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Part of USS Odyssey: No Good Deed

No Good Deed – 6

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gerina IX, Gerina System, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78621.8
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“Mister Korvain, welcome aboard the Odyssey!” Flemen greeted their guest as he stepped down from the side door of his shuttle. Flemen’s demeanour remained formal but cordial, a facade hiding his true feelings about seeing Korvain again. Out of all the Entharans he had dealt with, Korvain was the most interesting. Yet, there was a lingering unease, a palpable conflict within Flemen, that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He reminded him of most Ferengi business operators he had known over the years; however, there was an attitude of superiority that filled the room whenever Korvain was in it. It was a whole new level of how someone could be enthralled with the pursuit of profit. Nevertheless, Flemen kept his calm, neutral facade in check as he stood still on the ship’s main shuttlebay deck, his internal turmoil threatening to break through. 

Like most Entharan businessmen, Korvain was dressed in a formal grey suit with fine maroon and gold striping. His almost bleached blonde hair was slicked back, and despite his age, he appeared unnaturally youthful, a testament to the wonders of cosmetic surgery. He made a Son’a look like a cheap parlour trick. His wealth was evident in the plethora of jewellery he adorned: a silver stud earring on his left lobe, a silver chain that dangled around his neck, several silver and golden rings on his fingers with various gems, and a silver bracelet around his left wrist. Flemen couldn’t help but feel that Korvain’s arrogance and vanity met the same level as his wealth, a discomforting sight that only added to his unease. 

“Commander Flemen, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” Korvain said in what sounded like a cheesy attempt at being friendly. 

Flemen, ever the astute observer, couldn’t help but notice the insincerity in Korvain’s voice. He could also sense Korvain’s superior persona flashing through his emotions. Flemen’s reaction was immediate and instinctive, placing a mental block as he didn’t want to sense or feel anything coming from their guest, a clear sign of his discomfort with Korvain’s presence. 

As Korvain approached Flemen, he extended his hand to shake Flemen’s. Knowing this gesture was what Fleet Captain McCallister had taught him, Flemen entertained him and took it. As they shook hands, Flemen felt Korvain’s oily palms in his. “Fleet Captain McCallister asked me to escort you to the briefing room; he was currently preoccupied with overseeing the repair work for Cloudbase.”

“I understand how busy he is, and I want to say how much I appreciate the Odyssey’s involvement with the Hirogen,” Korvain remarked. “I have a lot of investment in Cloudbase’s many projects.”

“I hope your financial investments have not been affected significantly,” Flemen said, almost sounding like a concerned Ferengi over their precious latnium. 

Waving the concern away, Korvain shook his head. It was almost as if he didn’t care about what damage was sustained – this was Korvain’s meek attempt at showing off how humble he tried to be. It was a complete grand show that Korvain was putting on. Deep down, it was easy to tell he was concerned about what had happened, but he couldn’t display that in a public sense. It would be a bad image for him and his businesses. “No, thankfully, it isn’t something that can’t be fixed or restored.”

“If you come with me, I will show you the way,” Flemen gestured towards the exit of the shuttlebay. He was eager to get to the briefing room and spend as little time with this man as possible.

Flemen introduced everyone in the room and was pleased to sit next to Tomaz. He flashed Tomaz a look that he recognised immediately, indicating that he was not happy with their guest. Fortunately, Korvain had taken a seat close to McCallister and Duncan. Flemen noticed that several senior staff members were missing from the table. He knew that Tierra, Jen, and Gray were all on Cloudbase helping with repairs while Slyvexs was in sickbay, providing treatment to the injured. When Flemen arrived at the bridge, he saw Commander Court sitting in the command chair, which explained why Banfield was sitting beside Duncan. However, it did not explain why Keli, Jonarom, and a few others were absent.

Pushing that concern to the back of his mind, Flemen concentrated on the conversation that was now taking place between his superiors and their guest. He knew that at times like this, he would sit back, listen, observe, and offer his thoughts if he considered it worthwhile or if someone asked him. 

“As I was saying to your Commander Flemen, I cannot express my gratitude for your swift action in rescuing Cloudbase from the Hirogen, captain,” Korvain said with a sick, sweet smile. “My daughter is Director Shenia, and if I lose her, I do not know what I will do.”

Flemen wanted to sigh loudly at Korvain’s bold attempt to sound sincere. Instead, he bit his bottom lip, and instantly, Tomaz gave him a sideward glance that confirmed what he was sensing from his friend: that he was thinking the same. 

“Family is important,” McCallister remarked. 

“You have children yourself, captain?” Korvain probed.

McCallister nodded. “Yes, I do.”

Flemen could sense how much his commanding officer was holding back information. Over the last few years, he had noticed how much McCallister kept his private life to himself when dealing with alien visitors. If anything, what happened last year when the ship had to lie to the Hazari had proven not only to Captain Duncan and Commander Court but to them all how important it was to protect their family members who travelled with them with possible threats. 

“They are our future,” Korvain said. His level of creepiness continuing to rise. “And I feel so frustrated that I was leading that expeditionary group to that wonderful planet you’ve identified and that I wasn’t close enough to protect her and Cloudbase.”

Duncan then stepped in. Flemen knew his former mentor had a way about him, and he could cut through everything else and get straight to the point. “Well, as we said, we are happy to help out, but your message to us said you wanted to discuss repayment to us.”

“Oh yes, I certainly do,” Korvain replied with a massive grin as he placed both hands on the table. 

“We do not respond to distress calls in an attempt to be paid for our actions, Mister Korvain,” Banfield stated. “Surely, we’ve demonstrated that to you and your people since arriving at Gerina?”

“Yes, your humble and modest charm has impressed everyone, but as the chief investor and chairman of Cloudbase’s board of directors, I would be criticised if I didn’t offer you a gesture of our gratitude,” Korvain said, still smirking. “I cannot have my generosity questioned by my board or competitors.”

And there it was, Flemen thought. Korvain was all about reputation and his standing with Gerina’s business community. He took a deep breath, feeling more tense as he prepared for what the Entharan was about to offer them, for he knew it would probably be his job to oversee it. Before he did anything else, he felt Tomaz squeeze his knee under the table, a sign his friend was telling him to keep himself calm. 

“What did you have in mind?” McCallister asked. 

“Your ship is impressive, a palace among the stars,” Korvain said. “And how you dealt with the Hirogen was admirable, but I want to provide you with enhancements.”

“Enhancements?” Tomaz asked. “What type of enhancements?”

“Improvements to your weapons, sensors and engines,” Korvain remarked. “And for a modest extra fee, I’d be happy to enhance your computer core.”

“The Odyssey is one of the advanced ships in our fleet, and as you said, we dealt with the Hirogen admirable. What could your enhancements make better?”

“As you saw, Commander, my ships are much smaller than yours and hold double the firepower that your ship can put out,” Korvain said smugly. He turned to McCallister. “Captain, I can provide you with isokinetic cannons, self-replicating torpedo launchers, monotanium hull plating, and a multi-adaptive phasic cloaking device.”

“That’s very generous, but-” McCallister didn’t have a chance to complete his sentence when Korvain continued to share what else he could provide.

“That’s not to include a quantum multi-spectrum sensor array allowing you to scan almost anything without background subspace interference. Also, we could power all of this using a zero-point energy condenser and a tetryon reactor.”

“It all sounds fascinating technology,” McCallister said, trying to reassert his authority. “But what you are suggesting would require us to have the ship refitted for some time, and we’re not planning to stay around for much longer.”

 Ignoring McCallister, Korvain started to appeal to Banfield. “Surely, Captain Banfield, would you like to see how our sensor technology is used? Did I mention that the quantum multi-spectrum sensor array uses advanced quantum computing principles to scan across multiple spectrums simultaneously, allowing you to detect phenomena across a wide range of wavelengths and particle emissions with unparalleled precision and detail? Also, it can identify faint energy signatures, hidden cloaked vessels, and even minute changes in the fabric of subspace. Does that excite you, Captain?”

Banfield remained composed as she replied. “It does, however, as-”

Korvain ignored Banfield’s rebuttal as he turned to Tomaz. “And Commander Tomaz, surely you could see the advantages of having the Odyssey at its pinnacle when dealing with hostile ships? Our newest version of isokinetic cannons can rip through the shielding of most ships, you saw what we did with those Hirogen ships. And backing it up with torpedo launchers that do not run out of ordnance will surely provide further protection for you and your squadron?” 

 “Well, your firepower is impressive, nevertheless-” Tomaz tried to put him down once again, but Korvain ignored it.

Focussing on Duncan now, Korvain sounded like he was almost pleading. “And equipped with a multi-adaptive phasic cloaking device, you could easily avoid any Borg vessel and spend time focussing on your exploration mission.”

“Mister Korvain, please stop!” McCallister interjected with a raised hand.

McCallister’s forceful tone was enough for Flemen to smirk. He was glad that McCallister was putting Korvain in his place. Korvain froze as if he were a child being told off by his teacher. 

“We are not interested in such add-ons,” McCallister replied. 

“That truly saddens me to hear that, Captain,” Korvain replied, sounding like he was faking his response. He took out a PADD-like device and handed it over to the captain. “Please, I beg you to reconsider and review the technology I am willing to offer you and your people. All for free!”

For a moment, Flemen hoped McCallister would reject it; however, he knew that wasn’t McCallister’s way. McCallister gave in, nodded, took the device, and promised to have his chief engineer review it all. 

“In the meantime, I will have my people bring other resources to show our sense of repayment. Supplies of deuterium, gallicite, dilithium crystals.” Korvain stated.

McCallister looked tired from Korvain’s insistence. He looked at Flemen. “Commander Flemen will oversee your generous gifts.”

Flemen, remaining diplomatic, smiled and heard Tomaz hold back a snigger. 

“Excellent! Let me know once you have reviewed our technology,” Korvain said as he stood up, showing he was ready to leave.

“If you follow me, Mister Korvain, I can take you back to your shuttle,” Flemen offered as he rose from his seat.

“Excellent!” Korvain said. “I cannot wait to share with everyone the news you may have my exclusive technology on your ship!” 

“Oh, I’m sure you can’t,” Flemen said with a pretend smile as he looked over his shoulder to see McCallister, Duncan, Banfield, and Tomaz grimacing at their guest. He quickly wanted to return to the shuttlebay without further delay before returning to hear what McCallister had decided once Tierra was free to review Korvain’s list of marvels. Flemen hoped that Tierra would come up with why they were incompatible.