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Power For Sale

Posted on Jan 21, 2018 @ 6:48pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel & Xana Bonviva
Edited on on Jan 21, 2018 @ 6:49pm

Mission: Bramatine: Truth, Justice and the Federation Way

"Power for Sale"


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In the absence of the sacred, nothing is sacred -- everything is for sale.
-- Oren Lyons

In the absence of truth, power is the only game in town.
-- Richard John Neuhaus

=/\=

Location: VULCAN
Scene: Federation Council
TI: Several Hours After “Nothing To See Here”


Lt. Tomas’ Vukovic stood on the steps of the Federation Council waiting, a fair distance from the hanger-ons, staff, and the press. It had been many life times ago but he could never forget how to do this, to stand off to the side; to blend in and yet stand out. Being a Starfleet officer was common enough on Vulcan with the Federation Council. The sunglasses...well one could assume it was for the strong sun but he knew it was for other reasons, even if they weren’t strictly uniform standard.

Council had been dismissed, judging the sweeping grand motion of the opening of doors and the way the crowds swept up to the way Councilmembers. There was power here -- real or implied -- and like moths to the flame they all were drawn to it. Not even the wisdom of Surak had been enough to stop the seeping of power, greed, and political machinations.

He was patient; absent a pole to lean on he stood to the side and looked around at the scenery, making some notes. Finally his olfactory sensors caught wind of a light scent of night blossoms and sandalwood that did not completely mesh with the VULCAN planet. Turning to see the Bolian Councilwoman standing there he said simply, “Councilwoman. Did you have a good session?”

Xana Bonviva held up a hand to the staff behind her, now curious (to say the very least). “Are we going to talk about the weather next?” she asked, somewhere between confused and bemused.

Vukovic kept looking around, refusing to acknowledge the witty repartee. “We could. Mild day for VULCAN, high of 77 during the day, chances of precipitation are at 20%, humidity is 40%--”

“DEAR GODS,” Xana yelled louder than she intended, “I was *joking*. You do remember how to do that right?” This time Vukovic did turn towards her, a small smile on his lips, and she groaned. “I got played. Alright fair enough.”

“Thank you,” he nodded. “Now if you’ll follow me as we’ll need to fly quickly--”

“No.”

Tomas Vukovic stopped and waited. “No?” he inquired turning around.

Xana folded her arms, causing the sleeves of her flowy white blouse to rise up. “It’s a complete sentence,” she nodded.

“Yes, I know,” he sighed, looking up. He didn’t want to discuss the entire reason why he had come all the way to VULCAN here but he had been hoping he could persuade her that--wait, no, she was still talking.

“--now, look, I’ve forgiven you for not being with me,” the Bolian/Human yelled.

Tomas’ tapped his foot, the only sign that perhaps his Borg sensors were not completely controlling his emotions. “I’m *thrilled* to hear that. Yes, occasionally, I do want to do my own thing, instead of following you from job to job.”

“Yes, that works out so well. Let’s see that includes cubes, insurrections, and having me bail you out!” she yelled.

Tomas’ glared at her for that. “Been saving that one for a while have you,” he muttered.

The two friends glared at each other for a while, before Xana sighed and walked over to her staff and whatever it was she said (Tomas’ gave her enough privacy to let her handle that) she got most of them to go away except for the large Bolian (who he guessed was Security) to leave. With that she walked back and said, “You and I are going for a walk.” When he glanced at the large Security officer assigned to her she said, “Traxx will give us space.”

He wasn’t thrilled by it but he followed. They walked a short distance away from the Federation Council away towards some benches, out of view. Sitting down, Xana Bonviva pointed to the space next to her in a silent command. Sighing the pilot sat down next to her. “I’m sorry, what I said back there was uncalled for,” she said quietly.

Vukovic nodded at that. “It’s okay,” he replied quietly.

Xana looked over at the Federation Council, but in reality her mind was very far away. “Last time you came to me and said I had to go away with you very quickly it was because…”

“Gene had died and it wound up beginning the Second Dominion War,” Vukovic said quietly. “I know.”

Looking down at her hands she asked quietly, “So who is it? Iphie or Jake? Whose body am I here to claim this time?” Shaking her head she said, “I won’t fight you this time. Just let me know before I go into the shuttle.”

Sighing Vukovic took off his sunglasses and realizing he didn’t have a pocket like he used to, he placed them on the bench next to him. “Xana,” he said finally using her first name. “I didn’t come here to get you because someone died.” When she looked over at him, he felt the need to clarify, “Well someone did die, many people, but none of them were Iphie or Jake.” As the question were inevitably to come he said, “Let me explain about what happened and why Captain Kane needs you to come…”

=/\=

Location: ACAMAR III -> PHOENIX
Scene: Village of Deathfall-> Transporter Room
TI: After the events in "Nothing To See Here"


“What can I do for you today, Captain?” Pali Shepherd asked, trying to keep his voice nonchalant. He was a simple man with simple concerns. He had already asserted that none of those concerns should have anything to do with the Captain of the USS PHOENIX. Unfortunately for him, Kane did not seem to have gotten the memo. Whatever Karimi had said to him, it didn’t deter him from not coming back.

Kane was attempting to look relaxed, but it appeared as though someone had jammed a metal rod up his spine; he sat up straight, stiffly, and stared at the official with veiled irritation. “I realized in all the commotion that I knew very little of the Acamarian people, and as my crew assists, bringing aid near the pits, that I should endeavor to educate myself.”

Shepherd eased slightly. Maybe he had been too hasty to judge. He glanced to the left of where Kane was seated. This time, instead of that burly fellow with the shaved head, he’d brought a woman with dark hair, skin so fair that looked like it had never seen the sun or a day’s hard work beneath it, and a passive but pleasant expression.

“This is Lieutenant Dalziel, our ship’s Counselor.” While Eve wasn’t an interplanetary statesmanship expert, her observation skills were needed when dealing with someone as reticent as their governmental contact appeared to be.

Pali offered her a perfunctory handshake, then went back to business. “What would you like to know?”

“Have your people always mined Bramatine?” Eve asked. Kane had instructed her to take the lead on the questioning, as he had already gotten off to a rocky start with Shepherd, and that was not the image he wanted to present while he tried to separate General Order 3 from the fact that countless children had died to further the egress of the dusty blue ore from the depths of the Hungry Pits.

“No, not at all,” Pali began. “Woodcrafting, fletching, and animal breeding formed the backbone of our economy before... we became miners. However, our most important overall contribution to our society is our library, which was designed by the tribal leaders and built 30 years ago.”

“Do you plan on using the proceeds from the harvesting of Bramatine on furthering education, especially as it is the children who perform the bulk of the work in obtaining the product?” Eve took a subtle jab at the backwards nature of how they brought their goods to market.

Mister Shepherd was no novice at toeing the company line. “Our people need assistance from education to infrastructure. The unification and advancement of the Acamarian people has continued to be a pursuit, through any avenues available to us.”

“Do you understand what a unique situation you have here?” Kane interjected. “It is not typical of a protectorate to use minors in such a dangerous field of employment.”

“Whether in the fields, or in other trades, youths have always worked alongside their parents. It is the Acamarian way. But it was discovered that the only ones capable of reaching the Bramatine deposits were children, due to their smaller stature.”

“What happens when the Bramatine deposits are exhausted?” Eve added.

“We have been advised that won’t occur for quite some time,” Shepherd said confidently. “We will be in a much more advanced state by then and able to adjust accordingly.”

A slight tremor, an aftershock from the cave-in, rattled the windows of Pali’s office. A picture fell off the wall, the frame breaking as it hit at an odd angle. Kane braced himself in the chair and hit his comm badge. “This is Kane. Byte, report.”

There was the briefest of pauses. {{Seismic activity has been confirmed as minor, Captain. Point-six-three on the Richter scale. No further exacerbation to the mines or planetary structure. The current duration should be another 10.4 seconds.}}

“Thank you Mister Byte, Kane out.” As they rode the shaking to its conclusion, a stone paperweight shifted, causing a stack of papers on Pali’s desk to carelessly tumble to the floor. Books fell off shelves and a clay urn standing in the corner of the room fell over, but did not break.

It was a long ten plus seconds, but the sensors aboard the PHOENIX had not been incorrect, and the movement gradually subsided. Pali Shepherd had been the first to give a sigh of relief. Kane instinctively reached out to pick up the fallen paperwork, and noticed an invoice clearly marked with the Pangeos Pathways insignia. In fact, there were multiple invoices bearing that company’s name. But there was also a buckslip with lettering that was clearly Orion. And another that displayed the ornate block style of Romulan text, like he had seen during the ship’s visit to the Empire last year. Business was great as far as ACAMAR was concerned- far better than the Federation had been led to believe.

“I believe those are mine,” Pali said sharply, seeing the look on Kane’s face and knowing that he knew what he was holding and the significance of it.

“So they are,” Kane spat back, but instead of the courtesy handing them to Shepherd, he slapped them on the center of his disheveled desk. “I can see now that we’ve been wasting your time. You obviously have deals to be made instead of burning daylight by chatting up the visitors. We’ll be going. If you decide you’d like to continue this, you know where to find me.”

“Captain,” Pali practically growled in a halfhearted farewell.

There was an awkward and uncomfortable silence as Kane exited Shepherd’s office with Eve Dalziel in tow and they made their way to the beam up point. They reappeared in the transporter room maybe a minute later without any fanfare, the CO of the PHOENIX still stonily silent. “Captain?” Eve began, having already stepped down from the platform, waiting for his instructions.

“Thoughts, Lieutenant?” he finally asked, realizing it was either gather her opinion or dismiss her.

“If this was intended to be a diplomatic mission, why did Starfleet send us? That-” she said, gesturing to the planet below, and the situation that had left behind, “was not a good example of negotiation in action.”

Michael Turlogh Kane gritted his teeth. He would have called it something else. “Negotiations only work when both parties know what the other one wants, or if they allow themselves to communicate those intentions. We don’t know what the Acamarians want.”

“They don’t want to be a part of the Federation,” Eve answered. “They want things to continue as they are. But I don’t fully understand why.”

“Because of the Bramatine,” Captain Kane concluded.

Eve recalled the details of Doctor Crow’s report. “Bramatine is what gold was in the 1840’s, and it’s on pace to be the latinum of tomorrow. That discovery has brought ACAMAR a lot of power. And to keep their grip on that power, they’re choosing to keep the status quo of unsafe mining conditions, child labor, and a social caste system that is abhorrent to everything the civilized universe stands for. They’re not even trying to become a full-fledged member world anymore. Why is the CAIRO here, if they aren’t facilitating membership?”

“The new weapons tie the Bramatine to Starfleet. The CAIRO oversees the mining production, even though the handling of that is a bloody abomination.”

“If everyone at large was aware of this, it wouldn’t still be happening, or condoned for that matter,” Eve said, knowing Kane’s feelings of outrage about the issue were not exclusive. “This goes above and beyond our scope, and whoever organized for us to be here knew that. But again, why? Did they expect us to turn a blind eye? Or were they going to offer us something in exchange for our silence? I don’t see anything being brought out on a silver platter. And they have to know we’re getting tired of waiting and growing closer to finding out who is manipulating this.”

“But not close enough,” the Irish CO said, his auric iris glinting under the backlights.

“What next?” Eve asked.

“You’re free to go,” Kane said brusquely. “Thank you, Lieutenant.” he added as a less harsh afterthought. She nodded, going back to her office.

Kane turned crisply on his heels and headed towards the Bridge and his Ready Room. They weren’t anywhere close enough to resolving the conundrum on ACAMAR III to his satisfaction. And there was only one person he knew who might be able to bring them there.

=/\=

Location: USS CAIRO
Scene: Main Engineering


Lt. Cmdr. C’asi, the Caitian CEO, stared at Ensign Lynette Ryan. “You want to do what now?” she asked.

“I want to discuss with some interesting readings I had--” the assistant Engineer began.

The CEO inhaled at that. “Not interested, I have other things to do,” she said as she walked away.

Lt. Yu and Ens. Ryan exchanged looks. “I haven’t said why we’re here,” Lynette explained.

The Caitian paused at the railing she was near while scanning a PADD. “Enlighten me,” she replied with ennui.

Jasmine Yu kept one sharp eye on the Caitian who appeared to be bored, and the two less than brilliant Security officers who were lurking about. Rounding out the team was Sgt. Curly who stood opposite her by the doors, so that Lt. Cmdr. C’asi couldn’t leave easily.

“I’m authorized from the USS PHOENIX,” Lynette began.

Lt. Cmdr. C’asi nodded at that. “So I’ve heard,” she agreed. “Except I outrank you. So when I say “no” that’s it.”

Lynette’s cheek trembled but she stood her ground. “I am authorized to review the files on the CAIRO and from what I saw the structural integrity files--”

The Caitian CEO now started to climb down towards where Lynette Ryan was standing in the middle of Main Engineering. The rest of the Engineering for the CAIRO was steering clear of this tête-à-tête that really should have been done in an office and not for show. After she climbed down she continued her walk over, all the while Lynette continued.

“--and the soundness of the Hungry Pits of ACAMAR to be signed off on right after the events of the cave in,” Lynette continued on, standing her ground, “I think that a complete review of the files is needed.”

Lt. Cmdr. C’asi finally made her way to Lynette and appeared to be studying her with her golden eyes that shone in the slightly darkened cavernous Main Engineering. “I see,” she finally said. “Well then and you know this by your expert opinion?”

Jasmine Yu listened to the way that C’asi asked that question; on its surface it was a fair question. And yet the Security Officer couldn’t help but feel that Ensign Ryan was being set up to fail.

“I do,” Lynette said quietly yet firmly.

Lt. Cmdr. C’asi turned around and went to a nearby console. “Computer pull up all files for Engineering files for Hungry Pits, authorization C’asi; Psi Omikron Pi.” As the computer began pull up records, some of which had clearly not be available before, Lt. Cmdr. C’asi said “Go read.” Giving them all a long look she said, “Now I have other work to do.”

With that the CEO walked away leaving the other officers standing there confused. Lynette moved cautiously to the console to read through the files.

“Was that too easy?” Sgt. Curly whispered to Jasmine.

The Asian woman didn’t say anything, but frowned, because those were her thoughts too.

=/\=

Location: SHUTTLE -> ACAMAR
Scene: Shuttle deck -> The Hungry Pits
TI: Present Time


The ride to the ACAMAR had not consisted of much conversation; Tomas’ had piloted and Xana caught up on correspondence with her family (her children with their various grandparents) and with her staff. After that she read up on ACAMAR and organized her notes.

They didn’t discuss the hollowness under her eyes or the fact that she slept sitting up for part of the journey.

Instead as they approached the dark blue planet and the gleaming ships orbiting the planet at the center of the disaster, the Bolian Councilwoman sighed. “Bring me to the planet,” she ordered.

Tomas’ gave her a look. “Aye,” he sighed. As entered in the coordinates he asked, “You enjoy getting me into trouble, don’t you?”

“Kane won’t blame you,” she smiled wanly. Looking out the windows she said, “Take me to these...Hungry Pits.”

The FCO shook his head at that. “Of course you want to go there,” he sighed.

“Want is a strong word,” she murmured, her violet eyes never leaving the shuttleline as she watched the planet coming closer into view.

Tomas’ nodded at that and turned around to the other woman in the shuttle. Up until now she had said nothing; in fact she hadn’t been part of the (obvious) crowds in front of the Council. But when they had been ready to leave Traxx agreed to leave and this Vulcan appearing woman was standing at the shuttle. After some angry words, Xana finally had agreed to let her come; although Tomas’ wasn’t sure “let” was the right word.

“Where are you going?” Tomas’ asked, “As I am only a taxi shuttle pilot.”

There was silence in the shuttle before Xana finally asked in a light voice, “Do tell me where Michael Kane is--”

“I’ll GO TO THE PLANET,” the woman snapped.

“Selyara will join us on the planet,” Xana replied smoothly picking invisible lint off her black slacks.

Selyara glared at Xana from the back of the shuttle, where she was doing her own work. “There are no cameras. Why are you going to the Hungry Pits first? You’re not a doctor or engineer which is what they need.”

Tomas’ didn’t say anything as he began his descent, but he knew better than to point out it was a valid question (if sharply asked). Instead after several minutes of silence, during which the shuttle broke the atmosphere and landed on the ground not far from a more beat up independent shuttle. After the Starfleet shuttle opened up, Xana and Tomas’ got out to see the coppery landscape.

“The mines are that way,” Tomas’ pointed towards the East, “and the Quarantine Zone is over to the Southwest.”

Xana noted the crews of the Starfleet officers who were working as quickly as possible, while the thick air caked with particulates danced around them. “I see,” she murmured, holding a hand over her eyes.

Ensign Jonathan Maynell came running over. “Ma’am,” he began. “We weren’t expecting you here.”

“Xana’s fine,” she said as looked around. Looking back at Tomas’ she confirmed, “East is the Quarantine and Southwest is the mines.”

“The other way,” Tomas’ replied.

Selyara rolled her eyes, grateful that the Councilwoman was someone else’s problem, slid out of the shuttle and walked off quietly in the opposite direction.

In the meantime Xana Bonviva smiled. “Right, I knew that,” she nodded. “Now, Tomas’ you need to let Kane know I’m here--”

“I’m sure he knows,” Tomas’ pointed out.

Ensign Maynell was desperately trying to get some control in this twisting situation. “Ma’am--”

Xana gave a dazzling smile at the young Engineer. “Darling, what’s your name?”

“Ensign Jonathan Maynell,” he replied.

“Lovely,” she replied in a manner that it was unclear as if it was an adjective or a term of endearment. “I’m going to go inspect the mines and the quarantine and you know why I’m going to do that?”

“Because Captain Kane said so,” Maynell replied.

Xana smiled at him. “Oh you’re adorable. I didn’t know Ensigns were still so adorable,” she cooed.

“He’s not a puppy,” Tomas’ muttered rolling his eyes.

“You know you remind me of my 4th spouse,” Xana continued on.

Maynell’s bugged out of his head. “How many spouses have you had?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“Three,” she winked. “Now and go tell whoever is in charge that I’m here because I want to be not because anyone told me to be. Thank you.” With that she walked off towards the Quarantine area.

Tomas’ thought for a moment about warning Xana about *who* was in charge on the planet from the PHOENIX and then figured it served her right. “She did that to get you go leave. So go listen to Councilwoman Bonviva and get whomever is in charge from the PHOENIX,” he advised Maynell.

“Commander Crichton?” Maynell said as the pieces belatedly fell into place.

Tomas’ nodded at that. “Have fun with that one.”

Meanwhile Xana ducked her head as she went into the Quarantine area and saw the medical staff running back and forth trying to save all the--

“Oh dear Gods, they’re all so small,” she murmured, bringing up a hand to her mouth. It had been easy to focus on other things during the flight to ACAMAR III or even when landing but now that she was here; the reality of it all really was upon her, which she realized did make her like every other self-entitled Federationer.

A tall Vulcan male came over. “Indeed,” Warrant Officer Sanrath stated. “Almost of all of the patients now are minors, mostly under 12, Councilwoman.”

“I see,” she nodded. Wrapping her arms around her midsection she said, “Is it alright if I stand here? I just want to observe before I am needed elsewhere.”

“I do not see why not; unless Doctor Foster has an issue with it. At present, he is occupied,” Sanrath explained.

Xana noticed that most of the activity for the nurses and doctors was mostly in one area of the quarantine whereas another area was far calmer. “What is that section? Where it seems to be calmer?” Nodding across the way she asked, “Are those children almost healed and ready to go home?”

“Ma’am,” he said quietly, “that’s the hospice care section.” When Xana said nothing else, he continued on, “Quite simply, the PHOENIX got here too late for some of the children and at this all we can offer them is palliative care. That is where I am stationed.”

“Take me there,” she ordered softly.

Sanrath appeared to be studying the Councilwoman for a moment before nodding and indicated for her to follow him. They wove their way past the cots where other children were in various stages recovery before they went into the quiet back, where the lack of activity indicated that the calmness was needed.

Xana stood on the edge of the area watching as most of the children slept, some of them whimpering in their sleep. One child seemed to be awake as he stared back at her.

“Hello,” he said, his voice a whisper.

Walking over, she knelt down on the ground, her own body aching at the movements. “Hello,” she replied. “What’s your name?”

“Cam Mosul,” he said, a cough racking his body.

Smiling at the boy she said, “I’m Xana Bonviva.” Tilting her head to the side she asked, “And how old are you?”

“Seven,” he said, another cough racking his body.

Brushing the hair out of his eyes, much like she would for Ben who was the same age, Xana noted that the boy was sweating profusely even though hospice area was cool. “Are you hot, Cam?”

“I’m cold,” he admitted.

Xana held out her hands, and after a moment, Cam placed his hands into hers, and she rubbed them together to warm them up. “What do you like?” she asked. When he shrugged his shoulders she inquired further, “You must like something.”

The boy seemingly relaxed into the scratchy cot. “One of the people here was singing. It was nice,” he said. “Do you sing?”

“Not well,” Xana admitted. “And I always sang terrible things to my children.”

“You have children?” he asked.

She nodded. “I have a boy your age,” she admitted. “Among others.”

“Sing,” Cam demanded, in a quiet raspy voice.

Xana smiled as she looked at the boy. “Just rest.” Sighing she began to whistle softly, while still rubbing his hands to keep them warm, before singing about following the young boy into the dark. The azure woman didn’t sing much of the song; only about two verses. The young boy with his eyes wide open had preceded her into the dark as he breathed his last.

With tears streaming down her face, Xana gently placed his hands down on Cam’s small body and gently closed his eyes for him.

=/\=

NRPG: Another week, moving the pieces closer together. Here’s what we have going on:

Scene 1 - VULCAN

Vukovic picks up Bonviva, seemingly at the request of Kane due to the situation on ACAMAR III much to her surprise. When she inquires why he explains (the rest of the post up until Scene 4 is a flashback).

Scene 2 - ACAMAR III

Kane/Daziel interview Pali Shepherd (NPC/ACAMAR III leader) again. During the interview there is more seismic activity, which in turn shakes some notes on the ground. Kane takes the opportunity to see that the Acamarians have orders for bramatine not only from Pangeos Pathways (a Federation Company owned by Councilman Gavaar) but also by Orions and Romulans.

Afterwards, Kane and Daziel discuss (away from Shepherd) that Dr. Crow’s report indicates that bramatine is what gold was in the 19th/20th centuries -- it can be used in just about anything. However, there are risks that the Acamarians don’t seem to have accounted for. By the end of the visit it leads to Kane resolving to contact someone.

Scene 3 - USS CAIRO

Lynette, Jasmine and 3 Stooges meet Lt. Cmdr. C’asi, the CEO of the USS CAIRO. She initially pushes back on Lynette’s request for more info on the structural damage and sign off on the Hungry Pits but quickly gives in, much to Jasmine’s surprise. Lynette begins to research.

Scene 4 - Shuttle -> ACAMAR III (back to present)

Tomas’ takes Xana, along with Selyara, to ACAMAR III. Selyara ditches everyone in the chatter (it’s what she does best *grins*) while Xana sends Maynell off to find the person in charge to let them know she’s there. Tomas’ is to notify Kane (who has gone back to the PHOENIX) that Xana has arrived. Then Xana goes to inspect the mines and quarantine before talking to the Acamarians. She goes to the quarantine first where she sits with a dying child until he passes.

Next Steps (in no particular order):


Wrap up the CAIRO story


Wrap up the Smooshy story


Wrap up the story on ACAMAR III


Note: the song that Xana sings to Cam (the first child miner I created) as he dies I was imaging Death Cab for Cutie’s “I’ll Follow You Into The Dark”.

=/\=

Sarah Albertini-Bond
~writing for~
Xana Bonviva
Councilwoman for Bolarus IX

And

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Cns
USS PHOENIX

*************************************

 

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