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Patriot Games

Posted on Oct 09, 2017 @ 4:03am by Marie-Claire Martine

Mission: Aftermath

“Patriot Games”

=/\=

“A Patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
-Edward Abbey

=/\=

Location: VULCAN
SD: [2.17]0827.1430
Scene: Karimi’s Office

The Canadienne entered the room with respect and stealth, the only noise a slight swish of the material of her fit and flare dress as the skirt moved with her. The red garment was trimmed in royal blue at the shoulders and the waist, and her slingback shoes matched the accent color, their wedge heel a slight respite from the pumps she’d been wearing. Her chestnut bob had been arranged in a short twist, and a pair of glasses hung around her neck from a slender silver chain. “Good morning,” she said plainly, opening the vertical strips of fabric on the window, letting some light into the room.

Karimi winced at the shafts of sunbeams brightening the space, but he grudgingly allowed her this ritual. “Morning, Ms. Martine.” He noticed she was carrying two PADDs this morning rather than her usual one.

She physically twitched a little under his examination of her, but her facial expression remained neutral. “I have the information you requested. I’m sure there’s more, but we haven’t reached it yet.” M-C handed him the dossier they had created based on Xana’s past indiscretions. Hopefully it would be enough for the Councilman to believe there was no conflict in the new Chief of Staff’s loyalties, even though that was a lie. Straight talk was one of her strengths; it was one that Xana appreciated. But it was something that didn’t suit Karimi or his motives at all.

He read the file while Martine put her glasses on and browsed the daily agenda they were about to go over.

She curiously peered at him over her work, his general appreciation and approval of the drudge file necessary to keep things moving along. **Toward what?** M-C didn’t know. Karimi made a grunting noise which startled her, and her eyes darted back towards the pretense for her presence in the office to begin with. Truthfully, there *was* business to attend to. But the Councilman’s position was not really focused in that particular direction.

Xana’s arrival back on Vulcan was the talk of the town. But other than in the hushed tones of looking for incrimination, Karimi was oddly silent on his former Chief of Staff. It was easy to see that Earth’s representative had a gift for obfuscation, even among his own staff. But it was all a political bait-and-switch. Karimi used this mental sleight of hand to further his own agendas in plain sight. Everyone was made to look elsewhere first. This time, he seemed to have chosen Xana as his illusion. And he was about to try to pull the biggest con of all, and get elected President of the Federation. It was something Marie-Claire would have wanted at one time, but the realization of who they were dealing with had been sobering.

Eventually, a scapegrace smile appeared on the Karimi’s face as he set the PADD down with satisfaction. He even tried to laugh, but it came out a little fake-sounding.

“Well?” she prodded hopefully.

Hussein Karimi puffed out his chest a little and paused for gravitas.“By all means, continue your investigation. However, current council business and events need to take precedence unless I state otherwise. Is that clear, Marie-Claire?” He used her name with a weak attempt at being personable.

“Of course,” she answered, trying not to sound surprised. There were only two things his comments could mean; either he wasn’t wanting to throw Xana under the proverbial bus any more, or he already had the information he was so desperately seeking to take the Bolian-Human woman down, and the whole ‘assignment’ was just meant to divert Martine. The problem was she didn’t know what bombshell the man was trying to divert her from.


=/\=

Location: DENOBULA
Scene: Gilead Health Sciences, LLC

Amanda tugged at the white lab coat and phony credentials that identified her as an employee of the company designated as the last stop of this particular Pangeos Pathways route before heading back to Earth. Her goal was to get a sample of the medicine that was so shrouded in secrecy, in order to have it analyzed. She clutched her coat, trying to keep her hands from shaking as she walked down the corridor. She’d programmed the ship’s computer to be her ersatz assistant, having made the difficult decision to send Daryle to ACAMAR III and follow up on whatever purpose the planet had in this plan. FedCom wasn’t convinced there was a story here, and thus didn’t want to expend further resources chasing it. But with election season coming up fast, it would have taken too long to gather their findings if they stayed together.

Gilead wasn’t just any pharmaceutical agency. Well-placed digging had turned up a connection between the Federation Council and the medical offices. Councilman Quom was the majority shareholder, and served on the Board of Directors. Furthermore, at least one member of his family for the past 4 generations had been involved in a similar capacity.

[[There are two elevators approximately twenty feet straight ahead of you. Take the one on the right to the thirty-fourth level.]] As the computer’s voice gently guided her through the building through her earpiece, in a way to avoid as many of the staff as possible, Amanda thought about her meeting with Ms. Bonviva. All the half-Bolian woman had been looking for was the money that should have been in the “Save Bolarus” fund. But it hadn’t taken long to figure out that issue was only an outward sign of a much larger conspiracy. Questions were still piled up despite weeks of investigative work. What was the name of this drug? What was it used for? Why was it so private?

Amanda exited the elevator, pushing the heavy, dark-framed glasses up. They were recording her every move, as well as providing feedback on anyone or anything she might encounter along the way to Montoya’s ship. She paused when she saw two men, a Denobulan and a Human, consulting a chart. They looked up at her, and she smiled as the display acted quicker than her ability to read their nametags. The best defense was a good offense. “Good morning, Doctor Ephrax, Doctor Lucas.”

She could see the confusion on their faces and just smiled wider. Neither wanted to admit they didn’t remember her. And she certainly wasn’t going to admit that they shouldn’t. “Good morning,” Doctor Lucas replied stiffly.

“I wanted to thank you again for that conference you led last month on the role of genome testing in preferred colonization of un-terraformed planets.”

Lucas’ face brightened a little, because while he still had no clue who she was, she was doing all the work in the conversation. “I’m glad you found usefulness in it.”

“I did indeed. Good day, gentlemen.” Amanda nodded and took the left hallway. The pharmaceutical company had two buildings; the one she was in now was taller and contained mainly research and development labs and conference rooms. The second building, which this hallway led to through a skyway, contained the packing and transport hubs. It was there that Pangeos Pathways’ vessel was being filled with the ‘medication’ alluded to on the manifest she had stolen a copy of.

She found herself glancing at the bustle far below her as she traversed the pathway, feeling secure but a little in awe of the activity in the busy city. “Time?” she said to the computer.

[[We are behind schedule due to our best attempts to avoid personnel. I estimate thirteen minutes until the ship is cleared to leave.]]

“And how long until we reach it?”

[If we do not encounter any others, five minutes.]]

Eight minutes wasn’t much of a margin. Amanda quickened her pace.


=/\=

Location: ACAMAR III
Scene: Pinewood Village

The air was thick with humidity and some lingering fog, the ground sodden and muddy with recent rains. Daryle’s shoes slid against the saturated ground as he tried to make headway with a woman who indicated she was some kind of official in regards to his request to make a home on the non-Federation planet. Within a few minutes of his clearance being granted to the planet, she’d shown up on a landcruiser

Aishe Norfield eyed the visitor suspiciously. “You’re looking for a place to live?” Normally she would have sent someone to meet the visitor, but when Pali heard it was a man that had come to visit and not a child, he pushed the responsibility off on her, despite the mine activity being hampered a little by the weather. In the end, she understood, and it was easier to go herself than it was to take someone away from their work at the huts.

Daryle Povenmire nodded… again. “I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just looking for a place to settle down in, to colonize. I explained all this in Customs.” The three men had kept him for hours, asking all sorts of inane questions.

“You’re not some kind of criminal, are you?”

“No!” he said emphatically. “Miss Norfield, I’m just yearning for a simpler life. But feel free to run a background check if you need to.”

Aishe made a clicking noise with her tongue as she examined the man’s physical form instead of responding to his statement. He was a little on the tall side, which would be less desirable as a sire for the workers, but he was thin and lanky as well, which might be a plus. He was a bit long in the tooth, but he still looked like he had some productive years left-

“Miss Norfield?”

“I’m sorry, what?” she asked, distracted.

“Do you need to run a further check on me? What are your rules for becoming a member of this society?”

“Bramantine,” she said simply. “We live for Bramantine. You would be expected to support that industry.”

Daryle was encouraged. He knew for sure now that they were on the right track. “That’s your main export?”

“It’s our only export,” she replied blatantly.

“What is Bramantine used for?”

Aishe shrugged. “Dunno. It’s not really our concern.”

The man frowned. He hadn’t seen that coming. “Well, before making a decision, am I able to receive information about the different types of jobs available?”

“Sure. But there’s only two… the pits or the huts. And you’re too old to work the pits. So I’ll show you the huts. This way.”


=/\=

Location: DENOBULA
Scene: Gilead Pharmaceuticals, Orbital Transport Bay

Ms. Montoya’s ship had been kept on the other side of the bay, away from the other vessels doing the business of Gilead Pharmaceuticals. Amanda stayed to the perimeter of the large area until she was able to disappear into the back of Sedna’s ride.

It was filled to the brim with stacks of unmarked green cases. The standard Gilead insignia was nowhere to be found, nor any other identifying details. The only breathing room in the hold was a walkthrough space spanning the left side of the inventory, along with headroom at the top for tethering equipment that had yet to be pulled down and secured. Inertial dampeners were standard on a cargo ship, but a little extra protection wasn’t unheard of. The FedCom reporter carefully pulled at and slid out one of the lower cases, noticing the lock sealing the contents. She took an electronic pick out of her pocket and held it at an angle. The wand shaped device emitted a modulated array of soft sounds before one of them made the case emit a click and unlock.

She braced the case between her body and the wall of the bay and opened it. Rows of slightly opalescent liquid doses were nestled in foam. She plucked one of them out, allowing herself a moment of satisfaction. It was a bit anti-climactic, really, until she could get the product analyzed.

Before she could pocket the hypospray vial she felt someone grab her shoulder, spin her her around and push her against the side of the cargo hold. The case clattered to the ground. Temporarily stunned, Amanda gasped, letting the squat cylinder of pinkish fluid fall from her grasp and roll across the floor with a hollow sound.

“Hey!” Evangeline Montoya, or rather what was left of her, tried to focus her addled brain on the young woman who’d been trailing her for at least the last couple of stops. She squinted at her as if somehow the motives for being followed would make more sense than they did when Sedna first reported her suspicions to the higher-ups. Honestly, Montoya wasn’t sure if the whole thing wasn’t the paranoid hallucination of a freespacer whose mind had been fried by one of the best. “Mandy, wasn’t it?” She could tell her ‘stalker’ had changed her look, but it was still the same woman she had met on Beslan Station.

Amanda nodded, her mind racing with the outcomes of being caught. “That’s right.”

The dark-haired pilot twirled a grape lollipop in her mouth. “Why are you following me? You have a beef with me?”

“N-no,” Amanda blinked, trying to drum up some tears. She was going to have to take a calculated risk, and hope like hell that it payed off. She looked away from Montoya, feigning desperation beyond what she already had. “I just *need* this medicine, that’s all.”

“For what?” It was a fair question.

“I was told my brother might die if he didn’t get it.”

“That’s why you asked where I was going. You figured out I didn’t have the finished product yet,” Montoya surmised.

Amanda agreed. “This isn’t available on the open market yet. The doctor who told me about it said it was still in the experimental phase, but that they’d already tried everything else and it wasn’t working. So I left him behind on Earth to get some.”

“I see.” That was more information than the pilot had, but she didn’t want to admit that. “What should I do with you?” Montoya asked, cracking her knuckles.

Amanda flinched. “Please. I know you could wipe the floor with me. But I have to get that drug for him. I have some money.”

“How much?”

“I have fifty strips of gold-pressed latinum in my right pocket. It’s all yours for one of these vials.” Amanda held her hands up as a show of good faith. “I’m not armed.” She was telling the truth. It wasn’t until that moment that she wished for a needler or something to defend herself with.

“That’s about what- five grand?” the freespacer asked, her mind riddled with gaps, but finance and assets were still clearer in her thoughts than other things.

“Yeah. I’m sorry it’s not more. But it’s all I got.”

Montoya slammed her hand into the wall above Amanda’s head. Time was ticking away and she had a delivery to make. “I don’t like being told what to do.”

“I’m not telling you to *do* anything. It’s an offer. I need the meds. I’m sure Pangeos Pathways can’t be paying you *that* much- you could use the money. You’d be giving my brother a chance to live. It seems like a win-win scenario to me.”

Evangeline Montoya moved away from the woman she knew as Mandy, but still watching her for any sudden movements or any other behavior which would have indicated a different motive than the one she had described. But in the back of her fractured mind, there was a wish. Sedna wished that someone had cared about her as much as Mandy seemed to care about her brother. The toe of her boot touched the vial that had rolled across the floor. She stared at it for a moment, picked it up, held it in her hand with reverence, then offered it to Mandy. “Here.”

Amanda took the sample with a shaky hand, utterly dumbfounded. She reached in the lab coat’s right pocket and pulled out the latinum. “A deal’s a deal.”

Montoya shook her head. “I can’t take your money. Just don’t tell anyone where you got the stuff from.”

“Are you sure?” she held out the money.

The pilot pushed it back to Mandy, before she could wonder too much about going soft. “Just go. Before I change my mind.”

“Thank you.” Amanda said the only thing she could think of to say and left.


=/\=

NRPG: Just to recap-
Karimi knows Xana is dying. But Martine doesn’t.
Daryle is about to discover the bleak existence of the breeding for new workers (miners) on ACAMAR III.
Amanda finally gets the sample of medication produced using the Bramantine. But what is it and what does it do? And why is its existence being kept so quiet?

Susan Ledbetter

Writing for

Marie-Claire Martine
Acting Chief of Staff for Councilman Karimi

And

Amanda Lane
FedCom Reporter

 

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