|And Then There Was One
Author: D. M. Domini PM
Talentfic. Merci Gren didn't mean to plan the political assassination of Earth Prime. But when that same Earth Prime is undermining the work of centuries, she has a choice to fight to keep the FT&T as she knows it intact, or just let it crumble.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,109 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 12-19-07 - Published: 10-28-07 - id: 3860899
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is a story based on Anne McCaffrey's Talent series. Universe, worlds, and characters belong to her. I am merely playing around with my super-duper-cool Talent Action Figures!
And Then There Was One
by Portalvast Magus
Summary: Talent-fic. Merci Gren didn't mean to plan the political assassination of Earth Prime. But when that same Earth Prime is undermining the work of centuries, she has a choice to fight to keep the FT&T as she knew it intact, or just walk away and let it crumble behind her. She's not about to let it crumble.
Characters: Merci Gren, Edward Jackson, Peter Reidinger IV, Eleena Siglen, and Roarch Guzman.
Rating: T for mature language.
Timeline: Set post-Pegasus In Space (by a few centuries), but pre-The Rowan.
Merci Gren - 1
"Will you put the damn flowers down and come listen to me?"
Edward Jackson, Earth Prime, gave the second in command of Earth Tower a mild look, then returned to easing out a new plant from its temporary pot so that it could be replanted in its new home in the large oval floral container that sat before the full-wall holo of the FT&T Pegasus, adding to the grandeur of the front entryway of Earth Tower. "It's after hours. What you have to say can wait; the flowers, however, can not. They'll die soon if not planted, since I was unable to plant them yesterday as I had planned. Have patience, Merci."
Have patience indeed, you tree-hugging pseudo-empathic jerk, Merci Gren thought furiously from behind her shields. "I wouldn't be cussing at you if it wasn't an emergency," Merci said tightly.This is something we need to talk about. In a private room. Right now.
Edward didn't respond, although she knew he had heard her telepathic message. Instead, in that passive-aggressive way of his that always infuriated her, he slowly planted his beloved exotic floras, getting his high-priced Talented hands filthy with pitch-black dirt. Before she could lose her temper entirely and do something crass like telekinetically overturning the planter and its contents on his head in full view of all the security cameras, Merci turned her back on the man and glided away.
The small storage unit she held in between her fingertips as she walked away was the size of a pea, and held information that threatened much of what too many Talents before her had worked to accomplish. It could quite literally disrupt the integrity of the entire Nine Star League, and here their beloved Earth Prime was, playing with his green thumb. Green dick was more like it. Dicking around. A wise-ass politician years ago had tested the waters with snarky slurs, and the Prime stood up on behalf of all the Talents in the known universe about as firmly as used toilet paper. Twenty years later, the same slippery politician was putting forward a motion to rescind the FT&T's neutral standing and break it into planetary divisions, integrated directly under government control.
And therefore corruption, and red tape, and managementby governmental weenies who didn't know a thing about Talented abilities, or ethics, or capabilities. The first thing to change would be the typical six hour workday into eight hours. Why should Talents work less than their fellow men? Did they think they were better? As if governmental management prigs would ever see the graphic medical holos of past Talents that were overworked and actually started consuming their own bodies to power their abilities because the normal three meals a day calorie intake was no longer cutting it on the expanded schedule? An anorexic non-Talent took weeks of semi-starvation to skeletalize their bodies. An overworked Talent eating what would normally be a typical diet for an adult could bring themselves to the same state in two days.
And that's just what a change in work hours alone would do to the FT&T. Benefits would be cut next, to "bring spending down" and suddenly all those freelancer jobs and big corporations who wanted pet Talents of their own would be snapping up Talent the FT&T needed to keep the towers running, because their salaries and benefit packages would look attractive in comparison to the travesty of a government-run FT&T's benefit package. Working in a Tower was a boring job, particularly for the telekinetics...catch, throw, push, pull, teleport here, teleport there, wash, rinse, and repeat. Over and over and over again. The fact that the FT&T took such meticulous care of its workers was the only reason a group of people statistically brighter than the average stood still for it. So when the government inevitably cut benefits, Talents would flee, then pricing of telekinetically moved cargo would be hiked accordingly, and the economies of entire planets would alter when offworld trade became prohibitively expensive. It would be a mess.
And visions of generators shedding parts in your head, Edward said. I think you're exaggerating things. The FT&T isn't going to suddenly come under direct governmental control. And even if it did, it wouldn't come to the extremes you're envisioning. If this was a remote possibility, we'd have a precog report.
Not necessarily, Merci warned in a dire tone.
Edward popped into the meeting room that Merci had chosen, and watched her casually, with his hands in his pockets, as she stalked back and forth in front of the inert holo display, her sharp high heels boring little circles into the carpet. His hands were still dirty, and she was sure whoever did his laundry would have a hell of a time getting dirt out from the inside of his pockets. He was like a gigantic three year old sometimes, playing in the mud. And the health of the FT&T depended so much on him acting like a strong leader...which he wasn't, not really. She wasn't quite sure what the founders had been thinking, giving Earth Prime such a broad expanse of powers with so few checks on what he might do with them. Or not do.
Of course, she doubted much would get done if a board of high talents were in charge instead, given the inflated egos of any given high talent. They would produce just as much hot air when crammed into a boardroom as any other run-by-committee corporation did. So perhaps there was wisdom in the system after all.
She kept these thoughts behind shields, however. She didn't intend to get demoted to some ack-bass planet because someone took her thoughts of alternate forms of running the FT&T the wrong way, or because Edward spontaneously acted in self-defense for the first time in his life and got rid of her before she could get him replaced. Instead, she popped her data cube into the holo display and teased a chair away from the center table of the conference room and took a seat. Edward remained standing, little crumbs of soil decorating the edges of his pockets. She repressed the urge to telekinetically brush the dirt off like she would with her daughters and turned to watch the holo display in the center of the table.
After the holo had played, Edward turned to her. "So how long did you spend editing the holo to display all the worst bits?" he asked. "Did you use the fancy editing software your husband uses for his job?"
"How does the software I used to put a report together have anything to do with what's contained in the actual report?" Merci asked in astonishment. "The fact remains that none of this should be happening. We have Talented families--low talents, but Talent all the same--on Altair, and Capella--"
"Everyone knows Capella marches to its own drum," Edward said, dismissing the planet. "And it is, and always has been, the individual's prerogative to decide if they want to join the FT&T, or even get a test done to see if they even have Talent."
"There are millions of people on that planet you just waved away as inconsequential, it's second only to Altair in terms of population. Just because they think differently than us doesn't mean we should dismiss them. And Talents not joining the FT&T is a very big deal. What are we doing wrong, why are we less of an attractive choice? The statistics show amarked downswing in the number of new Talents coming into the organization, and a marked upswing in old, known Talented families who have been a part of the company for generations failing to bring their offspring and relatives into the fold. In addition to that, polling has indicated that anti-Talent sentiment is up for the first time in more than a century. Which means these politicians pushing to make the FT&T a government institution might actually have a chance. Because the populace might well be behind them on the matter. Not to mention that manufacturers of goods everywhere would loooove to gain the ability to be able to lobby special interest groups and actually have an impact on FT&T operations, as they would if the FT&T became a governmental institution."
Edward sighed. "Forward the data to my com."
Merci popped the cube out of the holo projector, and held it out to him. "Here you go."
"Not that, I want the raw data."
Merci stared at him.
"Reports are generated from formulas that are determined by the report-maker and may reflect the report-maker's bias," Edward said, his voice light in a way that said he was seriously annoyed with her, even if he was shielded in such a way no mere T-3 as herself could pick up any flickers of emotion. "I wish to run my own reports against the raw data."
"And introduce your own bias," Merci said, feeling deeply insulted. But she couldn't deny him the data. Not that she wanted to per se, the data spoke for itself. She just felt like being contrary. But she couldn't be, and it would just annoy him to go directly to the Stationmaster, HR, Marketing, and elsewhere to gather the data from scratch. Easier for him to just get it from her.
"And introduce my own biases," Edward repeated her words with a quirk of his mouth. "Humans are, by nature, biased creatures, aren't we?" He gave her a smile that might be cute on a young student somewhere, but which just infuriated her instead.
"You'll have the raw data within the hour," she said expressionlessly.
"Thank you Merci. I'll look it over tomorrow, I'm ready to go home for the night. Cheers."
Merci watched as Earth Prime strode out the door, whistling, as if he hadn't a care in the world. She caught the faint thought that he did it just to annoy her, and thinned her mouth into a line before standing and teleporting back to her office to do more data-crunching. She would, once again, pick up his slack. Damn the man and his passive-aggressive ego.
Author's Note: I do intend to finish my other stories. This one just kept biting at me. Sorry! (If you're not familiar with my other stories, see Sackcloth and Ashes, an AU fic focusing on Afra Lyon, and Boxed: A Story of Talent, a post-The Tower and the Hive fic about a dysfunctional Prime.)
Please review--it lets me know if I'm doing things right or not. Thank you!