"First, some reports, Lady."
"We've finally got a workable design for the harvester robots. The technicians have a proposal for an agricultural project in the freshwater sea area awaiting approval."
"And here some details on the new unit types you approved."
"Thanks. You are dismissed."
Lady Deirdre turned back to the table, around which a circle of expectant faces were seated. At the other end of the table sat a loosely robed figure, his face heavily in shadow, his hands strapped in to a variety of probes and instruments. They said it was to help with concentration, but the proceedings had the air of an old fashioned seance.
"Begin when ready," she said.
The man, the leader of the so called 'Empath Guild', frowned.
"Wait," he said.
He breathed out audibly.
"It is done." / Backup
One of the advisors seated around the room fidgeted. "That's it?"
"I have sensed the others. The Five are well. We can talk to them now."
"How would that work? Possession?"
The robed man let out a shadowed smile. "No. We have more modern means."
He flicked his hands forwards, and pushed a button on a hidden keyboard. A haziness appeared in the center of the table, and coalesced into the figure of...
"WHAT DEVILRY IS THIS?"
"Uh, hi too, Mrs Godwinson."
Deirdre sat back. "What?"
"A yes or no answer will suffice."
"We haven't spoke for years upon years, and the first time we meet, you ask us to join a war? Against the ship's doctor, Lal? I know we haven't always seen eye to eye, but what the hell? Besides, why would we believe a word you say?"
"Plunder the wealth of the planet? Is this what you think this mission is all about, Miriam?"
With a click, the hologram faded to blackness. The telepath looked vaguely embarrassed, and a mix of shock silence and suppressed giggles passed over the rest of the gathered.
"And you say, Lady, that this woman was once the ship's psychiatrist?"
"Yeah... no wonder we had problems. Still, it would be interesting to find out the other side of this story regarding the war. And, of course, to find out how she had heard of our progress. Let's try Lal."
The bearded doctor seemed unsurprised. Perhaps Miriam had been talkative in the meantime.
"Greetings, Doctor Lal," Deirdre replied. "Be assured, we have no intentions in that direction. In fact, it's a relief to find someone who still remembers the charter after all this time."
"Yang? Why are you fighting Yang? I can understand Miriam, but..."
"Yang is fighting me," Lal responded.
"But you said you wish to uphold the charter? The charter clearly states that in cases where the captain is incapacitated, the executive officer takes over command..."
He laughed. "If you have seen what Yang has wrought, you would know the idiocy of that statement."
"At least join with me in a treaty of friendship... then we'll discuss what grievances you have with Yang toge..."
Lal hissed. "So, you are on his side then."
With a click, the hologram fell dark.
"2 crazies out of 2, so far. 3 if we count Santiago. Is there something in the air?"
Few laughed. The Gaians seemed to have a shortage of friends.
"Next, Morgan. Ugh, better get this one over and done with."
"And the blood of innocents," someone murmured softly.
"None of your business, Morgan," Deirdre replied. "Don't you believe in free competition? Then let your 'invisible hand' prove to us why we have to rob from our children's futures."
The swiftest of frowns passes over the businessman's face.
Jaws hung open across the room.
An economics advisor bent forwards to ask. "Is this some kind of a trick, Morgan?"
"Not at all."
Deirdre quickly muted the commlink. "Suggestions?"
"He must be desperate indeed if he wants a treaty with us," a military advisor said.
"But it could work out," interjected an economics advisor. "Besides, it will give us an excuse to monitor Morgan's output, and maybe we can persuade him to change his ways in the long term."
Deirdre quickly counted the votes. It came by the tightest of margins.
"Now, Zakharov. He was always reasonable, though kind of condescending towards the biological sciences."
"Sure," Deirdre said, hiding a smile. "You will find her... entertaining."
The screen fell dark one more time.
"That was a relief," Deirdre said. "It seems there's someone out there who isn't out to kill everybody else. I suppose it's now the turn of XO Yang..."
"What are you saying, sir? I thought that..."
The silver haired man peered carefully down at them, eyes squeezed almost shut.
"...Simply that in these times, moves must be taken to streamline command processes. Never mind."
"Strange, that's exactly what he told us."
Yang breathed in deeply. "As head of this mission, I am giving you a direct order, assist me against this mutiny!"
A few around the table seemed swayed. A few others seemed outraged.
"We need more full information, and time to think about this."
The commlink deactivated for the final time and the room fell into a dark silence.
: Emmissaries from several factions assembled in protest today at the the results of the first Planetary governor elections, which passed 92-94 in favour of Deirdre's nominee - closer than had been predicted. Many complained that they had not recieved proper notification, or that the limited communications using Gaian networks as a hub prejudiced the proceedings. Lal's candidate, the runner up, swore that he would contest the results 'in any court where he can'.
Looks like the EXPLORE party needs a coalition partner. Cast your vote!
(.) - CONQUER: Ignore the big free for all, and fight Sparta
(.) - :BUILD: Ignore the big free for all, and focus on civil engineering projects
(.) - DISCOVER: Interfere... somehow.