SD242101.05 - Joint Duty Log - DA & NPCs (Grey) - "The Trade Deal"
=^= Docking Bay 3 =^=
Security made their way down a long line of people, stretching from port alpha all the way through the bay and down the corridor. Suitcases and bags, backpacks and pockets; everything that could contain other things was being pressed into service and pushed to its absolute limit. Between the black hole, the routine power cuts, and the round of Klingon interrogations a while back, many had gotten wind of the next adventure and swiftly book a seat on an evacuation shuttle.
The line was bound by stanchions, which were waist-high and projecting a glowing band of light towards their neighbours on each side. Kids amused themselves by running their fingers through the beam, and their parents enjoyed the temporary respite. These were few in number though, as most kids were still off-station, or old enough to know better.
On the other side of the glowing line, a handful were gathered behind a more tangible barrier with a security gate, waiting for people to arrive. Security kept a watchful eye here, ensuring that no crooked types tried to board while the station was in dissarray.
A clunk could be heard down the hall as someone docked with the outer port in a hurry. Probably an on-comission pilot eager to unload their few inbound passengers and pack their craft to the rafters with overcharged evacuees.
The reinforced port ground open in a hurry, revealing less than a dozen passengers being "encouraged" to leave the passenger ship quicker. Despite this, the one Bolian in the crowd never lost his amiable smile, and bowed deeply to the ship's crew before stepping into the dock proper.
Taking a moment to breathe, seemingly ignorant of the sudden rush of outgoing passengers through the port behind him, the ambassador joined the queue of people lined up at the security gate. While his expression remained good-natured, his eye took on an analytical glint as it scanned the group beyond the gate, looking for the person here to meet him.
"Sir, your documentation please." declared the overmuscled Security officer before him, snapping the Bolian's attention back to the present. With swift hands, documents were produced and handed over. After a moment's consideration, along with the usual suite of scans, the documents were returned.
"Welcome to Versailles Ambassador." said the officer.
"Thank you lad." the Bolian replied, tucking the documents into his tunic and stepping through the gate and into the station's welcome area.
She hated having to hurry. Alee had at least made it in time. Barely. She slowed her pace at the sight of the security station. "Has the ambassador arrived?", she asked the security officer as she scanned her surroundings. She noticed a few people present, but she wasn't sure how the ambassador looked like. She just prayed that the ambassador hadn't been waiting for too long.
A blue hand reached out from the crowd, tapping the flustered Lieutenant on the shoulder.
"I think you are looking for me." he announced, giving a polite bow. "Xiken Nanin, at your service."
Alee turned to look at the man. Relief flooded her. "Welcome to Versailles, Ambassador. I'm Aleethia Sacraterra, the Diplomat's Aide. I'm the one who will be in on your meeting with the representatives. A pleasure to meet you", Alee said with a bow. She studied the man. She had heard Bolians were very polite. Hopefully she could show the same kind of respect that she felt this man possessed.
"Likewise, my dear." replied the ambassador, offering a warm smile.
Around them, the handful of passengers leaving the ship had long since left, accompanied by the family and friends here to meet them. On the other side of the glowing divide, the queue of people lining up for the ship was getting louder. A pair of Security officers were doing their best to keep order, but it was quickly becoming clear that more had expected to board the craft than were actually being allowed in.
When one of the ship's crew tried to shut the door and leave, the larger of the officers toggled an override next to the port, locking the ship in place. What followed was one-half of a conversation as the Security officer spoke directly with the ship's Captain over the comm, and eventually discovered that the Captain had over-sold his ship; hoping that the reported chaos on the station would prevent too many passengers showing up.
As the crowd got wind of this, the shoving began, and then the punching.
"Perhaps we should make haste to the negotiation venue?" the Bolian suggested, raising his voice to be heard over the shouting.
"That sounds like a good plan", Alee said. "This way". She led the ambassador towards the Diplomats' offices. She managed to get them around the worst of the mass of people. "My apologies for not being here when you arrived", she told the man. She hoped that she could manage the coming task of sitting in on the negotiations. It was her first task after all. Ah well, she thought. She would learn.
"Yes, well, station affairs must take priority I suppose. Matters of intrigue and importance held you up, I've no doubt." said the ambassador, nodding sagely as he was led away from the tumultuous throng and deeper into the winding corridors of the station. "I shan't pry, of course." he assured her, tapping the side of his nose and giving a conspirital wink.
Alee grinned to the ambassador. He was easy to talk to. "I admit I did get lost on my way here", she said. "I haven't been here for long. But I certainly like the diversity of people living on the Versailles. I have nod doubt I will come to love it here", she went on as she led the way to to the docks where the offices belonging to the diplomats were located. "I haven't gotten word that the representatives have arrived yet", she told the ambassador as she saw the door to the office area. "This way" with that she led Xiken into the Diplomats' quarters. She had already picked out a meeting room and had gotten water brought there.
Though the diplomat did purse his lips at the thought of a cool, refreshing drink, he elected to avoid the jug for now. The negotiations could be a simple matter of exchanging terms, and he didn't want to interrupt the flow of the session with a bathroom break.
Then, something the Lieutenant had said sunk in a little more, and he frowned.
"Do pardon me, but did you say the colonial representatives have not yet arrived? I'm sure they were meant to be here before me..." he trailed off, popping the catches on his suitcase and extracting a padd. His thumb flicked a few times as he scrolled through the display, and his frown only deepened as his concerns were confirmed.
"The most recent information I got, they were delayed because of issues within their group. It sounded like they weren't completely on the same page about this meeting", Alee told him with a shrug. "I spoke with one of the clerks on my way to meet with you, Ambassador. There was quite a bit of shouting in the background. I hope they won't cancel this meeting. You have come quite a way to meet with them. Also, as far as I know, both sides will benefit from this trading offer. From what I've read, this particular group has caused quite a few problems in the past", she went on, thinking about what she had said.
Her head started to pound. It was the 3rd time in 4 days. She would visit the Medical Officer's office at next given chance. Hopefully it wasn't anything serious.
"Oh dear." said the Ambassador, tucking the padd back inside his suitcase. "Well, if we aren't sure that the representatives will be arriving, then we should find out. The young may have hours to fritter away on this affair, but I'm afraid nature will not afford me such an indulgence."
As the ambassador chattered away, his hand felt the inside of his suitcase for another inner pocket. Eventually, he withdrew an old comms device and clicked it open, holding it to his ear like an old-fashioned telephone.
"Ambassador Nanin to Colonial Representative group two-theta."
"Ambassador Dayton's office. How may I direct your call?" replied a woman's voice, prim and proper.
"I would like to speak with-" began the Bolian, cutting himself off at the sound of a raised voice over the comm.
"Is that him?" growled a man, "I'm gonna give that piece of blue trash a piece of my mind! Who does he think he-"
"Enough!" barked another male voice, this one tempered with the steely edge of authority. "You had your chance to argue your case, and you were outvoted! We *are* going ahead with the deal!"
"It's a rotten deal and you know it!" shouted the first voice, causing the Bolian to arch an eyebrow. "Just because a few farmers like what they're selling, we have to-"
"I. Don't. Care! The meeting's due to start in a short while and we need to....what is it Catherine?"
"Sir," said the female voice, "I was trying to tell you earlier, but you were busy. Ambassador Nanin arrived early. I expect that's why he's calling. The meeting got moved up."
"Oh sonova...wait, is that him on the comm?" asked the authoratative voice. "Can he hear us?"
"Oh, yes, sir."
"I'm not finished!" whined the first male voice.
"Then you're staying here. Catherine, please apologise to the Ambassador on my behalf and tell him I'll be there in two ticks."
"Yes sir." said the female voice, slightly muffled by the sound of a door opening and closing. "Ambassador Nanin," she continued, louder this time, "Ambassador Drayton would like to apologise for the shouting, and assures you that he will be arriving shortly."
"Very well. I shall await his arrival." Nanin stated, shortly.
Closing the comm and tucking it back into his luggage, he looked up at the Lieutenant and offered a reassuring smile.
"I think I will have some of that water, if you please?"
"Of course", Alee replied and took a glass from the table. She poured some water from the pitcher and handed the glass to the Ambassador. "Hopefully, you won't have to wait too long", she said. "Is there anything else you'd like while waiting? If you want, I can get a bowl of fruit delivered", she then offered.
"After the session, I may see what your replicators can provide in the way of traditional Bolian cuisine." Nanin mused, stroking his chin. "However, I fear the smell of rotting meat may offend those of a more...sensitive disposition." he added, giving a conciliatory smile to his host.
Thankfully, before the diplomat could offer more details, the sound of rapid footfalls could be heard out in the hall. They grew louder quickly, then stopped as the runner paused for breath, before chiming his way into the room.
"Ambassador Nanin, I'm Ambassador Drayton." said a man with black hair and grey streaks; choking a little as he struggled to force the words out despite being breathless.
"Yes, we spoke over the comm, before all of this black hole business put paid to non-essential communication. Please, sit. Water?"
"Oh yes, please." Drayton replied. Giving a polite nod to the Lieutenant in the room, he helped himself to a glass of water from the tray; trying to remain dignified as he squeezed a few breaths inbetween gulps.
"In my younger days," said Drayton, setting the glass back down, "I would have made that journey in a third the time, with barely an effort."
"In my younger days, I expect I'd have robbed you blind on the stairwell." replied Nanin with a twinkly-eyed smile. "Time makes soft old men of us all. No offence, Lieutenant." he added, directing that last comment to Aleethia.
"None taken", Alee assured Ambassador Nanin and turned to Ambassador Drayton. "I hope you weren't rushed too much here. I understand that there has been trouble?", she said. "If so, I hope it wasn't too serious", Alee added, wondering what else to say. She knew that there had been trouble within Drayton's own faction, which was why he had been delayed. She also knew that far from everyone in Drayton's faction were happy about this trade deal.
"Not all of my esteemed colleagues are in favour of this deal." Drayton admitted, helping himself to a chair. "It's the nature of democracy, I'm afraid. Ask ten people if they'd like a free meal, and there will always be one who'd rather go hungry. Sadly that one has a key code to my office. C'est la vie."
"Say lavee?" asked Nanin, confused.
"Such is life. Whether you like it or not. It's a human expression." Drayton explained, waving it away.
"Ah, well then. Shall we begin?"
"Truthfully, I don't think there's too much to discuss." admitted Drayton, producing a padd and passing it across the table. "We've added the usual legal formalities around the terms we discussed over the comms, along with approvals from a Starfleet-approved cross-cultural lawyer. There are a few additions, which I've tagged in blue."
"Yes, I see. Ten percent more fertilizer, with a proportional increase in payment. Machinery loans to enable Project 2179. Which is....oh, appendix C. Hmm mmm." Nanin mumbled, flopping through the relevant appendix.
"It's a project focused on re-"
"I can read." Nanin interrupted, calmly. Drayton bit his tongue as the Bolian flipped through the terms and conditions.
"The rental terms are mostly acceptable. The soil analysis, however, looks questionable. Our machines may be able to help, or they may just make the whole region worse, depending on the radiation levels in your soil. If it gets any worse than the radiation level in your samples, the machines will just turn the region toxic. So I can't guarantee results."
"But Bolian technology is so advanced..."
"Don't you even try to butter me up, boy. It's demeaning to both of us." Nanin snapped, flashing a short glare at his counterpart.
"In any event," Nanin continued, "the machine rental conditions are acceptable, so long as you remove the bit where you receive a refund if it doesn't restore your soil. Lieutenant, your thoughts?" he added, wondering what Starfleet's position was.
Alee thought it over. "I understand that Ambassador would like a refund if the soil isn't restored. But, I do not think it would be a fair deal. The time where the machine is rented is time it isn't being used for Ambassador Nanin's people. I do believe the refund isn't an available option, if the trade deal is to benefit both both sides", she said slowly.
She knew it would probably make Drayton angry that she hadn't sided with him. But it didn't seem fair to her that the man could demand a refund when the machine wouldn't be working for the Bolian people in the time it was rented out. To her, Nanin was more than fair. He hadn't been demanding, nor unfair. In fact, she had also gotten a copy of the trade deal and had read it earlier. She sighed inwardly and watched for the 2 men's responses to what she had said.
Drayton, who had expected this but didn't have to like it, gave both of them a stony look before forcing his face into congenial smile that looked both frightening and painful.
"Very well." he managed, editing the padd to remove the refund clause on the machinery, before passing it back to the Bolian Ambassador.
"Then we have a deal. Witnessed and signed." Nanin replied, placing his thumbprint on the document. Drayton did the same in short order, and the padd was presented to the Starfleet representative.
"We need your thumbprint as evidence that both of us met here today," explained Nanin, gesturing to himself and Drayton, "and that this document was signed by us, of our free will. No forgers, duress, etcetera."
"Of course", Alee replied and placed her thumbprint on the padd. She noticed the look on Drayton's face and wondered whether this would be the last of the issues with him and his people or not. She had a notion that this would only be the beginning of a long, hard, albeit quiet, fight with Drayton on several trade deals. Hopefully she was wrong. She would report to the Chief Ambassador and tell her everything.
=^= End of Log =^=
Lieutenant Aleethia Sacraterra