<FWG> <Patronus> Issue 2, Article 8: "Pawns Move"

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 12:25:05 -0700 (PDT)

  Pawns Move
  by Narin Luviox
  &
  Trilo Trekar
   
  The PADD the commander had been tapping on the table was finally slammed down 
and left untouched. Its screen flickered with its impact. Trilo?s eyes 
flickered as well. Narin?s explosive behavior lately had put him out teetering.
   
  ?I don?t know about you, Lieutenant, but the suspense is killing me,? Narin 
said. ?We can?t wait for Lieutenant Benson to wake up and smell the coffee. 
He?ll be in there for days. And by then?damn it, I can?t even conceive what 
things will be like if order isn?t restored. Lieutenant Chev will have to serve 
in his stead.?
   
  ?Which is the natural thing to do,? Trekar concurred. ?I?m surprised you 
didn?t do it earlier.?
   
  ?I wanted Markstrom?I wanted Lieutenant Benson?s direct compliance. Not just 
the compliance of the chief science officer. He?s the best friend of the 
captain, and a good man, one that we can trust. Chev is also a good man, but he 
doesn?t have the history with us that Benson has. We can trust him, as far as I 
know, but?well, you know what I?m saying.?
   
  ?Right.?
   
  ?I?ll go see him and tell him what he has to do. You go talk to Dr. Cta and 
Lieutenant Eyensworth. Since no one is directly responsible for the bridge crew 
at the moment, I?ll handle them.?
   
  --
   
  Sparse duty call had reached science as well; only Lieutenant Chev and a few 
other ensigns were mucking about, kicking heels and doodling in their minds the 
way a clock will tick off boredom. Boredom, the air was heavy with it, and it 
was mingled with the noxious fume of being thoroughly lost and confused. Chev, 
who was so lovingly referred to as ?Chevy? by his mates, was sweating at a 
corner console, digging meticulously at the problem the red alert program was 
having. 
   
  Narin approached him, and he stood and saluted, admonishing the other science 
officers that there was a commander on deck. They followed his example and 
saluted as well. She put her fingertips to her eyebrow and waved them at ease. 
?Commander Luviox,? Chev said. ?What can I do for you, sir??
   
  Nodding to the console screen, she diverted (subconsciously), ?How?s the 
little problem working out??
   
  ?We still can?t explain it.? Before moving on, he doggedly wiped his brow on 
his sleeve and looked confoundedly at the console, like it was a troubled child 
who refused to speak. ?We?ve done several virus and bug scans, looking for 
redundancies and the like, and there seems to be nothing wrong with it. I think 
I?m going to have to collaborate with Lieutenant Eyensworth and get into the 
physical mainframe to locate the problem, as ridiculous as that sounds, but 
insofar it?s all I can think of.?
   
  ?I have a sneaking suspicion that our former captain has something to do with 
it,? Narin said sternly, putting her hands so pompously behind her back. ?He?s 
already proven to be quite the programmer when it comes to manipulating basic 
ship functions. While solving this problem, Lieutenant, don?t look for that 
which you can fix. Look for that which you can override.?
   
  Chev gulped and blinked at the thought. ?Yes, sir.?
   
  ?That?s not why I came to see you in person, however.? She motioned toward 
Markstrom Benson?s office and he followed it like a falcon. They stepped 
inside, and her conversation continued in the containment of four sealed walls. 
?You know why Lieutenant Benson hasn?t returned to Sci, correct??
   
  ?I got your message, yes.?
   
  ?It?s unfortunate, the obstinate stance he?s taking, but I?ll assure you that 
unless he has further tangible action against the Federation?s best interests 
in this matter, he?ll return to being chief of your department with little more 
than a reprimand.?
   
  Chev nodded, obviously a bit relieved. 
   
  ?For the present, however, I require you to act as chief for a specific, sole 
reason. That reason is this: you must contact everyone in Science and have a 
show of hands, so to speak.? Narin paused to attempt a detection of 
understanding, but had none. ?Find out who?s on what side. I?m not interested 
in names, but I want an accurate count: how many are for r?rebelling against 
the Federation, how many are for restoring compliance on behalf of the 
Coldstream.?
   
  Chev nodded again, this time with complete comprehension. ?Yes, sir. I see 
how that?s an important thing right now. I, for one??
   
  ?I don?t want to know where you stand at the moment,? Narin interrupted. ?I?d 
rather not know exactly who. Try and curb any personal hostility, you know? 
Just give me the numbers, Lieutenant.?
   
  ?Yes, sir. And as for the red alert bug??
   
  ?Put your best officer in your stead and handle the poll. It takes utmost 
priority.?
   
  --
   
  ?Thank you, thank you everyone. Pass your ballots to me when you have 
finished.? Trilo stood behind a table that held up a plastic container, which 
was filling rapidly with note-PADDs that had one of two names written on it. He 
was near chaining his wrists to the wall with the temptation of beginning the 
count now, beginning the process of seeing to which side of the fence the ship 
was to sway: Coldstream or Patronus. Each little plastic clatter of a note-PADD 
falling into the box was a beckoning wag of a come-hither finger, with the 
blind hope of seeing more of Luviox than of McQuarrie. 
   
  And Trilo did watch that box intently, until he was startled out of it by a 
tap on his arm.
   
  ?Sir, the non-military staff are convening in Cargo Bay One.? It was Yolli 
Mosté, his right hand, loyally reporting. ?How long should I tell them they 
have to wait??
   
  ?Shouldn?t be more than a half-hour,? Trilo said. ?The Security team is 
nearly finished. You?ve cast your vote, haven?t you??
   
  Mosté shook his head. ?No, sir. I?ve been?I?ve been running back and forth 
to?? And he found a note-PADD in his hand. Trilo turned his head back to the 
mass of yellow-shirted officers all racking their brains for their hearts? true 
choice. ?Sir,? Mosté said, ?I?m not sure I?m ready to?to vote.?
   
  Trilo turned and said intensely quiet, ?And why not??
   
  ?It?s a difficult decision to make, sir.?
   
  Stubbornly, taciturnly, Trilo said, ?It should be the easiest.?
   
  ?Well I know what you?re voting for now. Sir.?
   
  ?It is not honorable, what McQuarrie plans to do!? He whispered this in a way 
that Mosté almost stepped back. ?To deny all that the Federation has given us, 
to look the other way from the generosity and opportunity our free lives have 
been granted, to revolt against the family it has all become? Nothing is of 
higher sin and dishonor.?
   
  ?But sir, there?s no use in denying the obvious??
   
  ?Cast your vote, Mosté.? Trilo held out a hand without looking at him. 
   
  Mosté closed his mouth in astonishment and paused. Then he angrily inscribed 
his vote on the note-PADD and filled Trilo?s hand with it. Like it had been a 
dollar bill inserted in a machine in exchange for a candy bar, it was taken and 
placed in the plastic container. And no further eye-contact ensued. 
   
  ?A half-hour. Tell the non-military staff I?ll be there then. Replicate 
note-PADDs and a receptacle.?
   
  ?Sir, I can start the voting process there??
   
  ?I?ll do it, Mosté. Get it prepared.? 
   
  Yolli Mosté left Security in a huff, and turned back only to see the still 
eager line of votes waiting to be turned in. Trilo watched him go only in 
periphery. 
   
  --
   
  Claire was met by a hail of hands and note-PADDs, questions and concerns. 
She?d always seen the prey of reporters jabbing at someone with microphones and 
dazing them with flashes, but she?d never felt as she had now: like the subject 
of everything. People were saying things about a vote, and spitting facts at 
her that were supposed to sway her (but probably more for their own personal 
opinionated reflections). Her assisting officer filled her in on what she?d 
missed: she was to conduct a poll to see which way the crew was going to swing. 
   
  Engineering had never been so hot with bodies and anger.
   
  --
   
  Personally, Aylyn felt repulsed that she had to go around to all of these 
injured people and ask them where their loyalties lie, whilst they lie in 
discomfort on biobeds, medicated and sore, and probably a little biased because 
of their pain. She did it anyway, however, finding a lot of people wincing at 
their broken bones and sealed lacerations before giving their answers. Jobs 
were not getting any easier.
   
  --
   
  Trilo had personally undertaken the task of entering all of the note-PADDs 
into the data processor to get an accurate vote. For reasons unneeded for 
specification, they were locked to anyone?s, let alone his, modification. Five 
empty plastic containers were stacked within one another, and a sixth was soon 
to top it off. They stood in the corner like a tower.
   
  He had music playing, something from home. It was an old recording of four 
musicians all playing the Dratui, that Morlan instrument that lit up when it 
was played. Trilo had never seen a Dratui performance, never knew the awesome 
spectacle the instrument itself put forth despite its player; neither did he 
particularly fancy any other recording of a Dratui player, but this particular 
one that was softly whispering through the speakers was of sentimental value. 
   
  Though he knew his mother very little, it always brought Trilo that pleasant 
feeling as if she was in the room with him. 
   
  The last of the note-PADDs went in, and the computer tallied the scores. He 
leaned over the rear of the chair and stretched his back and his arms, yawning 
heavily, feeling as if his head was, but for a moment, submerged in lukewarm 
water in a still valley. Opening his eyes was underscored by the door hissing 
open behind him, and the commander walking in sternly.
   
  ?Was everyone?s vote accounted for?? she asked, the light of the hall making 
a phantom out of her in the darker room.
   
  ?Everyone,? he said. ?I was just about to call you.?
   
  Narin hummed an airy response and paced to one side of the room, and back. 
?How long does it take to count??
   
  ?I don?t know, sir. I?ve never used the data processor for something like 
this before.?
   
  Another hum.
   
  ?Commander, is something??? Trilo blinked. ?I guess to ask, ?Is something on 
your mind?? would be asking for a definite ?yes.? I suppose my question is, 
?What is on your mind???
   
  Silence passed over her as she stared blankly at a console that had a blank 
screen, saving it from having an image burned into it. Finally she turned to 
him and asked, ?What do we do with him? With former Captain McQuarrie, when?I?m 
sorry, if the vote fails him??
   
  Trilo said immediately, ?Arrest him, put him in the brig, bring him back to 
Federation space, where we turn him in to the first place that will take him.?
   
  Narin crunched her nose and top lip up in this little lemony ball on her 
face, and she shook her head, trying to Etch-a-Sketch that thought from her 
mind and start anew. ?I know that?s what?what we would practically do. But I 
know that it would subject him to torment for the rest of his life. I almost 
want to rescue him from that, whilst rescuing ourselves from his carelessness.?
   
  ?Do you suggest we punish him ourselves?? Trilo asked hesitantly, darkly. 
?That we?kill him? Make it seem like he gave us no choice, put him out of the 
misery that awaits him??
   
  Without crunching her face, Narin shook her head again. That plan had already 
mingled in her mind, and she was just now voting it down. ?No, no, I couldn?t 
do that. Perhaps if we found a planet?or a moon, somewhere hospitable, we could 
leave him there. Banish him, if you will. That way we are cleared of his 
treason and he is spared his life.?
   
  ?Commander, we wouldn?t be condemning him if we turned him in. There hasn?t 
been capital punishment for centuries.?
   
  ?Something tells me that the council will incarcerate him, and the shadow of 
the council will incapacitate him. He won?t live. And it will look like a 
complete accident.?
   
  Trilo stood and walked to Narin, putting his face in hers. ?So you are 
acknowledging a conspiracy amongst our fleet.?
   
  ?Not exactly, but??
   
  ?Commander, to even suspect that our government is capable of committing such 
an atrocity as a secret execution is to suspect that our government is capable 
of lying repeatedly to all of its citizens and militaries.?
   
  Trilo?s stare could be felt slathering her face, but it came in the form of 
sweat and hot breath. She didn?t quite fear him yet, but she was getting the 
idea that he wanted her to. ?Just a worry,? she said, and a beeping came from 
the console.
   
  They looked upon the screen and saw a delight, a sign that it could possibly 
all be over. The percentages were eighty-nine to eleven, in favor of the 
Coldstream. Before it could even come into fruition, the Patronus had been 
squashed from within, and this nightmare would be awoken from, by all of its 
misled people. Narin put a hand on Trilo?s shoulder and said, ?Get a team 
ready. It?s time to get our ship back to the way it was yesterday.?
   
  The red alert came on, but this time, much to the confusion of the two, it 
stayed on. Narin began to exclaim her annoyance with the persisting bug in the 
ship, but she was silenced by a booming voice, a female voice. The voice of a 
captor. ?Attention crew of the defiant ship Patronus, this is Captain Owyn 
Lebaron of the USS Talisman. As traitors to the United Federation of Planets, 
you have been marked for immediate execution by the admiralty and Starfleet 
Command.? 
   
  Narin screamed helplessly back, ?What?!?
   
  ?We have been ordered to engage you until you are destroyed. May whatever god 
you worship have mercy on your souls.?
   
  And a wind of chaos swept across all aboard.
   
  ==
  
 
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  • » <FWG> <Patronus> Issue 2, Article 8: "Pawns Move"