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[2010: JUL-AUG] Two Wrongs


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Two Wrongs

The USS Unity gently dropped into orbit above the dark side of Gamma Beta Epsilon VI. Which was, Ambassador Yelsik thought to himself wryly, was probably the last time the planet beneath them would be referred to by that name. Outside of academy astronomy lessons, anyway.

Soon the cumbersome title would be dropped and replaced with something much simpler; Orrus, the name the planet was known by it’s natural inhabitants. Assuming the Orrusians were successful in their application to join the Federation of course.

It wasn’t the first time Yelsik had been involved with the rewriting of star charts. The Federation was always growing, discovering new civilizations. Some would refuse to have anything to do with the explorers, still others would react with hostility, but many recognised what the Federation was trying to achieve and wanted to be a part of that goal.

Yelsik turned his gaze from the dark planet below and spoke.

“Thank you for the lift, Captain. I trust everything is in order?”

Captain O’Neill smiled as he looked up from his command chair at the elderly Andorian. The two of them had been involved in diplomatic missions before and had built a respectful friendship.

“Of course, Ambassador. We’ve already established standard communications with the Orrusians, they’re waiting for our signal.”

“Very good.” Yelsik nodded. “Well I guess there’s no time like the present?”

O’Neill stood and straightened the dress uniform he was wearing for the occasion before leading the way to the lift.

“Deck three.” He waited until Yelsik was beside him and the doors had closed before speaking again. “What do you make of the Orrusians, Ambassador? Off the record that is.”

Yelsik shrugged slightly. “On paper they make good candidates. Advanced, industrious. The planet is rich with several unique crystals. They’d make a fine addition to the Federation. Off the record? Well, that is the purpose of these little visits, isn’t it? The preliminary communications have gone well, I see no reason for any serious issues.”

“First contact wasn’t exactly free of issues.”

Yelsik waved a hand, his delicate antennae bobbing with the motion. “A misunderstanding, happens all the time. No, this is where we find out about them for real, Captain, face to face.

O’Neill merely nodded. The lift stopped and the two men walked the short distance to the transporter room. Lieutenant Gambar had already assembled a security team there, just in case. The Captain and Ambassador took up positions in front of the console and O’Neill nodded to the chief.

“Transport.”

The familiar blue swirl faded to reveal five figures before them. The Orrusians were taller even than a Nausicaan and, in O’Neill’s opinion, only slightly better looking. Their copper coloured carapace gave off a almost iridescent sheen under the lights and their four legs looked so frail it was amazing they could support the bodies. Velsik stepped forward immediately.

“Welcome to the Federation starship Unity. I am Ambassador Velsik and I welcome you on behalf of the United Federation of Planets.”

The centremost alien bowed slightly in response, a complicated manoeuvre involving all four knee joints dipping in sequence.

“Greetings, Ambassador.” It’s mandibles chattered but the universal translators had been programmed in advance. “I am Gol’Geth, Spokesman of my clan and of the people of Orrus.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Spokesman. I feel as if I already know you from our correspondence. I’m sure you understand the reason for this meeting. Your application has been regarded very highly indeed but we insist on these visits just to ensure there are no misinterpretations.” He paused. “For either party.”

Gol’Geth performed his curious bow once again and Yelsik continued.

“Excellent. In which case may I introduce Captain O’Neill, the commanding officer of this vessel. He will be conducting a brief tour of the ship after which the kitchen has prepared a delightful breakfast.”

* * *

O’Neill dabbed at his mouth with a napkin before setting it on the table beside his plate, regarding his dinner companion thoughtfully. The pair of them were alone in the Captain’s quarters enjoying a private meal after the day’s events.

“I have to say I am impressed. The engineers tell me that the Orrusian crystalline circuitry could be easily adapted to work within Federation computers. It could increase response time by almost ten percent.”

The Ambassador sipped from his wine glass.

“Yes, a very successful day all round. I’ve seen nothing so far that would cause me to reject their Federation membership. I think we all stand to gain.”

O’Neill raised his glass in a mock toast. “Another win for you, Ambassador.”

The Andorian opposite him chuckled. “At my age you take all the success you can get.” He sat back in his chair. “This is where the Federation is made, though, Captain, on days such as these. Tomorrow we will leave our stamp on history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not undermining the job Starfleet does in guarding our borders and exploring space, fine men and women all. Without them we wouldn’t even be here. But we are the architects of the Federation, building the future.”

O’Neill smiled. He was used to Velsik’s melodramatic prose. But the Ambassador was not wrong about the historical opportunities.

“Aye, Ambassador, I’ll drink to that.”

“To tomorrow, then?”

“To tomorrow.”

* * *

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Spokesman, but what is that?”

Velsik pointed through the thick window down at the open mine workings below them. The atmosphere on this part of Orrus was thick with dust but it was still easy to make out long legged creatures stalking through the sludge pushing hover plates loaded with crystals.

Gol’Geth followed the direction of the Ambassador’s blue finger and shrugged.

“They are the Mith.” He said simply.

The creatures were shorter than the Orrusians with large bony hands, the remains of what might have been vestigial wings stretching between their arms and their hairy bodies.

“They seem very well developed for beasts of burden,” remarked Velsik.

“Oh, they are not beasts, Ambassador, they are quite evolved. They are workers.”

Velsik thought back to the application. It had been rather light on details of native fauna, only noting that there was nothing especially hostile on Orrus to humanoids.

“Are you saying there are two races on Orrus? But this was not included with your submission.”

Gol’Geth turned to study the Andorian. “They are a sub race. They have no standing in our society therefore we did not think it relevant to include them.”

Velsik’s antennae twitched, something which O’Neill always thought of as a bad sign.

“I wish to speak to some of their representatives, please.”

“As you wish.”

* * *

O’Neill stood slightly behind Velsik as the two Mith were ushered into the room. Whether the creatures had evolved from avian or mammalian life if was difficult to say but they certainly were not related to the insectoid Orrusians. Gol’Geth had clattered his mandibles when Velsik had all but demanded a private audience with the Mith but had relented. The Ambassador began his formal introduction again.

“Greetings. I am Ambassador Velsik from the United Federation of Planets. I understand you are considered local leaders in your community?”

The two aliens nodded, clearly a little confused.

“Can you tell me about your relationship with the Orrusians?”

The Mith exchanged glances before one spoke in a high nasal voice.

“They are our masters.”

“You are slaves, then?”

“We do their bidding, yes. It is the way of things.”

“Are you paid for your work? Are you protected?” Velsik asked.

They exchanged glances again.

“Paid? No. We work when they tell us to, that is all.”

“And you do not serve on their starships, either?”

“No.” The Mith answered plainly as if this was the most obvious question he’d ever been asked. “The Mith do not leave Orrus.”

“I’ve read the Orrusian laws, there is no mention of your people. You have no rights on this planet, none at all. Why is that?”

“Their rules are for them. We’ve never been part of their society.”

O’Neill stepped forward.

“Never?” He asked, incredulous. “How can you stand to be treated like nothing! Hasn’t there ever been a revolt?”

“There is a legend told of a rebellion, yes, but few among the Mith believe it.” He shrugged. “We do not want for food, we are not ill or sickly. The Orrusians are not harsh task masters. We enjoy our lives and our work, it is simply the way of things, the way it has always been. We are not mistreated, we are merely... less important."

O’Neill was about to say something else but Velsik raised a hand to prevent him. The Andorian turned back to the Mith.

“Thank you for meeting with us. It has been very interesting. I won’t keep you from your work any longer.”

The pair stalked out, the door sliding shut behind them. O’Neill spoke first.

“It’s slavery.”

“I’m inclined to agree. But the Mith accept their place, there is no brutality. Who are we to say the Orrusians are exploiting them?”

“Of course they’re being exploited! Gol’Geth said it himself, they are a sub race. They’re not recognised by Orrusian law.” He snorted. “They didn’t even think the Mith were important enough to include on their application to the Federation. How can they ignore an entire sentient race?”

“It is not quite as simple as that, Captain. Although I admit it throws a different slant on things.”

“With all due respect, Ambassador, I think it is that simple. The Mith have no rights. If I stepped outside of this room and attacked those two would there be any repercussions? We’ve both read the data, not once in the recorded history of this planet has a Mith had any say in politics, justice, welfare, anything. We didn’t even know they were here. They treat them no better than we used to treat horses or cattle.”

Velsik stroked his chin thoughtfully as he gazed into the distance.

“I know.”

* * *

"Spokesman Gol'Geth, I regret to inform you that I have reached my decision. Orrus will not be accepted into the United Federation of Planets at this time."

There was a brief silence in the auditorium after Velsik made his announcement before the gathered Orrusians erupted into a cacophony of gnashing mandibles and clattering limbs. The universal translators were overwhelmed leaving Velsik and O'Neill only able to watch until Gol'Geth raised himself onto his hind legs and called for silence. Then he turned to face the offworlders.

"Why is this? You led us to believe that our membership was confirmed!"

"That was before we were aware of the Mith," the Ambassador answered. "We cannot proceed further given the circumstances.”

“The Mith?” Gol’Geth’s tone was perplexed. “They have nothing to do with this! They are the Mith.”

“And therein lies the problem, Spokesman. You are welcome to resubmit…”

Gol’Geth cut him off.

“I demand clarification!”

“Off course, Spokesman.” Yelsik paused. “The Mith are a sentient race native to this planet, the same as yourselves. And yet they have no standing in the planetary society, no say in how their lives are run.” He shook his head. “The Federation demands universal rights for all sentient life forms, we do not condone slavery.”

“But the Mith are not treated as slaves.”

“They have no rights, Spokesman. If Orrus wishes to join the Federation then it must be done with equal standing between the Orrusians and the Mith.”

Gol’Geth glanced at his colleagues before drawing himself up to his full height again.

“When we spoke before, Ambassador, you indicated that the Federation would protect the Orrusian traditions, our way of life, our history. You assured me the Federation would not seek to change our society. Is this not true?”

“Yes.” Yelsik admitted.

“And yet now you go back on those words. The relationship between the Orrusians and the Mith has been this way since before the Vulcan schism. That is our history and we will not change it for you.”

“Then I am afraid there is no way forward.”

Gol’Geth made an expression O’Neill had not seen before. “The Mith do not want power. They have no interest in it. Would you rather we force them to accept their rights? Force our own laws onto them?” He paused as he gazed at the Ambassador. “Or shall we force them to accept the rights of the Federation?”

“That is not what I was suggesting, Spokesman.”

“The Mith are simple, yes, but they are not stupid. They made a choice to become subservient to the Orrusians a long time ago, for their own reasons, and so it is. You speak hypocrisy, Ambassador, claiming to protect our cultural identity and yet demanding that we change it in order to preserve it. We will not accept your terms and we will not force the Mith to do so either.”

Yelsik sighed. The old Andorian looked half the size he had the night before as he gazed at the patterned floor of the auditorium. Slowly he nodded before looking up and meeting Gol’Geth’s eyes.

“Perhaps, then, in the future we can be allies, Spokesman.”

“Perhaps, Ambassador.”

Yelsik nodded again and turned to O’Neill. The Captain tapped his commbadge.

“Unity, beam us out of here.”

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