A/N Hi! This is my first time using this site for posting my stories. I am slowly learning how this site works so bear with me.
There are no real pairings in this story. All the relationships within the Andromeda are fairly plutonic throughout the whole fic.
I apologize in advance for my commas. They're a bit sporadic- but I'm, slowly, getting better.
Disclaimer: The Andromeda Ascendent and the universe to which it belongs are not mine but belong to Tribune, Firworks, and various other affiliates. I am in no way recieving any money for this. The only thing that belongs to me is my OFC Emily.
Beta'd by: Jim- to whom I owe my eternal gratitude.
Quote: "Ignorance is a powerful weapon when wielded by the truly wise."
The Ambassador respectfully acknowledged the captain of the Andromeda Ascendant with open arms. "Ah, Captain Dylan Hunt, please, do sit down." The Ambassador motioned to an ornately carved chair only overshadowed by the larger monstrosity than his own. After making sure Dylan was comfortable he sat down.
The Ambassador had been eager to speak with Dylan and went out of his way to welcome him. He had even sent a private ship to transport him safely to and from Sintu-Anaris.
Dylan enjoyed the red carpet treatment. This was one of few times he had been greeted with such patronage, such a warm sincere welcome. The only other time he could remember was when he was on Tarezad and boy did that turn out to be a political mess. But Dylan was not the only one there from the Andromeda. His two comrades Tyr and Trance had graciously agreed to accompany him at his request and although the Ambassador was being so gracious to him he appeared to be blatantly ignoring them.
Dylan immediately jumped into a conversation with the ambassador and Tyr and Trance realized that they were not going to be introduced. Dylan hadn't forgotten about them but the Ambassador chose to only acknowledge him and, since he seemed willing to sign the Commonwealth Charter, Dylan chose not to introduce them and mar any chances. They would probably kick him for it later but if he got the signature he was willing to deal with that.
Trance's cheerful smile faded and the orange glow of her cheeks paled. She still held her head high and tried to hold a diplomatic outlook. As She was Dylan's guest, introduction's were his choice and the Ambassador didn't seem to care who they were anyway. Tyr however was deeply annoyed and his face showed it. Nietzscheans did not appreciate being pushed to the side and not even mentioned.
The Ambassador caught sight of Tyr's annoyed expression and eyed Dylan's two comrades for a moment. He, however, addressed Dylan instead. "You seem to have an interesting little menagerie on that ship of yours."
Dylan forced a smile at the snide remark. "Well, you need two of every animal to reshape the universe." He nearly winced as the words escaped him mouth. They were going to kick him for this later.
Trance frowned and Tyr's lip curled in disgust however the Ambassador, to whom it was directed, found it amusing. He smiled and gave a light laugh at the comparison between the Andromeda and Noah's Ark.
The Ambassador shifted his gaze onto the stone in one of his rings. "Now, Dylan, as you are aware, Sintu-Anaris would love to join the Commonwealth..."
The Ambassador frowned and put his hand back on the armrest. He returned his gaze to Dylan. "Captain Hunt, Dylan... may I call you Dylan?"
Dylan gave a light nod and the Ambassador continued. "Dylan, as you well know, our planet is not in the best of positions at this time."
"The Dragons, "Dylan, acknowledged the truth in the statement.
"Yes, well, we have a sort of pact with the Dragons. You see, our planet is home to a, a rare ore known as..."
"...Angel's Silver." Tyr interjected.
The Ambassador fixed his gaze on Tyr. His mouth was a tight thin line and his tiny brown eyes conveyed utter hatred.
Tyr opened his mouth but Dylan quickly put a hand up to silence him. Tyr begrudgingly closed it.
Dylan attempted to shift the Ambassadors focus back to himself. "Angel's Silver?" The Ambassador slowly shifted his gaze from Tyr to Dylan. 'Angel's silver' is it's street name. I guess I should expect the Nietzscheans to know that." All traces of sweetness had vanished from the Ambassador's voice.
Trance frowned, noting the derogatory note when the Ambassador toned the word 'Nietzscheans'.
Tyr just rolled his eyes. He had already made up his mind that the Ambassador was an ignorant fool.
The Ambassador continued. "As I have said, it is incredibly rare. Even under Nietzscheans pressure, which, believe me, included some rather nasty threats..." He closed his eyes for a moment and frowned distastefully. "Even with their threats, we kept the location of the mines a secret."
Dylan kept a steady gaze at the Ambassador's eyes. "Smart move."
The Ambassador stared at his armrest avoiding Dylan's eyes. Contemplating. "Yes, well, it didn't appear to be so at first."
"They didn't enslave you because of it." Dylan reminded.
The Ambassador remained silent a moment, his expression pained, as if reliving the memory. "After we refused to give them the location, the threats grew worse. Thousands of people were killed, slaughtered. I didn't know what to do. It's, it's a difficult thing to go through- having your people mercilessly slaughtered before your eyes and knowing you could end it. I consulted my advisors but their opinions were as divided as my own. They could provide no help. The Dragons kept asking me for the location, telling me that, if I would just tell them where the ore was mined, the carnage would end. I told them that that was never going to happen and that the location would die with my people hoping they would remove their forces and negotiate. I told them they could scour this planet for thousands of years and never find the mines. You see, Angel's Silver grows in underground mines near pockets of toxic gas spreading thousands of feet across. The gas interferes with any electrical tracking devices. The gas is toxic to most life forms, including Nietzscheans, but us Sintu-Anarians have lived here so long that we have immunity to the gas, allowing us to mine it with little damage to our health. Well, the Dragons weren't sure if I was bluffing or not but they didn't want to risk it. They didn't draw back their forces like I had hoped they would, they said it was incentive. They did, however, send a negotiator to speak with me. That's when the pact was made."
The Ambassador stood up and walked over to his desk. He opened the drawer, pulled out a flexi, and handed it to Dylan. It contained the contract. There was a long silence as Dylan read through it.
The Ambassador sat quite still while Dylan read, his eyes slightly glazed, lost in thought. Trance stared at him and tried to read his body language to determine the magnitude of the events but his face was turned from her. She could sense his tension- the memory was unpleasant.
Dylan lay the screen down on his lap. "This pact," he began, shaking the Ambassador out of his thoughts, "Only refers to the ore. It says nothing about signing pacts with other planets, systems, or the New Commonwealth."
The Ambassador gave a light laugh. "I'm pretty sure the Dragons would not be happy about us joining the Commonwealth. They had the biggest hand in destroying the first one. I don't think they would appreciate us going behind their backs like this."
"But, would they be willing to loose their ore providers over it?"
The Ambassador grimaced. "I don't know, but I am afraid to risk waving that over their heads again. I have seen enough blood spilt to last several lifetimes. However, I will sign today if you can promise us full protection. So let me ask you, how big is your fleet?"
"Fleet?" Dylan wasn't quite sure how to answer that. The New Commonwealth was in infantile stages. He barely had enough signatures to be taken seriously much less raise a joint fleet. He didn't have the money, the resources, or even the influence for that.
The Ambassador frowned. "I'll take it from your silence, Captain, that you do not yet have one. Dylan, I have heard great things about you, heard of your valiant exploits, heroic deeds, but one lone starship, even if captained by the Great Dylan Hunt, can not protect us from the onslaught that will ensue if they find out we've gone behind their backs."
"How would they find out?" Trance interjected. "As far as I was told, only you, us, and your advisors have any knowledge of our negotiations. I know we wouldn't tell the Dragons anything because we need signatures and support. You, of course, wouldn't tell them because of the, quote, 'onslaught that would ensue'. That leaves your advisors, chosen by you, most likely, because you trust them. So really, although possible, it doesn't seem probable that the Dragons would find out you had joined the New Commonwealth and therefore they would see no need to attack." Trance smiled at Dylan and he nodded in approval and admiration at her speech.
The Ambassador, however, was less than amused. He looked at her with such disdain that her self-confidence, which had briefly spiked, plummeted to almost nothing. "Look here, Orange One, it is not merely 'sign on the dotted line and all will be well', and I have a population and a planet to protect."
Tyr snorted. "In other words, he's afraid. His words were directed at Trance though she could not tell if he was trying to make her feel better or underhandedly bashing the Ambassador.
The Ambassador shifted his gaze to Tyr. "I have every right to be, Neitzschean. I saw thousands of my people slaughtered by your kind. I was lucky I didn't get enslaved. I've seen what you - you creatures do to a planet."
Tyr laughed darkly. "Fearing the death of your people is one thing but how dare you say you fear slavery. At least one hundredth of your population is enslaved, by you."
The Ambassador glowered. "Yes, but one hundredth is far better than the whole entire planet. I'm sorry in saving my people I didn't implore the Nietzscheans for payment for the ore. It didn't seem as important as stopping the death and destruction."
"That was a result of your own idiocy. The Nietzscheans wouldn't have killed off your entire population and you know it. You know they didn't want to spend decades searching for the damn mines and they couldn't annihilate your planet because it was too valuable. I understand fear of your population and your very legacy being wiped out from under you, but you are the leader. You had more clout than you could have imagined. So a couple thousand people would have died, millions perhaps, but had you held out you could have ensured the safety and well being of many generations to come. With the lost revenue your economy is crumbling beneath your own two feet and you may think it's better than slavery but your population sure as hell won't. I'd say watch your back but I think new management may be what this rock needs."
"Don't blame me for this Nietzscheans. You're the ones who should be blamed. Smell that? That stench of death? You caused it. These people are suffering because of you not me. Mass slaughter, genocide, murder, slavery- you, your kind, you're all the same, a bunch of war mongering leeches consumed with greed and a lust for power. You exploit planets- enslave planets, all for your own benefit! You don't care about anyone other than yourselves. You fight against your own kind waiting for the first chance of betrayal. I have more respect for the Magog."
"Don't you dare insult me Kluge, or so help me..."
"Tyr!" Dylan shouted, his voice more shocked than angry. Trance stared at him. Tyr was seething with anger. His breathing rate was accelerated and his arms were poised in a fighting stance his bone blades aimed precariously at the Ambassador. The shock of Dylan's voice had just barely prevented him from striking the man.
The Ambassador glared back at him every ounce of hatred he felt for the Drago Kazov and Nietzscheans race concentrated and aimed at Tyr. He was sweating and there was fear behind the hatred that he tried to hide.
Dylan's voice changed to calm, but it was a forced calm, the kind of calm you use when talking to someone on the very edge of reason. "Tyr, Trance, you two are excused."
Tyr slowly put his arms down still eyeing the ambassador maliciously.
"That's a good boy," the Ambassador said patronizingly.
Tyr had to use every ounce of strength he had to keep himself from hitting the Ambassador.
"Aww is it angry?" The Ambassador prodded like a cat in front of a chained dog.
"Don't provoke it!" Dylan put a weary hand to his forehead. "Him, don't provoke him." He turned to Tyr. "You are dismissed."
Tyr glared at Dylan and stormed out of the room.
Dylan turned to face Trance. She looked upset. "I'm sorry, this was all my fault. I, I should have just kept my mouth shut."
The Ambassador snorted.
Dylan put a sympathetic hand on Trance's shoulder. "It's not your fault. You handled yourself very diplomatically and presented a valid point. You did everything right. I am not dismissing you because I am mad, or because I think you'll screw things up. I am dismissing you because I don't think my crew deserves to be subjected to this kind of treatment."
Trance forced a smile and exited the room. She found Tyr out in the hall leaning on the stair railing. He appeared to be staring at the oil painting on the opposite wall but she could tell his mind was far from the paintings. Although she had thought Tyr's outburst avoidable and uncalled for there was one thing that nagged at her mind. She leaned on the railing next to him and waited patiently for him to acknowledge her.
"Yes?" His voice was still dangerously sharp.
She took a deep breath, debating for a moment if she should just forget it but she decided that it was worth asking. "What did you mean when you said he enslaved his own people? I was not informed of this during the debriefing before we came."
Tyr snorted. "That's because I doubt even Dylan knew about it. I don't think the Ambassador would go spreading that information around. Bad publicity."
"Than how did you now about it?"
He glared at her and she had to hold back from moving away from him. "As the Ambassador so pointed out, I am a Nietzscheans. The Drago-Kazov and the Kodiak prides were once allied. We were fully aware that the Dragons were exploiting Sintu-Anaris for Angel's Silver. We used to buy it from them. And since it is used for a great deal of machinery, weapons - technology in general, we looked into its exportation. We found that the mining was done by slaves but it meant cheap labor and cheaper prices so we really didn't care.."
"But why enslave people to work in the mines? Couldn't he just hire them?"
"That ignorant fool didn't negotiate payment for the ore. Without payment he can't hire miners."
"Couldn't he have raised taxes?"
Tyr shook his head. "He could have but his people were already threatening to overthrow him. They blamed him for allowing the destruction. Had he held out on negotiations most of those people would be gone. He could have started anew. Without taxes the money would have to come out of his own pocket, but the requirement would be too great even if he could hire cheap labor. One can also assume the dangers in miners striking if they realized how much power they had and how valuable they were."
"So he stripped them not only of power but of rights too? That's horrible."
"That's politics." He turned back to the paintings. "You know, I don't even know why I came. I would have been better off had I remained on the Andromeda."
"We came to help Dylan." Trance said softly.
Tyr curled his lip. "It appears that he does not need our help."
Trance sighed. "Fine, then we came to offer him out support."
Tyr snorted. "Like he offered us his support? I seem to remember a reference to us being animals on Noah's Ark."
"That should make you happy." Trances words borderlined bitterness- an emotion not usually associated with her. "At least on Noah's Ark they took the two prime prospects of each species."
Tyr gave a small smile and shook his head.
Trance eyed him suspiciously but he simply replied "Touché"
Break BREAK break Break BREAK break
Beka sat sprawled over her captain's chair a weary hand supporting her head. She shifted positions. "One of the best Commonwealth starships in the galaxy, and yet, nothing to do." She sighed at Harper who was tampering with some wires in an open wall panel, a pair of wire cutters in his mouth and a soldering wand in his back pocket.
"Spweak fwo yowsewf" he mumbled. Beka still managed to understand him even with the wire cutters in his mouth. He pulled them out and started stripping a wire. "I have a live wire in Med-Bay, decks 7 and 9 are without gravity, and deck 17 has no power."
He took the two newly stripped wires and wound their metal tips together receiving a mild electric shock. It could have been avoided had he shut off power to command deck but that was a major hassle in and of itself so he opted for a shock.
Beka laboriously stood up and walked over to Harper to watch him work for a few minutes.
"Look on the bright side." He ginned. "At least we're not in the midst of a battle we can't possibly win without being blasted to microscopic pieces with dead bloodied corpses strewn around and with swarms of invaders hacking..."
Beka cut him off. "Thanks, Harper, I get the picture. Count you blessings. Got it." She grabbed the soldering wand from his pocket. "I'll fix the wire in Med-Bay."
"Finally, somebody cares." He joked despite the bitter truth embedded in his words. He was just expected to magically keep the whole Andromeda up and running by himself, a task that would be a burden for ten men, much less one.
But before Beka could leave, Hologram- Rommie appeared. "I am detecting a ship."
"Well it was nice while it lasted." Harper whispered sarcastically. "I'll leave you my gun, Dylan my... uh... on second though Dylan doesn't need anything. Trance can have...uh...my plant...even though it's kinda dead... maybe I shoulda watered it..."
Beka shook her head. "Funny."
"There are no life signs. It appears to be abandoned" Holo-Rommie said.
"On screen" said Beka. Andromeda's avatar entered the room and was briefly acknowledged by Beka and Harper before they returned to the screen to observe the ship.
The ship was like none either of them had ever seen. It was larger than the Eureka Maru, but only by what seemed a small margin.
Holo-Rommie furrowed her brow. "Unknown. There is nothing that resembles that in any of my data archives."
Beka scrutinized it. "That is something there."
Harper nodded and gestured to the screen with his wire cutters. "There's not even a single dent on that baby."
Beka grinned at Harper. "You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"
Harper grinned back. "Now, being the responsible one here, I must ask myself 'what would Dylan do?'" He put a finger to his chin and stared up at the ceiling as if thinking.
Beka sighed. Harper's words were obviously meant to be a joke but she was forced to actually consider them. Dylan, after all, was Captain and he left her in charge. "He'd probably tell us to leave it alone" There was a pause and Harper was ready to accept that as her decision. "But..." She grinned again "Dylan's not here. And he obviously trusts my judgement enough to leave me in command. Besides, this piece of junk could use some new materials."
Rommie stared at Beka a look of shock on her face as to how Beka would dare call her and her ship a piece of junk. The annoyance quickly faded into bitterness the one emotion that she seemed to have grasped the most easily and the only one her other two halves didn't seem to mind exercising.
"Of course she didn't mean you oh-wonderful-creation-of-mine." Harper interjected quickly.
Rommie gave a snort and stalked off mumbling to herself. "Piece of junk! Well perhaps this piece of junk no longer has the energy to maintain life support!"
Beka shot Harper a worried glance. Harper gave a half smile. "She's just a bit cranky because I had to shut her down earlier this morning for a system's check. She wouldn't really turn off life support...gravity, maybe, but not life support." He turned back to the open panel to reseal it. "I think." he added quickly.
"Thanks for the reassurance."
There was a pause as the panel was sealed, and Beka continued to look over the ship. When Harper finished he turned to her. He let out a tired sigh and placed the wire cutters in his back pocket where the soldering wand had been. "So what are we going to do captain Beka?" His mischievous blue eyes were fixed on her, almost goading her to loot the ship.
She grinned. "I say we go see what we can salvage." She gave her companion a vigorous high-five but her joyous demeanor faded. "If both of us go, who's going to watch the ship?"
As soon as the words escape her mouth Motherboard Rommie appeared on-screen, her hologram form projected in front of her with arms crossed still showing bitterness to Beka's prior comment. "The ship," she said shortly "can take care of itself." She didn't even wait for a reply before cutting out.
Beka looked at Harper. "Since when did she get so snippy?"
Harper shrugged. "Maybe she's been hanging around Tyr too much."
"Just what we need, two Tyr's running around."
Beka put an arm around his shoulders and the two headed for the Maru.