Neutrality for Beginners
The Pathfinder-class, with Discovery-class nacelles, U.S.S. Ragnarok approached the small Deferi colony world of Covalesence. There, a Breen Sarr Theln warship, the Leinstien, stood in orbit staring down the forlorn colonists in anger.
Captain Oroku Seifer sat in his chair on the Bridge, observing the visual. "They always seem so menacing. Or, is that just me anthropomorphizing a ship with attitude? Because I've done that before. I once characterized a smaller Klingon Bird of Prey as 'cute and precious', but it turned out their disrupter shots stung like a bee. I don't know how, but I had red marks on my skin for weeks."
"ZZKRRTTSDDDDKKkKrrrrRRkkT!" came the angry hail from Relk Marcel over the viewscreen. "VVKKRRTTzzzkkkkdddDD!"
Seifer was taken aback. "Uh, wow. Could you be any ruder? Anyway, do you know that you are impeding upon the freedom of having empty space around a planet to the Deferi? That is a thing many species find annoying. Also, atmospheric hygiene, man; think before you idle."
"MMDDKKKSSZZZZZzzzEERrRRRK!" Marcel said. "VEVVEEERRKk! KkdddDDDKRRT!"
The Trill shrugged. "Obviously you don't know anything about cats, because a cat would never do what you are suggesting. At least, none of the Android-owned ones."
"VVRRRKT! KRGGGTTVV!?" the Breen argued.
Seifer nodded. "That is certainly something we can agree on; the Dominion War was clearly well done. If anything, it was one of the best wars ever and the viewers loved it. Anyway, Ragnarok out."
"Captain, I didn't have my universal translator aligned," the tactical officer and Human, Lieutenant Aramaki, admitted as soon as the screen cut off. "What did he say?"
Oroku Seifer shook his head. "That he would never choose Picard over Kirk. I mean, who does that? I think the choice is clear. Diplomacy and calmness is the epitome of high road."
"Uh, I think we'd like to know what he said about his position over the planet. They are clearly overstepping their boundaries," the science officer and Caitian, Lieutenant Commander Moggs, corrected. "And the answer is Kirk."
Rolling his eyes, Seifer replied. "Well, we'll talk about that. As for the Breen, they said they can do whatever they want because that's just how they operate. I couldn't argue too much with that logic, because their claimed track record on said operation was quite accurate."
"Gonna speak to the Deferi? Huh? Huh?" perked the helmswoman and human, Lieutenant Edward.
Seifer pointed at her. "I like the way you think! Let's do that thing you said; whatever it was. Ice cream?" And then. "No; that's right, the colonists."
Seifer, Aramaki and Moggs transported down to the outdoor 'welcoming area' at the centre of the Deferi town. There, they were greeted by a Deferi leader named Cassen.
"You are both welcome and not welcome here. We lean neither one way nor the other," he said with open arms, before he realized how even that would be perceived as over-welcoming.
Seifer crossed his own arms. "Uh, you sent us a distress signal, so why wouldn't you be pleased to see us?"
"My feelings over the response of such a signal are neither positive nor negative. But, yes, you see, the Breen have been bullying us and won't go away."
The Captain nodded. "Any idea why?"
"We believe it to be our neutral nature, which invites aggressiveness in the most negative of forms from any neighbouring species."
Then Seifer asked, "Well, what about positive interactions? Wouldn't a non-leaning, greyed-out attitude invite an equivalent measure of friendship and camaraderie?"
"That seems impossible, since the galaxy is currently being permeated by a pessimistic fourth dimensional energy force," Cassen explained.
Nodding, Seifer said, "Ah, the Q put that there as a joke. It's been hanging around a while. Anyway, I'll see what I can do about the Breen. But they were very convincing to me about their need to stay here, and I'd be hard-pressed to confront people so clearly better than us."
Captain Seifer laughed. "Just kidding. We'll destroy them for you. It's a new Starfleet thing we do."
Upon retreating with his group, Seifer, Aramaki and Moggs came to convene off to the side of the town square with themselves.
"Thoughts?" the Captain asked.
The tactical officer replied, "I kind of agree with the Breen. Might as well bully the weak while you can. I mean, you only live once."
"We could take their quadrotriticale grain while we're at it," Moggs added. "It's quite delicious."
Seifer shook his head. "No, I mean how to defeat the Breen! You know we can't go back on decisions we've already committed to; it's counter-productive, and that, more than anything, is what we need to maintain. Oh, and ethical behaviour of a certain measure, I suppose. Nothing too outrageous."
"Right!" Aramaki agreed. "Well, we could fire upon the Leinstien, thus proving who has the biggest torpedo tube. We have a science ship, but I think it's not about size, but, rather, how you use it that matters."
Moggs turned to him. "Might I remind you, the Prime Directive prevents us from interfering with the development of substandard cultures, and the Deferi are, well, I don't want to get nasty, but, well, you know; implications by tangent statements and all."
"What? They're the filth of Quadrant? Might I remind you, that you clean yourself using your tongue?" Seifer accused.
The Caitian pointed at him. "That has never been proven, nor is that appropriate commentary from upper management! Now, where do we take our midday nap?" Then, admitting, "I need to, uh, lick... something unrelated."
"How about we focus on the Breen? Apparently, they are in a perpetual state of searching for Preserver technology: The technology of the people who directed the formation of all humanoid life in our galaxy."
Seifer thought for a moment. "So, creationism is our thing and not evolution?"
"Now that you say it out loud, it sounds ridiculous!" Moggs said. "Anyway, should we not just ask and/or follow them?" He redirected his perpetual pointing finger at a group of Breen transporting into a distant field, visible and far off from the town square.
The Captain took notice. "This will prove my theory that the Breen were up to no good from the very beginning. Sooooo untrustworthy."
"You clearly love the Breen. Did you forget they joined the Dominion once?" Aramaki added. "That's a Gul Dukat level of insolence not even Evil Kes could have ever matched."
Seifer waved it off. "Pfft! She was doomed to begin with. A seven-year lifespan? Clearly her makers didn't know how to handle that; not that it was rocket-science."
As the three approached the area of the field which the Breen had just breeched, they came to find no one there and a two foot-high stone-bricked platform sitting in the middle of nowhere.
"This appears to be a remnant of a past culture," Moggs observed. "But that doesn't explain where those men went, nor do dry facts have any place in everyday conversation."
Moggs pushed in a protruding brick and the platform opened into stairs that descended into the ground. Seifer, Aramaki and Moggs walked down the steps, deep into the history of the world to find an open cavern of a large alien-shaped pyramid that the four Breen soldiers were scanning with their devices.
"Hold it right there!" Seifer called out as he and his team aimed phasers. "How dare you do things and such? Don't you know getting out of bed is a hassle in and of itself? I can't even go into the thought of breakfast at this point."
The angry disturbance of Relk Marcel turned in his direction. "KKZZSSKklvvvVVGGGgrK! ZZZrrrKF!"
"Well, no, we don't have permission to be here either. But who are we to mess with the status quo? You're here, and clearly that's a thing that's happened at least once," Seifer answered.
Then Marcel added, "TTTKzzZZZRKVVVV! VVVVVKTTT! GGGV!"
"Obviously, I read up on Captain Archer's temporal exploits and am as confused as anyone how Temporal Cold War incursions still happened at certain points despite the war being later prevented by Archer himself."
The Breen agreed, then continued, "ZZKKRrRRRRrrrVVVvvvVSZDDDDKKRR!"
"There is no evidence to back up Janeway's attempts at teaming up with Borg to destroy another race. It's all just hearsay, as far as I know," Seifer said. "Anyway, you have yourselves a great day."
At that, the Breen walked passed them, to exit the underground cavern the way they came in.
"Sir, did you just repeat a communication-bit you did at the very beginning? My thirteenth brother always did that; drove me crazy," Moggs said. "Also, you appear to have let them off the hook again?"
Seifer nodded. "Indeed. The Breen's talk-mock is all there is out of a race of distorted yap-chappers, through of which they explained claims of dissident Deferi and Deferi pre-knowledge to underground ancient structures of such and that."
"What is the point of being so neutral??" complained Aramaki. "You're neither Picard or Kirk! You're just blank! You know I was supposed to look up to you, right?"
The Captain held up a finger. "Oh, you'll be in the complete opposite end of that spectrum by the end of the week."
Returning to the surface, Captain Seifer, Lieutenant Commander Moggs and Lieutenant Aramaki met with Cassen who was being confronted by Marcel and his three rifle-aiming Breen soldiers.
"VVRRKKVVVvvvVVT!" Marcel said, in anger.
Cassen held up his hands. "Yes, so we did know about the caves, but we didn't have any obligation to tell you about them. Isn't that right, Captain Seifer?"
"Uh, you didn't even tell us," the Trill countered. "How are we supposed to assist you with partial information? My science officer has way too many siblings to stand for that."
The Deferi crossed his arms. "Hey, doesn't Starfleet work on a need-to-know basis? You are clearly aware of the kind of work-methods which require stratagem."
"KRRGGGzzZZrKrrrrrGGG! Gkrk!" Marcel added.
Seifer held up his hand. "Hey, I'm more on the Deferi's side of things, but I haven't completely signed off on the Breen's either. So, basically, indecisiveness is its own reward. That's going in my log for sure."
"If you gentlemen must know, the pictographs on those underground structures have just recently been deciphered as Ancient Deferi," Cassen explained. "It took us a while to work it out because our neutral nature wouldn't accept the results one way or the other. We couldn't even decide what to have for our post examination snack timeslot."
Marcel growled. "VVVRRRKKLLggGGGrrRRKr!"
"Yeah, the Breen are right. You really need to stop being so neutral. In fact, because I've been engaged in similar, but differently motivated, behaviour, I'm going to make my own decision here and now: And that is that I believe the Breen need to leave this world alone," Captain Seifer declared. "I just invented it as a possible course of action. What do you think?"
Marcel growled even more as his men turned their rifles to aim at the Starfleet officers. "VVggGGGGrRRRTTTKRR!"
"What? I thought you'd be happy with my following through with your side-choosing task??" Seifer said in shock. "Also, none of these ruins are Preserver-based, the Archive of which was already revealed and fought over with Thot Trel on Lae'nas III, so you should be done with all of this."
The Breen added. "VRKRRRRLGGGGggRKe!? DDRRRrrGGTTttkkWWNXX! STTtKKRTGGGXXChhHRgG! VVVvLRRGkKM!"
"Seriously, when do Moggs and I get our universal translators fixed?" interrupted Aramaki. "I keep hearing a ringing noise in addition, and it may be destroying me, physically."
Moggs spoke up. "Also, how does an Ancient Deferi culture make its way all the way out into space to colonize this world? I've barely come to grips with my own genetic relations."
"We suspect we are an off-shoot of their evolutionary branch," Cassen added. "But more research is needed, as, apparently creationism is a thing now? And the Breen have yet again concluded much more than is here, as is the style of their kind, which my colony must now adapt to, thanks to your example, Captain Seifer."
Behind Cassen was now a large group of Deferi, ready to confront Marcel in any way possible. The gathering caught Seifer and the Breen off guard.
"Whoa! I never thought of you as the doing-kind??" Seifer said. "Just wait until you try breakfast!"
Cassen nodded. "I will. But, to be honest, this congregation is causing us a much anticipated heavy dose of anxiety, so it would be appreciated if the Breen could react quickly before we all collapse under our own shaky feet."
"VRRRRKKZZRRCCHHHMRRR!" Marcel's men turned their weapons to the group, but, instead, the Relk ranked individual held up his hand to signal them 'stop' in lost patience from all the madness they have been going through. "BBBTTTTVVrrRRRGGGhhLKR!"
Having enough of it, Marcel ordered his Breen soldiers and himself to transport back up to the Leinstien. After they dematerialized, the Ragnarok hailed the Captain below.
"Sir, it looks like the Breen are departing. They've just gone to warp," reported Winry. "Also, their warp effect leaves residual snowflakes for some reason."
Captain Seifer tapped his commbadge. "Acknowledged, Lieutenant Commander. Like the buzzing noise of the two-reason-incessant Talaxian fur fly, the Deferi have annoyed the Breen away and to no end."
"A tactic we could all learn from," she said, before she cut the transmission, unsure at why she said it.
The Trill then turned to Cassen. "One more thing: Were the Breen right? Is there something more to the origin of these structures?"
"Definitely not," Cassen replied. "And you know we aren't lying, because we could never take a position on something. Well, except when it comes to the Breen now, and that's only for, at most, three to four minutes at a time."
Observing a fainting and knees-buckling crowd of Deferi, Seifer somehow was only partially convinced. "Very well then, Cassen. We'll be in orbit for a little while longer, in case they return. There are plenty more communication-bits to be had between they and I. So, if you need anything, let us know."
"Thank you, Captain," Cassen replied. "As we learned during the Borg conference on Deep Space 9, sometimes action is required more than inaction."
Seifer nodded and Cassen watched the Starfleet officers dematerialize away. Then Cassen narrowed his brow in more confidence, appreciative of all the obstacles finally out his colony's way in order for them to pursue what they previously had intended to go after.
"The find will be ours now."