New Xenarth, 2372
The Aggregate Chambers had been a quite impressive building once, or at least so Amaya Donners believed.
It still maintained its spiral design and it still reached far above the surrounding towers, making it the clear focal point within the largest dome within the biggest city on New Xenarth.
But like many other structures on the planet, it had not fared the destruction of its moon particularly well. Most of the façade was now crumbling and the insides didn’t look much better either. It didn’t help that given recent events the Xenarth hadn’t really had time to do much of a clean-up.
At least the Colony Hall, the room which the Aggregate used to hold council and consider petitions from the people had been given a good sweep before Donners had arrived along with Captain Glover, Counselor Vej and Commander Chen.
“I am not entirely convinced of the structural soundness of this building,” the chief engineer said as he eyed the high and cracked ceiling suspiciously.
“That could be part of their plan,” the counselor said with a little smirk “Put us into their most decrepit building and have it come down on top of us. Might solve some of their problems.”
Chen turned to look at the Ullian, his feelers standing erect with concern.
“That was a joke,” he quickly clarified.
Only then to watch with wide-open eyes as a whole chunk of a wall mural depicting the Xenarth exodus from their original home world, dropped to the floor with a loud thud.
But Donners seemed to be much more interested in the mural itself, the part that still remained on the wall, then the possible danger of being buried by it.
Glover joined her. “You’re still sure about this? I can take this if you like.”
She shot him a sidelong glance.
The other captain raised his hands in surrender. “Hey, I just remember the last time you tried to broker a peace and that didn’t exactly end in smiles and sunshine.”
“That was a different audience,” she said and turned back to study the mural. “And I really thought that after leading the assault team to take care of the Omega molecule I’d get a little more credit.”
“I’m not saying that you didn’t do a good job with that, Maya. You did. But negotiating with the leadership cadre of an entire planet is not the same as leading a strike team and you know that.”
She nodded. “Remind me the last time you did that?” Maya said without gracing him with another look.
He sighed. “Not exactly in my job description,” he said. “But I’ve tangled with a few heads of state from time to time.”
“Look at that,” she said and pointing at a part of the mural, clearly eager to change the subject and move on.
“Are those … Borg cubes?”
She nodded. “Ket told me about this. The Borg came after the Xenarth on their home world and were the main reason why they unwisely accelerated their plans to use the Omega molecule to power their star portals. The results were catastrophic,” she said and considered another depiction which showed scores of Xenarth loosing their lives when their technology failed to work the way they had hoped. “Millions of them died during their attempt to transport to their mythical realm of Xendaru and they landed here instead.”
“On the bright side, all of them would’ve been wiped out by the Borg if they didn’t use the star portal at all.”
Maya nodded. “True. But we know what the Borg were after. They had no interest in the Xenarth at all. They just wanted the Omega molecule at any cost.”
The captain of the Cuffe
found another mural of interest. This one too depicted the arrival of the Borg and the destruction of the Xenarth colonies and fleets but also something else.
Donners noticed his sudden interest. “What do you see?”
Terrence pointed out the many other starships, clearly not of Xenarth origin, fleeing the Borg. Some appeared massive in size, almost as large as the Borg cubes themselves. “If I’m not mistaken there are at least ten different types of ships depicted here, all fleeing the Borg, all because of what the Xenarth created and what apparently made the Borg stop at nothing to get for themselves.”
“If you’re right, the implications could be immense. Entire races made refugees by the Borg’s single-minded aim, not of assimilation but to get their hands on Omega.”
“Yes,” he said. “And they would all have to head somewhere, wouldn’t they?”
She understood his concern. A fleet of refugee ships on that scale could easily disrupt the stability of any sector. Perhaps even an entire quadrant. But Donners forced herself to focus on their more immediate problem. After all there was no indication that those who had been displaced by the Borg’s fanatical pursuit of Omega had all decided to head towards the Federation. “What I take away from this is that the Xenarth have a justified fear of the Borg. Something we have clearly seen from their own actions.”
Glover didn’t miss the little twinkle in her eye. “What are you thinking?”
She finally turned away from the mural with a little smile playing on her lips. But before she could elaborate any further, the Xenarth Aggregate, what remained of it, finally entered the chamber after having left their visitors to wait for almost an hour.
There were only two of them left and Ket had briefed them in detail on the two individuals and their respective castes before departing for the planet.
The Supreme, Scholar Queen Klestra, was dead, killed in the blast which had destroyed Apogee, one of their moons and the site of their primary Omega facility. The Warrior Queen, Samma, had been dispatched in combat by Lieutenant Mer’iab and Sh’Fane on Zenith, their second and now neutralized facility.
That only left the ultra-devout Cleric Queen, Nadelphi, and the efficient but introverted Liphra, leader of the numerous but mostly impuissant worker caste.
The two queens had brought two dozen armed guards with them, four of which remained close to their leaders while the rest quickly spread out to completely surround the room as well as the Starfleet delegation.
It had clearly been meant as a demonstration of strength but Maya couldn’t help but interpret it as a gesture born out of fear.
Donners tugged on the bottom of her uniform jacket and then shot her companions a quick look to let them know to assemble around her as she faced off the Aggregate.
“Starfleet,” Queen Nadelphi said, her disdain obvious in her voice. “Know that you are not the first who have attempted to invade and conquer the great Xenarth Colony. The God-Queen stands with us, her righteous children, and with her blessing we shall prevail against you and all those who stand to oppose us.”
Maya fought the urge to roll her eyes. “Honorable Queen Nadelphi, we have asked for this meeting to discuss recent events and what should happen next. You have agreed for us to come here and therefore I have been under the impression that we were your guests.”
The Cleric Queen tensed noticeably. “You’d expect us to welcome you after the atrocities you have committed against our own? You are not just invaders, you are fools.”
“I may give you fools, but we’re not invaders,” Glover said with a smirk.
His humor apparently didn’t translate well into Xenarth and he merely received a blank look in return from Nadelphi.
“May we sit down?” Maya asked.
Liphra answered before the Cleric Queen had a chance. “You may,” she said and then, when she received an angry look from her fellow queen, “They are correct that we have agreed to this meeting. Now that they are here, we may as well listen to them speak.”
Nadelphi wasn’t any more pleased but she made no efforts to stop them either.
Donners and her delegation took chairs around a crescent shaped table which faced five elevated chairs one for each member of the Aggregate. Liphra and Nadelphi awkwardly took their seats, momentarily considering if they should sit next to each other, apparently, before they settled on their designated positions which so happened to be at exact opposite ends.
“Speak then, human,” the Cleric Queen said, “and let it be over with.”
Maya took a deep breath before she began. “First, I wish it to be made known that I greatly regret the actions which we were forced to take against your people and the lives, on both sides, which were lost because of it. But I am convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that if we had not done what we did, the consequences would have been far worse for all of us.”
“This is how you justify an attack on us?” Nadelphi fumed.
“I shall remind you that the opening shot was fired by your people, not mine,” said Donners, keeping her voice calm and steady. “And you made your intentions abundantly clear when you utilized your Xendaru particle as a weapon against us. And in doing so you not only destroyed your own moon, killing thousands, you severely damaged this entire region of space and put at risk the entire quadrant. Our actions, as despicable as they may appear to you, were carried out only to ensure the safety of this solar system and countless others beyond it.”
“And you simply expect us to believe these outrageous claims? That we have somehow damaged our own home?”
As if on cue, another large piece of the mural fell off the wall, causing everyone in the room to turn suddenly at the loud noise of the pieces shattering on the floor.
Donners turned back to face them. “I believe the evidence is obvious,” she said and suppressed a little smile she felt coming on. Then she quickly recalled the seriousness of this meeting and instantly sobered up again. “And we will be able to provide you with a great amount of raw and untreated data we have been able to collect which you will be able to study so you may learn of the damage this Xendaru particle is capable off and what it already caused.”
“Let us assume that you speak the truth, Captain,” said Liphra. “What is it you have come here to propose?”
“Preposterous,” the cleric responded immediately. “Besides, we have already made an arrangement with the Romulans.”
“You may notice that your new, so-called friends are not here,” said Glover. “In fact once they realized that you no longer posses the Omega molecule, they turned around and left you to your own devices.”
Donners nodded. “That was their only interest in you.”
“And you are different?” asked Liphra.
“The Federation is an alliance between many different races. Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, Ullians,” she said and pointed at her counselor. “All working together for the common good. And we’re not limited to humanoids either as you can tell from Commander Chen who is a Xinid-Insectoid, not too different from the Xenarth.”
Nadelphi considered this for a moment, studying the Starfleet engineer who possessed undeniable similarities to her own race. “If you believe that you are simply able to parade your subject races to us in order to make us believe in your words, you are an even greater fool than I believed. We shall never subjugate ourselves to your Federation tyranny.”
“I see the Romulan propaganda machine is as efficient as ever,” Vej said under his breath.
“There is no subjugation involved,” Donners said. “In fact I am not even proposing that you become a Federation member. At least not yet. That process is a long and drawn-out affair which could take years until both sides believe themselves ready for such a significant commitment. But we could take the first step here today by agreeing to become friends.”
Nadelphi stood suddenly. “I say again, we have no interest in becoming your friend, Captain,” she said, all but ready to bolt out of the room.
Glover shot Maya a quick look to let her know that this wasn’t going very well. Of course at this point she didn’t have to be told.
That little glint was back in her eye and she leaned forward slightly, her voice taking on a much harder edge. “There is of course another issue you should consider before you make up your mind on this.”
“I doubt there is anything else you can say which would cause us to reconsider,” the Cleric Queen said.
“With the latest events you are no longer as isolated as you would like to think. The Romulan border is just a few hours away and they have already shown an interest in you once. If you cannot bring yourself to believe that our intentions are friendly, than you have no reason to believe that the Romulans would be any more cordial towards you.”
“You claimed the Romulans have no longer any interest in us,” said Liphra.
Glover took that one. “There is this saying. Never turn your back on a Romulan. Well, actually it’s never turn your back on a Breen but it works on Romulans just as well. Trust me, they’ll be back. Maybe not tomorrow but soon and they’ll take from you whatever they can exploit.”
“And then of course there are the Borg,” Maya said and could tell by both their body language that they were immediately put on edge by her mention of the cyborg race which had already brought such suffering to their people.
“In fact one of their vessels still remains in your system. You tried to destroy them before but they survived and they are rebuilding their ship as we speak. Check your own sensors, they are heading for your planet right now.”