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Conscience of Ignorance

Posted on Jan 06, 2018 @ 9:23pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Jan 06, 2018 @ 9:23pm

Mission: Bramatine: Truth, Justice and the Federation Way

“Conscience of Ignorance”

(Continued from “Epiphany”)

=/\=

There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.
-Mahatma Gandhi

By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.
-Albert Camus

=/\=

Location USS PHOENIX, Orbiting ACAMAR III
SD: [2.17]0104.1143
Scene: Bridge


Commander Malin-Argo looked displeased as he occupied the center seat with equal parts authority and separation anxiety from his prized warp core. While the majority of the senior staff was planetside, It made sense to have the seasoned officer attend to the Conn. He placated his need to maintain a watchful eye over the ship’s propulsion system with a tablet at his side streaming real-time readings while he saw to his added duties.

Cantor Von acted casual while he tinkered with the Operations console, but the reality was he had effectively mobilized the entirety of the ship’s available resources to assist the planet below, ready to act once someone said the word. While the worst had already happened, a massive cave-in with an unethically young body count, they were only at the tip of the iceberg as to what kind of help the people of ACAMAR III needed and what the CAIRO’s purpose was if not to provide aid or help the natives develop into a legitimate Federation property. One thing was certain; the planet didn’t seem to be the only thing buried and unstable.

“Just the person I was looking for,” Eve said as she exited the turbolift.

He glanced over at her. “What’s up?”

There was a pleasant subterfuge in her gray eyes. “I need to talk to Evangeline Montoya. I want you to come with me.”

“What, no ‘pretty please’?” He joked.

“If that will help, sure,” she offered coyly, but didn’t say the words. She handed him a PADD instead. “She’s the former ‘Fleet pilot working for Pangeos Pathways, who apparently picks up the Bramatine and takes it elsewhere for processing. She was there when the accident occurred, and with no payload, it looks like she’s waiting for more of the product before she takes off with it. That’s our window.”

He paused. “You’ve been doing this job since long before I got here,” Von said plainly before even accessing the information that had been given to him. “I don’t think you need Betazoid spidey-sense every time you want to go picking someone’s brain.”

Amused but not deterred, Dalziel continued. “She isn’t your average interview- or your average pilot. She had a run-in with Selyara Chen while the PHOENIX was providing support to refugees from the space station known as LIMBO. Suffice it to say, Selyara survived it much better than Montoya did. It’s a miracle the woman’s alive and functioning.”

“Hmm,” he said noncommittally. He’d never met the woman who allegedly ran Section 31, if it truly existed. The agency was one of those things that he knew about, more than most people would due to his experience, but probably not as much as he thought he knew.

“With one touch, Selyara can render someone’s brain inert- I saw her do it to Richard Edgerton. He would have been a vegetable the rest of his days if Rochemonté hadn’t finished the job. Luckily, or maybe unluckily, for Montoya, she only got a taste of what Selyara released on Edgerton.”

Cantor started reading the data file and began to understand a little more. “In light of that, is she going to trust anyone from the PHOENIX? Would our involvement make anything clearer?”

“That’s my point. She’s not obligated to tell us anything. But she’s a private citizen now. She has no reason to hide information that might make Starfleet look bad.”

“Do you think the CAIRO is up to something?”

“Not sure. But Kane does, and that instinct is good enough for me right now.”

“He’s angry and suspicious,” Von surmised.

“Let’s face it, those aren’t new traits. But normally he keeps them much more buttoned up. It takes a lot for him to lose his composure. I have no doubt his concerns are justified.”

“What are you expecting to find out from the pilot?”

“Whatever it is, I’m certain that what Montoya doesn’t tell us is going to be as important as what she *does* tell us.”


=/\=

Location: ACAMAR III
Scene: Clearing near the Hungry Pits


The two officers quietly beamed down in an area near the location of the cargo shuttle. The surface of the territorial dominion world didn’t look especially remarkable at first, until they saw the evidence of what had taken place here. “Oh,” Eve said, overwhelmed, and Cantor had a grim expression as the reality of what transpired took a fresh hold.

The mine in its prime had the appearance of a terraced funnel, burrowing deep into the argil-rich crust of the world. The structure was completely absent now, looking like a massive crater that had collapsed onto itself. It was obvious to see how the young miners had been swallowed in the gaping maw of indiscriminate destruction. Particulate matter still hung in the air, making the sky hazier than usual.

“This way,” Von said quietly, after allowing the Counselor a moment to take it all in, knowing that trying to comprehend the mine accident was pointless, but denying it had an effect on them was equally so.

The once-upon-a-time Starfleet officer was leaning haphazardly against the side of her craft, not so much watching their approach as looking through them, her ability to register their arrival shrouded by the ease at which she appeared to ignore everything going on around her.

“Are you Evangeline Montoya?” Eve asked when she got within earshot.

“Only suits call me Evangeline.” the listless woman replied, evaluating them from top to bottom. “Sedna is fine. Or Montoya. Whatever.”

“This is Lieutenant Cantor Von. I’m Lieutenant Eve Dalziel. We’re from the PHOENIX.”

“You’re the cavalry?” The wild-haired pilot asked nonchalantly. She took a pina colada lollipop out of her pocket and unwrapped it, situating the candy in the corner of her mouth.

Eve nodded, her ponytail hanging over her right shoulder. “Admiral Stiles asked the ship to rendezvous with the CAIRO.”

“You’re a little late,” Montoya offered as she gestured to the earthen devastation.

The lanky Betazoid was met with a mix of emotions from the hapless aviatrix. It was a jumble with a decided lack of direction, and it almost gave him the psionic equivalent of a headache. “They didn’t know this was going to happen- hindsight is 20/20.”

“You can’t tell me that *nobody* saw this coming,” she pushed out without thinking.

“Sabotage?” Eve asked with alarm.

“No,” she answered impassively. “Mining practices from the olden times where women couldn’t vote and labor laws didn’t exist. But those blue rocks must be pretty fuckin’ popular because getting them in my hold was all they seemed to care about. Even now, they know I’m waiting for more.”

“Didn’t you feel an obligation to report these things?” The raven-eyed man found himself asking.

Her expression was one of hurt, but she quickly recovered her apathy as she took the lollipop, looked at it, and put it back in her mouth. “Heh. Obligations are for people that can afford them. All I have to do is pick up, transport, and not ask questions. Even a brain-damaged loser like me can do that, right?” She said the words with bravado, but Von detected sadness.

Eve sighed. This was going about as well as she expected. “Do you know what the Bramatine is used for? The blue rocks- the ore you’ve been transporting.”

Montoya looked entertained. Just because she’d been knocked around, hard, didn’t mean she was an idiot.. “Lady, I barely know that shit has a name. I told you, I don’t ask a lot of questions. Whatever they can make out of it, there’s a demand that outstrips the supply. I haven’t had a vacation in months, unless you count all this damned waiting between loads.”

“Do you have any idea why the USS CAIRO wouldn’t try to stop the children from working in the mines? They would never be allowed to become a member world until they put a stop to that.”

“I don’t pay much attention to anything besides getting this rust bucket from point a to point b. If it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.” It didn’t explain the irritating flack she got from Curly each time she approached and disembarked, but again, questions didn’t seem particularly useful.

Cantor thought he understood what the pilot was getting at. “If the Acamarian people are getting their money, and the clients are getting their product, is becoming a member of the Federation that important to them? The time and resources required to do this the moral way would compromise both of those things.” Montoya nodded.

This didn’t sit well with Eve. “They won’t help them improve themselves, but they’ll let them fall all over each other to provide a product that contributes to their economy at the expense of their way of life? Disgusting.”

“Ignorance works like that. And I suspect most of the parties involved in this are ignorant to the struggles and sacrifices it’s taking to get this stuff to market.” It was like the scandal involving blood diamonds in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Von turned to Sedna Montoya. “Have you ever seen an end product to this? An object, something? Anything?”

Montoya took the words in. It wasn’t easy to trust the crew of the ship where she lost her marbles at the hands of that nutjob telekinetic, and she couldn’t trust her bosses any further than she could throw them, and the crew of the CAIRO seemed like a thorn in her side even though they did not want to impede the supply of the strange metal that she had discovered was called Bramatine. But it was nice to know there were others who felt that was was going on here was wrong. “It’s been refined into a liquid and a solid. What they make it into from there, I don’t know. It’s some kind of industrial thing.”

Von felt her hesitance, despite what she just said. “Where does it travel to?”

She hesitated, shifting the lollipop to the other side of her mouth. “Medical facilities on DENOBULA. A district on BAJOR known for munitions production. Points in between, too many to count. It’s a giant trade triangle.”

“Do you have any of the ore?” Dalziel asked hopefully. She wanted to make sure either they, or the away team led by Crichton, could deliver a sample into Doctor Crow’s experienced hands.

“If I did, I would already be off of this rock,” Montoya replied.
Eve could feel that this was about as far as she was going to get. It was certainly more than they had when they started. “Thanks. If there’s anything else you can think of-” the Counselor alluded.

“I know the hailing frequency, Lieutenant,” Montoya said grudgingly. If something struck her, she didn’t have anything better to do, but her purpose wasn’t to feed the fleeters information. It was to resume her route, with cargo. She was only beginning to wonder how long it would take the Acamarians to get back on task.

“Okay,” Eve acknowledged, before walking over to the beam down point and veering to the right, heading downhill. The ground was dry and dusty in some places, while somewhat muddy in others.

“What next?” Von asked, easily keeping stride with the Cardassian born woman through the slightly uneven surface, noticing Eve wasn’t asking for transport back to the ship.

“We need to check in with Cade and Jake- I want to know what’s going on closer to the damage zone. They might require help,” she suggested.

“Byte is on standby with whatever is necessary,” Cantor agreed, having briefed the Assistant Ops before they left the ship.

The slope flattened out about fifty meters down. “Did you feel Montoya was telling the truth?” Eve finally asked.

Von thought at the mix of sentiments he had witnessed. “She was conflicted.”

“Aren’t we all?" Eve mused. "But can we rely on what she said?”

“Yes. She believed what she was saying to be the truth. But what does it mean? I don’t think any of us know, yet.”


=/\=

NRPG: So that just happened. And where is everyone?

Kane and Tomas: planetside, Kane having recently spoken to Karimi before meeting with Pali Shepherd in Deadfall

Jake and Cade: Away Team on planet in order to determine the best way to assist, along with the request to gather Bramatine to study the substance

Jasmine and Lynette: tracking down computer discrepancies on the CAIRO

Aerdan: in Sickbay tending to our precious Captain Smooshy

Kass: Where *is* our favorite Marine?

Malin-Argo, Byte, and Dr Crow: On the ship

Von and Eve: planetside, having questioned Montoya, are headed to Jake and Cade’s location


Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Cns
USS PHOENIX

 

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