moon phase

Mar. 29th, 2014 05:32 pm
warpfairy: (g ~ neutrality)
Isabella's videos (and their transcriptions, and their translations) are not instantly the topic of conversation in every household in the Federation over breakfast or its local equivalent, but they gain traction, and the Federation is still scrupulous enough not to send Starfleet to get her in the middle of the night for recording her opinions.

(Her opinions are limited here to the subject of her "repatriation" and to the Prime Directive. Her thoughts on genetic engineering are confined to the "polarbear" handle on long-dormant accounts on old, in some cases defunct, fora.)

It is a few months before she's invited to a speaking engagement by an activist club at a university on Viarat, a moon inhabited by predominantly human colonists but some Vulcans.

She accepts the honorarium, writes a speech, and (in the recovered Prometheus, which Renée has been holding for her) goes to Viarat, accompanied by her husband.

They get a hotel room; a liaison from the activist club shows her to where she's giving her speech, she gets as far as thanking them for inviting her and beginning to outline her planned topic before someone in the back row pulls a phaser pistol and squeezes off a burst that hits her in the sternum.

She collapses, exhaling all her air voicelessly. Someone next to the shooter tackles her and gets the phaser away.
warpfairy: (j ~ vulcan calm)
She's got her hair tucked behind her ears. She's wearing one of her Davlian outfits, with the buttons over the shoulders and embroidered blue diamonds.

"Hello. My name is Isabella T'Mir. Some of you may have heard of me; six years ago I was imprisoned on Niamh 6 for violations of the Prime Directive, and following the subsequent well-publicized jailbreak I sought refuge on an unaligned world and stayed there until my recent amnesty. You can hear about my criminal history, as it were, in my other video; this one is about what happened when I came home. It occurred to me, when I heard that I'd been pardoned, that it might be some kind of trap; that the news might have been falsified. It turned out that the amnesty was genuine. The 'repatriation ceremony' to which I was invited on New Vulcan was not. It was an attempt at rape, authorized by the Vulcan High Council and perpetrated by their agents."

Emotionlessness falls over her like a veil, and she continues levelly.

"In order to explain the form this attempted violation took, it will be necessary for me to disclose some features of Vulcan biology which are traditionally kept secret from members of other alien species outside of dearest intimacy. It is my hope that no one will abuse this information to ask deeply personal questions of Vulcans they are acquainted with or to generate cruel stereotypes. I am sharing it only to illustrate the vulnerability of myself and another, anonymous unless he chooses to reveal himself, party, and my distress should not be used as a weapon to embarrass others.

"Full Vulcans, beginning in puberty and every seven years thereafter, enter a mating cycle called pon farr. If unaddressed, it is almost invariably fatal. It can be ridden out with a combination of intensive meditation and medication, which will preserve life in ninety-five percent of cases, more in older individuals, but the only guarantee is to satisfy the drive the cycle evolved to enforce. This is part of what the custom of childhood betrothal is meant to do - to ensure that no one waits until too late to choose a mate, and that youthful impetuousness doesn't lead Vulcan adolescents into an early grave. Partial Vulcans, such as myself, sometimes do not experience pon farr at all, but when we do, it does not first strike at a predictable time. Within Vulcan-specific law that, due to the private nature of this phenomenon, is not duplicated in Federation lawbooks, individuals experiencing pon farr are responsible for engineering their circumstances during their cycle to avoid causing harm, but beyond that are not held accountable for any actions attributable to the hormonal imbalance. I point this out to clarify why I accuse the Vulcan leadership, and not the anonymous party, of attempted rape; the situation was of their engineering, and not his."

The emotionlessness dissolves; there is light in her eyes again.

"I appeared as invited to the ceremony, the day before I expected my own cycle. It began innocently enough, until I attempted to excuse myself to be with my human fiancé in time to address my needs. I was not permitted to leave. I was informed that, subsequent to the death of my Vulcan father during the destruction of the homeworld, and in spite of the continued life and health of my human mother, the Vulcan High Council had opted to act in loco parentis for myself - among others - and arrange betrothals, within the species, to avoid outbreeding or excess reliance on the hazardous option of meditation and medication. Vulcans are, after all, now an endangered species, and concerned leaders of the people have found that those who were small children when the planet was destroyed, now coming of age, and those whose spouses were lost in the destruction, are more and more often choosing not to stay within the small selection pool afforded by the survivors. The fact that I am half-human was, if relevant, a side concern; the fact that I was already engaged was not considered, if it was even guessed; the fact that I did not want to handle my cycle with a stranger selected for me by others at the last moment was an annoyance.

"I engineered my circumstances as best as I knew how; I had my chosen mate within arm's reach, and his advance consent. Others, who never tried to approach me about the future of the Vulcan species openly, who never even asked about my marital status despite the fact that I had been in hiding for nearly six years with no contact with anyone from the Federation, who timed my entrapment for the moment at which I would be most vulnerable - attempted to supplant that engineering.

"My fiancé - now my husband - came looking for me when I did not return to him on schedule, and I invoked an archaic right which - when I describe it - I expect my listeners to be astonished that it is still in practice in any Federated world. My available recourse, when I wanted to reject the man who was chosen for me and when he was not in a condition to voluntarily back down, was to ask my preferred mate to fight him on my behalf. Traditionally this would be to the death; it also suffices to break the hold of pon farr, where applicable, even when both participants survive, as they did in this case. It is my great good luck that this fight went in my husband's favor, as I would have found myself without other means to decline the stranger if he had won instead. It is my great good luck that the agents of the High Council who orchestrated and oversaw this situation did not attempt to deny me even that much power over the outcome.

"The Vulcan High Council's attempt to manage the population it oversees is better suited to a species of domestic animal than to people. I hold its members collectively responsible for my attempted rape by unwitting instrument, and for an unknown number of others attempted or successful, and for the deceitful manipulation of personally innocent patsies such as the anonymous party. If my father's people today attempted to join the Federation, the dismantling of whatever legal scaffolding they used to justify this denial of autonomy would be a condition of membership. I submit that they have, accordingly, demonstrated themselves unfit to administer a member world of a Federation that calls itself civilized, and call for their immediate removal and a new election."

====

This one she does in Earth clothes, borrowed from Renée, and her hair is down, although the points of her ears stick out a little.

"Hello. My name is Isabella T'Mir. Six years ago I was imprisoned on Niamh 6, a Federation political prison, for violations of the Prime Directive. The charges were all completely true. My trial was held privately, because they didn't want to give anyone ideas. I'll give you those ideas now.

"Federation worlds exist in a condition of post-scarcity. Friendly unfederated worlds, who retain complete independence but do not assume a hostile posture, benefit from Federation policies of free trade and open collaboration. Civilizations with warp drive of whom the Federation is aware fall into four categories: Federation worlds, with the associated standard of living; those so close to it as to make no material difference; voluntary isolationists; and those who have traded shots with Starfleet vessels within the last forty years.

"Worlds that do not have warp drive are left to fend for themselves.

"Under any and all possible circumstances.

"Starfleet will not interfere with a pre-warp world in any perceptible way, even if their entire species is about to be wiped out by disease, disaster, or unfriendly neighbors.

"This is on the grounds that interfering with pre-warp civilizations will harm them."

Isabella pauses for a few seconds, looking at the screen, without even the excess snark of a raised eyebrow, before continuing.

"This is intended to be a series of videos; in later installments I plan to address various reasons why that is even more obviously wrongheaded than it seems on first inspection. In this one I will talk about what I did, and what the Federation did in reply.

"I had a ship, called Prometheus; I suppose I have it again, now that I've been pardoned, and I can probably collect it out of impound. Some of you may understand why I named it that when I tell you that, between cover survey missions, I used it to deliver anonymous warp plans to worlds that were close enough to the breakthrough to be believable, but not so close that I wasn't accelerating their calendar to speak of. Each subsequently achieved warp one and became worthy of Federation notice. Several of them have joined the Federation. Two have opted to go it alone, but will find that their opportunities are greater now that they can seek them in more parts of the galaxy.

"The reason I have been pardoned - or at least part of it; my suspicions about other possible reasons are alluded to in my other video - is that my Promethean activities have been rendered worse than useless. It is now Federation policy to refrain from recognizing any civilization that shows signs of having developed warp inorganically, with those it has already contacted grandfathered in. If I attempted to continue my work now - or if any of the people who were inspired by my unsuccessfully hidden crimes did so - it would be worse than useless, delaying the possibility of productive contact by years or decades.

"This removes the incentives to distribute warp.

"It does not make the Prime Directive less of an atrocity.

"My next video in this series will address the prejudiced idea that contacting low-technology civilizations will inevitably result in their worshiping their visitors."
warpfairy: (g ~ neutrality)
Davlia does not join the Federation. In fact, Davlia is quite collectively outraged that the Federation would refuse them entry until they received kindly donated technological insight, and only then ask them to participate in the government that wanted to condemn their would-be benefactor to life in prison. Davlia decides that it's doing all right by itself; it uses what Isabella and Lalita can dump into the nets from their stolen ship's library, and their new warp tech, to make contact with other civilizations, and are presently trading merrily with non-Federation civilizations and scouting a possible colony site a few stars to the galactic east.

Isabella catches up with Lalita on the language, and by the time they've been living among Davlians for a year they're both fluent. Lalita has an easier time making himself useful to their hosts than Isabella does, what with his vast arsenal of variously practical skills, but Isabella manages to make a few PADDs from the ship take Davlian electricity and pokes around on the nets, contributing useful ideas in appropriately modest pseudonymous fashion. (Not under "polarbear". That wouldn't make her inconspicuous, here. She goes by the less than concealing "priv_sky"; if anyone, under all the careful not-prying, is curious about her identity, they may have it, but she's trying to be polite.) Occasionally she gets a Davlia-approved thrill of warmth when something she's suggested anonymously is put into practice and nobody knows it's hers except Lalita.

The ship doesn't have very good bandwidth for subspace access to the Federation nets - it's warp-capable, but it was mostly not intended for long-distance runs, it didn't need to send large packets of information through subspace when it was generally within fine range for radio. Also, the Federation knows where they are, or at least has a very strong hunch - it just can't scoop them up without annoying the Davlians, who they're still trying to court. They can restrict information flow to the Potomac systems (because wherever they think it is, they know it was stolen) and to Davlia's own nets. News of home is not nonexistent, but it is infrequent and probably filtered.

They've been on Davlia for almost six years when Isabella learns that their neighbors have been unobtrusively considering her and Lalita what amounts to common-law married since they landed. She tells him so.
warpfairy: (c ~ meditative)
System after system goes by without many events of moment, and soon it is time to visit Renée again, and so the Prometheus once again docks above Earth and they once again shuttle to Phoenix.
warpfairy: (o ~ quandary)
They're not near Cardassian Union space.

But then, they're not near Federation space either. This ship has as much right to be in this system as they do.

It makes Isabella nervous, anyway, and she's just about to suggest leaving and coming back another time, when the Prometheus is hailed.

They're armed. She can't warp inside a solar system.

She answers the hail.

"Hello, Federation vessel," says one of the three visible Cardassians in bad but intelligible English. "What're you doing out here alone?"

Isabella swallows. "This is the deep space survey vessel Prometheus," she begins.

The computer lets her know that they're charging weapons.

"We have no hostile intention," she says.
warpfairy: (g ~ neutrality)
"Well," says Isabella, peering at the disappointing results from the computer analysis of network activity on the planet below. "That's going to be... inconvenient."
warpfairy: (g ~ neutrality)
Isabella doesn't really like being surrounded by Betazoids. She can ward off the scans - it's barely an effort - but they look at her like she's terribly unfriendly for doing it. Still, she almost never gets verbal complaints for it. She can conduct her shopping while Lalita hires a ship to go get the Harlequin from where he left her, and then they have a week to kill on the planet and its immediate environs while the tugboat goes out and fetches her.

Shopping isn't going to take that long. They should do tourist things!
warpfairy: (k ~ how curious)
They study Klingon. They work out a sleep schedule. They approach Betazed.

They are two days away from the system when Isabella notices something - troubling.

She takes longer than usual to compose herself that morning, and emerges from the living quarters with carefully measured steps, and avoids eye contact.

"Do you," she asks Lalita quietly, "have the ability to fly this class of ship?"
warpfairy: (h ~ travesty)
The Prime Directive is the most staggering atrocity - in sheer scope - ever to have been perpetrated by an advanced civilization.

In its name, genocides and mass enslavements are committed, planets are wrenched out of orbit into their suns or torn apart by supervolcanoes with millions or billions of innocents aboard, and literally uncounted numbers of men, women, and children fall prey to all manner of poverty, scarcity, illness, violence, disaster, and opportunity cost with every second that ticks by. Meanwhile, prosperous neighbors, concealing themselves like shy gods, leaving the little cousins to their deadly growth and winnowing, cheat themselves out of all the culture and insight and genius that they insist on abandoning to their noninterference policy.

Isabella T'Mir may feel more personal woe at the destruction of Vulcan than she does at the destruction of any other lost planet. But it turns out that the technology to kill billions often - routinely - appears before warp, even if the sheer drama of Vulcan's demise took more... sophistication. If she found that there were some entity who could have halted Nero, saved her father, saved the billions of others on the planet, and who stood back, because someone had not invented the correct widget - she would wish them all the misfortune she could imagine. And she has a good imagination.

Isabella's ship is named Prometheus. Plenty of people name their ships after ancient deities; hers is one of eight Prometheuses registered within the Federation, one of which is even - ironically - a Starfleet science vessel.

She means it a bit more literally.

What she does is illegal. (Officially, she is a surveyor; submitting her reports about the topography of planets and moons and the density and composition of asteroid fields is how she justifies her presence any which where she may turn up.) What she does would put her in prison on a deserted moon for life if she were ever found.

What she does is put the equations that lead to warp breakthrough on the desks of pre-warp scientists whose histories - scraped from primitive data nets - suggest that they might not be above plagiarism, and she conservatively estimates that she's saved twenty-one billion individuals from premature deaths (based on typical technological progressions, population demographics, her personal definition of "premature" as adjusted for the mortality of all discovered species, and the results of ensuing First Contact with affected civilizations) and billions more from living lives of ordinary length that simply happened to be impoverished by ignorance of the contents of the sky. These individuals were of nine species from six planets.

Occasionally she re-runs her estimation program and just stares at the numbers. When she is in danger of thinking too much about that deserted moon that she could fall into at any time. When she wonders if she really has any reason to think she is that much better than the Federation policymakers.

(The answer is: Yes. Yes she does. This reason comes in the form of an extremely large number that her computer will recalculate for her on command.)

The kind of planet she can interfere with is only the kind that has the preliminaries for warp. Starfleet won't touch them until they actually make the first jump, so they need to have access to the right materials, the underlying math, an adequate launch site. Much to her personal distress, some civilizations would, on contacting the Federation, predictably launch wars with them. These she leaves alone. She has others to visit, to pick up bits of their language so she can translate the warp-insights, to figure out how to covertly shuttle down to and infiltrate and leave her little presents. And she has to go other places - actually uninhabited systems; systems she knows are too primitive to plausibly take and run with her help far enough that the Federation can catch them on the other end of the run; systems that she just surveys and reports on and moves on from. To cover her tracks. Because she's been at this for two years, and that number representing what she's accomplished in that time is very large, and she could easily live to be a hundred and seventy, and there is such a lot of galaxy.

It's lonely, a little, sometimes, but Isabella's suited for prolonged solo trips through space. She has her shipboard library, updated regularly. She meditates, she writes, she studies.

She intercepts a distress call, out in the boondocks closer to Betazed than anywhere else and quite a distance from Betazed. This is a track-covering segment of her mission. There is no one around but her and even she doesn't really want to be there.

Isabella opens a channel.

"Distressed vessel, this is Captain Isabella T'Mir of the Prometheus. Please identify yourself and the nature of the problem."

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warpfairy: (Default)
Isabella T'Mir Ֆ "T'Mir"

March 2014

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