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Story Notes:

A story bonm of a throw away line in one of my WFW over on the forum.

Plus a big Thank you to LBD for Beta reading and her helpful suggestions for corrections and improvements.

USS Argonaut (Kelvin Class)
Centauran System.

Commodore Lily Fitzroy adjusted her grey dress uniform and the level of her hat. As she waited with her welcoming committee, Chief Engineer Teng Wang Li, a tall man from Honk Kong stood behind her to the right, still in his standard uniform Engineering olive. As always he seem to be studying some report. To her left stood her chief communications officer the female Tiburonese Rykari. She was in a standard uniform, bridge blue.

Lily had thought of ordering them to change into the grey dress uniform too, but decided that given what little they knew so far about the Centaurans from long-range scans, they seemed to be a very artisan-based society with something against militaristic tendencies. She felt a soft approach was needed.

All three officers were keen to get this formal meet and greet over, as the Centauran Prime minister and her delegation had already kept them waiting two days by the local gas giant.

The Argonaut crew was supposed to be on their way home after a long patrol, when they detected the Centaurans' warp ship. Having followed it back, Lily had chosen to wait by the gas giant rather than push too far into the inhabitants' system, to give the locals time to react to them on their terms. This had lead to the waiting time, so they tried to study the Centaurans as best as possible with passive sensors from the outer part of their solar system. This had been harder than normal, as despite having anti-matter and warp travel, the Centaurans had only audio sub-light radio and no television signals. So while they thought the Centaurans were humanoid, they had no way of knowing till the alien diplomatic party stepped off their shuttle.

The hangar deck master gave Lily a nod. “Captain, Centauran Space One with diplomatic party has landed. Hangar doors are closed and the bay is now re-pressured. You’re now free to greet the diplomatic party.”

“Thank you Chief,” said Lily, then she added, “Alright boys and girls, show time.”

The three star fleet officers walked into the hangar bay. The hangar crew had found a suitable step for the alien shuttle side door. The strange thing was the more she looked at it, the more she likened it in appearance to an old NX cruiser shuttle-pod.

The shuttle door cracked open and a young woman, who looked very human, stepped out of the craft. Her swift moving eyes and very functional dress clearly identified her as the security escort. A tall and broad woman with black hair and a Mediterranean complexion wearing a fine dress and jewels followed her out. Behind her came a short woman with the nervous look of a rabbit in the headlights and jet-black skin and hair.

They seem to be trying to take in the hangar deck and the Argonaut crew as if this was all normal to them. Each trio looked the other over. Lily decided after giving them a moment to adjust to take the lead and said, “I’m Commodore Lily Fitzroy, the captain of this vessel, the United Federation of Planets Star Ship Argonaut.” Lily spoke slowly and clearly to give the universal translator time to translate.

The broad woman in the jewels step forward and simply said, “I’m Prime Minister Kulei.” Then the three Centauran ladies flashed twisted and warped smiles at them.

It made Lily's skin crawl, but she fought back the revulsion that the smiles made her feel and tried to stick to the script. Lily made her move and stepped forward to the Prime Minister, putting on her best smile. This caused the Centaurans to step back, clearly shaken. ‘Guess our smile looked just as bad to them,’ thought Lily. “Please there is nothing to be concerned about,”
Lily said in an attempt to reassure the party.

“Nothing? I see lots to be concerned about. You have invaded our home system in a blatant display of force with a larger and seemingly more advanced ship than we can currently manufacture,” said Kulei.

Lily could see that she needed to show them the Federation's intentions were good. “With respect Prime Minister Kulei, we are peaceful explorers seeking out new life and new civilizations. To do this we do need to enter unexplored solar systems, especially when we detect warp travel, in order to search out new trading partners, ideas and hopefully friends,” said Lily.

“Noble words Commodore, so where do we start to trust each other?” asked the Prime Minister Kulei.

“Let's start small, with the oldest gesture from my world that we come in peace,” said Lily, holding out her hand. “Please put your flat hand in mine. This gesture is known as the handshake. It was historically meant to show that I offer you my weapon hand so you can see I'm currently no threat,” said Lily.

The Prime Minister looked very unsure. The dark-skinned woman seemed to nod her head to the Prime Minister. Kulei stepped forward and with a quick sweep of her hand knocked off Lily's hat. Lily's red hair fell down along with her hat. This seemed to cause the Centauran Prime Minister to recoil, before she said, “History is full of those who claim to come as explorers, and with more advanced civilizations seeking to replace less advanced cultures with their own. Why should I believe you?” said Kulei before adding, “Indeed, you have a very unnatural hair color, the color of evil, of the old stealers of children.” Then Kulei grabbed Lily's out-stretched hand, and squeezed hard.

“Oww, that hurts,” said Lily, while she used one hand to keep her crew from interfering. She knew what could seem hostile in first contact might not be.

“Indeed, the forward arm is well known as the ancient evil patriarch bride trick to lure us into a false sense of security, to let them violate our being with their touch and open the door for the Patriarch to enslave us and steal our children,” said Kulei.

The pain was just too great and Lily just punched the prime minister in the face. The blow sent her backwards but broke the agonizing grip.

“See how easy you give into violence, so again why should we trust you?” said Kulei.

Lily took a deep breath to centre herself and then said, “I’m sorry you forced me to do that, but even as explorers we will defend ourselves from aggression. That doesn’t make us violent, or stealers of children. I do understand at this point you have no reason to trust us, but all I can do is try to show and convince you of our good intentions,” answered Lily.

“Very well then, if you wish to convince me of your Federation’s good intentions, you as the commander of this vessel will need to do just two things,” said Kulei.

“Go on,” said Lily.

“First, you will order your ship to leave our territory by moving back to interstellar space and second, you will personally surrender yourself to my authority for trespassing into Centaurans' sovereign territory without permission. We will forgive/ignore the rest of the crew, while we try you to determine your guilt or innocence,” said Kulei.

The Starfleet officers and crew on the deck flared in shock and rage. This was just going too far now. Lily bellowed at them.
“Order! To attention crew of the Argonaut!” The crew fell in but the tension in the air was noticeable.

“I’ve no problem ordering the Argonaut to leave your Solar System, but why should I surrender to you to be judged by an alien legal system that I know nothing about?” said Lily.

“Because you claim to come in peace, yet strike me. If you wish to show us that your Federation intentions are good, then submit to our legal system. You will demonstrate that you view us as a equal and not a prey nation,” said Kulei.

Lily's mind was racing. ‘What choice do I have here? I really should not have punched her in the face. Clearly they’ve got a cultural chip on their shoulders. Plus if I play along it will get the rest of the crew off the hook, if we can take them at their word. Plus it will give the crew a chance to contact Command and perhaps get a hot shot Vulcan consul out here to clear this up.’
Lily made her choice. “Well Prime Minister Kulei, on your word that I’ll receive a fair and just trial, I’ll surrender to your authority after ordering the Argonaut to leave your sovereign territory.”

The three Centauran women let their breath out. Clearly they had feared a fight over this.

“Excellent, I give you my word to a fair and just trail. One of our explorer ships will act as a message shuttle to your ship once it takes up station outside our system. Please allow my deputy to cuff you, I do apologize for this,” said Kulei.

“I understand, Prime Minister,” said Lily.

“I must protest about this, Commodore!” said Commander Teng Wang Li.

“Teng! We need an act of faith to move this Inter-species relationship forward, now please trust your commander. Order Telka to move the ship out of the Centaurans’ system once the Centauran party has left. I’ll be going with them to try and resolve this issue, but the ship and crew must come first. You know that. Once outside the system, update Command and await new orders,” said Lily.

“Fine Commodore, I’ll enter my concerns in the ship's log, but your orders will be obeyed,” answered Teng.

“That’s a good boy, listen to your Matriarchy,” said Kulei.

“Please do not speak to my crew that way,” said Lily.

“As you wish. Do you surrender to me?” asked Kulei.

“Yes,” said Lily, holding out her arms.

Kulei's deputy stepped forward and placed the cuffs that she had produced from somewhere on Lily.

“We will leave now. Thank you for being so co-operative.”


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