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Power To The People

Posted on Feb 24, 2018 @ 5:12pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: Bramatine: Truth, Justice and the Federation Way


(Continued from "Stand By Me")


Captain's log, supplemental - with the surface relief effort now well underway and our investigations aboard the Cairo complete, we can finally take a more active role in getting to the bottom of this criminal conspiracy...


Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Acamar III
Stardate: [2.18] 0224.1305
Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section

Michael Turlogh Kane ran his eyes down the datapad of evidence that Jasmine Yu and Lynette Ryan had gathered aboard the Cairo. It was devastating. The bramatine smuggling and shipping operation had drawn in many different players, including the Cairo's command crew, many more of her officer corps, and it now seemed that the conspiracy was much wider and more dug in than had been thought. The ramifications were alarming - if Gavaar knew about conditions at the Hungry Pits, his political career was over. Karimi's too. There would have to be a full investigation by Starfleet Security, and a lot of lights would have to be shone into a lot of dark places.

He looked up at Jasmine and Lynette. "Well done, you two. This is exactly what we've been looking for - a conclusive link between the bramatine smuggling and Starfleet."

"Not all of the Cairo's officers are guilty, Captain," said Jasmine. "There are some good people aboard her."

Kane nodded. "Noted, Lieutenant. Take your stations - you might want to see this. Open a channel to the Cairo."

Jasmine moved up to Tactical, and Lynette sat down at the bridge Engineering station. Jasmine activated her controls. "Channel open."

Kane moved to stand between Cantor Von and Tomas' Vukovic at the front of the bridge. The main viewer winked, changing from the spectacular view of Acamar III from orbit to the bridge of the Cairo. By the Phoenix's standards, the Cairo's beidge was much smaller and more cramped, centred by the somewhat-odd view of Captain Leki sitting in her specially-modified centre seat. The Cairo's ExO, Commander Roffahg, stood at her captain's shoulder. Both of their expressions were a mixture of apprehension and defiance - maybe, Kane mused, they had been waiting for the axe to fall.

{{Captain Kane,}} said Leki, inclining her head politely. {{What can I do for you?}}

Kane held up the PADD and shook his head. "Not a thing. I have proof that officers under your command are responsible for a structural report on the Hungry Pits mine that declared it safe to work in, despite geological and logistical data to the contrary. Furthermore, this datapad also links the Cairo's senior officers to the illegal bramatine smuggling operation being carried out on this planet by Pangeos Pathways. After due consideration, I have concluded that your actions constitute a violation of the Prime Directive."

Leki and Roffahg shared a look of sudden alarm. Kane didn't give them a moment to think. "Captain Leki, Commander Roffahg - under Starfleet General Order Ten, I hereby relieve you and your department heads of your collective duty of command of the starship Cairo, effective immediately, and place the starship Cairo under my own command, pending the appointment of a temporary commanding officer."

Leki jumped out of her seat and approached the main viewer. The reaction on the faces of several of the Cairo's bridge crew were plain - shock, guilt, panic - and Kane felt a flash of anger when he thought about the dead children of the Hungry Pits mine. No matter how deeply this corruption ran, it had to be rooted out.

{{Captain Kane, I protest!}} said Leki. Her face was flushed purple as her anger grew. {{I'll go over your head! I'll take this all the way to the Federation Council if I have to! I warn you, I have powerful friends - you're making an enormous mistake!}}

Kane motioned to Jasmine. "Lock a tractor beam onto the Cairo." A moment later, he felt a slight jolt run through the deckplate - the tractor beam had been applied, seizing the other starship in a tight grip. Leki and Roffahg looked around in impotent anger and helplessness. "All the Cairo's senior officers are confined to their quarters until further notice. Do you understand?"

All the defiance went out of Leki. Her shoulders slumped, and she nodded in resignation. {{Yes, Captain Kane. We await the arrival of your officer.}}

"Good. Phoenix out." The transmission ended, the picture changing back to the sight of Acamar III hanging in space. Nearby in the foreground, the Cairo lay stuck fast to the powerful blue tractor beam emanating from the Phoenix's forward beam emitter.

Kane turned to face Jasmine. "Contact Starfleet and request assistance. Advise them that we have impounded the Cairo and are requesting the urgent dispatch of a hospital ship to take over the humanitarian effort on the surface." As Jasmine nodded and got to work, Kane touched Cantor Von on the shoulder. "Lieutenant Von, I'm placing the Cairo under your command. Take her to Starbase Twenty-Four and turn her over to the local admiral. From there you can make your way back to the Phoenix."

"Aye, Captain." Von got up from the Ops station and moved to the turbolift. Byte sat down in place of the Betazoid.

Kane wondered just how much farther they'd have to go. The Cairo's lax approach to her duties in this system had been fed by the venality of her senior staff, but they were only one link in the chain of corruption - it was wound so tightly and seemed to be threaded through so many links that it would take more than one of them to be broken before this whole conspiracy was unbound. For the sake of the dead children of the Hungry Pits mine, however, there was no way they could stop now. All leads had to be followed, and all the guilty would have to answer for their crimes, no matter their status or position in Federation society.

He wondered how things were going on the surface.


Location: the Hungry Pits mine, Acamar III
Scene: Mass Grave Cavern

Jake Crichton shook his head and checked the tricorder again, but the result was the same. The lifesigns they had picked up were gone, like they were never there. All that he could detect were the dead.

"I'm wary of remaining underground without an engineering support team," he told Cade and Xana. His voice seemed muffled, his words cloyed by the oppressive nature of the place. Here he was, trying to act professionally while surrounded by dead children. "This deep underground, we're probably getting all sort of sensor echoes."

"Tommyknockers," said Cade. "The ghosts of the children led us here."

Jake looked at Xana. All three of them were trying to maintain their composures in this charnel house, but neither Jake nor Cade were the mother of children, and children of an age as all these dead ones. he watched as Cade put a hand on Xana's shoulder, feeling a gulf between his own feelings and wanting to comfort his ex-wife. Some of these dead kids were Benito's age.

As Cade and Xana continued to take in the awful sight, Jake stepped back and touched his communicator. "Crichton to Phoenix."

Kane's voice came back to him, filtered down through layers of sediment and tragedy, distant like another world. [[Go ahead, Commander, we read you.]]

Jake tried to maintain his objectivity, but was getting harder every minute. He swallowed hard before answering. "Have uncovered mass grave in the depths of the mine. Request dispatch of multiple medical and engineering teams to evacuate remains. Captain, they're - they're children."

There was a pause while Kane processed the news. Even the irascible CO's voice seemed softer. [[Understood, Commander.]]

"Captain, Evangeline Montoya was encountered on the surface. She's working for Pangeos Pathways. If they're linked to what's happening here - "

[[We'll pick her up and impound her shuttle. Is everyone alright down there, Jake?]]

Jake looked up to see Cade and Xana staring at him through the gloom, their faces eerily underlit by the blinking lights of his tricorder. He knew what Kane was asking, but they'd done enough down here. Beckoning to Cade and Xana to back away from the cavern. Jake turned his face upward, to the tunnels that led back to the sunlight, warmth, and life. "Not really, Captain. We're all going to need some time."

The wraiths of dozens of dead children followed Jake, Cade, and Xana back up to the light.


Location: Vulcan, ShiKahr
Scene: The Hall of Voices, Gavaar's office

Tellar Prime was one of the founding worlds of the United Federation of Planets. Two hundred and seventy-two years ago, she had committed herself and all her people to a joint future with Andorians, Vulcans, and Terrans, and her power and prestige had only grown since then. Several Tellarites had served in the highest political office of the Federation (perhaps a role that Gavaar himself might one day assume?), and many Tellarites were also high-ranking members of Starfleet, including the current head of Starfleet Engineering. Gavaar, reclining in his chair in his new office on Vulcan, had reason to be proud of himself, his world, and his own achievements.

FedCom was playing softly in the background, but he wasn't watching it. The news was talking about the imminent dispatch of a new ambassador to Romulus, and the ongoing head-to-head between Hussein Karimi and Kevak of Andor. The two presidential campaigns had entered their final days now, and soon billions of Federation citizens would learn who the Federation Council had chosen to be their new President - the ageing Andorian statesman, or the brash young Terran diplomat.

Not that it mattered. The final result was a foregone conclusion. It was time for a new era in Federation politics, one where powerful business and political interests were allowed free rein to drive the new economy of the twenty-fifth century. If that meant cutting some corners, then so be it. New workers were always available.

Gavaar frowned. He thought he had heard his name being spoken by someone just now. Rousing himself from his reverie, he looked around, realising that it was coming from the FedCom news feed. His likeness was being displayed, and then there came a picture of the Pangeos Pathways logo, and then a - no! Gavaar sat bolt upright when he saw footage from the Hungry Pits mine on Acamar. "Computer! Increase volume on FedCom feed!"

Gavaar watched in mounting horror as the news report showed dozens of covered bodies being evacuated from the depths of the mine. Starfleet personnel were working in a large makeshift field hospital - words like "bramatine", "earthquake", and "child labour" were being put up on the screen, next to a picture of the Pangeos logo and the picture of his own face.

A Human woman named Amanda Lane was reporting live from the mine. {{If you've just joined us, news is breaking of a major scandal involving a bramatine smuggling operation being conducted by the shipping company Pangeos Pathways. A recent earthquake at this bramatine mine on Acamar has uncovered the bodies of dozens of child miners, and an investigation by Starfleet has revealed multiple links between the mining operation and the smuggling of the ore into Federation space. Pangeos Pathways is a Tellarite consortium owned by Gavaar, the Federation Council member for Tellar Prime - }}

Gavaar couldn't move. All the strength had left his body, and he felt rooted to his seat. The news images continued to flash across the screen - Evangeline Montoya being arrested and bound by Starfleet security officers; pictures of bramatine ore; and the same maddening combination of the Pangeos logo and his own face.

Gavaar looked down at his desk communication panel in mounting horror. A tiny voice in his head screamed that it was all over, but as his comms panel lit up with incoming calls from reporters, politicians, and the other members of the Council, he drowned it out with a long, loud roar of panic from his own mouth.


Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Acamar III
Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section
Time Index: Two days later

Michael Turlogh Kane sat down opposite Captain Sitak. The Vulcan woman was the commander of the starship Galen, a Pasteur-class hospital ship that had been dispatched from Starbase 24 in response to his request for assistance. With a crew composed primarily of of medical and engineering staff, the Galen was specifically equipped to handle a disaster on the scale of the Hungry Pits earthquake. Even now, over one hundred Starfleet doctors and nurses were on the surface, by stages relieving the crew of the Phoenix from their labours. With a new range of treatment options available, including dignified palliative care, the surface operation was now under control. The best that could be done was being done.

Kane called up the most recent report sent by Cade from the surface, and turned his monitor to face Sitak. The Vulcan woman was several decades older than he, with waxy yellow wrinkles beginning to appear under her eyes, and her short dark hair was sprinkled with a dusting of grey. Despite her rigid emotional control, Sitak had proven to be an able organiser and administrator, if not especially compassionate, but Kane supposed that the compassion was being given out in spades by her people on the surface.

"Doctor Foster reports that he is most pleased with your staff," said Kane, indicating where Cade had left comments on his otherwise business-like report. "My compliments. Doctor Foster accepts nothing but the best."

Sitake inclined her head. "Th relief effort at the mine is going well. Later today, we will begin beaming patient directly to our sickbays. Those unable to be moved will remain on the surface, but we are pleased to note that the Acamarian government has sent dozens of medical personnel of its own to the site."

Kane nodded. Ever since FedCom had broken the news two days ago, the powers-that-be had been falling over themselves to get involved. Gavaar was resigning from the Federation Council, Starfleet was investigating the bramatine smuggling, casting its net ever wider by the day, and aid was flooding to Acamar from all corners of the quadrant. The Cairo was half-way to Starbase 24, Evangeline Montoya was behind bars (again), and the political fallout was beginning to spread to encompass the guilty. "The Phoenix will be leaving tomorrow to voyage back to Earth. Starfleet has other work for us. There are a few Acamarian children in our sickbay, but Doctors Jos and Foster will take good care of them until we arrive on Earth."

"No doubt." Sitak paused a moment before continuing. "I had a chance to gauge the reaction to the scandal before we departed Starbase Twenty-Four. It is not good. Public opinion is volatile across many of the core worlds, and the Assembly is calling for new elections to replace the entire Federation Council once the presidential election is concluded. There is strong reason to believe that the Assembly will get its wish. By the end of the year, we many see many new worlds elected to the Council."

"Crises always trigger reforms," murmured Kane. "The Federation is evolving right in front of us, and has been for the past few years. Can the traditional power-holders really continue to ignore the clamour for change?"

"Perhaps not." Sitak fell silent, and Kane could guess why. When Humans were ousted from their permanent seat on the Federation Council, it must have seemed that the power of the remaining three permanent members would advance by degrees.That had not really taken root, and the Federation Assembly was full of member worlds who wanted a seat at the table. Yesterday, FedCom had run a feature speculating as to what a reformed Federation Council might look like - expanded membership for more worlds? Or the election of new members such as Ferenginar to the Council? - and Kane could not finish it. The echoes of the dead children of Acamar were already beginning to fade.

"We'll also be transporting Evangeline Montoya and Xana Bonviva back to Earth," said Kane. "Is there anything else we can assist you with before we leave orbit?"

"No, Captain." Sitak stood up. "The Galen hereby relieves the Phoenix."

Kane mirrored her movement. Saluting was outmoded in Starfleet, but both he and Sitak took a formal moment to acknowledge one another, before the Vulcan turned on her heel to go, leaving Kane behind.

There was one final thing he needed to do before leaving. Although FedCom were reporting that several Council politicians were being implicated in the bramatine scandal, presidential candidate Hussein Karimi was refusing to answer any questions relating to his relationship with Gavaar and Pangeos Pathways. Perhaps Karimi thought he was untouchable, or that he wasn't under suspicion because he wasn't directly connected to the whole affair.

Kane sat down again, called up the audio file of a recording of a recent conversation he'd had with the Human presidential candidate, attached it to a transmission to Amanda Lane, and clicked SEND like he had just ordered the execution of his worst enemy.


Location: Vulcan, ShiKahr
Scene: Hussein Karimi's office, Hall of Voices

Marie-Claire Martine opened the door and walked into Hussein Karimi's office like she was walking into her own execution chamber. It had been two days of hell - the press had seized on the bramatine scandal like a dog seizing a rat, and were shaking the guts out of it to see what would fall out. The house of cards was collapsing all around her.

Not for the first time, she wondered how she had ended up here, helping a venal crook like Karimi in his quest to slither his way into the highest office in the Federation. He might not be directly implicated in anything, but he was definitely close enough for the stink to attach itself to him. This wouldn't do her career any favours - perhaps it was time to consider a new direction in her life. Starfleet again, maybe. Or hell, maybe she would retire and find a quiet spot among the trees in Ouareau.

Karimi beckoned her in. FedCom was playing on his desk, a holographic news report updating the worlds of the Federation about the relief effort on Acamar, now being headed up by the USS Galen. "Come in, Marie-Claire. We need to talk about this situation."

Martine closed the door. "I'm not sure that there's anything to talk about. Gavaar has resigned. The game's up."

Karimi stopped his pacing. "Resigned?" he said incredulously.

"There's no coming back from the footage we've been seeing for the past two days," said Martine. "Pangeos Pathways, and anyone associated with them, are through. You too if you're not careful."

"Me?" Karimi spluttered. He wrung his hands. "We need damage control, we need to distance ourselves from Gavaar, we need - " He stopped, took a breath, and straightened his keffiyeh. "Whatever the press may think, the people are with me. We carry on as normal. We deflect any questions linking me with Gavaar. We deny all knowledge of anything Pangeos Pathways was doing. We find some dirt on Kevak and turn it against him - question his patriotism, find an ex-lover, take a soundbite and spin it - "

"You can't stop, can you?" Martine exclaimed. She shook her head and moved to the FedCom holographic feed. "Look at this! Gavaar and his cronies were running an operation that used child labour! For goodness sake, there's nothing I can do against that!"

Karimi was about to snap something back at her, but they both stopped and watched as the news feed switched again. This time, the ticker specifically mentioned his name - RECORDING LINKS HUSSEIN KARIMI TO PP SCANDAL - and Amanda Lane was saying something about how his presidential campaign was on the rocks because of -

"No," said Karimi, putting his head in his hands. "No, no no."

It was his own voice, playing back from a transmission he'd made weeks ago, back when Gavaar had first learned about the Phoenix's investigations on Acamar and had called him up to lean on Captain Kane. Karimi had been happy to oblige - after all, the crew of the Phoenix were military officers, beholden to civilian authority, and Karimi was sure that he could squeeze Kane a little, just to remind him of where his allegiance lay.

"You made a transmission on behalf of Gavaar to the Phoenix's captain?" said Martine in amazement.

"Nobody was supposed to know!" said Karimi. His eyes were wild with panic. "I transmitted it to our man on Acamar - the village leader!"

Martine shook her head at Karimi's naivete. The final nail was being hammered into the coffin with every word he spoke. "Sir, the Phoenix would have picked up the transmission. Kane probably had it recorded and stored away until he needed it."

One by one, the lights on Karimi's communications panel were going out. Fellow Council members, politicians, contacts in industry and business - all the calls were dropping. Karimi's voice, tinny and distant on the holographic feed, kept repeating over and over like a broken record. {{Just know that all our thoughts are with you. Quite a few people on EARTH, and on the Council representing all the Federation, will be interested in the - we’ll say judicious steps - the PHOENIX takes. Karimi out.}} The implication and link was clear.

Marie-Claire Martine let out a sigh while Karimi stood dumbfounded in the centre of his office. She shrugged. "I quit."

She turned on her heel and left the room. On the way out she passed a party of Starfleet security guards on their way to Karimi's office.


Location: USS Phoenix, en route to Starbase 1
Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section

The starfield outside his viewing port was a blur of white lines, and Michael Turlogh Kane sat back in his seat. All personnel were back aboard the Phoenix, and she was on her way back to Earth, leaving Acamar and the whole sorry mess behind them. There were still several ill children in sickbay, and several senior officers would need counselling sessions following their efforts exploring the mine, but all in all, thing were slowly returning to normal.

The same could not be said for the Federation's corridors of power. Gavaar had fallen on his sword quickly and made a beeline for his homeworld, but if the Tellarite had through that he could find refuge there, he was mistaken. Both Starfleet and the Federation's Department of Trade had launched full-scale investigations into the activity of Pangeos Pathways. His company had been suspended from doing business, the paper trail was being followed by the bloodhounds, and Gavaar's immunity from the law was not long for this world. Already there was talk of a special prosecutor and a grand jury, and Kane wouldn't have put much latinum on the Tellarite seeing out the year as a free man.

Karimi was gone, too. He had fallen on his sword this morning after an overnight series of desperate calls to all his old friends and allies on the Council, in the Assembly, and anywhere else he could find them. Someone on the Council had threatened to being impeachment proceedings against him if he didn't go. Isolated and alone, his chief of staff quitting as soon as the news of his collusion with Gavaar broke, Hussein Karimi had nothing to do except give up. His political career was ruined, and even now he was fading back into the darkness from which he'd emerged. Kane didn't feel one bit sorry for him.

With no opponent, Kevak of Andor was all set to become the next President of the United Federation of Planets. Public opinions seemed positive, and FedCom's analysis of his career made for some hopeful times ahead - the Andorian was an old man, but the wealth of experience he brought as an administrator and lawmaker would hopefully bring balance and stability to the Council, in whatever form it took in the future. With many member worlds on the Assembly loudly calling for new elections, it seemed likely that new voices would soon be heard on Vulcan.

But politics was not in the stars of Starfleet personnel, like the eight-hundred-and-seventy-nine women and men from twenty-nine different planets who collectively made up the crew of the starship Phoenix. Power was in the hands of the people, not the military, and those who had chosen to serve the people had their own work to do. The voyage to Earth would be short, but these were the days that everyone lived for - days that made history, days that tied up loose ends and brought sense back to the world, days that reminded everyone how important friends, family, and relationships were. Until their next mission began, the crew of the Phoenix would rekindle those relationships, and everyone could find a semblance of peace.

Michael Turlogh Kane switched off his desktop monitor and went back out to the bridge, where everyone was working. He stood amongst his senior staff and observed them all, reminding himself that they were people first, and Starfleet officers second.

The stars twinkled, and the Phoenix ploughed the furrows of heaven.


NRPG: The Bramatine story has concluded, and the Phoenix is en route back to Earth with several temporary guests aboard - some sick children from the Hungry Pits mine, and Xana Bonviva, who's hitching a lift. Your characters can interact with them or each other as we make our way home.

Gavaar and Karimi are gone, and Kevak is the new president of the Federation. Marie-Claire Martine is her own woman again.

The officers and crew of the starship Cairo are to be fully investigated and courts-martial may follow. Cantor Von is on Starbase 24 with them.

Everyone else is back aboard the Phoenix as we make our way to Earth and a new story. Will you join us again as we continue boldly going into the future?

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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