Starbase 72 - Minos Korva System
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Negotiations (Part 5 of 5)

Posted on Thu Mar 14th, 2019 @ 9:54pm by Admiral Zachary O'Connell

Mission: Alrakis Updates
Location: USS St. John Talbot, Conference Room
Timeline: May 30, 2389

Thot Senn took his seat, reassuming his vantage point to observe all at the table. Unbeknownst to all, his eyes darted slightly to the left as he observed Admiral O’Connell return to his seat. He knew of O’Connell well, so well in fact, that of all of the Federation members in the room, Senn trusted the man the least, and respected him the most.

His eyes soon returned to the dignitaries from the Federation government. As soon as everyone was mostly settled, an assault of electronic warbles and gurgles flooded from his helmet. The crude translator converted this insult to soundwaves as “The Pact will not relinquish its claim to what you call the Inconnu Expanse. We will, however, agree to keep it open to the Federation under terms.”

“First and foremost,” said Ambassador Hadad who had seated himself in the middle position on the Alrakis Pact side, “is there will be absolutely no colonization or expansion into any Alrakis Pact territory by any Federation subsidiary--not Starfleet, not any of your member worlds, no one.”

The Wi’u’Kai representative was next to speak. “All Federation traffic entering the Expanse will report to one of our checkpoint stations and be inspected upon its arrival and upon its exit.”

Ruvan Vik Tov-AA followed. “We also require a data sharing agreement. Any data collected within the Expanse will be presented to the Alrakis Pact at the aforementioned checkpoints. And, as a gesture of good faith, we require the specifications for your quantum slipstream drive at this time.”

“Finally,” the translator interpreted for the Breen Thot, “your gracious humanitarian relief and aid to disaster areas will be acceptable when needed.”

Amster-Urzon looked to Temple. As the lead negotiator, it was up to the Secretary to accept or deny. If it were me, the Grazerite thought, I would request time to consider the offer. What Temple would do, he did not know. Obviously, sharing slipstream technology was out of the question.

There it was. The hard line. It was clear to Magnus that the group had rehearsed their response, likely under direction from their Breen instructor. They were cutting to the chase, to use a well-worn phrase, and now the Federation knew what the Alrakis Pact wanted.

Malcolm kept a blank expression. Inspections were out of the question as were the specifications to a quantum slipstream drive. The Secretary knew the same.

The Secretary’s face was a calm, blank expression. He took a long moment to respond, far longer than what was necessary, as he looked to each and every member of the Pact one by one. Finally he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. Now the Alrakis Pact would know the Federation’s hard line.

“It’s a start.” Magnus replied, his tone dry. “We can agree on colonisation restrictions. Our ships will report to checkpoints in the Carnwennan and Inconnu Corridors, however any inspection will pertain to allowing our ships to be scanned by your sensors. Alakris Pact personnel may only board Federation ships if so invited by our crew. Data sharing is acceptable, as long as it is reciprocal arrangement whereby the Federation receives data in response.”

“As for gestures of goodwill.” Magnus paused, as if deciding whether or not to proceed. But then he silently moved a PADD to the center of his table, while his gaze turned directly and pointedly to Thot Senn. “Sharing undeveloped tech is not possible. However, what we can offer is our latest intelligence on the movements of the Cardassian Union in the Expanse.”

P’niia blinked for a second there and looked calmly at her side to Magnus. Was he really going to lay down sensitive information on the table?! P’niia was not amused by it, but was not going to show any facial expression on the matter ‘That idiot is going to shove more political drama if the Union finds out about this deal’ she thought. This was going into another political outburst, P’niia knew that for sure as the Breen will gracely accept such offer.

Malcolm noticed the subtle blinking from the President’s Special Advisor. He was surprised she didn’t know about the arrangement.

Senn slightly leaned his head to the left, unable to contain his surprise at the Secretary’s offer. The Breen had anticipated the pushback to boarded inspections, and to the propulsion technology, but he had not expected it to be so easy. He did desire a chance to look at the slipstream specifications, but there were other ways of doing so, and the Federation had plenty of targets close by that could allow for that. Senn did however find value in the offering of Cardassian intelligence, even though they already had enough eyes and ears on the new and unwelcome border. “And if there is reasonable cause to board a Federation starship?”

“What do you consider to be ‘reasonable’, Thot?” the Grazerite inquired.

If only the Grazerite could see the Breen’s eyes narrow. “Theft. Piracy. Removing citizens of the expanse under the false flag of asylum.”

“I see,” Amster-Urzon replied simply. He leaned back in his chair and spent a moment studying the Breen across the table. “I am curious, jata’Uwe, how you would determine whether an asylum claim is false or not,” he finally said, directing his comment to the Wi-u-Kai emissary.

“This is very simple. None of our peoples would claim asylum. Therefore any claims from you, or your ships saying that would clearly be a lie.” She replied. For her people, at least, anyone who did not conform was simply reeducated.

“I see,” was all the Federation Security Advisor said in reply. She’s lying. But why? he questioned himself. Maybe she thinks that if she says it enough, it will become truth. Or maybe she’s trying to gaslight us. He took a slow look around the room; he needed to get a read on the other Pact representatives. The most obvious path forward, thinking beyond the immediate negotiation, was to find the weak link in the Pact, the member who would more prone to defaulting on the Pact’s alliance. The member who could be flipped. At present, it seemed like the Alrakis Pact was a permanent player in the realm of interstellar politics, but such alliances were, historically, prone to weakening. That was his overarching interest in these meetings.

“Let’s set aside what jata’Uwe just said,” he vocalized, steepling his fingers, “and I’ll pose a hypothetical. Not that I doubt you, jata’Uwe, but because I like to be prepared. What would happen if someone did request asylum, as unlikely as it might be? I think it is important to consider these sorts of scenarios.” Amster-Urzon looked at Hadad. “What would you suggest be the course of action in such a case, Ambassador?”

Hadad’s mouth ticked up in a grin that did not touch his eyes. “I would suggest that many Federation citizens may begin requesting asylum within our borders. Particularly prominent members of scientific think-tanks, industrial firms, economic exchange managers, and the like. Would the Federation delegation present today agree to such individuals receiving sanctuary within our borders?”

“As I said in my opening statements,” Magnus leaned forward as he spoke. “The Federation recognises the Alrakis Pact’s sovereignty over the Inconnu Expanse, and we will not transport any of your citizens out of the region without your express permission. The prospect of neighbourly migration between our territory and yours, is better suited to a formal agreement with detailed processes. Today, we are here to find the terms on which the Federation and the Pact can avoid hostilities and lay the groundwork for future relations.”

Future relations. Thot Senn considered the future of all relations with the Federation to be non-existent unless the Federation served a purpose. Right now, that purpose was to allow the Alrakis Pact to observe them closely, learn of the enemy and their tactics. During the Dominion War, he had overheard an ancient Terran axiom: ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ That would be precisely what he would do. “If your vessels and your Starfleet abide by our conditions, then there will be no reason for hostilities, Secretary.”

Looking first to Senn and then the others, Hadad nodded. “I concur.”

“As do we.” The Tzenkethi replied sharply.

jata’Uwe Ekzi thought for a moment. “I also agree. Let us hope the Federation abides by the conditions. Not that we doubt you, of course.” She let the words hang in the air for a few seconds.

“Of course.” Magnus replied, the polite smile returning to his face. He gave the slightest of nods to the aides in the room and they immediately walked forwards and dispensed a PADD in front of each of the visiting representatives.

“In front of you is the draft list of terms we’ve agreed upon today, digital copies will be transferred to your ships upon the completion of this meeting.” The Secretary explained. “I assume we will each need to take these terms to our respective governments for approval. I suggest a window of no more than three months, after which we may reconvene for an official signing ceremony or re-negotiations.”

Thot Senn verbalized his acknowledgement of the Secretary’s assumption, as well as his confirmation that the Domo would have to approve such an accord. “I will,” the translator droned, “have to take your intelligence to the Domo for verification.”

“Once the draft terms have been approved by our respective Governments, we can share the intel.” Temple replied firmly. “The Domo will verify the information and we will be able to sign the agreement in good faith.”

This did not please Thot Senn in the slightest. He did understand Temple’s position as a negotiator, and all Senn could hope would be that the intelligence possessed value and didn’t contain any repeat information that his sources had already gathered.

jata’Uwe Ekzi picked up the tablet. “This will be transmitted to the esh’Wara jata’Zhe immediately.” replied, as the Tzenkethi delegate merely looked at the device for a few moments and placed it back on the table.

“However, we should not leave today without something in place,” Magnus continued, picking up his PADD, “I have suggested an interim treaty that will cover us for the duration of the agreement process. This Non-Aggression Treaty states that forces of the United Federation of Planets and the members of the Alrakis Pact agree to a period of neutrality, whereby parties shall not engage in any hostile military action against the other. We also agree to remain neutral in the event of a signatory engaging in military action against a third party. The NAT has a set time frame of three months, unless superseded or cancelled earlier by agreement of all signatories.”

The Breen Thot eyed the Secretary carefully. Throughout the entire ordeal, the human had seemed to maintain careful control of every action, every word, every expression, every detail. Temple appeared to be nothing more than a skilled diplomat, as one would expect from a person holding his position in the Federation. If all proceeded as expected, the Federation would still be able to explore their precious expanse, and today the Pact had seen to it that the Federation would be able to pollute it no longer.

Senn picked up his padd and reviewed its contents slowly. The text had kindly been translated by the Federation into what they assumed they knew of the Breen language. The gaps in their knowledge and the many improperly conjugated words gave him little hope of what intelligence the Federation possessed on the Cardassians. “In addition to non-agression, shall we expect that Federation vessels will abide by the colonization, expansion, and inspection conditions we have outlined today? If they will not, then I see no value in such a treaty.”

Temple mused on the Breen’s suggestion. It had been clear from the beginning that the Thot was in control of the Alrakis Pact’s negotiations; the others were mere seat-fillers to Senn’s performance. He dipped his head slightly in reply, “Our interim treaty can include such terms, seeing as we’re agreeing to them formally in our official agreement anyway. The main purpose is to ensure our two great coalitions cannot be drawn into war while we negotiate peace. There are many people who would rather see the Federation and Alrakis Pact at each other’s throats, rather than at a signing ceremony.”

Peace, thought Senn. The word was cherished only by the weak. In an imperial sense, peace had its purpose, providing opportunities to learn, reinforce and regroup. In this instance, it would allow the Confederacy to study the Federation more closely than ever before. As for those who would rather see the Federation fight the Alrakis, besides the Cardassians, Thot Senn found himself among that number. One day, they would rid the Expanse of the Federation cancer, reclaim the systems lost to Cardassian annexation, and reassert its claim over the Lagashi and the Valoris Nebula.

Alas, that day was not today, and Senn would bide his time carefully until then. “The treaty must include such terms, Secretary Temple. It is the only way you will obtain a Breen signature.”

“Or a Talarian one,” Hadad added quickly, refusing to relegate the Talarians to the position of an afterthought.

Trying to resist to roll her eyes at this conversation “I think we all can agree that such treaty must come to an agreement from both sides. We hold onto ourrr part of the bargain as you hold onto yourrrs. This is, after all a two way street” P’niia spoke calmly and kept her posture in this conversation that was hopefully drawing to an end.

“Then we’re in agreement.” Magnus said, in a way that was borderline between pleasant and instructive. “I will amend the Non-Aggression Treaty to include the terms.” He looked down at his PADD and made a few button presses. Having anticipated this outcome, it was a simple matter of copying and pasting the text into the interim agreement. As soon as he was done, the treaty was updated on the other PADDs. “There. Any other issues before we come to a conclusion?” The Dane knew he was tempting fate by asking the question but he was feeling just a little bit unstoppable today.

Senn looked down once more at the silver device. The crudely translated Breen still offended him, yet his translation of the Terran words was accurate enough for him to verify that there was not any hidden language. He tapped a small sequence of buttons to affix his signature to the end of the document. “I have no issues to present, Secretary.” After all, it was the Federation that requested the meeting, not the Breen.

Snatching the PADD from Senn, Ambassador Hadad placed his signature as well. He spared no words, as was fitting in what he viewed as a stalemate. The Wi’u’Kai and Tzenkethi members followed suit.

Malcolm observed the exchange. It wasn’t exactly the scene of the Khitomer Accords, yet it was a start.

As he looked around the room slowly, Amster-Urzon decided that the negotiations had been fruitful. Yes, a treaty had been tentatively agreed to, but valuable information had been learned as well. He wondered what the Alrakis Pact representatives had learned about the Federation from this engagement. And whether the treaty was going to be enough to successfully maintain détente.

It came to this agreement, but somehow P’niia didn’t feel as pleased as she had hoped. Sacrifices were made to save the negotiations, yet P’niia wondered if the offer would bite back at them in a later situation. First the Pact, who was going to be next?

“Well then,” Magnus had managed to keep that smile on his face like the whole operation depended upon it, to the point his cheek started to twinge. There were at the summit, they only had to plant the flag now. He would endure. “It is my honour to sign this Interim Non-Aggression Treaty on behalf of the United Federation of Planets and call this conference to a close. Barring any further developments, we shall meet again in a period of three months to finalise our formal agreement. Thank you for your attendance today and your cooperation towards a peaceful resolution. I strongly believe this was a significant achievement for the Inconnu Expanse and the Alpha Quadrant. I wish you all a safe journey home.”

The delegates were ushered out of the room first, not by design, but by their request. Admiral Zachary O’Connell watched them leave from the discomfort of his own stool. Today had been productive. While he had been relieved that he no longer had to order the remaining few Starfleet assets out of the Expanse, Zachary had a feeling that this was just but a rough start to even rougher relations with the Alrakis Pact.


~FIN~

 

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