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Nowhere Under the Rainbow

Posted on Fri Oct 4th, 2019 @ 12:19am by Isabella Cerin & Commodore Yoshi Minawara

Mission: Wrong Place, Right Time
Location: Planet's Surface
Timeline: MD03 2030HRS

To say the last couple days had been easy would have been a gross understatement. The shuttle that had ferried them down had experienced issues quickly on approach due to the poor climate, and while had landed without issue, had been forced to be grounded until repairs could be affected. And considering the state of the colony, a lone Type IX shuttle was not the first concern of the Engineering or Ops teams. Nor had it been Yoshi's to be particularly honest. The power system was, at best, unreliable, and at worst, a disaster waiting to happen. Eight separate reactors made up the system, with a modified fuel delivery system designed to use unprocessed fuel. While the planet could refine it, using it in the raw state presented had resulted in reactors that ran hot, and often leaked radiation, until they burned through too much fuel, and then slowed down. This caused massive fluctuations in the grid as systems not undergoing slow down struggled to keep up. The colonists, to their credit, had the system down to an art, and could almost balance it all out. Almost. Food was another issue, with the ability to grow almost entirely gone, and the only source of food being imported. Of course, a team of microbiologists and farming engineers could set up greenhouses and begin suitable growing within five years, but you would need both those people present to do that.

Most had fled when Dominion attacks on the planet had begun. The near-by processing facility around the gas giant itself had been the first target, then raids on the planet itself. Evacuation craft had been provided, and any of those who didn't work in the deuterium mines fled, feeling the colony wasn't worth it. They said it was dead, no one could survive, and the Federation believed it. Those left behind, figured they would be heralded as heros, for keeping the facilities going and keeping an operational facility. When the Federation returned, they would be the ones people looked to. But the Federation never returned. At first, the worst was assumed. Until 2379, with no real communications left, they had no contact, no way of finding out. It wasn't until a wayward ship got in close enough range to relay the Federation was in fact, still around, and rebuilding, but that this colony wasn't on the starmaps. And with no starfleet presence in the area, it was likely this wouldn't be the case for quite some time. Hope, like the easy water sources, dried up fast. Panics and revolts had been put down, and chaos had been controlled. It never got easier. Traders would offer to trade the unproccessed deuterium for foodstuffs, but the trade was always unequal, unbalanced. Finally Karim had arrived, promised them freedom from the pain, but in the end, he proved to be just as corrupt as any politician.

This set the stage for the meeting Izzy and Yoshi had sat through. Tired, worn out people and the barest semblance of a government. An old colony command centre had been rigged up to be a full townhall, wide lobbies turned into gathering places. Basic living arrangements had been made, and even made available for Yoshi and his diplomat, though they were a shared accomedation. The "mayor" (less elected, more the one who had taken control after the last governor had been disposed of), Jim Pribeg was a mountain of a man. At 6'8 and broad as a barn, he looked the part of a warn out miner. His clothes were dirty, and his skin was like leather. The bear paws he called hands were coated in callouses, and from behind it all a pair of emerald green eyes sparkled, giving him a hint of his humanity. He could still find humour in situation, and had even reduced Yoshi to tears he had laughed so hard. A great deal of work had been laid out between the party, trying to find the smaller details. Standing at the head of the table, Jim spoke with a voice that resembled a volcano erupting. "I am sorry, but as of right now, we cannot afford to shut down the mines. If, as you say, it will be at least two months until we can count on Federation support, we cannot allow the mines to stop. We need something to trade for food, even if it is a sanctioned trader. We have no credits here, so we need goods to barter with," he said, shaking his head.

"And I am telling you, if you shut the mines, you can reduce your power consumption that you can afford to shut a reactor down and begin affecting repairs to it. It's a ticking time bomb before one of those can no longer remain contained, and ruptures! You won't be looking at a few injuries, you'll be looking at hundreds dead, and everyone not sick from serious radiation exposure," countered Yoshi, shaking his head. The Commodore had toured one such facility, and knew just how unstable it was.

"Then you and your ship are going to just have to remain here to supplement our food stores," replied Pribeg, slamming his fist into the table. This caused Minawara to, in a fluid motion, slide back from the table and come to a stand. The two men squared off at one another, the stress of another long day clearly getting to both.

"I think perhaps we should take a break for a bit." Izzy stood as well, but while the move was clearly decisive, it was less overtly aggressive in its posturing versus the others at the table--though her statement, phrased as a suggestion, had a hint of steel behind it as anything but. She accented this point by gathering up her working materials and pushing the chair she had vacated back just-so aligned against the table, almost radiating calm control at the moment in a way that seemed to seep into the very air around them. "The Commodore and I will further explore potential solutions to ensure adequate supplies and food for your people and review the latest information you've provided us with, Mr. Pribeg. Let's plan to meet back here again to continue our discussions in two hours."

Jim huffed and crossed his arms, looking between the two. "You're probably right Miss," he said, and snagged the pile of papers, yes physical papers, off the table and headed for the door. Once the door had come closed behind him, Yoshi slumped back into his chair, and sigh heavily.

"This is why I was an engineer for so long Izzy, I hate this stuff," he said and shook his head. "Think we're making any real progress, or do you think we're just going to end up where we are here still?"

Normally, Izzy would have been extremely cautious speaking freely in this manner in a conference room belonging to the other side. It was the sort of thing which had been drilled into her in both training and experience, reinforced by follies past and present made by others. In this case, however, given the state of the planet and population, she was nearly as sure this room wasn't compromised as she ever could be.

"I think if you had a latinum coin you were reasonably certain a Ferengi hadn't rigged, you could flip it and split the difference on the odds." She shrugged and leaned into the table. "We have more information now than we did two days ago, which is always beneficial. In terms of the issue that prompted this break...Well. I'm not, nor have I ever been, an engineer. Or an expert on replication and dispersion of resources. Which brings us to one of the reasons I wanted the break. Pribeg says they can't shut down the mines because they need resources for trade for food. The alternative he offered is that Vesta remain in orbit to supply them until the arrival of a dedicated relief force and supplies. I have a potential suggestion for a third option instead, but I don't have the technical knowledge or the knowledge of our ships stores to judge its feasibility." She paused, rolling her shoulders like trying to work out a kink in them, and reached a hand back to rub at the base of her neck. "Any possibility we could split off enough replicators--industrial or otherwise--and some manner of power capacity or batteries to run them; enough to keep the colony fed for the time it would take the main relief supplies to arrive? That might let us sell the idea of shutting down the mines without needing us to sign off on remaining in orbit for two months--or--" she grimaced knowingly "--getting our superiors to sign off that, either."

A shadow crossed Yoshi's face. "A catch Twenty-two, really," he replied as he looked around the room. "Could we produce the replicators? Sure, that part is easy. We could likely even ensure that if they tried to produce weapons that the systems shut themselves down. Replicators aren't the problem, it's a power source. Hell, that's their whole problem, is power. We just don't have the resources are our disposal to produce enough power cells to keep replicators running long term here. It's the reason when the Federation does provide replicator support, it first has it's engineers establish a secure and reliable power source." A wide gesture about the room, indicating not the room itself but the colony and the Commodore shrugged. "This has anything but a reliable power source, and while Mr. Pribeg doesn't seem to be an idiot, there are people here that would likely try and integrate any remote power that we provided into their main grid. And I have no idea if the grid could handle that. Furthermore, if they tried to connect the replicators to the main grid and use them, they could easily overload the system and end up worse off." Standing again, Yoshi crossed to where a few small pitchers of water sat, and he filled himself a glass. "Not even an option to leave supplementary power supplies such as wind or solar. Pollution in the atmosphere and the fact we're a moon means solar is out, and the dust storms caused by the degrading of the soil would mean that any wind power would fail. So, we leave them with replicators, and small portable power supplies that allow for the replication of just basic rations, and we assume they are not going to try and get more out of them, and they can make it through the two months. But if one person even considers connecting the two grids together, and you have the potential for them to be left with no power, no food, and no heat."

Izzy’s first response was a fairly emphatic and colorful couple of Romulan curse words. “Which is about 98 percent likely given the near-total lack of effective government—or much of any government—around here. If all it takes is one, in that sort of backdrop you’re guaranteed to get one. Damn. So that’s out then. I’d suggest a Federation backed contract with some local suppliers where we pay for the food they need from local sources until the other supplies arrive, but somehow I doubt many of the carriers will be open to it given the sorts in play. Still. I’ll look into it as a possibility at least, get some of my Ferengi contacts on it perhaps. Anything you can suggest on your end? Can we get another ship out here in a decent turnaround time—one less in demand, perhaps; or even just one to provide some power supplies as well so we could leave them with a better setup?”

"Closest ships are all at least two weeks away at warp, and of those available, one is a short range scientific vessel with no ability to provide aid, and the other is a Defiant-class. Any chance of them providing aid is worse than the Vesta. We'd be better off if we could get an independent trading vessel to come in. That private station we passed would be excellent, they have hydroponics facilities, but then we're paying a premium. They feed a remote water processing facility near by." Running his finger along the edge of the glass, he stared at the water. The ripple shook and he frowned, which seemed to fade and turn into a small smile. "Their underground river is their water supply, and is polluted."

“So we’d have to bring in water for them too, not just food, until the supplies and the relief workers show up with more advanced filtration equipment. OK. HOW polluted? If I can find a carrier who’ll contract with the Federation for this job, are we talking needing drinking water only; or water for hygiene and such as well? Anything they can still safely use the local supply for?” Izzy glanced at her stack of PADDs on the table; the information she sought was possibly in one of the several most recent reports and planetary surveys she hadn’t been able to do more than skim yet.

"No no, they can filter it, that's not the point," he said. "It's an actual river at some points along a system of underground caves. That might actually be a solution to the power draw problem. Hydrodamming the river. We can add in an extra step of filtration, but at the very least we can squeeze reliable power out of that for the time being. A super temporary fix, but one that might allow us to do what you first suggested." With that Yoshi let out a sudden, and heavy yawn. It even looked like it caught him off guard with how tired he was feeling all of a sudden. "We might be able to do some actual good, but we should wrap these meetings up quick, I feel like I could use a nap."

A grin spread across Izzy's face at the first half of Yoshi's statement, then a matching yawn in reply to his, rubbing at her eyes, vision suddenly bleary as if all the adrenaline had left her at once. "Forget water. Remind me to have Kairishana send down a few carafes of coffee for the next session."

Stretching, Yoshi leaned back in his chair and nodded. "Bring the strong stuff, I feel like if I'm this tired I could do than with more than a standard brew. Give me some espresso." Reaching to grab his glass, he watched as it slipped through his fingers and smashed against the ground. Looking down at both his hands, he went to make a fist, and watched his mechanical arm close much quicker. "izzzbl," he slurred, looking toward his diplomat, then to the jug of water and the other gathered water glasses. "Summabich," he added, reaching for his commbadge before slumping forward.

Izzy watched the scene play out in alarm—and in ever-increasingly blurry vision. Attempts to reach her own comm unit were as unsuccessful as Yoshi’s had been, as her body was no longer responding to her commands. You idiot!, she thought to herself as the last of her awareness faded into darkness and oblivion: During her time on Romulus, she had been in the habit of scanning nearly everything she ate or drank for foreign substances before consuming it. There, it had been both recommended and necessary; but she had never thought to need to apply the practice most elsewhere. She certainly wouldn’t have thought to need to here...And for that misplaced trust, it appeared they would pay.

 

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