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The Cost of Doing Business

Posted on Saturday, 22 May 2021 - 1:14pm by Captain Barret Stillwater & Commander Soral & Lieutenant T'Lanna Vali & Lieutenant Talarn Zilth & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley & Vice Admiral Veruka Kitan

Mission: Operation: Neu Reich
Location: USS Gillard | Deck 01 | Observation Lounge
Timeline: 2394 MD 10


Members of Captain Stillwater's Senior Staff had transported aboard the Avalon class starship, USS Gillard under the special command of formerly retired Starfleet Rear Admiral Veruka Kitan, a woman who knew a thing or two about doing diplomacy. She would be spearheading negotiations with Zeos and Ekos over their disputed moon for mining rights on behalf of the Federation, a business arrangement that would be beneficial to all parties in the transaction.

Lieutenant Raith Kolani remained aboard the USS Standing Bear in command whilst the others had a bit of a briefing of the situation ahead of them, as well as meeting with both Rear Admiral Kitan and the Federation's not so silent partner in the whole arrangement. Captain Stillwater and his officers had been guided through the larger Avalon class starship, a spiritual successor to the old Galaxy class starships. She had a very similar layout to the Galaxy, but her systems were cutting edge.

Taken to deck one, the Standing Bear's crew were escorted into the Observation Lounge and instructed to make themselves at home, and await Rear Admiral Kitan. This would give Stillwater and his crew a few moments to chat, take the leisure of the starship's food and beverage replicators, and have a look put the long observation area out into the blackness of space, the perfect backdrop to the long crescent-shaped conference table.

Captain Stillwater ordered himself a Cardassian red leaf tea, hot and walked over to the observation area, leaning against a bulkhead and had a gander at the blackness of space. The USS Standing Bear had some areas like this, but not as long, not as luxurious. "I could get used to this," he said sipping his tea and looking around at his crew. "Over forty decks, over a dozen labs, several holodecks, and cargo bays, and plenty of room for families."

Soral having had tea prior to coming aboard indulged in a cup of coffee. "Indeed," he said joining Stillwater at the observation area. "I believe humans have a term for this."

"Which one?" inquired the Captain.

"Living large... if I am correct."

Barret swallowed some tea and shook his head and went back to look at space. "Living large indeed," he said in response to his First Officer. "I haven't been on a starship this grandiose in some time. The Lakota was an Excelsior class, much larger than the Standing Bear, but nothing compared to this." Stillwater looked over at the doorway. It has just parted ways and a blonde woman in civilian attire was easing her way in with braced-up legs and what looked to be a sort of cane.

The woman stood there in the threshold for a moment, a look of wonder on her face as she too gazed ahead out into the blackness of space. "You never forget that view, Captain," she said evidentially addressing Stillwater. "The crew of the USS Standing Bear?" she said looking around at the various individuals placed around the room.

Stillwater began his way back towards the table, placing the mug of tea down and gesturing to Soral. "Commander Soral, my First Officer," said Stillwater. He then looked at Alex. "Lieutenant Kingsley, Second Officer, and Chief Science Officer."

"Ah fellow scientist," Veruka said extending her hand across the table after she took a seat, shaking hands with Alex.

Soral took his seat following the lead of the woman. He wondered how all this would play out.

“Pleasure to meet you, Ma’am,” Alex replied as she shook the offered hand.

"Lieutenant Zilth, Chief Tactical Officer and Ship's Security Chief, and Lieutenant Vali, my Foreign Area Officer... and Ship's Psychologist," he added making sure to give them full credit of their duties aboard. He opted to leave out his marital status. It was in his record, and she was undoubtedly the type to have had looked.

Veruka smiled. "If my husband had been my Captain... I do not know how you do it, Lieutenant," she said to Talarn. "And Lieutenant Vali? Psychologist and FAO. You will be an asset to these negotiations."

T’Lanna smiled warmly as she looked at Veruka. “I will endeavour to do my upmost to help Admiral.”

Talarn nodded to the woman. He wanted to say that it was because he was slightly psychotic to deal with it, but he didn’t. “Welcome aboard...”

Veruka Kitan picked up a PaDD that had been lying on the conference table, gave it a brief reading over, and sat it back down. "My condolences on the loss of your recent crew, Captain. I had just been catching up on your latest adventures. I hate that the Standing Bear's role in all this is merely escorting the Gillard to the M43 Alpha system, not the most exciting thing for a Captain, but your crew will be of great use in these negotiations."

Stillwater nodded. It was true, the Standing Bear itself was far from taking point on this, and he himself was not going to be too heavily involved. Still, he had Commodore Kwan evaluating his every move, and it was refreshing to have an interaction with a Rear Admiral such as Kitan, be her active or retired. She was what Barret would consider a straight shooter and rather humble.

"Lieutenant Zilth is the best tactician, and I can speak nothing but great volumes to everyone here and aboard my starship. I have no issue taking a back seat on this personally," replied Stillwater. "You are more trained and experienced with the finesse of diplomacy than I am."

Rear Admiral Kitan nodded. "Be that as it may, Captain, I still may call upon you for some advice. Two heads are better than one unless on the same body," she said with a smile afterward. "Do any of you have experience with Ferengi?"

Species 180... Talarn kept his thoughts to himself.

Soral spoke up. "I do."

"Fantastic," Veruka replied. "I have some experience with them, but it has been a few years."

T’Lanna shook her head. “I’m afraid that’s a no from me Admiral, Betazoids stay clear of those they can’t sense although in my case I can’t sense anyone anyway at present.”

"Ah please. I haven't been 'Admiral Kitan since I retired'" she replied. "Just call me Veruka if you are all comfortable with that, if not? Get used to it, we have plenty of time before we reach Ekos and Zeos."

"Though I'm afraid you are all going to acquire more experience firsthand with Ferengi, abilities or not."

T’Lanna smiled. “Veruka it is. I know some of the Ferengi rules of acquisition, they always used to be something of a fascination to me the way the Ferengi use them in just about everything they do.”

"Apologies for a possibly idiotic question... but why do we all need more experience with the Ferengi?" Alex asked quietly, worried that she had spending way too much time in her labs lately and had missed something major.

"Strange bedfellows," replied Veruka. "If you know the expression? You probably don't often think of the Federation getting into a relationship with the Ferengi, but that is what we have done. A Ferengi shuttle will be meeting us prior to our arrival in the system."

Captain Stillwater placed his mug down. "The third party involved in the arrangement? It's the Ferengi."

Veruka nodded. "I know... believe me I know, Captain. You are probably about as pleased about that concept as I was initially, but the Ferengi have something we cannot really offer. If everything goes well with these negotiations, the Ekosians and Zeons will come to a peaceful ceasefire, the Federation gets to mine the moon for materials useful for starship construction."

"And the Ferengi?" inquired Stillwater.

She smiled at Barret. "The Ferengi get to mine other materials from the moon, and we will provide them with a clear trade route through several sectors, protection from raiders and pirates. The Ferengi business opportunities will stimulate the economy of Ekos and Zeos."

T’Lanna looked at Veruka. “The Ferengi will find a way to turn anything to their advantage including the unrest between Ekos and Zeos. How do we know they won’t make their own deal to trade in weapons or whatever else they think the factions would find useful?”

Soral chimed in. "Rule of Acquisition number thirty-four Peace is good for profit, then there is Rule of Acquisition number thirty-five, War is good for business. Whatever is more profitable to the long term goals of the Ferengi."

T’Lanna nodded. “There’s also the rule that says, ‘The best deal is the one that brings the most profit.’ That and ‘The riskier the road, the greater the profit.’ Ferengi’s have a rule for practically everything you could think of.”

Talarn leaned back from the table and glanced at Stillwater. “Number one... ‘Once you have their money, never give it back’."

Soral gave a nod. "Indeed. I would not be so quick to trust the Ferengi."

“Regardless of how we think about them... they can actually be rather clever. So yes, concern is prudent,” Talarn added.

"So we are hoping there is more profit in peace than war for the Ferengi, right?" Alex clarified. "And if there isn't? Do we have a back up plan?"

"All good questions," Soral said, breaking the silence he'd held of a few minutes. He leaned forward a little and started tapping his fingers on the chair, suddenly finding the room extremely uncomfortable and an irritation creeping up on him.

Veruka listened to questions and concerns of Stillwater's crew. "I can see why the Standing Bear was chosen to escort the Gilard," she replied with a small smile. "Your skepticism and caution is warranted. The Ferengi are opportunistic, to put it politely."

"Capitalist with no ethics or morals to be blunter," Stillwater chimed in.

The Rear Admiral nodded. "There is risk in this business arrangement, I'll give you that. The Ferengi could always find a way to cut us out of the deal, but this is a gamble we think will pay off. The Ferengi aren't breathing a word of it, but Starfleet Intelligence has it on good authority the investment districts are about to take a hit, the Ferengi Alliance is teetering on an economic depression in the near future. This would be in their best interest."

Soral said, "Perhaps a motivation to keep them in line."

Stillwater nodded in agreement. "If intel is accurate, that certainly will keep our large lobed friends in line with what we are hoping to do." Barret looked at Veruka "You believe this business arrangement will get my crew back?"

The woman looked confident, her voice echoed it. "Absolutely. There's no deal if there is no ceasefire, no deal without prisoners being released. If they want this deal to happen, they are going to have to give as much as they take."

Soral said nothing. He had his worries but for the moment he would put them aside.

T’Lanna was watching the conversation curiously. “The Ferengi are going to find it distasteful dealing with women, in their culture women aren’t considered to be worthy of dealing with business, or wearing clothes for that matter!”

Stillwater grunted. "She has a point there," he said. "Regardless of the recent Grand Naguses, there is still a stronghold of traditionalist who are not going to take too kindly dealing with a woman, no offense."

Veruka smirked. "None taken, and part of the reason why you are here. I can only do so much when it comes to the Ferengi involvement. You are going to handle the Ferengi end of things. I will handle Ekos and Zeos."

Talarn glanced at Barret again. He was curious if his husband had known this was coming. He started to think about who he would ask to join him to accompany Barret if they had to leave the ship for any of this.

Barret had not known of the Ferengi involvement, just that the Federation had been eyeing a business partner in this. "I haven't had a pleasant experience with the Ferengi recently. Last year, several of my crew rounded up some pirates. Some were Ferengi." He saw the way Talarn was looking at him. "Will I need to leave the Standing Bear?"

The former Admiral sighed. "Ideally, no, but if it is part of the Ferengi terms for negotiations, then you may need to pay them a visit. A D'Kora class marauder should be intercepting us before we reach the system."

Stillwater looked at Talarn and nodded. "Whether we go visit them or they come visit us, have your men ready."

Talarn nodded to Barret, understanding. “If that happens, I will accompany the captain.” He said this in a way that said it was not up for debate.

"Damn right you will," replied Stillwater. "Are there any more surprises?"

Veruka shook her head. "No. Not that I have planned for at least."

Soral listened to everything. He was really for this meeting to be over. Ever minute his fidgeting became harder to control. He was afraid if this went on longer his temper would show.

“Is there anything else we should be aware of before we arrive?” Lieutenant Kingsley asked. She had a hopeful feeling that in addition to getting their crew mates back, her department wouldn’t exactly be stretched on this one.

"Not for the time being," Veruka replied. "We all have a general.idea of what we need to do, and ultimately that's preparation. Captain Stillwater will need to handle the Ferengi, I'll take the lead on the Ekosians and Zeons, but Lieutenant Vali your assistance on both fronts will be appreciated."

Captain Stillwater nodded. "Then let's adjorn this meeting before there's Ferengi walking around the ship. Talarn, get the added security in place around crucial areas, and don't forget the cargobays. You let a Ferengo roam the cargo bays, and you'll be missing a lot next cargo inventory. "

"Agreed. Dismissed," added Veruka Kitan.



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