SD242007.12 - Plot Log - "Making Sense"
Posted on Sun Jul 12th, 2020 @ 5:09pm by Brigadier General Jonathan Grey
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
=^= Event Hall 1, Green Sector =^=
The door up ahead was one of those overly-large affairs with wood effect, engravings, and brass fittings, all surrounded by fake plants on faux-flagstones, etc. Everything you needed for a fancy wedding, sombre funeral, or miscellaneous ceremony of your choice.
Recently the door, and by extension the hall beyond it, had found purpose as a meeting room for the various movers and shakers of the station's outer rings.
One indicator of this was the number of guards outside, where people had arrived, shed their protectors, and joined the other influencers inside.
The guards were a mixed bunch, to say the least. Four men were wearing white, with golden sigils. Small clusters of people were in rags and badges, milling about with the aimless boredom of the untrained. Around nine were clad in the same type of brown armour (but with different symbols painted on them), and the rest were all in casual clothes.
By this point, most of the group had noticed that another band were approaching; clad in dark green body armour, and escorting a guest.
"Who goes there!" shouted a woman in plain-clothes and a red badge, only to get the back of her head slapped by the guard next to her.
"General Grey. Go right on in." said the second guard, motioning vaguely towards the door.
As the mixed bag of guards shuffled aside to let the General pass, the large double-doors were pulled open.
Telling his team of bodyguards to remain outside, the General walked into the hall and heard the double-door close behind him.
Inside, the room appeared to have been decorated by the sort of person who prepares for PTA meetings. Although this could have been the inevitable effect of it being easiest to use chairs already here, and the ones in a hall like this were likely to be chosen for stackability rather than quality.
As the hundred-odd occupants of the hall sat in hushed silence, staring at the newcomer, the General took a moment to gauge the room. The cheap chairs were clustered into three large groups facing each other, with a fourth, smaller cluster of chairs in the centre. So; three groups, and one group of...what? Leaders?
Presuming that was the case, the General took the initiative, and strode down the isle between two of the larger groups.
As he did so, aware that a hundred pairs of eyes were watching him (or pretending they weren't), he gradually became aware of two things.
The first was their outfits. One group were wearing what he identified as multi-species formal wear. Mostly suits, and those that weren't were still suit-esque. The second group were flamboyant to say the least. Wildly different outfits, colours, and hats, with no two alike. The final group were mostly formal-casual, with a few suits mixed in.
The second thing he noticed was the look in their eyes. Optimistic, angry, relieved, sad; whatever the primary emotion, they all shared the same underlying trait.
They were all worried about him.
Or perhaps something he might do.
The time for insight, however, was quickly over. The General arrived at the centre of the three groups, where three people seemed to have pushed three tables together in order to face him. Eyeing the scratches on the ground, he wondered if they were normally facing each other; unified today in this singular moment against the green-shouldered monster stood before them.
"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me." he said, a cordial opening which withered and died in the icy glare of the twelve-year-old girl sitting at one of the central tables.
"I was against it. I was outvoted by these two." the girl stated, her vocabulary sounding more adult than her squeaky pitch, and sounding more angry about losing the vote than having the General here.
"Outvoted?" asked the General, confused. "Could someone explain the organisation here?" he asked the other two.
"Of course, General." offered an aging Vulcan woman in a suit, with a professional expression on her face. "I am Li'ara Fide, representing the interests of the CEOs and trusted representatives behind me. I lead because my company, Fide Financial, is the largest company still offering business loans and financial services on Versailles."
"Hi there friend." declared the man on Li'ara's left side. This man was wearing an older suit, and had a very warm, easygoing attitude. "My name is John Eden Roosevelt. I represent the civilians of this great ring, and I lead because I was elected to lead by my comrades behind me; the Mayoral Council. First among equals, I am the mayor of Dawn sector, and the President of Versailles. The civilian part, of course."
*That* got Grey's attention.
"You are aware that, rings or spindle, the entirety of Versailles is Starfleet-owned."
"Starfleet-claimed." clarified Li'ara, holding up a thin finger. "It was a crime-infested derelict."
"Which we claimed, yes. The station belongs to us."
"But the people do not. And it is they, the people, the civilians," insisted Roosevelt, "who have chosen me to represent them."
"...And Dawn Sector? Where is that?" the General managed, feeling a headache coming on.
"Well, it used to be Red sector. One thirty-degree slice of the outer ring, identical to the other eleven." explained the president. "Blue, Yellow, Green, etc. All cold and impersonal. Many of us chose to rename our sectors, and the votes are still being tallied. We will inform your men once we have redrawn the maps." he assured the General.
"Alright, alright." groused the General, decided to press on. He didn't care what the sectors were called, and at least all this 'president' business meant someone was doing the hard work keeping the outer ring's residential areas under control.
At this, the young girl caught his eye, and he had to ask.
"May I ask who you are?" the General inquired, trying to rally himself.
"I," announced the small blonde child, who the General realized was clad in the same gold-and-white robes as some of the guards outside, "am Tee-Sara. I'm the Chosen of Ly-Rel, and I'm in charge of the Association of Religious Leaders."
"The major religious leaders of Versailles chose to be led by a small child?"
"I'm not a child!" she shouted, slamming her hands down on the table. "I'm twelve!"
"I mean no offence." said Grey, confused.
"General," interjected Li'ara, "perhaps I could explain why the powerful and wise Tee-Sara was chosen?"
"The ARL had some...difficulty choosing a leader a few weeks ago. No one religion would allow another to speak for it, and appeals for unity fell on deaf ears. So the priests of Ly-Rel conducted one of their holy rites, to invite their god to intervene on their behalf."
"A myth, I presume." said the General, ever the cynic.
"So I presumed as well. However, it seems this ritual involves a substance. One which, in extremely rare cases, can unlock dormant psychokinetic abilities in descendants of the original Chosen. Unstable, perhaps, but undeniable. Between that and the number of Ly-Rel supporters convinced to take up arms at their Chosen's behest, she was able to force the others into submission through a display of power."
"We have a telekinetic onboard, and I wasn't informed?" said the General, annoyed at how another complication had found its way to his plate.
"I'm afraid," said the president, "what with Starfleet Security abandoning the brave civilians of the outer rings, we felt it best to count our blessings and embrace this new ally. If we had reported her, you might have tried to force her to leave, bringing the ARL back into conflict with one another."
"If you kick me out I'll rip your head off." snarled the blond-haired little girl.
"O-kay." said the General, deciding to set that issue aside for now.
"So, back to the topic at hand." he declared, casting his gaze over the three of them. The Chosen was still annoyed, but the others nodded, and he pushed forward.
"Simply put, keeping the station here isn't safe. Even if we can keep the station functional, there will be more damage, and more casualties. We need to get away from this black hole, and for that we need a tow. I'm asking you for the loan of as many ships as you have, and as many as you can recruit."
"We are aware of your request, and we have already discussed it." explained Li'ara, steepling her fingers in front of her.
"And?" said the General, wondering if these people remembered they were orbiting a damn black hole, for all the lack of urgency.
"We have conditions." said the president.
"Jurisdiction over the outer rings and the inner ring. Full control over the outer ring. Territory to be signed over completely, and to be presided over by this council."
"No way in hell." said the General, bemused despite the tension. "You want us to power the outer ring, fix it up, and ride to the rescue when you get into trouble-"
"Starfleet isn't doing that right now. In a crisis, your security and engineers close ranks and focus on the spindle. Leaving us 'lower priorities' without a leg to stand on!" declared the president.
"We fix the worst issues, the lights are still on, and Security is even now expanding its activities beyond the spindle."
"However," he added, rubbing the bridge between his eyes, "I get your point. If your security volunteers, mercenaries, whatever, can all abide by a code of conduct and show proof of lawkeeping qualifications, I'm willing to permit the council to *cooperate* with Security in keeping the peace in the rings."
"We won't be your slaves!" declared the Chosen.
"I'm not asking you to be." explained the General. "Cooperation means equals, not slaves. Pick a leader for your forces, a Chief Constable or somesuch, and get him or her to work with my CSEC. After all, if someone flees from the rings to the spindle, you won't want an argument over jurisdiction."
"And the territory?" insisted the president. "We must have control over our own homes."
"I'm not giving you a part of the station." replied the General, wearily. "I'll ask my CEO to discuss devolving some internal controls to you if you're willing to help maintain the systems, but external access and defences will remain under our exclusive control."
"And management? Station policy?"
"Pick a single rep to speak for you, and I'll add them to my senior staff." he offered, figuring it couldn't be harder than accommodating the Romulan and Klingon reps when they arrived.
The Chosen seemed confused by all this, and snuck a glance at an elderly priest in the group behind her; one that was wearing her colours. Others in the ARL scowled, but a few nodded, and so did the elderly man, which she echoed.
The CEOs, however, seemed distinctly unhappy. Li'ara was hard at work on a padd in her hand, fielding many messages from the crowd.
"The business leaders have concerns over cost." she summarized.
"We'll pay them." said Grey, stoically.
"We will send you an invoice." replied Li'ara, nodding her assent.
As for the Mayoral Council, they seemed indecisive at best. One tried her hand at some rhetoric, only to get shouted down by her colleagues.
"We accept." declared the president, suddenly. The crowd behind him started shouting louder, but no two could seem to agree on why, or what the better option was. Lacking cohesion, the shouting petered out after a while, with the president's supporters helping to soothe the remaining dissenters.
"Then we have an accord." announced the General, relieved that this challenge, at least, was over with.
=^= End of Log =^=
Brigadier General Jonathan Grey