Star Trek Hunter
Episode 11: Intersections and Reunions
Scene 1: United Federation of Planets Council Building, Nairobi, Kenya
United Federation of Planets Council Building, Nairobi, Kenya
In a small conference room on the top floor of the United Federation of Planets Council Building in Nairobi, Kenya, five uniquely powerful, influential and notorious individuals were gathered. Followers of UFP politics would immediately recognize Ushi Irons, one of 60 Earth representatives to the Federation Council and easily the most powerful as one of the longest serving and the leader of the ruling Moderate coalition.
Chelna Yaalleiysei was the leader of both the Rigellian Naturalborn coalition on her homeworld and the Homeworld coalition – the second largest coalition within the Federation Council. Despite the fact they were bitter rivals and had arguments in council chamber that could peel paint off the walls, Ushi and Yaalleiysei had become friends over the negotiation table and both were expert at wrangling their coalitions into compromises that kept the Federation working surprisingly smoothly. Their joint histrionics in chamber were in part designed to signal their coalition members that their concerns had been heard and hard fought for, before being watered down or lost entirely in negotiation..
Former Governor Emory Ivonovic had risen from relative obscurity to UFP-wide notoriety with his subversive subspace radio program. His final episode, a nearly four-hour long interview with Dr. Kenny Dolphin, had swiftly become the most re-watched broadcast in UFP history. Demand for downloads of Dolphin's books, for a decade relegated away from the main data streaming lines, was swiftly swamping library services throughout the Federation.
All of which left the one person in the room who was most accustomed to having her orders followed without question, Star Fleet Commandant Barrett th'Zoarhi, in the most delicate position. She had come to Nairobi to obtain authorization for a long needed overhaul of Star Fleet's deep space and interplanetary fleets, only to become embroiled in the politics she had so long and diligently tried to keep Star Fleet above. With Lt. Dolphin now re-emerged from obscurity and more notorious than ever, she could neither court-marshal him nor re-assign him without drawing enormous scrutiny – in fact whether she did anything – or nothing – her dealings with the infamous Dr. Dolphin were bound to draw attention. With an enormous effort at self-control, she kept her antennae from twitching – although an alert observer might notice a slight tic in her left antenna…
"So you're not going to exact any concessions for seating our new councilmember from New Hope?" Chelna Yaalleiysei knew there would be a price to pay. She had known Ushi too long to believe for a moment that he would support adding the most notorious naturalborn activist to the Federation Council – and in that action putting him out of reach of the Federation Tribunal – without getting a lot in return.
"Oh we both know that isn't true," Ushi responded, stroking his long, wispy white beard with his left hand. "I will do this favor for you, and you will do several favors for me."
"Why do you think that I will give you even the first thing in return for seating Mr. Ivonovic?" Yaalleiysei was a keen student of human nature. She had to be. The UFP was dominated by humans – the fecund beasts outnumbered all other Federation member species put together – even including the 21 billion bolians.
But Ushi Irons was a unique study. Every flick of his absurdly long beard, the details of how he pinned up his masses of long, straight white hair – or wore it long and straight as it was today, every touch to his eyebrows carried meaning – meanings meant to be read by some and not others. Although he had been born and raised in Shanghai, Ushi had moved to Nairobi years ago and now represented the capital city and much of Western Africa on the Federation Council.
One of Minerva Irons' children by her second husband, Ushi appeared entirely human with no hint of his various non-human ancestries. At 80, he was far stronger, quicker and more nimble than most humans in their prime. No one had ever seen him fighting or training, but rumor held that he was a peerless master of some ancient form of martial arts. Tall, straight and impossibly thin, he certainly looked like someone who trained daily and ate only on the weekends.
Ushi's deliberate choice to pattern his appearance and behavior after an archetypical Chinese villain was lost on everyone except those small few who were familiar with Kung Fu movies produced in Hong Kong during the 20th Century. He looked as if he might have stepped directly out of one of those movies. But despite the obscurity of this cultural reference, his fascade served his purposes quite well - at once hinting at a certain playfulness while burnishing the patina of inscrutability surrounding a famously secretive man. So it was odd for Yaalleiysei to sense vulnerability in him. It might be an act – he was easily that subtle. But Yaalleiysei's instinct said otherwise.
"You're hiding something," she started. Of the three sentient species native to the Rigel star system, the chelna were by far the most populous. They had long taken to adding "Chelna" to their given names to distinguish themselves from the other two sentient species. Like the majority of the chelna, Yaalleiysei had dark yellow skin, gray hair and eyes, and fangs that were only slightly larger than human incisors. What at first appeared to be a rhomboid tattoo on her face changed shape. She saw that Ushi noticed this change and grimaced – he was every bit as good at reading her as she was at reading him.
"I have no need to hide things from you, Yalleiysei. I just don't bother to point everything out. For now, let's focus on the business that brought the Commandant of Star Fleet all the way from San Francisco to Nairobi…"
Ushi brushed his wispy, long white beard to the left and turned toward Barrett th'Zoarhi. "Commandant, I would love nothing more than to grant your request exactly as you intend to present it. Unfortunately, meddling in Star Fleet's affairs is a requirement of my office. The Homeworld coalition," Ushi gestured to the rigellian council leader… "Yalleiysei's coalition, will want to limit manned deep space exploration vehicles in favor of a larger number of unmanned probes and interplanetary patrol craft. Oddly, so will the Federal coalition – but with a greater emphasis on patrol craft. A very few of my own Moderate coalition will dig in their heels at what they will see as an attempt to turn Star Fleet into a police force instead of the science organization it was founded to be. You are well aware of these political realities. So tell me, what is the blind spot that we are all missing?"
Star Fleet Commandant Barrett th'Zoarhi didn't miss a beat. "Speed," she said. "We have been expecting the Klingon and Romulan empires would break the warp 10 barrier. Our mission is to get there not only first, but sustainably."
Council Leader Chelna Yaalleiysei spoke up, "Sustainably… It appears you have anticipated my question, Commandant. Star Fleet keeps seeking authorization to build faster and faster ships. But you expect our homeworld fleets to maintain the warp 5 limit we have imposed to preserve our environments. Do you honestly expect me to take your request to break warp 10 and move at speeds a factor of 5 faster than what is allowable for our homeworld fleet to the billions of people I represent?"
Commandant th'Zoarhi had far greater emotional control than normal for an andorian – or a human – and she managed to keep the momentary flash of anger from her face, but the tic in her left antenna became more pronounced. That tic did not go unnoticed by any of the other people in the room.
Council Leader Ushi Irons stroked his long, white beard with his right hand, which action had an oddly calming effect on everyone in the room. "I am certain that my colleague would qualify her remarks to include the understanding that Star Fleet serves all Federation homeworlds and we rely on Star Fleet to handle the most urgent issues… But you are holding back on us, Commandant. Could it be that you do not trust our newest councilmember?"
The commandant's antenna tic became even more pronounced. She was no fan of the Irons family – that entire family had far too much power and the leader of the majority coalition in the Federation Council actually had far more power than the Federation President – making this ridiculous, elderly, white-haired pink-skin easily the most powerful person in the Alpha Quadrant. He was playing her emotions like a musical instrument. She knew that he knew that she knew it and he was enjoying it far too much.
"Not to worry, esteemed Commandant," Ushi continued. "I have already given my word that Councilmember Emory Ivonovic will be seated. And he has already been aboard the first Star Fleet vessel to deliberately, controllably and sustainably break the warp 10 barrier. And while the councilmember was not aboard when this happened, our very famous friend, Lieutenant Kenneth Dolphin, was."
This time it was Council Leader Yaalleiysei's turn to be outraged. The diamond-shaped coloration on her face split into three concentric diamonds and she had to exercise a tremendous amount of self-control – deliberately calming herself to get the telltale pigmentation to settle down and stop broadcasting her every emotion (which was, after all, its evolutionary purpose). She noticed a look of shock on Ivonovic's face and was at least mollified that he too had not known until this moment that Star Fleet had officially cracked warp 10…