743: Do You?

by Jariel Camen

Immediately Following No One Shouted 'Stop!'
If I Ever Lose My Faith in You by Sting

-=Sondall Province, Bajor=-

“We should not linger here long, doctors.” Camen said. Hartcort cast his eyes back at the Relanon Bio-Medical, and could have sworn he saw Vettan Brell’s icy stare through the tinted glass of the building’s upper floors.

“Yeah, I’m all for getting out of here, post haste.” Lance added, averting his eyes from the building and slipping his coat back on to prepare for the winter temperatures. Camen and Azalea held onto their coats, as neither had any intention of leaving the Alchemy after they transported back to Altaan Province.

Azalea tapped her comm badge, made the request, and a moment later they stood in the Alchemy’s transporter room.

Jariel made long strides off the transporter pad as he began to speak, and Azalea Adams had to jog and keep up. “I need to contact the Vedek Assembly immediately, to have everyone recalled. Many of the Vedeks are in remote areas and it will take at least a day to assemble everyone at this time of year.”

“I’m going to finish packing up the medical tent,” Hartcort added, as he split away from Adams and Jariel to return to the planet’s surface.

“We’ll use the terminals on the bridge, so I can contact Starfleet.” Adams said.

She tapped in her security code to access the lift, and rode in silence to the bridge with Jariel Camen. He leaned against the wall with his arms folded and his jaw squared. Azalea could understand his anger. She shared it.

From what she had learned of Jariel in a short time, it seemed clear that he was a gentle and passionate man who was angered by few things, but Prophets help anyone who ever took advantage of the voiceless and innocent in his presence.

“Who do you wish to contact?” Azalea said, as they entered the empty bridge. “Should I patch you directly into the Assembly?”

“No. Meetings such as this come together more quickly when there is an air of mystery about them. I know whom to contact. You may proceed with your call to Starfleet.”

Camen sat on one side of the bridge, as Adams walked to the other. He opened a channel once again to the same friend that had helped him in acquiring a vaccine sample for Adams and Hartcort, Vedek Selivere.

[Vedek Jariel! I am a married woman.] Selivere joked as she saw his face on the screen.

“How are mother and child?” He asked.

[Child is spoiled, beautiful and relaxed. Mother is none of the above.]

“I have news, and as a mother you should be the first to know. I have compelling evidence that Relanon Bio-Medical had intentionally allowed tainted vaccine out into the public.”

Selivere’s smile faded. [My child.]

“Will be just fine, Vedek. I assure you. But, not everyone was so lucky. I intend to expose them and have those responsible for the suffering on Bajor brought to justice. That is why I need your help.”

[I will try again my friend.]

“Recall the assembly. Tell them nothing of what I’ve told you. Only that Vedek Jariel wishes to present a matter to the Assembly that is of the utmost importance to the people. And tell them also, that the people will be watching their response to this matter very closely.”

[It will be done, Vedek Jariel.] Selivere said. [I’ll contact the members immediately.]

“I knew I could count on you. See you tomorrow, my friend.”

Camen closed the channel, and turned to see Azalea closing hers at the same time. She crossed her arms in frustration.

“How did your conversation go?”

“Exactly as I expected,” Azalea brushed her hair back out of her face. “Starfleet wants to see our research for their own examination before they will even dare make any accusations. If it was just Relanon’s crime it would be a different story but since members of the Health Ministry and Government may have been involved, Starfleet wants to tread carefully lest they upset the Bajorans any more. I’m sorry Camen, but I cannot even guess how long they will drag their feet on this. And then, there is the matter of the Prime Directive. Since this is a Bajoran affair…”

“It’s all right, Doctor. You did your best. Starfleet or no Starfleet, justice will be done I can assure you. You have already done so much more then I could ever have asked. If you’ll excuse me, I need to tell Fleur what has happened.”

Camen squeezed her shoulder sympathetically. She was clearly disappointed that Starfleet was not eager to charge into this situation with guns blazing, so to speak. Azalea had grown so attached to these people so quickly, it was only natural to wish she could not only help cure the fever, but help bring down those responsible for it as well.

Donning his long dark coat, Camen left the Alchemy to find Fleur and Tress at the orphanage. Upon seeing Camen, Tress clamored for him signing [[Papa!]] over and over.

“Yes there he is chou chou.” Fleur said, as Tress scrambled out of her arms to greet Camen. There was a gleam in her eye such that Camen had never seen. The gleam of a woman whose every dream of love had finally been fulfilled.

He could not help but think back to their first night together on the Alchemy. He could not help but wish to sweep her off her feet right now and show her all over again how much he needed her.

[[I missed you.]] He signed to Tress, but with his eyes on Fleur, so she’d understand he was addressing her as well. Camen gathered Tress up in his arms, and the girl clearly had no intention of moving.

“What did they say?” Fleur asked. She had been anxious to hear the results of the meeting with Relanon.

Camen bounced Tress in his arms, and the girl squealed with delight.

Relanon pretty clearly knew the vaccines were bad. The found a way to fix some of them and sent the repaired batches to the more affluent areas of Bajor. The Plains, however, still got the tainted batches. I wish I could tell you there was some reason for them not completely scrapping the whole shipment other than the expense involved with that, but I cannot.”

Camen turned Tress towards him, and spoke directly to her.

“You will never hear again because of Vettan Brell’s business decision.”

Tress pointed to her ear as a reminder that she still could not hear him. Camen set her down so he could sign to her.

[[I said, I love you with all my heart.]]

Tress did not get every word, but knew I love you well enough.

“If they had a way to fix the batches, why not simply fix them all?”

“If I know people like Vettan, she probably had enough money to fund repairing some of the vaccines, but was under pressure form her company to still turn a profit on their venture. She would have figured no one would miss anyone from the Plains if they fell to the fever, since they were a forgotten people anyway. So she sent the tainted batches there, and saved her company the cost of fixing them. Or perhaps she simply took funding to fix all of them and pocketed the difference for herself. Either way she sent live virus to the Plains, and she knew it. She made a few barely veiled threats towards the group before we left as well.”

The gleam in Fleur’s eye was gone now. “So what happens next?”

“Tomorrow, I go to the Vedek Assembly, and expose them.”

It had been so long since he had been there; Camen felt a rush of nervousness in him. It was a place he had long since said goodbye too, but the time had definitely come to stand up and speak out against Relanon and their deception.

“How can I help?” Fleur asked.

“Be my strength tonight,” was all he asked. Fleur had no doubt what he meant, and no doubt she would give him anything he asked.

-=The next morning=-

He stood before the mirror in their quarters on the Alchemy, smoothing out the folds in his long orange robe. The same attire Fleur had seen him in the very first time she had ever laid eyes upon him. Camen was so unaccustomed to this manner of dress after recent years, wearing these robes now was something like stepping through time into a past long since forgotten.

“You look wonderful,” Fleur said encouragingly. Her hands absentmindedly wandered through the folds of the robe, as they had done in her imagination so many times in the past.

“It’s only for Bajor that I wear these clothes again. I possess a power that I would be selfish not to use in a time such as this.”

“Do you wish me to come with you? You never said.” Fleur could not help but be curious about the Assembly. She had seen pictures, but never had the grand tour.

“Stay with Tress. I’ll feel better knowing the two of you are safe here.”

Fleur nodded to him in the mirror, and kissed her love on the back of his neck. He embraced her in a farewell, and left to meet Hartcort and Adams for the transport to the Assembly.

He needed their ability to explain in layman’s terms what Relanon had done, and they needed his influence to convince the Assembly to act.

As Camen stood at the entrance to the chamber, with Adams and Hartcort on either side, he drew a deep breath and pictured Tress in his mind.

“You OK?” Lance asked, nudging Jariel in the shoulder.

“No, I am not.”

“Let’s get this over with then.” Hartcort said.

Lance stepped forward, and pushed the great doors to the chamber open. Inside, the Vedek Assembly had gathered, all seated in a semi-circle around the perimeter of the room, facing the door. There were no decorations on the walls or ornate furniture of any kind. The room was simple and functional, unlike the lives of most of the men and women who occupied it.

Camen entered the room, and stood in the middle, as the chatter and speculation surrounding his visit ceased, and the Vedeks took their seats.

He nodded to Selivere, and saw Vedek Delle.

“Vedek Delle, is this your first meeting with the full Assembly?” Jariel began.

“Yes it is. Thank you, Vedek Jariel.”

“Far too long in coming,” Camen said.

“My fellow Vedeks, I’ve called you here today to discuss with you a tragedy that has happened on our world. A tragedy that threatens to fall of deaf ears, in more ways than one. Before I ask you for your support, I would like each of you to give your attention to these two fine officers, Doctors Azalea Adams and Lance Hartcort from Starfleet. Without them, an outbreak of Vellat Fever would likely have swept across the entire planet and claimed countless lives. I promise, you will be quite interested to hear what they have to say.”

Jariel stepped back, and Adams and Hartcort stepped forward. They presented their findings, along with visual aids to each member of the Assembly. Camen stood back in the shadows, allowing them the full attention of the Vedeks. He had heard all this evidence before, so rather than listen to them, he let his eyes wander around the room, taking several minutes to gauge the reaction of each person. Some appeared outraged, some skeptical, some simply disinterested. Vedek Delle had all the appearance of a woman doing everything in her power not to erupt in anger.

The Doctors fielded questions at the end of their presentation, until each member was satisfied they understood the claims being made. Camen once again stepped into the light, and into the center of the room when Lance and Azalea were finished.

“Vedek Jariel,” A large, overweight man Camen knew by the name of Gorlan Ram, began. Ram was a well-known friend of Dendre Hald, so it was no surprise that the first one to speak up was Ram.

“It has been many years since you have chosen to speak to us. Your path has strayed from that of the Prophets. Why should we believe you now?”

“You’ve seen the evidence, as clearly as I have. I saw the ravages the fever took on our people as well. The Relanon corporation has allowed this to happen to our people, and they must pay the price for it.

“But how can we ever prove this wasn’t just an accident?”

“Doctor Hartcort showed you the samples that were intentionally repaired. There is no way that happened simply by some random mutation in the virus. Relanon knew the samples were tainted.”

Relanon has a long track record of working on Government projects without flaw. It is probably best we consider this an isolated incident, rather than draw the ire of the people. I’ll recommend additional safeguards be put in place, but going public with this information will not help anyone. They contribute too much to society to be brought down by one simple lapse in judgment.”

Camen laced his fingers together, and gave Ram a smile as sweet as death itself. “Relanon also has a long track record of contributing to you as well. I was reading through some of the old public contribution records and saw an anonymous donor provided you with a yacht and a vacation on Vulcan last winter. This was right before Dendre Hald awarded a new contract for planet-wide vaccine manufacturing to Relanon, with a note in the press release that the contract had the full support of Gorlan Ram and the Vedek Assembly.”

Ram stammered, unaware Jariel was coming here armed with any other information other than what the Starfleet doctors had told him.

“You don’t really think I was going to come here unarmed for a fight, did you Vedek Ram?”

Ram brushed a few crumbs off the belly of his stretched out robe, from the snack he was eating during the presentation.

“All that aside, I maintain, my fellow Vedeks, that going public is the wrong course of action at this time. If Relanon collapses, so does the vaccine industry, and that puts the safety of the public in danger.”

“Starfleet can provide any vaccine you need on twenty-four hours notice. All you have to do is ask.” Hartcort chimed in. “Of course you’ll have to give us a little more lead time for the yacht.”

“How was Vulcan, Vedek Ram? The desert must have felt wonderful compared to what the people in the Plains had last winter. Bitter cold with no electricity or heat.” Camen asked. “I have an in with the First Officer of the Serendipity whom I’m sure can find out for me who made and paid for all your travel arrangements to Vulcan, but I don’t think there is any point in going that far, is there Vedek?”

Camen walked slowly around the room, meeting the eyes of each member of the Assembly as he continued to speak. “As for going public, that is a foregone conclusion. If the Assembly does not speak out, I will. That will leave each of you with an important question. Who amongst you desire to go back to your Province and explain to your parishioners why, when you were told about this threat to the Bajoran people, you… did… nothing? Who would like to explain all this to the Kai, when the people call for his head?”

Jariel leaned over the table where the last Vedek sat, palms flat, and his face mere inches away from the white haired elderly woman.

“Do you?”

He moved to the next Vedek.

“Do you?”

Around the room he went, purposefully skipping Vedek Ram, until he arrived at Vedek Delle.

“I know you do not,” He said simply to Delle, before continuing around the room until he had addressed each and every Vedek face to face. When finished, he returned to the center of the room, publicly thanked Adams and Hartcort for their time, and left without another word.

Once outside, Hartcort ran up alongside Jariel. “Wait, aren’t they going to vote or something?”

“The vote is a foregone conclusion. No one is going to sacrifice his or her career to save Relanon. We have done all we can. It will be turned over to the legal system now.”

“Is there anything else we can do here?” Adams asked.

“Nothing, just bring me home.” Jariel asked, which to him simply meant, bring me back to Fleur Le Marc.

Adams called for transport, and as they solidified back outside the orphanage, Dane Cristiane burst out of the front door. “Vedek Jariel!” He shouted. "I've been trying to reach you,"

"We disabled audio on our combages while we were meeting with the Assembly," Azalea answered, as Jariel was pale, drawn, and seemed too exhausted to speak. "What's wrong?"

"It’s Fleur.”

“Is she hurt?” Panic began to rise in Jariel.

“No. She’s been arrested.”

"Arrested?" Azalea expressed the shock that held Jariel in stunned silence.

"That's not all," Dane hated what he was about to say, but he had no choice but to say it. "They've taken Tress."

"WHO?" Jariel demanded.

"The Child Protection Ministry," Dane replied. "They've taken her away."

Jariel Camen
On Bajor

NRPG: *!&#@*! brilliant, Jariel.

Brilliant! ~ZL