covet."

    she folded her hands, "You do understand this, yes? You're offering us a war we'll get rich fighting."

    she smiled wide, "So...is there any, um...paperwork you want to sign before condemning potentially millions of your shareholders to the forge-furnaces of the Empire as raw material?" she leaned back, "Or...perhaps my translator was incorrect, and you really did not mean to threaten war with the Romulan Republic and Klingon Empire?"

    The alien actually hissed in some emotional reaction before stating, "I must confer with my Supervisor!"

    K'Trang leaned close to Saana, and whispered "there is nothing of the sort in their physiology that I know of...valuable"

    She smiled and whispered back "he doesn't know that."

    The mineral alien's hail chimed. "Five minutes." Sa'ana stated, "Make him wait, and sweat."

    "They don't sweat..."

    "So?"

    She nodded to the Communications officer. "Sub-Manager!" she said in greeting, "I was just speaking with members of the mining guild, they can't wait for our little war to start!" she said it brightly, with a big smile.

    "There will Be no War!!" the silicate alien shouted, "We will NOT submit our selves, our shareholders, to such an abomination!...Take those worlds, just Stay away from us!!"

    "can I have that in writing, please...My friends will be quite disappointed to hear that...but with a signed treaty, They won't take their displeasure out on you or your shareholders." she said, tenting her fingers.

    "Yes!" the alien said.

    "Perhaps we will have another chance to do business in the future." Sa'ana told it, "Unless you're quite certain your shareholders are that valuable to your business model..."
    whatever.

  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,313 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    Captain's Log, USS Bedford NCC-92570
    Captain Grunt recording.

    There isn't a lot of communication with the Sheliak Corporate, which seems to be their idea - they're a bunch of xenophobic sapient rocks, like Horta with a bad attitude. However, they seem to have finally heard about the existence of the Romulan Republic, and refuse to believe D'Tan's assurances that the Republic has no designs whatsoever on any worlds claimed by the Corporate. The Republic had dispatched one of their officials, an Admiral tr'Keiniadh, to negotiate with the Corporate, but apparently those talks have broken down - not surprising, really, given how long it took the Federation to hammer out the Treaty of Armens, and the fact that by the end that treaty was longer and more confusing than a Cardassian enigma tale. The Sheliak then called for third-party arbitration from the Federation, and as the
    Bedford just happened to be in the vicinity, we've been dispatched to hold the fort until an official diplomatic team can arrive in a few days. We should be assuming orbit around the planetoid set aside for negotiations momentarily.

    "Admiral on the bridge!"

    At the sound of Roclak's baritone call, Grunt stood and turned toward the turbolift. At the edge of the doorway there stood an unassuming-looking Romulan, with greying hair and a dark violet businesslike variant on the Republic Fleet uniform. "Permission to come aboard, Captain?" he asked, in lightly-accented Fed Standard.

    "Certainly, Admiral, and welcome aboard," Grunt replied. "Will the Sheliak be meeting with us today?"

    tr'Keiniadh grimaced. "I really can't say. It's refused to speak to me since shortly after the Emerald Soul arrived in orbit. It claims I 'blather'. And it doesn't even seem to want to speak to me." He shook his head. "It's really quite frustrating. I'm grateful our government didn't dispatch one of our younger personnel, or this might have blown up into an all-out war by now."

    "Yes, well, let's see if we can avoid that," Grunt said. "Rock, hailing frequencies, please. I'd like to speak with the Corporate's representative myself."

    "On screen, Captain," the Klingon replied. The main viewscreen was lit by what appeared to be a large stone, roughly carved into a vaguely humanoid shape, surrounded by a circle of light. Then the rock stirred, with a slight grinding sound. A voice emerged, one which (despite his best efforts) Grunt could describe only as "gravelly".

    "The Sheliak are prepared for negotiation. Imprecision is not tolerable. Are the Romulan prepared to present a proper negotiator?"

    "The Romulan representative has been attempting negotiation for two days, Ambassador," Grunt replied. "However, he reports no progress."

    "There has been no progress because there has been no negotiation," the Sheliak replied. "The Romulan is not a proper negotiator."

    "I don't understand," Grunt said. "Why is he 'not proper'?"

    "The Treaty of Rlleilalu specifies who may negotiate. The Romulan representative is not proper. There must be proper assurances that our worlds will not become infested with lesser creatures."

    "'Infest' is kind of an emotionally charged word, Ambassador."

    "We cannot be held responsible for the illogical responses of lesser creatures. Terms must be defined with precision. There must be detail. Imprecision leads to conflict. The Sheliak Corporate does not desire conflict, but this does not indicate an unwillingness to resolve conflict by direct means if necessary. We inquire again: are the Romulan prepared to present a proper negotiator?"

    tr'Keiniadh spoke. "Ambassador, I am prepared to speak on behalf of the Romulan Repub-"

    The screen went blank.

    "They've cut us off, sir," Roclak announced.

    The Romulan sighed heavily. "Yes, he does that a lot. It's made trying to establish any kind of rapport very difficult."

    "I really don't see the problem," Grunt mused. "It's not like you want their worlds - is it?"

    "Well, not as such," tr'Keiniadh replied hesitantly. "However, there were certain mining claims ceded to the Empire that our Republic could really use. We'd like to maintain those claims, but the Sheliak keep referring to our miners as an 'infestation', and seem to want to keep the worlds entirely to themselves. One of the points I was sent here to argue was that we should maintain those rights. So far, I've gotten exactly nowhere."

    Grunt rubbed his lobes thoughtfully. "There might be something we can use in the original Romulan treaty. May we?"

    "Hmm? Oh, of course - the only state secrets that might possibly be in there belong to a state that no longer exists." tr'Keiniadh touched a PADD. "There, I've downloaded the text to your computer."

    A portly Human form manifested next to Grunt. "You certainly have," Mycroft, the holographic AI interface, said brightly. "This certainly has some serious levels of complexity - in some ways, it makes the Treaty of Armens seem simplified."

    tr'Keiniadh started. "And who exactly is this?" he asked Grunt, with a hint of frost.

    "Oh, that's our ship's AI, Mycroft. He's really good at picking out the interesting bits from the data. Would you mind accompanying us to my ready room, so we can look this over?"

    tr'Keiniadh smiled hollowly. "You may find there's quite a bit to 'look over,'" he said carefully.

    Grunt chuckled. "You've never examined a Ferengi employment contract, have you?"


    Four hours later...

    Grunt stood suddenly and threw his PADD across the room. It bounced off a solid duraluminum model of the Hypatia and landed screen-down on the floor. "This is ridiculous!" the Ferengi shouted. "Every paragraph in here cross-references to at least three other paragraphs! And the last two referenced a document that wasn't even included in this package! How could anyone even know if they had violated this treaty?"

    tr'Keiniadh reached down imperturbably and picked up the PADD. "Presumably, the damned rocks would know, and would express their displeasure. I used to be in the Imperial service about ten or fifteen years ago, but my ship never came near the Corporate--"

    "Wait a moment," Grunt interrupted. "You just said something important, I think. Let me see that PADD... I read something in here... let's see... yes! I think I see! You say you were an Imperial officer, Admiral?"

    "Well, yes, but I only reached Subcommander," tr'Keiniadh admitted a little shamefacedly.

    "Yeah, that part's not important. Did you ever formally separate from service?"

    "Not formally, no," the admiral replied slowly. "In fact, the Tal'Shiar tried to dragoon me back into service not long after I signed on with the Republic fleet, so they might still have me listed on the rolls..."

    "Intriguing. Mycroft, do you still have access to those Imperial records? Anything about personnel?"

    "Hmm, one moment, sir. I do have partial personnel records, dating to shortly before the Elachi attack on Virinat in 2409. I find one Subcommander Nniol tr'Keiniadh listed as 'missing without leave', but still on Imperial rolls."

    "Hah! Perfect! They've never accepted you as a negotiator, Admiral," Grunt said with an air of satisfaction. "But I think I can make them talk to you now. Rock, can you get me the Sheliak ambassador again, please?"

    "One moment, Captain," the Klingon's voice replied. "Patching you through now."

    If possible, the sound of stone grating on stone stood out even more strongly than it had earlier. Grunt wondered if they'd caught the ambassador in his species' equivalent of a nap. "We are waiting, Federation. Will there be negotiation?"

    "Ambassador, why have you chosen not to negotiate with Admiral tr'Keiniadh?"

    "The creature speaks nonsense. Its words are contradictory. Worse, it has no authority to treat with us."

    Grunt smiled. "Oh, I think there's been a misunderstanding, Ambassador. According to the Treaty of Rlleilalu, terms of the treaty can become negotiable when circumstances have sufficiently changed. Would you agree that the collapse of the Romulan Star Empire constitutes sufficient change?"

    "Of course, creature. That is why we are here. We are here to negotiate a new treaty."

    "And you object to Admiral tr'Keiniadh because you do not believe he has authority. However, under the Treaty of Rlleilalu, paragraph one thousand seventeen, subsection ninety-five, part nine, negotiations can proceed with the most senior officer of the Romulan Star Empire present at the time. Admiral tr'Keiniadh was formerly a Subcommander in the Imperial Fleet of the Romulan Star Empire, and according to available records, that appointment was never voided. Therefore, Nniol tr'Keiniadh is the most senior officer of the Star Empire present. I believe this means negotiations may commence."

    There was a pause.

    Finally, a grating sound came over the comm. "The law is paramount. The creature is accepted. Negotiations may commence. However, we request a delay of two standard days before negotiations begin again. We believe this creature may benefit from the advice of the Federation negotiating team which has been dispatched to assist."

    tr'Keiniadh inclined his head. "Very well, Ambassador. I will - accede to your request. Our meeting is now recessed until the Federation team arrives."

    A loud click indicated that the Sheliak had once again closed the channel.

    tr'Keinaidh stood, stretching. "Well, Captain, this has been - educational. I shall certainly bear this in mind if I ever have to negotiate with the Ferengi Alliance."

    Grunt grinned. "If that day ever comes, be sure to read the Rules of Acquisition first. Among my people, I'm known as a soft touch."

    "Indeed." The Romulan bowed. "I thank you for your assistance, captain. I'll be returning to my ship now; however, if you would not mind, I'd like you to stay until the team arrives from the Federation."

    The Ferengi returned the bow. "Of course, Admiral. Anything for our allies."
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • wraithshadow13wraithshadow13 Member Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    Apparently, Admiral Aviess had planned this from the start. The entire speech had been just a farce to get this ship back to Earth for a greater assignment. It's a shame too, I was particularly proud of the speech I'd given, but ever since Wraith turned up with a body full of highly classified Federation know-how, she's been a little hesitant to send Section business over the standard channels. Frankly, there was a situation in the works, and she wanted to know there was someone there that she could count on. In an effort to aid rebuilding the Romulan civilization, D'Tan and his people began to colonize various planets throughout the sector. Some of the prime locations fall under an old treaty between the Empress and The Sheliak Corporate. It was an older treaty, but the Sheliak were concerned that the New Romulan Republic wouldn't hold to it, especially after refusing the Tal Shiar as the new government. They feared that the Romulans would begin colonizing planets deemed too radioactive for most humanoids as a means to keep to their xenophobic tendencies.

    Part of the issue though, was that the Corporate refused to deal with D'Tan and his people directly. Instead, they're making a plea to both the Federation and the Klingon Defense Force to establish a new treaty for the Romulans to adhere to. Needless to say, tension was rather high for a lot of people. The people of New Romulus feel that their "allies" on both sides have no right to dictate terms or treaties. Officially, the U.S.S. Geist is on security details for several ambassadors and negotiators. Unofficially there had been rumblings of an anti-Corporate movement, some sort of organization calling itself "The Sons of Gosheven". Since there is so little in the way of contact with the Sheliak, rumor has it that they might take this chance to strike at the Corporate.

    To be honest, the whole situation was a bit out of my understanding, it seemed a bit asinine that the Sheliak were outright refusing to speak directly to the New Romulus Government, or D'Tan directly. Luckily though, my crew was there mostly to make sure this extremist group stayed as nothing but a rumor. The trip only took a few days, but arriving at Starbase 234 in the Nimbus sector, you wouldn't have guessed it was a conference thrown together in less than a week. Given how seldom the Federation ever hears from the Sheliak Corporate, and how the last encounter went, it seemed that they were pulling out all of the stops this time. From what I was told, they were flying in several prominent speakers from the various factions involved, a few of which were even high ranking officials. A few of the unused cargo bays in the station itself were even being converted for use by the Sheliak as quarters, complete with specially refit environmental controls. From what I hear, they actually prefer the ambient temperature to be the same as their own body heat.

    In regards of security, to avoid suspicion the Ambassadors were free to wander the station, any crew member spending their off hours on station were actually security teams from the Geist. Many of which were carrying P.A.D.D.s that had been reconfigured to act as scanning equipment as well as type I phasers. On the outside, the Geist was running any and all scans as per usual. A few of the smaller craft were running about as though they were cleaning the exterior in preparation. Even the Klingons had a ship or two running their own scans, though their sensors are no where near as sensitive as Federation ships, so I doubt they suspected what our shuttles were doing. For the most part things seemed to be business as usual, with various ships coming and going as the scheduled. I even managed to weasel quarantine systems from the station heads, using them to perform invasive scans of the incoming and outgoing ships. A task that required the full attention of the Geist's computer core as they were processed.

    Though they hadn't arrived yet, word had it, the Romulans had even sending a contingent of their own for delegation, a few of which were Reman Body guards. From what Dr. E'Saul theorized, they might be there for their psychic abilities as much as their intimidation factor. The Sheliak were on record as being a difficult species to understand, so I'm sure there were more than a few mind readers present. There was some serious discussion about the possibility of psionic assassination, but the Sheliak were considered R-3 lifeforms, meaning that there was really no danger there. As the last of the invested parties arrived, I began wondering the validity of the reports. Between the Klingons, the Remans, and my own teams, any aggressive act seemed foolish. Any trained mercenary would have spotted enough things to make them rethink any actions. That's the funny about ideals however, if improperly molded, even the best of beliefs can make fools of us all.

    The first day had gone relatively as expected. The Sheliak Corporate initially refused to board the station, and flat out declined use of the modified cargo bays. There had been no mention of whether or not the Sheliak even eat, so they seemed some what offended anytime recesses were called for "petty" things like lunch and dinner. Between the numerous complaints were small insults, surprisingly from more than one of the groups involved. Admiral Sadol Yatt, who had been instrumental in helping D'Tan with his colonization efforts, had even made a few that could be considered borderline racist. At one point, a fight nearly broke out when one of the Klingon Ambassadors had one of the Sheliak bump him in the hallway. Had it not been for his Orion assistant "convincing" him to walk away, these talks would have been over a lot sooner. During the evening, there was a performance from the different parties as way to better get along. Ambassador Thrak and his wife did a rather moving Klingon Opera, a Starfleet moderator and his entourage did a few original numbers as a quartet, and my own first officer, Commander T'Pal, gave a quite moving poetry reading. I think I caught one of the Ferengi present tearing up as she neared the end. No one mentioned anything at the time, but the Sheliak Manager and his assistant gave the traditional dance of their people. As far as I could tell though, they were just standing in place, waving their bodies, as their arm like protrusions were flailing wildly.

    During the second day of the talks, things seemed to be a little better in terms of the proceedings, but an issue came up as a small freighter was visiting the station. It had been a scheduled refueling for the ship as it was on it's way to resupply a small colony. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as this had been on schedule months in advance but Lt.Cmd ErhAb is a stickler, so she made the request for background checks. Initially they were scanned and deemed harmless, so we allowed them to enter the station as we waited for their files. Funny enough, one of the people on board was quite literally the son of Gosheven. From there it was only a matter of minutes before he was tackled by a very enthusiastic zhen and her team. She ended up breaking the poor TRIBBLE arm as the reached for a detonator, yelling something about his ancestors being buried in some hill. He was disarmed and confined to sickbay with armed guard as the rest of the crew had been detained as well. There was quite a bit of yelling between the various securities on the station, but Lehla managed to get the first go at interrogations. She wanted the detainees clear headed and thinking when she questioned them, as opposed to the Klingons who would beat or drug them, and the Romulans would probably resort to Reman mind probing. The crew had been honest and upfront, even noting how exemplary the "Son of Gosheven" had been in his seven years of service.

    Lt. Keating had been assigned to disarm and dismantle the device in an effort to explain how he'd managed to get it passed security. From what he had to report, the explosive device had been fashioned out of a few odds and ends from around the station itself and looking at the list of parts, I don't think even Lehla herself would have been able to make it do anything other than blow the wearer a new belly button. It was shoddy work, from someone who clearly didn't know the first thing about explosives or assassinations. It would seem that all of these rumors had probably been started by the would be bomber himself. From the reports, he wanted to make a statement to take a stand against these invaders, but it seemed a little too last minute. He hadn't even bothered to piece together a better device. E'Saul and Fizi had been sitting in on his interrogation and both seem convinced he's lying. E'Saul thinks that this was more about making a show of things. A Fake devices to get attention as well as maybe make a few demands, all of which he was only denying since he never made it close to any of the representatives.

    By the Third day, things had been back to normal... well... as normal as this whole mess could be. The supply ship had been placed on lockdown while its crew was in custody. My teams swept it several times, the Klingon security had ransacked it once, and when the Romulans finally arrived, they'd sent in a team to investigate as well. Most of the crew had been passed off from one group to the next, but the stories stayed the same, all of the background checks were cleared. Everything had seemed like it was a one man show, that had been spur of the moment. There was no way he could have known the Sheliak Corporate would have had such fears over Romulan colonization, so he probably just heard what had happened and decided that he needed his fifteen minutes in the spotlight. I couldn't help but feel like we were missing something though. The KDF seemed ready to pass this off as a failed terrorist bombing, the Romulans didn't seem to think much of it either, but it just wasn't sitting well by me.

    Things took a turn for the worst on day four. As the Romulans finally enter the chambers, the Sheliak representatives were nowhere to be seen. They had all vacated back to their ships as soon as the Romulans were approaching the station. They refused to come aboard the station and were preparing to leave, when they were convinced to stay, video conferencing to the rest of the group. To be honest, I thought Yatt was an TRIBBLE, but when it came to the Romulans, the Sheliak nearly started a war. Every word spoken to them was condescending, and at one point they were referred to as a "diseased vermin, poised to infest Sheliak properties". At this point, the lead Romulan speaker exploded at the screen shouting that his people had no interest in the Sheliak territory. While it's true that the Romulans possess a much higher tolerance to radiation, there still would have been too much for them to safely colonize. It seemed that they were a few days late because the ship had stopped to survey a few of the worlds in question. Their findings detailed how after just two generations, the radiation would be visibly effecting any Romulan colonists, giving any further generation severe birth defects and other physical complications.

    The Romulans sent their findings to the KDF and Federation to review since their accusers would probably refuse to even accept their word. This sparked a major investigation as well as any of the validity of the claims against the Romulans. D'Tan had made it clear to his people before sending them, that New Romulus would hold to the treaty simply because they had no interest in the planets in question, nor did they even think that the Sheliak would be an issue. Up until two weeks ago, they hadn't even been a variable in the plans to rebuild New Romulus. This sent the Sheliak delegates into a frenzy, searching their records and files, whispering amongst themselves, and at one point, they'd even demanded detailed scans of the Romulan party. As it would seem, when the Sheliak referred to the Romulans as "diseased vermin", they literally meant just that. Somehow, they had become convinced that the colonists would bring some kind of genetically engineered plague with them, making the worlds under the treaty uninhabitable to the Sheliak. Granted, neither the Federation, the KDF, or even the Romulan Republic had deciphered the Sheliak language, but a misunderstanding like this just seemed entirely over blown. The Sheliak retreated back to their silence and almost immediately after, my comm badge chirped.

    The Sheliak ship had begun sending transmissions to their home world along all channels. What ever had just happened, had set of a massive inquiry on their part. From what little I know about their species, I'm told their normally quite thorough and exact in their business matters, so how something this false had slipped through was beyond me. As they waited for a response, they refused all outside transmissions, so it was decided to have an hour long break for lunch. Earlier that morning, the crew of the supply ship had been released, minus one "Son of Gosheven" who was still being detained by the Romulans. As their ship made it's way from the airlock towards the refueling station, it suddenly veered into a collision course with the station. The shuttles I had posted around the station sprung into action, trying to tractor the ship. They did what they could, but out of nowhere the ship exploded taking out a small section of cargo bays.

    Reading seemed to indicate that the ship had lost containment of their waste chamber, their full load of trilithium resin (the waste product from the warp core) had destabilized. The crew of the supply freighter had died instantly, my own people aboard the shuttles, suffered a few cuts and bruises but ended up saving many more lives on the station. We had initially believed the cargo bays to be uninhabited, but when a few of the delegates turned up missing, a more detailed scan was made of debris. Sure enough, they had been killed in the explosion. Looking into the security records, Admiral Yatt, Ambassador Thrak, and one of the Romulans and their Reman bodyguard, all seemed to be headed to the cargo bay separately, but as they drew close, the security tapes end suddenly. Clearly they didn't want anyone knowing what they were talking about, and had it not been for their deaths, this would have been entirely unnoticed.

    In fact, a lot of things would have gone unnoticed had it not been for their deaths. As I made my way to the security conference to report our findings to the Klingons and the Romulans I was suddenly knocked to the floor. As I sat up to see what had hit me, a datapad had been dropped between my legs. One made from an old Tal Shiar design. I looked up to see the Reman bodyguard alive and well, smirking at me. She was wearing a hood and goggles, so I couldn't get a decent look, but it was the same Reman woman from the security tapes. As I stood to confront her, she turned and activated a personal cloaking device disappearing. When I reported what had happened, it would turn out the Klingons had only found traces of three bodies in the cargo bay, the Romulans themselves reported that their representative's bodyguard had been one that he'd had for a decade. As for the other Remans, during their interrogation of the bomber ,they'd found clear signs that one of their own had actually implanted him at their last stop with the details of his attack. The bodyguard herself had probably, known only as Sha'Dalia, had apparently been spreading the "Sons of Gosheven" rumors herself, as well as sent the Sheliak Corporate the small viral sample that seemed to ignite this whole debacle. It was reasonably safe to assume that she had sabotaged the freighter as well, hoping to take out a Federation Station as well as her targets.

    Going through the data she had tossed me, it would seem that Admiral and Ambassador had actually been agents of the Tal Shiar, the Romulan Delegate had been their contact. What didn't make sense though was why. It was clear this was just an elaborate political assassination, and those men were made an example, but to what purpose? From the files, it seemed like they were still valuable to the Tal Shiar, so I doubt they were behind it. Was this her own agenda? Had she been paid by some third party? She clearly wanted me to know that it was her, but to what end. The Sheliak Corporate have since departed. I'm sure they are both satisfied as well as humiliated. The Klingons were very verbal about how this whole thing had been a huge waste of their time, then proceeded to the nearest bar for their troubles. The Romulan Representatives seemed distraught over the possible inclusion of the Tal Shiar as well as the possibilities of them trying to frame the Republic for biogenic warfare. I myself will be the one to report everything to Starfleet Security, not something I look forward too.
  • sander233sander233 Member Posts: 3,992 Arc User
    edited January 2014
    (Author's note: this ties in to patrickngo's entry above. For background reference to Jesu LaRoca's relationship to 'Cousin' Sa'ana, see "In the Shadow of the Light" by patrickngo.)


    Wake to see
    Your true emancipation is a fantasy
    Policies
    Have risen up and overcome the brave
    Greatness dies
    Unsung and lost, invisible to history
    Embedded spies
    Brainwashing our children to be mean

    You don't have long
    I am on to you
    The time, it has come
    To destroy

    Your supremacy...
    Matthew Bellamy of Muse - "Supremacy"



    Personal Log: Vice Admiral Jesu LaRoca - Stardate... Um, Monday, 0047 hours.

    So, the
    real reason why we're the ones hightailing it across the sector block has nothing to do with a show of force. I just made that up to keep the CSC happy. And maybe get her wet. I just know that [REDACTED - Security chief authorization LaRoca-Romeo-Four-One-Lima-November-Seven. Personal logs ain't that personal, dumbass. Keep your fantasies in your head where they belong. - Rusty] when she hears me use words like "Show of force."

    No, the real reason why I've decided to lend a hand to the negotiation team is Cousin Sa'ana. Apparently she was somehow assigned to negotiate the settlement of some colonization treaty between the Romulan Republic and the Sheliak Corporate on behalf of the Klingon Empire. (Side note: remember to have Ssharki track down whatever bureaucratic weasel in the Imperial State Affairs Bureau thought
    that one up, and figure out if he's an Undine infiltrator, a moron, or in possession of the most massive pair of huevos, or what.)

    Anyway, she apparently told the Sheliak rep that the Klingon Empire would be more than happy to go to war if the Sheliak attacked any Romulan colonies in unclaimed space. So now the Corporate has...
    requested - not demanded - a Federation representative to ratify what I've been told is a remarkably lenient - almost indulgent revision to the original colonization treaty.

    Don'el managed to get me a transcript of the conversation between Sa'ana and Corporate Sub-manager... aw, f**k, I'll never be able to pronounce that. I'll just call 'im "Bob." I've really gotta hand it to my little cousin. She really does put the "psycho" into psychology. She got the Romulans six mineral-rich and readily-adaptable class-H and class-K planets, and all she had to do was convince Bob that the Empire viewed Sheliak corpses as a valuable material resource. (Side note: remember to challenge Sa'ana to a game of stud poker at the earliest opportunity; I have to see her bluffing talents in action.)

    But - there's always a but - the Romulan delegation is afraid that the girl may have overdone it a bit. They want to reassure the Sheliak that the Klingon Empire will
    not invade the Corporate's territory to harvest their bodies for ore processing. The Romulans want to be peaceful neighbors. They don't want the Sheliak to reinforce their borders.

    I'm inclined to disagree. Let the Sheliak Corporate believe what they will about the Klingons, and let 'em believe that the Federation will back the Republic
    and the Empire. Let them meet someone else's unreasonable demands, for once, and be happy about it.

    End log.

    ...
    16d89073-5444-45ad-9053-45434ac9498f.png~original

    ...Oh, baby, you know, I've really got to leave you / Oh, I can hear it callin 'me / I said don't you hear it callin' me the way it used to do?...
    - Anne Bredon
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited February 2014
    "Jolan'tru, Captain Beringer".

    "Greetings, Ambassador V'Sar. Thank you for coming."

    The Romulan nodded his head and entered Kathryn's Ready Room after she waved toward a chair in front of her desk. His hands were clasped in front of his long robes which flowed gracefully as he walked the short distance to the chair and sat down. Following V'sar, Kathryn circled to her seat opposite him and also sat down, then straightened her on-duty jacket.

    As Kathryn called the Ambassador to her office she started the conversation. "Concerning the Sheliak, I'm curious about the Romulan perspective."

    V'Sar raised eyebrows quickly as he thought. "D'Tan has no quarrel with the Corporate. He is a peaceful man and is designing the Republic to be the same way. Yet, he is not afraid of conflict for the preservation of what is left of the Romulan race. Tal'Shiar notwithstanding. Therefore, it is our interest to maintain good will with the Sheliak. Obviously, I am here to make that a reality, but the Sheliak are ... resistant to our current suggestions to the new treaty."

    Kathryn nodded as V'Sar spoke. "If I may, I have a point of view I'd like to share." Seeing V'Sar not respond for a second, Kathryn continued, "as you may know, the Sheliak are afraid."

    The Ambassador cocked his head as if unprepared for the statement. "Forgive me, Captain. I wish to understand."

    "The Sheliak want a new territorial treaty because the prior treaty involved a government that no longer exists. As you aware, they are an ... exacting ... race. So anything presented to them must not have room for anyone to wiggle. It is my estimation, they are afraid of what D'Tan and New Romulus will do without the legal constraints of the previous treaty. They are afraid of what the Romulan could do, not what is being done. We need to assuage those fears. How far is D'Tan willing to go with the negotiations?"

    V'Sar stood and paced the floor for a few steps before turning to Kathryn. "Captain, D'Tan is willing to rewrite the entire treaty in order to maintain the status quo. Any plans to colonize other worlds will be an effort to expand quickly. The territories within the previous treaty would be very challenging to make comfortably habitable even with our natural resistances, so to speak."

    Kathryn thought for a moment. "Do the Sheliak know this?"

    "Of course not. As you know, negotiating is a power game. If the Sheliak knew this position we would be at a disadvantage."

    "But if the status quo is desired, then what is the advantage to secrecy."

    V'Sar smiled, "for its own sake, Captain Beringer."

    Kathryn frowned slightly. "I see. May I make a suggestion?"

    The Ambassador spread his hands out, "of course."

    She stood from her chair and handed V'Sar a PADD. He took it and slid his fingers up and down the screen. as he read, his countenance was one of confusion. "This is the exact same treaty but with name changes?"

    Kathryn shrugged. "Why not? If the Sheliak are worried about a possible future, and the Romulans what the status quo, then why not introduce an ... update, so to speak to a perfectly functional treaty from the past?"

    "But what if the Romulan Republic ... updates, its position?"

    Kathryn looked as neutral as she could toward V'Sar. "I think we should cross that bridge when get there. For now, let's solve one problem at a time and the current problem is dealing with a race that is afraid of what the Romulans might do. Since, as you say, D'Tan wants to handle the future like he is handling the present, then why not give the Sheliak a treaty that honors that idea. The Sheliak may be less resistant to further negotiations ... now."

    V'Sar smirked. "Interesting point of view, Captain Beringer."
  • danquellerdanqueller Member Posts: 484 Arc User
    edited February 2014
    Commander's Record

    With the Nor'vesa in the shipyard for repairs following our encounter with the breakaway Borg within the Solanae Sphere, I have been assigned to administrative duty pending the ship becoming habitable again. While I have been assured this will be the case within the week, I have also been told my talents are required on other matters.

    In truth, I believe this is simple punishment on the part of the Flotilla for once again bringing my ship back requiring extensive work. The Republic has few enough resources that we cannot handle such material casualties as easily as our allies, and even my superior mind cannot conceive of any other reason for my current assignment except as an abject lesson to other would-be ship commanders.

    And that assignment is testing the limits of my patience. I agreed to aid the Republic as part of its star navy as a means to punish the Tal'shiar for their transgressions against myself and my brothers and sisters, not to act as negotiator for a matter that should have been resolved by others in the government. It is clear the rihannsu are picking up some of the less-favorable aspects of Starfleet the longer we associate with them, and it seems starship commanders will be forced to endure such missions.

    That does not fill me with confidence that Proconsul D'Tan is as sane as his advisors claim.

    In any event, I am tasked with overseeing efforts on the part of the Federation in negotiating with the Sheliak Corporate over colonial rights to worlds we haven't even surveyed yet. The Sheliak seem afraid the Republic will launch a wave of migration to these worlds, depriving the aliens of the resources and planetspace they have obviously already decided is theirs.

    While the assignment is galling enough on that level, the Sheliak have refused to even communicate with the Republic. Instead, they insist on conducting any communications with the Federation and Klingon Empire, sending a very clear message that rihannsu rate even lower than the vermin-level of regard the Sheliak show those civilizations. I am increasingly of the opinion that this is a reflection of their level of caution with other species. Both the Federation and Klingons have met and defeated the Sheliak in the past, and so must be dealt with as one would a dangerous animal.

    Not so the Republic.

    Perhaps we will have to show the Corporate our talons before they will realize that it is poor manners to turn your back in disdain to the rihannsu.

    End Recording




    ___________




    "...and so, as outlined in Section three hundred seven, sub-Section one-hundred-twenty-two, Paragraph fourteen, the galactic entity established in Addendum seventy-four, sub-Section eight as the 'Romulan Star Empire' concluded terms with the galactic entity established in Addendum four, sub-Section one as the supreme life form of the Sheliak Corporate that World five-seven-two-stroke-lamba-eight would be henseforth removed from consideration of colonization by the galactic entity established in Addendum seventy-four, sub-Section eight as the 'Romulan Star Empire' and considered annexed in absentia by the galactic entity established in Addendum four, sub-section one as the supreme life form of the Sheliak Corporate and all associated incorporated organizations, entities, claimants, employees, organic hospitality units, self-aware cybernetic conveyance modules, remote intelligence habitation nodes....."

    The translated voice of the alien on the imbedded screen continued without pause, a visible means of producing sound or a requirement to take a breath not evident in the transmission. Even after Rycho had muted the sound, audible levels continued to register on the bar display to the side of the image, proving that the Sheliak appeared to lack that need.

    Turning an annoyed look at the other man in the room, he said "How long does this go on for?"

    Admiral Kelro Verne fingered his chin a moment, standing on the other side of the Subcommander's desk within the offices Rycho had been assigned within the Command Center on Mol'Rihan. Finally, he said in a neutral voice "Three hours, seventeen minutes.". At the slumping of Rycho's shoulders, he added "I'm told that the computer can highlight the relevant parts and words if you don't want to go through the entire document, but that the degree of errors in context and references become exponentially difficult to deal with if you skip more than a few minutes."

    Slamming a fist down on the desk, Rycho terminated the playback and the image vanished. Muttering several choice words in Hungarian, Klingon, and Tellar, the Subcommander all but jumped out of his chair and began pacing the floor. "And I must view it all, yes? Such are my orders. Ah-yo-ji! I did not know what I was volunteering for when I decided I would sit in the judgement chair!"

    "Could be worse." the Admiral made a show of examining his fingernails "They have me running around at various 'important' events while they decide if they are going to find a new ship for me to command."




    The expression on Rycho's face eased noticably as he looked at Verne. "Forgive me. I know you lost the Conquest saving my own ship. I do not forget such things."

    Verne gave a small shrug "To be accurate, the Conquest wasn't a total loss, but if she's ever rebuilt enough to make warp speed is pretty much in doubt. Just not that much interest in putting resources into a ship that was already considered past its service lifetime. And, with the Dawnstar on deployment in Omega, my crew and I are out of luck. I hear rumors Starfleet is looking to put more Admiral's behind desks at Spacedock to keep them from causing trouble out on missions where they aren't supposed to be, so it's just as likely we'll find ourselves aboard a shuttle heading that way."

    The Subcommander walked up to the Admiral and put both hands on the other's shoulders. "My friend, if they dare to do such a thing, I will personally take the Nor'vesa to Earth and stage a rescue. Perhaps you may have to transfer your commission to the Republic, but I think you will not be lacking in a place here.

    "Especially," Rycho said as he gave the desk screen a slitted gaze "if it becomes necessary to show these Sheliak that we are not to be disregarded in such a way. I am of the opinion that many in the Flotilla will regard such behavior with a great need to make things....difficult....for these beings."

    Verne looked sharply at Rycho. "I hope you don't intend to start anything. The negotiations did make progress, despite what you saw. Throwing that all away on gunboat diplomacy wouldn't make any friends within the Federation Council."

    Slapping the Admiral's shoulders before returning to his seat, the Subcommander gave a slow smile. "Oh, that I could do that! But, no. I think the Proconsul would take issue with such, and we are not Klingons. However, that does not mean the Sheliak will find access to the worlds they are so concerned with as easy as might otherwise be the case. After all, many are located in space clearly within the boundaries of either the Republic or the Star Empire, and it would be most troubling if local conditions required a blockade across direct travel routes. For the safety of shipping in the area, of course. And then, there are all the sensitive surveys we have to perform in the region...."

    After a few moments of trying to see how serious Rycho was, Verne shook his head. "I think I'd better forget I heard all that. If the Sheliak decide to see how far the Romulans are willing to go..."

    "Then they will discover for themselves that we can hold what we claim, and are not as willing to suffer self-important races as the Federation." the Subcommander nodded to Verne "And perhaps this would be best for both or our peoples. Not everyone is as willing to accept words without knowing there is a dagger behind them."




    No longer smiling, Rycho started the recording again, his eyes locked onto the screen and his hands tapping on his chair's armrests even as the Admiral left. His lips slowly turning into a grimace, he resolved to not have such a creature as this Sheliak prove to have superior endurance to himself, and committed to watching the full length of the recording.

    How bad could it be, after all?


    ___________



    Commander's Supplimental

    Having completed my viewing of the negotiated agreement, I am now confident that finding a way to pursuade the Borg to assimilate the Sheliak would ensure an unprecedented level of confidence that the Elements were once again providing us with a better universe by eliminating one and driving the other insane.

    Failing that, I am gratified to allow the Federation and Klingon Empire to conduct all business with these aliens. The Federation is well-suited to tying the Sheliak into knots with their own agreements, and I hold out hope the Klingons will demonstrate why their own lawyers go into their offices armed to the teeth.

    Regardless, I am submitting my report to the High Command and then moving back aboard the Nor'Vesa. I don't care if I have to stay in an EV suit until the engineers finish their work, it will be better than another day of this.

    End recording.



    ___

  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #57: The Sheliak Corporate

    LC57: Huntress
    Captain's Log, Stardate 91662.11. After keeping quiet for more than forty years, the reclusive Sheliak Corporate has unexpectedly reached out to the Federation with their concerns over the Romulan Republic. As the Federation's last two contacts with the Sheliak were less than cordial, Starfleet has send Captain Data to Tau Cygna V in preparations for greater talks. The Lord English will do its part by shuttling one of the Federation's Sheliak specialists to meet with the negotiation team.

    ===

    Vice Admiral Remus Lee sat in his ready room chair with a PADD to his face. The advisor assigned to the Sheliak mission watched him as he slowly brought the PADD away from his face and stared at it. After a few minutes, she coughed, startling Lee into dropping his PADD.

    "Sorry, sorry," he said as he turned to the advisor. "I could never see the 3-dimensional images with those things, but I thought I should at least try. So, how can I help you, miss..."
    "McKenzie, Admiral," the advisor replied. "Artemis McKenzie, Esquire. I'm the negotiator assigned to the Sheliak mission."
    "Welcome, Miss McKenzie. I hear you are one of only a thimbleful of Sheliak experts in the Federation. I also hear you're a descendent of the former human colony on Tau Cygna V."
    "Yes, that's right. My mother was Ard'rian McKenzie, who worked with Captain Data to evacuate the colony before the Sheliak came. Here are Starfleet's orders."

    Advisor McKenzie handed Lee a PADD containing his orders for the mission. Lee began reading it at his typical fast pace before balancing the PADD on one finger.

    "Seems easy enough. Get you there, get you back, don't start another war. Just in case something goes wrong, though, why don't you teach me what you know about the Sheliak."
    "As you wish, Admiral. Knowledge of the Sheliak is extremely limited since they take great pains to preserve their secrets. We only know what we know of the Sheliak through our initial contacts and salvaging data from third parties. The Sheliak Corporate is almost completely unknown to the outside galaxy, since the only contact we have had with them came from the Federation-Sheliak conflict in 2255 and the Tau Cygna V affair in 2366."

    McKenzie brought up a map of the Sheliak Corporate, sandwiched between the Breen Confederacy and the Tholian Assembly.

    "Our most detailed knowledge of the Sheliak comes from recovered Tholian and Breen starships, as both the Assembly and the Confederacy have been engaged in border skirmishes with the Corporate for centuries. Their battle logs seem to depict the Sheliak as an unusually extremophilic race. Have you heard of the Tardigrade?"
    "I got a tardy grade in kindergarten when I missed the shuttle, but you must be talking about the Earth microorganism."
    "Precisely, Admiral. Much like the tardigrade, the Sheliak can survive environments which would be fatal to most organisms. The Sheliak seem to be drawn to relatively lifeless planets which they can then bioengineer to their specifications."

    McKenzie pointed out several planets on the Sheliak borders with the Tholians and Breen, which Lee noticed were too hot for Breen or too cold for Tholians in addition to being uninhabitable for most lifeforms. McKenzie pulled up Tholian scans of a Sheliak-claimed planet, which showed the spread of an emerald sheen across the surface.

    "The Sheliak seem to have advanced their biotechnological research to the point where they can forcefully rewrite a planet's entire biosphere in a few decades to better suit their needs," McKenzie explained. "The molecular structure of the planet's crust is reorganized and mutated from its previous ecosystem into a wasteland of highly exotic radiation not even Tholians can handle."
    "If the Sheliak can effectively Genesis Device a planet, why do they still feel the need to negotiate treaties with other species over territory?" Lee asked.
    "I don't know," McKenzie replied. "It's possible that the Sheliak are no more willing to fight than you are. With the Tholians and the Breen on their borders, they might not want to waste resources fighting 'infestations' like us."

    Lee turned his chair around and placed a hand on the wall behind him.

    "With the Federation fighting so many different factions at the same time, it's nice to find another interstellar state out there who is willing to resolve our differences peacefully. Heaven knows the number of times the Lord English has had its hull stripped off and replaced and stripped off again. You hear that, buddy? Hang in there, maybe you'll keep your new skin longer than twelve hours this time!"

    Lee patted and rubbed his ready room wall as if petting a giant dog. McKenzie decided not to probe further and left the room.

    ---

    On the battle bridge of the Lord English, First Officer Kay Taylor was going over anti-Sheliak contingency plans with Chief Engineer T'Shaanat. Taylor was going over the simulated battle data that Chief Systems Engineer R-66Y was sending to her. Conn officer of the day Ensign T'Jiman finished her assessments and turned to Taylor.

    "Commander," T'Jiman asked. "will these simulations be adequate for any martial confrontation with the Sheliak since it acts on the assumption that the Sheliak will use the same tactics on us as they do for the Tholians and Breen?"
    "It's a good question, Ensign," Taylor responded. "The truth is that we won't know until they start firing upon us, but at least we can be ready for what they throw at us."
    "The data we have parsed so far indicates the Sheliak prefer protonic plasma weapons and plasma torpedoes," T'Shaanat added. "Commander Serket is still working with Commander R-6 to decode the ground combat datalogs so that Security can prepared for Sheliak boarding actions."

    At that moment, Advisor McKenzie entered the battle bridge, much to Taylor's annoyance, as civilians were not allowed on the battle bridge.

    "The battle bridge is off-limits to civilian personnel. For your safety and the security of the ship, I must ask you to leave the battle bridge and remain in the areas cleared for civilian use."

    Disregarding Taylor's instructions, McKenzie went up to Taylor.

    "Commander Taylor, as the advisor to the negotiations with the Sheliak, I have the Federation Council's authority to exercise command of this vessel to complete the mission if I see fit. I would like to know why you are drilling your command crew under the assumption that they will be seeing combat."

    Taylor was starting to dislike McKenzie, but she kept a cool face.

    "The admiral has given orders for the command crew to practice combat with the Sheliak in the off-chance that the negotiations fail and we are to shoot our way out," she explained.
    "There will be no drills," McKenzie replied. "A trigger-happy bridge crew is more likely to accidentally start a war if they expect it to happen."
    "With all due respect, advisor," Taylor replied. "This trigger-happy bridge crew has been involved with over one hundred diplomatic investigation missions and has initiated first contact more often than many of the ships in Starfleet. This is what we do; we prepare ourselves for all scenarios."

    McKenzie did not want to back down, but she could not counter Taylor's well-honed command visage. She backed off and left the battle bridge, but not before leaving more advice.

    "If these negotiations fail, I will put in my report to the Federation Council that it was because the crew of the Lord English were more concerned with fighting enemies than with actually making peace."

    After McKenzie left, Taylor returned to the battle bridge's captain's chair. T'Shaanat sat down next to her.

    "You seem to be disturbed emotionally by the confrontational attitude of the advisor," she noted.
    "I don't like to be talked down to, is all," Taylor answered. "Just because the English is a combat vessel doesn't mean we're incapable of working diplomatically."
    "It would be rational to conclude that our experiences would prepare us for any eventuality with the Sheliak," T'Shaanat noted. "However, our information about the Sheliak is shallow to begin with, and without more data to draw on, the best course of action is to rely on the advisor's knowledge."

    At that moment, a voice from the Main Bridge came on the comm system.

    "Attention crew, the Lord English has reached the Tau Cygna system. A Sheliak vessel will escort us to low orbit around Tau Cygna V."

    Taylor turned to the battle bridge crew.

    "Alright, let's pack up and return to our stations. The fate of this mission depends on us."

    ---

    "Lee of the Lord English, negotiations to set up a summit between the Sheliak Corporate and the Republic creatures will begin in one Earth hour. The membership will guide you to the planet."

    At the edge of the Tau Cygna system, the Lord English followed a Sheliak frigate as it zig-zagged through the system. Lee found it prudent to transfer auxiliary power to the dampeners frequently as deviating from the course exposed to English to high amounts of radiation and the English was having trouble matching the Sheliak's maneuvers on its own.

    "The entire system is filled with hyperonic radiation," Chief Science Officer Kira reported. "It seems like the planets of the system have been modified to leave trails of hyperonic radiation in their orbits. Ambient radiation is at 550 rads."
    "Have the crew take precautions for radioactivity. We may be in here for a while."

    For the next half hour, the Lord English avoided the highest pockets of hyperonic radiation by following the Sheliak frigate as closely as it could. The effects of the transit were beginning to take a toll on the crew; fatigue was starting to set in, and several crew members were taken to sickbay for nausea. Only the Android R-66Y and Advisor McKenzie were able to withstand the radiation.

    "Admiral Lee, I must remind you that under no circumstance should you break off your pursuit of the Sheliak vessel as the mission requires my presence at the negotiation table," she said.
    "Wouldn't dream of it," Lee replied. "Tailgating the Sheliak is what will keep us alive the longest."

    By the time the English reached Tau Cygna V, the bridge crew were starting to show signs of acute radiation sickness. The Sheliak director on board the frigate hailed the English.

    "Lord English, the membership is ready to receive your arbitrator."
    "Acknowledged, Sheliak vessel," Lee replied. He turned to McKenzie and R-66Y.
    "Robby, I'll need you to bring the advisor down to the surface in a shuttle and return as soon as you can. Our supplies of hyronalin are starting to run out and I would rather not stay any longer."
    "Understood, Admiral," R-66Y replied. "I will calculate the quickest route from the ship to the conference point."

    R-66Y and Advisor McKenzie left the bridge and headed to the shuttlebay. Inside the shuttlecraft Purobolos, R-66Y began the start-up procedure while McKenzie brought a small crate aboard.

    "May I inquire as to the nature of the crate?"

    McKenzie opened the crate and rummaged around.

    "It's nothing important. Go back to piloting the shuttlecraft, android."
    "As you wish, advisor."

    R-66Y turned to work the consoles, unaware that McKenzie took out an electric prod from the crate. She stabbed it into his neck, disabling him. Pulling him out of the chair, she tapped on the console multiple times. An encoded message went out into deep space.

    "Papa, if only you'd lived to see this."

    ---

    "Tholian invasion force incoming! Three Tarantulas have appeared on long-range sensors!"

    The bridge of the Lord English erupted into alarms as a Tholian fleet warped into Tau Cygna. Admiral Lee was in the process of ordering battle stations when a message from Tau Cygna V was received.

    "Lord English! Negotiations with your representative are postponed for the duration of the trespassing of the Tholian creatures. Section three hundred and one, paragraph nine hundred and sixty-nine forbids you from interfering with Sheliak affairs. You are to leave the system at once until Tholian illegalities are resolved."

    Lee turned to the conn officer.

    "Set a course to the opposite direction of the battle, Ensign. Looks like the Sheliak don't want us fighting their battles."

    Ensign T'Jiman noticed something on her sensors.

    "Captain, advisor McKenzie and Commander R-66Y have just left the Lord English on shuttlecraft Purobolos!"

    The class-10 shuttle streaked into the atmosphere of Tau Cygna V. Lee noticed that the trajectory of the shuttle meant that it would crash into the conference chambers where Captain Data and the Sheliak were meeting.

    "Open a channel to the Purobolos. Advisor McKenzie, I'm ordering you to return to the ship. Tholians have invaded the system and your safety is compromised."

    The response on the other end of the comm shocked Lee.

    "Of course the Tholians are attacking. I've called them here."

    Lee stared at the viewscreen. The shuttle was streaking towards the largest concentration of Sheliak on Tau Cygna V, and in a matter of minutes, it would wipe out a large portion of the Sheliak colony.

    "McKenzie, I must ask you to reconsider your actions. This is only going to lead to war between the Sheliak and the Federation."
    "War would be preferable to the lingering death the Federation left to the Tau Cygna V colonists. If the Federation stood up to the Sheliak before, we would not have had to suffer!"

    This remarked piqued Lee's interest.

    "Tau Cygna V? What happened to the colonists after they were evacuated?" he asked, as he furiously tapped the keypad on his armrest.
    "Only now you care about the colonists of Tau Cygna V, after forty years of forcing them out of their homes. All my father Gosheven wanted was a planet for our community to live unmolested on after your Captain Data convinced them to evacuate the planet and leave it to the Sheliak. What we got was a planet in the Cardassian Demilitarized Zone. The Federation left the colonists to suffer under Cardassian rule, then had the gall to mark those who joined the Maquis as traitors. Those who sit in their cushy seats in the middle of civilization should not be dictating to those who actually work for their lives. How well will you defend your citizens when I add another enemy to your growing list?"

    Lee continued tapping numbers on his keypad.

    "You don't have to do this. There's nothing you can accomplish by suicide bombing the Sheliak conference."
    "That's where you're wrong, Admiral. I can start a war between you and the Sheliak, but more importantly I can avenge my father by destroying the android which brought him so much grief all those years before."
    "Captain Data was only interested in preventing your deaths at the hands of the Sheliak."
    "Data erased the accomplishments of the Tau Cygna colony, then left them to suffer at the hands of injustice. If he really wanted to save human lives, he should have fought alongside the colonists instead of abandoning them."

    Lee finished tapping on his console.

    "Is that all then?" he asked. "Forty years of planning boiling down to killing yourself to destroy an android and start a war?"
    "Yes!" she replied. "Once the Federation finally overexerts itself, its citizens will learn the hard way that their precious government is unwilling and unable to protect them. Then I will avenge my father's disgrace and death."
    "That's all well and good," Lee replied. "but I'm afraid your monologuing has gotten in the way of your plan."

    Lee pressed a button on his armrest. Immediately, the optical inducers on R-66Y's VISOR let out a hypersonic pulse which knocked McKenzie unconscious. R-66Y finished rebooting and rose to his feet.

    "Advisor McKenzie, do you- oh," he began to say, before noticing McKenzie's unconscious body. He sat at the shuttle's controls as it continued to streak towards the Sheliak structures.

    "Robby, I need you to take control of the Purobolos and return to the ship," Lee ordered. "Tholians have started to attack and the area has become dangerous."
    "Understood," R-66Y replied. "I will hold my questions until I return to the ship."

    ===
    Captain's Log, supplemental. A diplomatic incident was narrowly averted today; although we were unable to ferry our charge to the negotiations, we were able to prevent the Sheliak from knowing how close they were to falling victim to an extremist's grudge. Advisor McKenzie is in the brig in preparations for trial, while I have informed Captain Data of the development and have sent Commander R-66Y to take McKenzie's place. Hopefully he will learn fast and bring the negotiations to a good end.

    ---

    In the brig of the Lord English, Admiral Lee stood in front of McKenzie's cell with a smug look.

    "Well, Miss Artemis McKenzie, I'd have to say your plan was not terribly bad, if lacking in refinement. Of course, I'd like to know how you've been in contact with the Tholians."

    McKenzie said nothing.

    "Learned your lesson about monologues, hmm? Well, it's no skin off of my nose. Starfleet Intelligence will be grilling you soon enough."

    As he left the brig, McKenzie waited until nobody was looking. She broke off a false tooth and pressed a button. Immediately, she was transported off the Lord English and found herself on the bridge of a Voth Palisade frigate.

    "It looks like our mammalian defector has come scurrying back defeated," Colonel Ral'zzek of Voth Reconnaissance remarked. "Helm, reengage interphase and return to the Otha system. Our arachnid allies will know what to do with her."

    Ninety light-years away, the Voth vessel slipped off into the dark reaches of Alpha Quadrant space...
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • pwecaptainsmirkpwecaptainsmirk Member Posts: 1,167 Arc User
    edited February 2014
    Thanks for participating everyone, I hope you liked my first Literary Subject Idea.

    As I prepare to post the next challenge and unstick this one, remember that you can still contribute if you have not already. See you in #58!

    ~CaptainSmirk
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