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Ladies' Choice

Posted on Jul 21, 2017 @ 4:39am by Marie-Claire Martine

Mission: Aftermath

“Ladies’ Choice”
(Continued from “Knight to Queen’s Rook”)


=/\=

Location: VULCAN
SD: [2.17]0716.0324
Scene: Martine’s Office

Marie-Claire Martine sat primly behind her predecessor’s desk, slipping a beautiful but highly uncomfortable pair of navy heels off her feet. The turquoise colored shift-dress was light and cool, and much more feminine than the pantsuits she had been wearing, and she hoped it would send the signal to Karimi that she had upped her game by polishing her image. It had worked to an extent with Richard Edgerton, and Karimi was certainly not as smart as the Neo-Essentialist leader. So there was some optimism there.

Speaking of Karimi, since her meeting she had brought Security in to do a full sensor sweep, under the guise that Xana had possibly bugged the offices, and Karimi did not hesitate in allowing the expense. Lucky for Martine there hadn’t been anything, and so she knew it would be okay to continue business (and relationships) as usual, at least when she wasn’t in the Councilman’s presence. She looked at the man from Monaco who had become a great deal more to her than just an associate. “Are you with me? I need to know because it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

“That’s your plan?” The dark-skinned man asked in a skeptical manner.

Marie-Claire gave Gideon a withering stare. “Either way, it’s la méprise. If I had said no, he would have fired me and come after both me and Xana. The only way to try and get through this is to play the game. Karimi holds all the pieces right now.”

“How long do you think you can hold him off?” the Press Secretary asked.

“I have no idea. In the meantime we need to reopen Xana’s drudge file, and at least make the appearance that we’re trying to look for something to discredit her.”

Gideon Bosley shrugged. “All we found last time was her romantic dalliances. But that could make her look unstable in some areas.”

“If poor choices in love were enough to assassinate someone’s character, just about everyone on that Council floor would be guilty of *something*, except maybe T’Pau.” Martine smiled at the thought, even though the idea that she’d have to drag Xana through the mud at some point did not please her in the slightest.

“Maybe someone’s trying to nail Karimi’s political coffin closed at this very moment, and they will get to him before you have to give it to Xana.”

“That’s a big ‘maybe’. And nothing seems to go our way, so I’m definitely not expecting that now that push has come to shove.”

“How soon do you think Xana will leave for VULCAN?”

“If she’s smart, the sooner the better. The Bolian people don’t look any more hospitable than the Council. In fact, things are a lot more tense there than I had guessed from the outside. What’s worse is the Federation pledged help, but it doesn’t look like that help is getting to the people.”

“Nobody seems to care. The only headlines lately are about the fact that Karimi didn’t support his own bill.”

Martine ran her hands through her chestnut bob, trying to keep the style in place that she had actually spent time on this morning. “That was the biggest problem with it. It wasn’t *his* bill, it was *ours*. We’ve spent so much time trying in vain to give the man a platform that looks like he gives a shit. But he doesn’t care. He’s just showing us who is in charge. If we do anything close to that again, we need to make sure he thinks it’s his idea.”

Gideon had a thought. “Ask Leitas if she can work up a few possibles and we’ll present them. If anything grabs his attention, we’ll try to get a commitment. Otherwise we’ll keep throwing until something sticks.”

“At least that will keep him busy while I think of something better than stalling. Although I’m serious about reinvestigating Xana.”

“Why?”

M-C looked conflicted. “I can’t put my finger on it, but I think Xana didn’t tell me everything that’s happened in the last few months. Not because she was trying to hide something, but out of concerns for what she was getting into, and didn’t want any of is involved in case it became dangerous. And I’d like to find out about it before Karimi does.”


=/\=

Location: ADIGEON PRIME
Scene: Docking Area (Interior of FedCom vessel)

Daryle Povenmire called to the back of the cabin where Amanda was changing. “There’s little doubt that whatever cargo Pangeos Pathways is hauling with Montoya, it has a medical use. High level plastic surgery, genetic enhancement, you name it, they have it here.”

Amanda came out and took the co-pilot’s seat. She had changed into a flight suit in the same style as Evangeline Montoya’s, taken her hair back to its signature honey blonde, and added a clip on ponytail. “Then it’s not good enough that we know it’s here- we have to find out exactly where that stuff is slated to go. A lab? A hospital?”

“Someplace shady, If I were a betting man.” Daryle was already wearing the colors of Pangeos Pathways, just in case she needed his help.

“When is her ship due?”

He looked at the tracer. “We just beat her, despite the fact that she has cargo and we don’t. Should be here in the next ten minutes.”

“Good.” She painted her mouth with a baby pink plumping lip gloss. “After this, next stop is DENOBULA.”


=/\=

Scene: Docking Hub
Time Index: About 10 minutes later

Montoya leaned against the ship, a raspberry lollipop monopolizing her snacking habits as she watched the unloading process. It took her some careful observation of the birdlike inhabitants of the planet who were silently working until she was comfortable enough that nobody was trying to screw her over, then headed over to check in.

“Welcome to ADIGEON,” the transport officer said. All these places were starting to look the same to the brain-fried pilot, but the feathered man couldn’t be mistaken for anyone but a native.

Montoya nodded and rolled her eyes. “Not your fault, but the schedule’s tight. Last stop didn’t know their ass from their elbow.” She pushed her itinerary and necessary electronic documents towards him. “Here,” she said laconically.

“Efficiency is our top concern, as you should know.” He looked down at the log. “This is your third time here.”

“I’m not much for the small details. When will the transfer of goods be finished?”

His forehead raised when she said that, although it was hard to tell if it was an expression of surprise or disbelief. “I can try to have it done within the hour.”

The woman known sometimes as Sedna readjusted her hat. “That’d be doing me a solid if you can manage it. Nice to be somewhere they know their shit.” She’d meant it as a compliment, but the look on the birdman’s face suggested he didn’t quite understand the need for profanity.


=/\=

Time Index: About 45 minutes later.

“Status report,” Amanda whispered, moving the small messenger bag’s shoulder strap around nervously.
[[Target is in position. You can make your move,]] Daryle’s voice came through the earpiece confidently.

“Ok.” She walked around a corner, from the direction of the transporter pads to the city below, and walked up to the customs counter.

The man with the aquiline nose and hawkish features acknowledged her immediately. “Welcome to ADIGEON. How may I assist-”

“Listen, Mister, I’m in deep shit and I need your help.”

The avian-resembling humanoid stared at her through round eyes that appeared to be able to move independently. “Excuse me, Miss-”

“Laskarbiewicz. Mandy Laskarbiewicz. Co-pilot for Pangeos Pathways.”

“Your associate was just here a short while ago. What can I do to help?” This was certainly irregular.

“I’m so s-sorry,” Amanda stammered. “I need to get a copy of that bill of lading, or else Captain Montoya’s going to have my butt in a sling. I thought I’d have time to sneak away and get my lippies done before she noticed, but she was screaming bloody murder to get back aboard so we could make our next scheduled stop. And I was supposed to take care of the paperwork. So please can you do a girl a favor?” She pouted like a rainbow trout for effect and batted her eyelashes.

“If you will present your itinerary, I will be happy to update it.”

She pulled a digital clipboard practically identical to the one Montoya had out of her bag and handed it as nonchalantly as possible to the man, who quickly honored her request and uploaded a copy of the information. “There you are, Miss Laskarbiewicz,” he replied with surprisingly little accent considering her given name was difficult to say in English, much less Federation Standard.

“Thanks, you’re a real peach,” she said before running off.

The officer tilted his head to one side, not understanding why she compared him to a Terran fruit. “Humans,” he quipped.


=/\=

Scene: Space: FedCom vessel, interior
Time Index: 20 minutes later

Daryle worked at the flight console, adjusting their route, trying to stay close enough to Montoya without arousing suspicion.

“Jackpot!” Amanda said as she read the document she had coaxed the Adigeon male out of a copy of. “A company called Veloxis Pharmaceuticals both took the cargo Montoya had and loaded the new cargo she has now.”

“Which is?”

Amanda laughed as she browsed the manifest. “This is real descriptive. She dropped off ‘supplies’ and picked up ‘medication’.”

“Medication made from what? Made for what purpose?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, my friend. But it’s clear one of the ingredients is on ACAMAR III. And I’m guessing if this had a traditional application or purpose they wouldn’t be moving it so secretly.”

“Does this company have any recognizable links to Council members?”

She tapped the device, entering a search. “It’s a private company,” Amanda said as she frowned. “There’s very little to see through the average channels. We’re going to have to dig.”

“Digging is what we do best,” Daryle said assertively.

“Right now, let’s just stick to piloting,” Amanda replied.


=/\=

Location: SIREN’S SONG, Bridge
Time Index: Several weeks after the events at Elandipole

Siobhan sipped the smoothie blended from frozen berries as she watched the stars stream by through the front viewer. She was wearing a rust colored blouse with a chocolate brown bodice and hunter green skirt, along with a pair of brown ankle boots. Her wild auburn hair was free of any style or adornments. She allowed herself a cheshire cat grin as she enjoyed her extended vacation.

The Bridge was mostly quiet as they sailed to their next destination. Once in a while, one of the crew would come up with a good story, or the Cardassian Sisters would infiltrate the area asking fashion questions, causing a bit of a ruckus as Sly would shoo them out of such a critical area, but in general everyone simply did their job at keeping the cruise yacht running smoothly and their sole guest content.

Sly’s command chair beeped, indicating an incoming message. He looked down at the console nestled in the arm rest. “Ah, it’s fer ye, Lass,” he said with a chuckle as he regarded Siobhan. “Shoulda known nobody’d want anything with an old sea dog like me.”

“Who’s it from?” She was thinking maybe Starfleet Command, maybe her son Drey.

“Xana Bonviva, Councilwoman representing BOLARUS IX.”

Sio was happy to hear from her friend, but then she processed the rest of what Kinderman was saying. “*What*? When did that happen?”

The Captain shrugged. “Maybe we should be spendin’ more time on current events and less time galavanting, Milady,” he admitted, taking off his tricorn hat to scratch his forehead.

“Put it on visual,” Reardon said without further hesitation, and Sly obeyed as the correspondence filled the large viewscreen. The message was short and sweet and a quick read. Xana was asking for, more or less, a ride to VULCAN for her and the kids.

“Sly?” she asked the CO of the pleasure yacht. “I have a request- pretty please?”

“Yer askin’ how fast can we get there, aren’t ye?” His eyes twinkled with the thought of a challenge.

“I was just thinking you’d like the chance to show off your jewel of the universe to a diplomat and her family. You might even get some referrals out of this.”

Sly chuckled. “You needn’t try to ply me with business potential, Lass. It will prove a grand chapter in our adventures.” He looked to the helm. “Fast as you can manage, Lad.”

“Aye, Captain,” the flight control specialist said as he programmed the coordinates.

Kinderman then opened a channel to the Cardassian sisters. “Ladies, we will be having guests. Make sure the other staterooms are ship shape and you’re available to provide your wardrobe services to one adult female and-” he glanced at Sio- “how many kids?”

“Probably three. Two girls and a boy. Although I think her older daughter is nearly grown by now.”

“Did ye hear that?” he asked the ladies through the comm channel.

[[Aye aye Captain,]] the three sisters chimed back in excited unison.

“That settles it,” Sylvester Kinderman said with a flourish, pounding his fist on the armrest. Then standing and drawing his purely ceremonial sword. “We are going to BOLARUS IX!”

The Bridge erupted in hoots and huzzahs. “I suppose I should let them know we’re headed their way,” Sio thought out loud.

“Do ye not think they can hear our celebration?” Sly said with a wink.

“You old scalawag, just humor me and let me send back a message.”

“Whatever the Lass wants,” the grizzled Captain said warmly.


=/\=
Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

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

And

Amanda Lane
FedCom Reporter

And

Siobhan Reardon
On leave

 

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