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Ground Rules

Posted on Monday January 16th, 2017 @ 12:13am by Commander Magnus Sterling

Mission: Enemies Closer
Location: Executive Officer's Office
Timeline: MD 2 1625 Hours

Ramall stood outside Magnus Sterling's office clutching a bronze-colored Cardassian PADD at his side. He tapped it quietly against thigh as he stared at the door chime. He had to be careful with this new crew. Unlike the Deadalus, Greset hadn't been presented with the opportunity to bond with the ship's Gul through battle. Nor did he have a Bajoran to placate and endear himself for his own betterment. He had humans. Lots of them. Ramall inhaled a deep breath of air through his nose and put a smile on his face before pressing the door chime.

Inside, Sterling was going through a small cargo crate on his desk, a pile of PADDs and isolinear boards were pushed off to the side. "Enter," he commanded as he withdraw a fabric bundle from the crate and gingerly began unwrapping the cloth revealing a spherical sculpture about 18 centimeters tall with black lines vaguely resembling isolinear circuitry etched into an opalescent surface. At his touch the center of the sphere seemed to glow dimly, whether that was a trick of the ambient light or his imagination, he could never tell.

Looking up at the parting doors, Sterling recognized the cardassian visage. "Glinn, please excuse the mess, I was just unpacking." Sterling marveled at the sculpture in hand under the overhead light, slowly turning the sphere over, allowing the etched lines to catch the light. "Delightful, isn't it? More than 200,000 years old, it predates the rise of most modern civilizations." He set the sculpture on a cradled base already set on his desk.

"That's a word for it," Ramall observed, approaching Magnus to get a better view of the artifact. "Iconian? T'Kon? Preserver?" He rattled off the small list of ancient civilizations he knew that could produce something so ancient. "How did you come by it?"

"Best guess is Iconian," Sterling admitted. "Found it on a dig on Horst III, near the romulan neutral zone." He continued to study the object. "It was at some point in history a piece of technology, but the ravages of time and decay have rendered it utterly inert. The substrate material, almost looks like a gemstone, is actually a highly engineered molecular crystal, not unlike isolinear chips, but significantly denser. After thorough analysis I held on to the artifact. Perhaps, one day, we can repair the damage and learn what this sphere actually is. Imagine if it were a storage device, what knowledge could it possess?"

"Perhaps the knowledge to undue empires or shatter civilizations, or the final days of the Iconian people before disappearing into the annals of history," Ramall mused. "I didn't take you for an amateur archeologist, Commander, but I must admit I'm generally surprised by the diversity of interests held by Starfleet officers."

Sterling smirked bemusedly and removed the crate from the desk and set it on the floor out of the way. "Prior to arriving here on Excelsior, Archaeology was my full time profession. Starfleet isn't strictly a military organization. It fills a great many roles and serves as a platform for many others." He circled around behind the desk and sat down and gestured towards an open chair for the glinn. "Please have a seat. I suspect you came here for more than idle talk."

"Thank you, Commander," Ramall said with a beaming smile. He sat down and placed the bronze-colored PADD on Sterling's desk. "I cherish any opportunity for idle talk, Commander. More often than not, I have found my presence to be off putting, as Terrans say. It's a new frontier for all of us to be working to closely together. Any chance to have genuine personal conversation is a step in the right direction for both our people, but you are correct. I came with professional intentions. Namely, to understand the boundaries you and the Captain wished to impose on my role here."

Sterling steepled his fingers. "I haven't spoken to the captain about it. Obviously your rank is considered customary but you should be accorded any respects and recognitions commensurate with your rank but no authority in our chain of command. Traditionally observers are permitted unrestricted access to all public facilities aboard ship, and accompanied access to several restricted facilities like the Bridge and Main Engineering. Computer access permission is general access only, same for any visitor. I'm sure you'll be privy to general conferences and briefings, however if any sensitive or restricted topics are anticipated you may not warrant an invitation, as I'm sure you can understand. Considering recent events, it may very well be a good idea to revisit what your role should be aboard Excelsior. We are all in this together now and there's no telling how long it may take to reestablish contact with the Alpha Quadrant, if ever."

"I only hope for a fair opportunity to demonstrate my value, Commander. If we are indeed as isolated and alone as I suspect, I wish to be a help rather than a hinder," Ramall explained, accepting Magnus's restrictions without resistance. For now, at least. "Perhaps now more than ever my assignment of observation may be of use as we find ourselves flung outside the borders of the Federation. Some problems may require creative solutions."

"Indeed," Sterling replied, letting his hands rest on the desk. "I've only known the captain for a short while but he does at least seem to be open to hearing out opinions and suggestions. Perhaps in that regard you should feel free to voice your own insight. However, I recommend that once the captain has made up his mind, not to question his position in view of the crew. I believe there were similar boundaries in the old cardassian order."

Ramall nodded curtly. "Of course, Commander. It would not be fortuitous for me to, as humans say, bite the hand that feeds you. So far removed from the authority of the Federation, I know where my loyalties must lie to survive our trek back to the Alpha Quadrant," He said, smiling all the while. "In the old order, and the new, authority and hierarchy remains tantamount to the survival of our culture. We may have more personal freedom and democratic values, but there are still some things you can't take out of the Cardassian spirit. At least, not yet."

"Nor would we want to," Sterling added. Following the Dominion War, the cardassian people had a great struggle set before them, to rebound and rebuild from near annihilation and reassess their identity as a people. "Cardassians are a hearty people, with much to offer and contribute to the greater interstellar community, in peace, of course." Sterling paused again, wondering what would become of the Federation and Cardassia over the next several years or decades. "Tell me, glinn, where do you see yourself in, say, five years?"

"Back in the Alpha Quadrant, ideally," Ramall answered. "But if we are still stranded out here on a long journey home, I'd prefer to have assumed some degree of responsibility aboard the Excelsior. Even if I am from a different organization, I am still a trained and modestly accomplished officer."

Sterling nodded slowly. "No doubt, but I'd like to get a feel for your interests. Where do you want to take your career?"

"I was slated for command of a Galor-class cruiser, but the shortage of ships and the imposition on ship building limits has left me in a state of limbo, so to speak," Ramall answered cautiously, eyes narrowing on the human. "As for five years from now here, I can only hope that you, and the Captain, come to trust me as a member of the crew and maybe endow me with some responsibilities as more than a foreign observer."

Wordlessly Sterling activated his desk monitor and called up the glinn's service record, or rather what Starfleet records knew of it. The whole of the document seemed pretty sterile, assignments here as such-and-such, and again, and again, however Sterling noted a few gaps where Starfleet was either unaware or suppressing information about the glinn's service. That was worrisome. But what Sterling wanted to see is what skill sets the glinn possessed.

"As you noted before, Starfleet officers have a diversity of interests beyond merely ship-running, command officers' careers often span several different disciplines. I see here you have several years worth of starship tactical operations experience under your belt. Any other expertise you can bring to the table?"

Ramall took a deep breath before answering. He yearned for a drink of something to buy him a few extra seconds of consideration. "Well, I fancy myself as something of an amateur writer in my free time, and I suspect I will have more time than I need to work on my prose," He answered with a lopsided smile. "That and I do like to think I'm something of a history buff."

Sterling of course had his reservations about having a foreign officer integrated into the ship's complement, on the other hand Delta Starfleet had many holes to fill still in the personnel department and experienced officers were at a premium. "While I can't promise anything, glinn, I will discuss this with the captain. In the meantime, how would you like your observations to progress? So far I think your observations have been mostly casual, is there anything or anyone in particular you want to observe at length? Any particular departments or activities that you'd like to focus your attentions on? In other words, what can I do to help you in your efforts?"

"The Union is hoping to learn from Starfleet's penchant for independent thinking and the independence of its officer corps. This is something that the Union continues to discourage, but I believe the new government wishes to adopt or, at least, adapt some of Starfleet's best practices to its own ends. If I could perhaps observe and report on the dynamic you and the Captain share, I may be able to give my people insight," Ramall answered after a few seconds of thoughtful consideration.

"I'm quite certain there will be plenty of opportunity for that. And if I can make any accommodations for you, please let me know." Sterling said, sensing he'd gotten everything he could from the cardassian at this point. "Very well, glinn, if there's nothing else," Sterling said, standing from his set and extending his hand to shake across the desk, "I look forward to learning much more from you."

"And I from you, Commander," Ramall replied with a smile.


Glinn Ramall Greset
Cardassian Self-Defense Force
Foreign Observer


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