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Dark And Stormy Night

Posted on Jul 07, 2017 @ 6:00pm by Marie-Claire Martine

Mission: Aftermath

“Dark and Stormy Night”
(Continued from “Recipe Exchange”)

=/\=

Location: Beslan Station
Stardate: [2.17]0626.2040
Scene: Exterior

There was a time in EARTH’s history when its oceans were called “the Final Frontier”. Creatures inhabited depths that it would take man hundreds of years to fully reach, catalog, and understand. Eventually, through equal parts curiosity and necessity, the endless ebony sky that surrounded them became the next target. However, unlike the finite reaches of the Terran waters, space was vast, broad and limitless. A Federation of planets joined forces to explore the starry sea, and there was no end in sight to the discoveries that awaited them.

But, for every massive station, gleaming against the velvet curtain, and every planet joined in friendship, there were an astounding amount of seedy, backwater places one could find oneself in with little effort.

Beslan Station could be considered one of these. It served the merchant community, and as such was designed for those needing to stop for rest or repairs. The term “floating Truck Stop” had been used to describe it, seemingly ignorant to the fact that there hadn’t been such things since the galaxies had become the universe’s highways. It wasn’t high priority for resources, and had the look of being patched together in certain spots. It had passable coffee and adequate food, provided you weren’t too discerning, and sometimes you’d be lucky and hear an interesting story from one of the ‘colorful’ pilots that graced the common areas while they were waiting to take the next leg of their journey.

The one claim to fame of Beslan was its view; it wasn’t of a planet or a quasar, but instead a rather nasty asteroid field. Its hull and inertial dampers had been reinforced to protect the structure itself and its docking ports, but twice a day, eight hours at a stretch, any vessel that tried to leave would be pummelled by the rotating shards of rock. If you didn’t take care of your ship’s business in four hours or less, you were stuck, with nothing to keep you company but nature’s inconvenience.


=/\=

Scene: Near docking area

“You have *got* to be kidding me,” Montoya said, speaking clearly despite the root beer flavored lollipop dangling precariously from her mouth. Refueling shouldn’t have taken more than an hour and a half, tops. Now she was stuck on this hellhole until the belt passed through. *Who would want to build a Station in such an idiotic place?* she thought, rolling the lollipop around for good measure.

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” the scruffy middle-aged Lurian replied, looming over her like a gentle giant, not sounding the least bit energetic or sorry about the pilot’s situation. She knew her bosses at Pangeos Pathways wouldn’t give a crap about the delay, but somewhere under the muddled thoughts, Sedna took a certain pride in her work, even if it was sketchy at times and not completely spelled out at other times.

“What am I supposed to do for eight hours? Play beer pong?”

The Lurian was all compassion. He was wearing a grease-stained work shirt that had the name ‘Rick’ embroidered on a patch above the left chest pocket, but if his name was really Rick then hers was Marie Antoinette. “You can eat, you can sleep in one of the rental pods, or you can enjoy the view.” When her expression didn’t change from the hardened disbelief she had started with, the tall alien leaned in. “If you’re interested and have a couple bars of latinum, we have a holodeck that specializes in… stuff off the beaten path.”

Montoya shuddered, then waved him off. “No on both counts. Just make sure she’s fueled up at the next window, okay?”

“Sure thing, Miss- oh. Didn’t catch your name.”

Montoya shrugged. “It’s not important.”


=/\=

Location: VULCAN
Scene: Outside Karimi’s Office

“Do you honestly think this is going to work?” Bosley asked, rubbing his love’s shoulders through her classic red suit jacket.

“The situation is questionable- but *I* am going to work, harder than I’ve worked before to manage this man’s idiosynchrasies… so help me.”

Gideon Bosley kissed her. “Bonne chance.”

She eyed the chronometer on the wall. “Quatre, trois, deux, un-”


=/\=

Scene: Interior

At the exact time of the morning meeting, Marie-Claire Martine smartly entered the Councilman’s office, determined to run just as tight a ship as her predecessor, a woman who had still bewildered her with her sudden decision to leave.

“Good morning,” she tried to say with a light breezy quality despite the stress she felt.

Karimi was still watching his morning news vids, and was laughing, which was decidedly not in character for a man that thought “Inalienable Rights For All”, his staff’s own bill, wasn’t even worth his vote. He paused to regard the Canadienne with curiosity. “Have you spoken to Ms. Bonviva recently?”

“We said our goodbyes,” M-C replied cooly. “That was all that was required.” She didn’t want him having the satisfaction of knowing how conflicted she was about the whole thing. She worked for EARTH now, as painful as that felt to say given the demeanor of their representative. Martine and the Bolian hybrid had complimented each other’s personalities and work styles and it had become more about playing the political game and a great deal less about the resource they had to work with. And they hadn’t been bad players. Now with their pompous resource front and center, it was going to be that much harder to toe the line, knowing that line was as crooked as a barren winter’s tree branch.

“Perhaps it was a smarter move than you knew saying farewell, seeing as her days on BOLARUS IX may be numbered.” He snickered again.

“Please explain… Sir.” She sat, stylus and PADD in hand, ready to go over today’s agenda but now wondering what the man was talking about.

“Watch for yourself,” Hussein Karimi challenged, turning on the large monitor on the side wall. The FedCom feed came to life, bursting with color and sound. {{This is Pryia Singh with some disturbing footage from BOLARUS IX yesterday as President Xall announced the appointment of Xana Bonviva as their new Councilwoman. This comes in the wake of the death of Councilman Drass and two others, under circumstances that are still under investigation.}} It was a scene of chaos as it appeared Xana was left alone on a balcony at the Presidential estate, with an angry mob of Bolians about to rip her to shreds. The vid shook and lost and gained focus with all the hallmarks of an amateur, probably one of the crowd recording on the fly, and ended with what appeared to be a handful of sympathizers trying to protect the new Council member while the witness ran from the scene, scurrying feet being the last image.

The older woman slumped in her seat, dumbfounded. There was so much anger, and Marie-Claire felt none of it was deserved. Did they really see Xana as some kind of interloper? Martine had guessed Xana had concerns about where she was going or else she would have been more open about her departure, but this was brutality.

The reporter continued. {{Xana Bonviva’s two most recent positions were as Secretary of Starfleet and Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager for Councilman Hussein Karimi from EARTH. We reached out to BOLARUS for comment, and Yalar Traras, Councilwoman Bonviva’s Chief of Staff, advised us her condition is ‘safe and unharmed’, but did not offer anything further on her platform or her next steps to unite the Bolian people and rebuild after the devastating Romulan attack.}} As the story switched to other news, he shut the screen off. He looked triumphant.

Martine was horrified, but felt as though Karimi was testing her. She swallowed hard and looked at the antique clock that graced the far wall of the office, trying to focus. “Interesting,” she replied dryly. “We’re five minutes late at reviewing the day’s business. Shall we proceed?”


=/\=

Location: Beslan Station
Scene: Automat/Common Area

Amanda Lane tried to look casual as she examined the rows of replicator options the way station had to offer. Tomato soup, egg salad sandwich, pb&j. Jumja sticks. Gagh. She found herself shuddering in disgust in spite of the more timid offerings.

Daryle had come with her (of course), but he had reserved one of the sleeping chambers to keep a low profile. The pilot Amanda was trying to get a word with probably wouldn’t say much, but she definitely wouldn’t say anything at all if they ganged up on her two-to-one.

She’d decided to portray a pilot from a competing transport company, although one that was considered lesser to PP. It was risky, because this Montoya person might think she was trying to take her job or something, but she also knew there was no reason for anyone other than someone in the business to be stuck in this forsaken place.

Amanda replicated a worn flight suit and matching ball cap, tinted her hair an unremarkable shade of brown and ditched her makeup, hoping to fit into this underbelly of the unsung people responsible for keeping goods moving and people in the dark about just how little resources were on a single planet.

She ordered what the replimat called “a whole lotta latte” and brazenly sat across from her mark, Evangeline Montoya. “Sup?” Amanda uttered, peering out from under her cap, trying to sound like she didn’t care.

The woman stared at her, wild-eyed. It was obvious she didn’t know what to make of Amanda, who had chosen to sit at the same table as hers in an otherwise empty room. Obviously the Lurian hadn’t made either ship a priority, or the other ‘captives’ were busy sleeping, or jacking off in the holodeck. The merch business was still a man’s world, as much as companies would like to say otherwise. It smacked of sexism to have two female pilots waiting to leave, even if she didn’t know who else might be here. That meant bias was alive and well also. “Eh, you’re stuck here too.” She twirled the lollipop with her right hand and popped it right back in her mouth. It was then that Amanda noticed that Montoya had ordered soup and a half sandwich, but they were untouched.

“Yeah, name’s Mandy.” She looked outside at the asteroid belt cascading down around them. “This is my first time here.” It wasn’t difficult to manufacture the nervousness she felt; lucky for her it suited the situation so well.

“You can call me Sedna, if that interests you. My likes are lollipops, lollipops, and getting my cargo delivered on time. My dislikes are running out of lollipops and being trapped on this crappy excuse for a layover.” She laughed a throaty laugh.

“Have you been on the circuit long?”

Montoya’s hands shook a little. “I… took a break. But i’m no stranger to the skies.” She reached in her side pocket and pulled out- surprise- a lollipop. “This one’s watermelon- you want?”

Amanda motioned to the coffee she was drinking. “Thanks, but no.”

Evangeline tossed her tangle of dark brown hair, shrugged, and put the candy back in her flight suit. “Your loss, then.”

Amanda gestured to her uniform. “You guys at Pangeos Pathways really have your shit together. Travaria Travellers is trying like hell to climb the corporate ladder but I don’t think they’ll ever get there.”

“As long as they’re paying ya on time, there’s no need to be worried about their bottom line. If they go under, you might have a shot at moving up in the world.”

“Is that how you got there?’ she asked eagerly.

Sedna could feel the swiss cheese holes in her mind try to fill their addled gaps. She wore a uniform in her old job too, but it wasn’t for the place this Mandy chick was from. “No, just lucky I guess,” she answered, not knowing any other way to respond.

“What have they got you haulin’?”

Montoya shrugged again. “I find it best if I don’t ask too many questions and focus on the trip. They don’t pay me to think, they pay me to fly. Are you sure you don’t need a lolly? I think I have some butterscotch left-”

Amanda shook her head and managed a smile, although that was not the answer she wanted. “Nah I’m good.”

An awkward silence filled the space between them for maybe a minute or two. “I don’t understand one thing,” Amanda eventually said, once more taking in the view of the asteroid belt which while off-putting, was strangely beautiful.

“Only one thing?” Montoya said.

“Yeah. If they were able to put stabilizers on Beslan, why didn’t they just throw on some thrusters and steer away from this place? It’d be a lot more successful if they did.”

“That’s a question for an Engineer. Not it. You?”

“Nope. Don’t have book smarts like that. But I’ve gotten to travel.”

Montoya laughed again. “One would hope you’d notice that in the cockpit.”

“Okay, yeah. I’ve gotten to see so many different places, even though they never seem to arrange the routes in a straight line or at least triangulate for a flight plan. ORGANIA, OMICRON CETI III. MERAK II.”

Sedna wondered what the Organians would trade in, but professional courtesy stopped her from asking. “Seen way too much of VULCAN and EARTH lately. BENZAR. ADIGEAN PRIME. ACAMAR III. And I can’t forget DENOBULA.”

Amanda leaned forward and put her chin in her hands, making a mental note of the places. There was obviously some kind of connection to Karimi as Xana expected, but the rest didn’t make any sense right now. “Sounds kind of cushy if you ask me.”

“How cushy can any of this be if we’re both marooned on Beslan Station?”

“Good point,” Amanda said ruefully.

Montoya stood and stretched, lollipop still impossibly perched in her mouth as it had been for most of the interview that she didn’t know was an interview. “No offense, Mandy, but I’m going to get in some shut-eye. If I don’t see you before we launch, keep your chin up and safety first.”

“Thanks Sedna, you do the same,” Amanda said, watching the woman walk away with a confident but slightly unstable gait. She had nothing to do for a few minutes but drink the bracing but overly sweet coffee until Daryle Povenmire’s voice came in over the earbud she was wearing. [[The bird has entered her nest.]]

“Good. I’m headed your way,” Miss Lane said quietly. “No matter what we need to be at least boarded and ready for takeoff before she is.”

[[Five hours and forty-seven minutes before we’re in the clear zone. If you want a nap I can stay up so we don’t miss the opportunity.]]

“That won’t be necessary. I’ve got some planets and ports to research.”

[removed]void(0)
=/\=
NRPG: Thanks for your feedback and support, Sarah!

Note: In some source materials the planet ADIGEON PRIME is spelled ADIGIAN PRIME but appears to refer to the same location.

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Amanda Lane
FedCom field reporter

And

Marie-Claire Martine
Acting Chief of Staff for Councilman Karimi of EARTH

And borrowing
Evangeline “Sedna” Montoya
Pilot
Pangeos Pathways

 

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