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An Offering of Peace

Posted on Sun May 13th, 2018 @ 8:21am by Captain Sun Mei Xiang & Commander Karsel`lyn Lylyl-Llytherraias & Lieutenant Marcus Anvers & Lieutenant Christine Descharmes

Mission: Of Persephone
Location: Consortium Base, "Barataria"
Timeline: Roughly a Week after Interrogation

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In an unsurprising coincidence, Shanghai had been contacted a few days after their Interrogation of their uninvited guests. Their suspicions were all but confirmed by the response from the Consortium, but the Coridanite delegation in the Consortium had given them a lot of corroborating evidence. They did not seem to want to hide anything from the Federation in the event. This was, to many of the officers and commanders, a source of mixed feelings. It was hard to trust them, even if they had been completely unaware of the attempt at sabotage. Something was off, but the Shanghai was offered an official invitation to meet with the Coridanite Commander and at one of the Consortium Bases in Auriga-Perseus - it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

The Federation Crews had code-named the base Barataria. It was named for an old, swampy pirate port in the southern United States near New Orleans. From the data on the Base provided by the Coridanites, it was a fitting name. An uninhabitable little moon that enjoyed impossible temperatures, acidic rain, and a thick Venus-like atmosphere was an obvious choice for a hidden base. The shielded aerostat base floated somewhere in the layers of thick atmosphere, hidden away from even the Shanghai's sensors. It did not scream 'peaceful traders' to anyone. The Consortium had reason to hide, and they knew it. And still, despite their intentions being clouded, their actions appalling, and general trust impossible to guarantee, it was a conversation they had to have.

So, the Shanghai fell out of warp in the system, expecting a trap.

[USS Shanghai - Main Shuttlebay]

There was the light hum of McCall class fighters warming up on the shuttlebay floor. Two were ready to launch, hovering patiently a few meters in front of the Type-11 Heavy Shuttle. Two more were being prepped for flight. Sun had ordered her senior staff to the Shuttlebay, or at least most of them - with a few less than usual additions. "Alright, listen up." She spoke loudly, still very adapt at giving orders over the noise of the shuttlebay. "Your mission is to meet with the Commander of the Coridanite delegation within the Consortium. They want to talk about trying to repair relations, and we don't have much room for enemies. The primary objective is to mend that relationship, without sacrificing the security of Golovin Colony or the Initiative ships within the sector. Secondary objective is gather any intel you can."

"Due to their desire to keep their base hidden, they are not allowing us to send a team with any of our advanced runabouts. So you're stuck with a Type-11." Sun said pointing at the heavy shuttle. "It was the best we could argue. The Diamondbacks, under Captain Tyler, will be flying as your escorts."

"For the obvious elephant in the room... I am ranking Starfleet Officer in the sector. I cannot go down to a hidden pirate base, as much as I'd prefer to." Sun said simply, "As such," Her hand stretched to the familiar Rigellian commander next to her, taking a breath. "Commander Tiruk, the Hippogriff CO, will be leading this mission once you are off Shanghai."

"You'll have a marine detail providing primary security on the away mission. Teams are on standby in case something goes wrong down there." Sun spoke softly. "Nothing is off the table. If they're serious about peace, lets hear them out. If we detect any deceit though, negotiations are over, and you will return to the ship." She sighed, "Alright. Does everyone understand? Any questions or clarifications needed?"

Kachiko shook her head, dressed in Starfleet red, Commander's pips on her collar. "I'm still a little iffy about our chances if we have to end negotiations. They're not likely to take that well."

She gestured to the Captain's Marine shadow, "I directed Staff Sergeant Hernandez to stay on your butt as long as we're in this system, Captain." She was thinking like a Security Section Chief again, but orders were orders. The lovely Captain was the senior Federation official in this sector and the other three that comprised the Auriga-Perseus arm. "Besides, I believe that your paramour would be most upset if you were hurt or worse."

"Finally, we could take my runabout?" Kachiko offered. "It has advanced sensors, weapons and sensor shielding to keep them from discovering that." The perks of her line of work, really. "It's a really old model, on the outside."

"They were specific. I would prefer anything else - but, they want a shuttle they can identify as stock." Sun spoke simply.

"Coridanites are notoriously specific in their agreements." Commander Tiruk added. "Even simple agreements come with pages of requirements - and they usually quick to back out of negotiations if those agreements are not met." The Rigellian spoke with a quick nod. "As Federation members, they're more aware of our specifications and capabilities as well."

"We have to stick to their rules here..." Sun said softly. "It'll give us a chance to put that to use later."

"Well then," Kachiko gestured towards the shuttle. "Let's not keep our hosts waiting. Load up!"

A young female human in a blue uniform came dashing in "Wait! Doctor Anvers wants me to go, he said they will be more open to us if we don't have any psychoactive people along " she said realizing "Oh! Im Nurse Hilary Amaran, I am a nurse practitioner, Doctor Anvers is considering me for his Assistant, this is a test i guess."

Christine had remained quiet during the briefing, listening intently to the explanation. It seems her diplomatic skills would be put to the test. "Everything clear," she murmured, under her breath and to no one in particular. "All ready to go."

Kachiko smirked, "I guess it's a good thing that they don't know I'm a telepath, then."

Once everyone was aboard, Kachiko moved forward, tapping the pilot on the shoulder, "We're good to go."

"Aye ma'am," The shuttle pilot spoke, lifting the shuttle up and off of the deck. The fighters fore lifted off and waited for a moment, before pushing out of the bay and towards the planet below. The shuttle kept close to the fighters, soon flanked by another couple fighter and two more behind the shuttle. It was only a minute or two before the shuttle hit the atmosphere. There was a little shutter through the hull of the craft. "Atmospheric conditions are going to be rough. Everyone is going to want to buckle in." He said, tapping the comm panel on the console. "Diamonds, this is the Annie Jump, can we spread out formation a bit?"

"We hear you, AJ." Captain Tyler's voice chimed in, "Diamonds, give Crawler some room. He's new at this."

"Thank you, Captain." The pilot, Crawler, added before there was the first wave of turbulence. The sudden change from upper atmosphere to thicker was clear. Suddenly the ship shuddered and then there was the noise - wind and ice rushing past the hull. The pilot laughed, a bit more nervously than one would have hoped. The panels on the shuttle lit up, the deflectors working overtime to push away the little particles in the atmosphere in front of them.

[Consortium Base, "Barataria"]

After nearly ten minutes of rough flying, the pilot chimed in to the crew. "Barataria in sight." One of the panels in back of shuttle blinked on, giving a view of the station to those not lucky enough to be in the cockpit. The Consortium had an interesting design, to say the least. A cobbled together half-sphere, with docking pylons and sensor arrays hanging from the bottom. It was an aerostat, for the most part, held up by the lighter air and materials used to build the station - but it did have thrusters to maneuver it as needed. But the atmosphere was cruel on this particular planet, and the station was marred by strikes form the storms so often ripping through the planet. The shuttle maneuvered its way to one of the pylons. Trying to slow down in the harsh conditions seemed to make the turbulence worse, more violent in the waves - but after a few grueling seconds of it there was a loud bang of metal on metal as the shuttled was secured and docked.

Crawler gave a relieved sigh and leaned back in his seat. "Welcome to Barataria." He said swiftly. "Sorry for the rough ride." There was a chime on his panel, "Looks like our hosts are ready to meet you."

"Good," Commander Tiruk spoke quickly. "Everyone ready. Remember, we're here to make friends - but take note of everything you see and hear..." He straightened his jacket and took a breath.

"Allow me to exit first, Commander," Kachiko smiled at the Rigellian. She figured he wouldn't like it, a tiny human female protecting him.

The Coridanites were waiting just on the other side of the docking hatch. The masks hiding their faces were a bit more ornate than the common variety. There were five Coridanites waiting, a few armed with standard - if older - Federation style phasers. The clear leader stood at the front though. His suite was more ornate, it was clear he was the wealthiest of the five, and showed that off. He stepped forward as the crew moved closer.

"Welcome aboard. We are sorry that it is under such circumstances." He gave a light bow. "We want to be clear and upfront. Our organization had no knowledge of the attack on your world. Had we known, we would have alerted you immediately to the plans, as would any Federation species. As soon as it was discovered, we took action to remove the previous leadership. Off the record, we are still considering leaving the Consortium over the issue." The Cordianite leader said softly. "I am Rell, Chief of Operations of the Coridanite Merchants Union in Auriga Perseus."

"I am Commander Aemon Tiruk of the USS Hippogriff, and Second-in-Command of the Starfleet's Initiative forces here in Auriga Perseus." The Rigellian commander said swiftly. That statement was debatable. "This is Lieutenant Descharmes, Chief Counselor and Diplomatic Officer of the Shanghai," Again, debatable information. "Commander Bayushi, our Diplomatic Security Specialist. Our marines are serving as security today." And he finally waved to the nurse, "And this is nurse Amaran. She will be monitoring the medical situation."

The Coridanite seemed fine with that. "Excellent." He motioned down the hall. "This way to the meeting room. It is the last room on the right." He barely breathed before continuing. "I have every hope that we will be able to come an understanding and perhaps even some semblance of a treaty. I know these are lofty goals, but our diplomatic efforts thus far have been very successful. We would be allies in Federation space, so I hope we can be here as well." As the end of the hall was reached, there was something that seemed off. Something not quite right hanging in the air. "I understand that Golovin has had an amazing discovery of Dilithium. And we suspect that is part of what caused our leader to order the incursion. Our new leadership, however, has a much different idea - one where the Consortium and Initiative are able to work together and use this to better both this section of space and home." The group reached the doorway and the door hissed open.

In the room was a table set for the meeting. But one person already sat there. He was striking in his appearance, and while perhaps handsome by human standards, there was something more, something almost ethereal about his presence. His tapered ears and the intricate knot-work designs on his jacket gave one more important detail. He was Selelvian, a species ejected from the Federation. "This our chief negotiator," The Coridanite leader waved towards the man, who bowed, "Galon Aran."

"Please, have a seat." The Selelvian said softly, "Where shall we begin?"

"I imagine that it would be appropriate to set ground rules," Kachiko spoke up from near the hatch, leaning against the bulkhead. "I know that you have an ability and that your using this ability in this negotiation will immediately end matters and result in our departure."

"No offense, but your people have a history in the Federation," Kachiko tried to end her warning diplomatically.

Christine, who remained standing near Tiruk, shot Kachiko a glance. For once, she wished the outspoken woman would at least keep quiet. Any abruptness could result in a less than ideal situation. But with the Commander, it was almost expected. The counselor stepped forward from the Rigellian captain's side and bowed her head slightly.

"Greetings," she said and by way of introducing herself, "Christine." With another warning glance in Kachiko's direction, she spoke again. "What my colleague meant is that we are aware of your species...natural inclinations towards influencing outcomes in your favor. Any such sign that you are using this ability and the negotiations will cease. Are we clear on this?"

"Of course," Aran spoke softly. "We have no desire to risk relations with the Federation anymore than we already have." He held up both hands. "In full disclosure, I was chosen as diplomat due to my house's dealings with the Tholian Assembly and Gorn Hegemony. We have a history of finding non-violent solutions when violence is already beginning to spiral out of control." He gave a surprisingly warm smile. "I assure you. I won't risk using the abilities here."

Hilary took her seat feeling out of her depth but she had already followed Doctor Anvers orders the medical tricorder in her medkit was on, scanning everyone in the room. A few of these were races she herself had never met. She wondered if they knew about the Rigellian in the Shanghai's sickbay. She quietly sat figuring best not to speak unless she was directly asked a question.

"Very well," Tiruk finally spoke up. "Let us get started. Make no mistake, the actions taken by the Consortium were by law an act of war."

"Yes, they were - but they were the unsanctioned act of one single Consortium leader, not of its ruling council." The Selelvian spoke up quickly. "For the record, the use of the psychoactive elements used were of incredible risk to my people. And neither the Coridanite or Rigelian council members were aware of their crew members being sent upon the unsanctioned mission. The leader in question was removed, and his crews have since left the Consortium. Daimon Tralx."

"Our records indicate he was the leader of the Consortium." Tiruk said coldly.

"A founding member, and on the council, but not the leader."

"The Federation does not take these actions lightly. If you are going to want to smooth over relations with us, there are a number of items that must be addressed." Tiruk spoke as coldly as before, beginning to list off the list of demands they had in regards to Consortium actions. This was a long negotiation, filled with the obvious pieces that one would expect. Destruction of the jammers, suicide devices, and similar inhumane weapons. The two seemed in quick agreement on those actions though. They seemed to making easy progress, though as the hard part was just beginning, though, getting down to actual details when a commbadge chimed.

"We will publicly denounce the actions, and destroy any outlawed weapons still left in our possession. In addition, every Consortium ship will be outfitted with an identification code easily read by Federation vessels." Aran spoke with a soft sigh. "In addition, as part of our desire to work together, we are willing to offer our star maps of the area. I believe that covers about everything you could have wanted, correct? So, we just need to get the details of how you will accept we are fulfilling our end of the treaty."

"And that is where we will likely differ the..." Tiruk was cut off by his commbadge chirping. "I'm sorry. Excuse me." He tapped his commbadge. "Tiruk here."

"Commander. Incoming priority message from Shanghai. Command level only. Diamond four, six, and actual are buffering comms to get through atmo, sir." Crawler's voice came through clearly.

The Rigelian commander gave a sigh. "I'm sorry." He closed his eyes for a moment. "If you don't mind, I'll let this team take over while I check on that message."

"Of course," Aran said with a soft nod.

Tiruk stood up, and dusted himself off. He glanced to the Colonel. "I'll have to remind our pilot of proper comms regulations." He said with a growl. It seemed off for him, somehow. "Keep them safe, Colonel." The rigelian ordered, nodding back to the rest of the away team, before finishing, "I'll be back in a few minutes."

Kachiko simply nodded, deciding to remain silent for now, keeping her psychic senses wide open for duplicity or the use of psychic abilities like The Knack to influence negotiations.

"We'll see if we can't keep the pace going with your absence, Commander." The Selelvian added as the Commander slipped out of the room. "Now, how can the Consortium prove its intentions to Starfleet to keep our side of these agreements?" The Selelvian said leaning forward.

Christine eyed the Selelvian. She reached into her bag she always carried and pulled out three PADDs. The counselor placed them one at a time on the table before her. "This," she answered. "The Golovin Accord which you will present to your employers," Christine said as she slid one across the table and neatly folded her hands in front of her. The counselor had spent hours typing up each point of information presented, according to instructions. It was only a negotiation but it would help having a written version and not just a verbal agreement. And she was glad that she did, considering who the Consortium's chief negotiator was.

"To reiterate," Christine began, clearing her throat. "The immediate disabling and destruction of the suicide devices. Our Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Marcus Anvers will assist. We accept your offer of the star maps in exchange for the immediate removal of all personnel from the vicinity of Golovin colony on the planetside, to a range of 500 kilometers. Along with the denouncing of these actions, any and all operations must be disclosed to us. Failure to comply will be considered an act of aggression towards the Federation and the peoples it protects."

It was at this point that the Counselor 'heard' Kachiko's voice in her head, "~Christine, darling. We also need to establish a perimeter around the dig site and Alpha Site. We are authorized to shoot unidentified and unauthorized persons in those areas.~"

Christine flinched slightly when she heard the commander's voice, surprised that she was even able to hear considering she was no telepath. She cleared her throat. "The sites established by the Federation will have a perimeter set up around them. Anyone unidentified and unauthorized will have measures taken against them, using force if necessary."

"Of course," The Selelvian spoke quietly, a light nod drifting. "We do not want to endanger relations with you, and those terms sound acceptable. We do have a few concerns. First, we would like to ensure future relations are possible. In this sector, we will need friends, as will you. So we would like to tentatively plan future recurring sessions to ensure we can continue to stitch these divides. Second, but not right away, we would like to be able to negotiate for the purchase of Dilithium. We know you have it, and we do not have a reliable place to restore our stocks here - but we wish to do so on your terms." He took a breath, "Perhaps most importantly, we would want to discuss how we can work together to respond to possible unauthorized actions by previous Consortium members, or those loyal to former members." He nodded lightly. "I understand if those are not responses we are ready to discuss, though."

"What would be most helpful," Kachiko remarked, "Is the code to disable the explosive implants. If we encounter rogue former Consortium personnel, we want to take them alive. There's absolutely no need for further loss of life."

Hilary heard that and pulled out a PADD "Actually Doctor Anvers was able to do that from one of the ones that was sadly killed beliw. The implant was intact and he was able to get the deactivation signal. When we arrived I was instructed to take the liberty of deactivating any in range." She said reading the PADD "It has deactivated 32 since we have arrived."

"Thirty two?" The Selelvian paused for a moment at that piece of information. Clearly there was something about that number that specific number that may have set off a thought or image in his head. "Perhaps our illustrious Daimon had a longer reach than we believed," He sounded almost speculative, as if that information was completely foreign to him. "His lieutenants that knew the codes, unfortunately, seem to have met a similar fate as the Daimon himself. An..." He took a deep breath and shook his head. "...unfortunate overreaction by our more violent comrades. Gorn and Breen don't take kindly to such things." He gave a shake of his head, "I'm afraid we would need your help in that case, actually. I'd be happy to transfer the schematics and modifications found on the Daimon's ship to your own, though." He adjusted, and then reached to produce another PaDD. "We'll amend our agreements to work in that direction. Now, for the unfortunately tedious part, going over details." He gave a smile, "If you would, we'll add another section entirely to provide for the schematics and begin working towards that end goal..."

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