Previous Next

The Meat of Diplomacy

Posted on Sun Feb 4th, 2018 @ 6:45pm by Mujal Junyx & Commander Owen Nash & Lieutenant Kalin 'Shae' Brennan-Griffin PhD & Lieutenant Katniss Wakefield & Lieutenant Mera Richmond MD & Belaia

Mission: Into The Wild
Location: Government Spire (Salvaxe Surface)
Timeline: After “Welcoming the Aliens in Style”

Within a few minutes, after some more polite introductions, the Mendazians and the Starfleeters moved inside. The lounge area, much like everything else they’d seen so far, looked extraordinary. The cyan-coloured walls were faintly curved rather than purely straight, giving the room a warm, organic feeling, with what appeared to be art at various points around the room. There were paintings, varying from startlingly vidid realist landscapes to befuddling abstract art, sculptures that resembled some kind of aircraft and (most curious of all) a levitating golden blob set against a wall. Even as everyone entered, the blob reshaped like a fluid into a complex and unfathomable symbol, before transforming again into another, more familiar shape...quite unmistakably an outline of the Pandora.

Even the furniture was beautiful. Twenty chairs were available, set in an intimate circle, with little tables next to them for convenience. The chairs were straight-backed but well cushioned, and as everyone sat down, the chairs proved blissfully comfortable. There was some minor amusement as an attendant fussed over Shae’s tail, complaining that the chair wasn’t designed for such a body structure, before he was gently shooed away by a smiling Mujal.

“Now,” Mujal said cheerfully to the Starfleeters after everyone had settled down, “I believe we can begin our work. I would like to echo my dear Belaia’s greetings and welcome you all, again, to our humble little world. As you can imagine, we do have some questions, and I would suggest that we dispense with such as our first play of the game.”

Shae had no trouble at all with the chairs and she blushed as one of the attendants fussed over her tail, but she knew it came from a good place so she gave the attendant a warm smile before he was shooed away. "We are honored by your gracious welcome, and we would be happy to try to answer some of your questions," Shae replied.

Mujal bowed his head gracefully, but when his head came back up, there was a slyness to his eye. He glanced subtly at Belaia and another of the Mendazian delegates, before returning his gaze to the Starfleeters.

"Our first question," Mujal said delicately, "is thus: why has your warship gone to the edge of the Killing Fields? Why were you left behind?"

Shae blinked in surprise, then giggled ever so softly. "The Pandora isn't a warship!" she said with a smile. "Our ships are often called to battle and the Pandora is quite well armed in that respect, but Starfleet's guiding principle has always been exploration and discovery; however, we also believe it prudent to send out our explorers when they're well prepared, capable of defending themselves when we discover cultures that are not so friendly, as is the case with the Ravagers," she explained gently. "The Pandora has left because they're trying to protect your world; we don't want to leave only for the Ravagers to come back later. But this meeting is also still important to us, as we see it is important to you, and we didn't want you to feel slighted if we put the meeting off, so here we are."

One of the other delegates, a plump young Mendazian, frowned. "As we understand it, you utilised horrendously powerful antimatter weapons to blast your way through the Killing Fields, thereby showing the Ravagers the way to our world. The Ravagers have used the Killing Fields before to snare prey, but never have they penetrated our defensive barrier until you arrived. Good intentions or not, it is you who have placed us in danger."

Mujal sighed, giving his colleague a piercing look. "Vennis, perhaps this is not an appropriate-"

"No, Mujal," Vennis interrupted him gently, shaking her head. "I would see this addressed, now, before we accept these people under true guest-friendship. I respect you, my dear professor, but in this case, the people of Salvaxe deserve to understand why this peril has come to us, why alien ships have darkened our sky and why alien soldiers have fought on our soil. They deserve to know why this Federation has left us naked to such evils, and what shall be done to remedy it."

"You make a valid point, sir, and we don't intend to evade the matter," Shae said respectfully, all sense of joviality gone. "We didn't know you were here, we didn't know we were leading the Ravagers to you, which is why we feel responsible and we're doing something about it. The Pandora is now trying to ensure that the way through the Killing Fields is not known to the rest of the Ravagers so that your world may remain secret and safe. As to the weapons we used , yes they are terribly dangerous, but we weren't 'blasting our way through'. The Killing Field is comprised of something we call Dark Matter; it's not unlike antimatter, but it's far more dangerous and completely undetectable on our sensors unless we shower the area with metreon particles. But we didn't know that we needed to do this, we didn't know there would be Dark Matter, so instead we had to use our antimatter weapons to expose the edges of the Dark Matter fields so that we could safely navigate a way out. We never meant to bring the Ravagers here, we were just trying to get to safety, but we're still going to do everything we can to undo this mistake."

Owen also decided that a more emotional element was needed to back up Shae's point to the Mendazians. "We also found that during our time in the Killing Fields, our crew suffered mass hallucinations, visions of ghosts from thei r worst fears or memories past," he explained. "We needed to effect an escape for the safety of our own ship in order to realise the clever trap you have in place to stop the Ravagers. As Lt Brennan has explained, We never meant to bring the Ravagers here, we were just trying to get to safety, but we're still going to do everything we can to undo this mistake."

"Quite right, quite right," Mujal said quickly, smiling pacifically. "We do wish your comrades good fortune in the battle to come. In the spirit of amicable relations, given that we have asked you some hard questions, I hereby invite you to reciprocate with questions of your own."

Shae's eyes opened wider with wonder; she had so many questions, but there was one that stood out in her mind. "Do you know who is responsible for the terrible mass hallucinations that plagued our ship? Or perhaps, do you know of a way to counter this effect?"

The ever-present twinkle of Mujal's eyes dimmed, and he exchanged grave looks of understanding with his fellow delegates. "The hallucinations, as you term them, are an intentional by-product of the Killing Fields. The Dark Matter is tuned very precisely with subspace, creating a resonant effect among the thoughts of certain sentient lifeforms. We do not entirely understand how this is done, but we understand the effect it has." The elderly professor sighed. "All sentient lifeforms that have entered the Killing Fields have suffered from these phantoms...except Mendazians. Even our Talarian cousins suffer from this affliction, despite their close genetic relationship to us."

Owen understood the Professors explanations about the Phantoms and considered his earlier point answered, however the "Talarian Cousins" connection surprised him.

One of the delegates coughed meaningfully, and Mujal chuckled. "Ah, yes, our connection to the Talarians is a delicate subject, but I digress. We had hoped that your ship's formidable technology would shield you from such horrors, but given that this is not the case, we can only apologise. There is indeed a way to shield yourselves from the phantoms, although the method has not been tested in many centuries. If our relations continue to be successful...and, indeed, if we are still alive and Salvaxe is not enslaved under the tyranny of the Ravagers...we may discuss the sharing of technology."

Shae's ears wilted at this revelation. "Starfleet has come across Dark Matter before and never has anything like that been documented before," Shae said with deep concern knitting her brows together. "It must be the concentration of the Dark Matter that causes this resonance with subspace..." she mused aloud in thought, then looked to Mera. "We will have to study this effect further if we're to continue our explorations into the Expanse," she said to the Counselor, knowing that she was also studying the effects of long-term deep-space exploration. "We would, however, be eternally grateful if you shared your knowledge on shielding our crew from this effect, and we would be happy to return the favor in any way we can. That is if, as you say, we are still alive to do so," she said to Mujal.

"That is our hope," Mujal replied with a smile, although his eyes followed the droop of Shae's ears with curiosity. The old professor had thus far been restraining his scientific inquisitiveness as regards to the aliens, trying not to examine the humans' cranial structure (how did they get by without an acoustic tri-cranial extrusion?), but the more exotic Shae was fascinating to the old man. "Well, we have many questions about your Federation, so I beg that you permit us the indulgence. We know from our Talarian cousins-"

But then the old professor was stopped short by an odd chirp. He and the other Mendazians looked around, befuddled.

Any Starfleet Officer would recognize that chirp immediately, but where it should have been sounding off for the Away Team leader, Commander Nash, it was instead Shae's commbadge alerting her of an incoming signal.

"Sorry, that's our communication devices," Shae said, then rose from her chair. "I'll just step away to answer the call; hopefully it's nothing terribly important, probably just my daughter fighting her bedtime again," she added to assure the Mendaz delegates that there was nothing to worry about.

Owen was indeed surprised by the fact that Shae was being called and he was curious as to why this was. Whatever the issue was, Owen was acutely aware that Shae had been leading the talks and hoped this wasnt an unwarranted interuption.

tag any (reactions?)

Shae stepped away from where the Mendaz and the Away Team were seated, finding an isolated corner where she could speak in privacy before finally tapping on her badge. A short conversation followed, and then she tapped her commbadge off and returned to the gathering, but she did not resume her position in her chair, instead she approached Owen and leaned in to whisper something in his ear. Once the message was delivered, she stood straight and addressed their hosts with a sad smile. "I apologize for having to leave so soon, but I've been recalled to the Pandora for a special assignment. I do hope to see your city again and learn more about your people once the conflict with the Ravagers is resolved. Until then, thank you for your hospitality," Shae said.

It was a mark of the old professor’s quickness that he took the surprise announcement in stride. “You are most welcome, young one.” Then, as one, all of the Mendazians stood, their movements perfectly and impossibly synchronised. All of them bowed deeply to the strange woman (the older ones with some wincing at their creaking backs) and Mujal said formally for them all, “We wish you fair winds in the trials to come, Kalin Brennan of the Pandora, and accept you and your brethren as guest-friends, now and in the future. Your return shall warm us.”

Then every other Mendazian in the room echoed his words, their voices united as one, all of them still bent in a deep bow. “Your return shall warm us.”

Now excused, Shae turned and allowed one of the guards to show her the way back to the landing pad where she powered up the shuttle and quickly lifted off to depart.

With that done, the Mendazians all sat back down in dignified silence. Mujal looked to Belaia and inclined his head to the side, indicating subtly that she should now reclaim the lead.

The lull in conversation gave Mera enough time to become anxious. Shae had been handling the meeting so effortlessly that is cast a stark light on how lacking she was under these circumstances. Frozen, she silently pleaded that Commander Nash would take control.

Owen decided to step up to the plate as such and to carry on with such matter whilst Shae had left. Her reasons were sound and knowing that she ws on board the shuttle also meant if things went south, it would be difficult to leave. He'd taken note of Vennis's point and knew there was some sceptisim in the room with them.

"Mujal, I should explain that as the Federation is a growing conglomeration of worlds with more added periodically in the interests of cooperation, exploration and the seeking of knowledge, one of the consequences of this is the increase of Starfleet vessels exploring the area," he explained to Mujal.

"This exploration is always in peace unless we are provoked into defence, however, we could offer you protection from the Ravagers in return for investigating the technology that protects you from the effect of the Killing Fields. More Starfleet ships could be exploring this sector once we have charted the area ourselves and in the interest of co-operation we could work together in a mutually beneficial relationship," he offered.

The professor fixed the lieutenant commander with a penetrating gaze. "Lieutenant Commander Owen Nash, good intentions do not necessarily lead to the desired outcome. We have limited contact with the Talarian Empire, and what little information we receive from them is somewhat unreliable, but we do know that your Federation has fought many wars. Against whom, and why, we do not know, but we do know that you are experienced in the ways of battle. We desire friendship, make no mistake, but friendship with a warrior, even a warrior with good-intentions, is a relationship that is fraught with peril."

Owen thought for a moment before he responded back to Mujal's point, which was a fair one to be certain.

"It is true that during its time the Federation has been involved in combat during its many years of existence, this action has been defence of its people and lands from those who disagree with its peaceful & exploratory actions. We would not be entering into an alliance with you and your people, should it take place, as a warrior race but as a willing partner looking to help further your understanding of whats outside the Expanse as well as allowing us to learn more about you as a people," he explained hoping that this would sway the conversation away from historical actions of hostility that the Federation had defended itself against.

Katniss was paying close attention, both sides had an interesting point and before alien spoke again, Katniss thought this would be a good opportunity to speak out.

"If I may?" she said as she felt the Commander and the alien look at her. "I myself am a scientist and a medical doctor, I heal and seek answers to questions that people ponder or don't know. I took an oath to do no harm, I'm not a warrior and we are not aggressors, as the Commander said we defend ourselves when needed, we put ourselves in harm to protect and offer assistance to anyone in need, be it responding to a distress signal or for medical aid, we give this freely, with no expectations or conditions."

Owen nodded to Mera as he grateful accepted her help in the current subject. He was try to come across as peaceful however its was obvious the Mendazians were more aware and informed than originally implied. Owen remembered this as he waited to learn Mujals thoughts on Mera's comments.

Then one of the other delegates chimed in, a younger fellow with somewhat hawkish features and a strong physique. "And if we told you to leave us after the Ravagers are defeated? If we told you to stay away, and that no Federation ship should ever return to our world? Would you honour our request, starfarer?"

Owen looked at the delegate with a clear expresion of honesty on his face as he knew the answer to that question. "Yes we would. If you made that decision then we would leave your world and its people in peace and there would be a general order given to all Starfleet vessels not to enter Mendazian Space," he explained. Looking around the table, Owen continued on. "There are other cultures and races that have made this request and we do not enter there territory as we honour their request."

"You must pardon our rudeness," Mujal said gently, his lightning-blue eyes piercing the Starfleet first officer. "The fate of our world is at stake, after all. We are frightened mice taking our first steps amidst giants, scarcely comprehending the scale of our new reality. It is a humbling experience."

Belaia, having been silent for quite some time, finally spoke up. "It's true that some of us do not want continued contact with the Federation. While I can understand the dangers of such a thing, I believe we can all agree that a continued dialogue would be beneficial to all. If the Federation is genuine in what they say, we could have a very powerful ally."

Owen understood their point. Only a few hours before these people had limited contact with the rest of the sector through the Talarians. Now they had a Stafleet first contact team sitting with them at the same table and this was never an easy situation for both sides involved.

"Mujal, Belaia, I understand and sympathise with both you and your people, these are first steps into what is a much larger arena with both perils and possibilities along the way," Owen explained.

"First Contact is always a difficult process and we understand the fears your people have. We merely want to open a dialogue with you so that both sides can learn from each other. Should it be the case that our peoples are better off apart then we will also follow that course." Owen was trying his best to come across as friendly but he could understand their apprehension.

"Well said, Lieutenant Commander Owen Nash," Mujal said solemnly, his expression inscrutable as he examined the human. "Well said."


Previous Next