The Measure of Humanity – Chapter TEN

Lawyers.

And if you think I’m using that as a four-letter word, you’re absolutely correct.

Some of them, a vanishingly small minority, are fine, decent, upstanding people.

Most of them are opportunistic weasels.

In my oh-so-humble opinion.

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Why?

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This is the FB Group you should join!

CHAPTER TEN

TFS Enterprise, Admiral’s Quarters

“I am heartily sick of dealing with lawyers,” grumped Kendra, pacing across their quarters.

“They’re a necessary evil,” Cass said from her desk. “And we need them now.”

“I’m still tired of them, all their delays and objections and motions. You have any idea what it’s like sitting in that courtroom, listening to them argue, day after day?”

“No,” confessed Cass.

“I’d rather be back in Junior’s cage,” said Kendra.

Cass winced. “That bad?”

“Worse. Dianna keeps telling me that we’re scoring points with the judge, making our points, demolishing their arguments, but I just don’t see it.” She made a face. “Dianna thinks they’re just about done presenting their case.”

“Then what? Your turn?”

“Sort of. We’re still trying to decide if I should testify or whether we just rely on the public records. They do already have a bunch from the deposition that they’ve entered into evidence.”

Cass’s face took on the look she got when contemplating a particularly thorny problem. “What’s your instinct?”

“I want to tell Junior and his slimy lawyer to go to hell! This has taken too much of my time and attention and I hate them for it! And did you know what they did to my parents?”

“Huh? No, I didn’t know they were involved at all.”

“There’s no reason for them to be. They don’t know anything about my background, but Forman dragged them to the court and asked them all sorts of questions about my childhood and if I ever did anything out of the ordinary. Tried to get them to admit that they knew I was Enhanced, and that they were covering it up.”

“That’s ridiculous! Hal and Jane, well, they’re just not that way!”

Kendra shook her head in agreement. “No, they’re not. It took nearly the whole day before the judge put a stop to Forman’s persecution. She said that it was evident to anyone that they didn’t know anything outside what the various agencies told them, and that he was obviously on a fishing expedition.” She snarled. “It was all in the discovery. They’d been interviewed half a dozen times; nothing they said in court was new, or contradicted anything they’d already said. This was just a pressure tactic, trying to get me to ‘confess’ to something I didn’t do!”

“I can see why you’re frustrated,” Cass agreed. “So I don’t think you should testify.”

“Huh?”

Cass stood and took Kendra’s hands. “Sweetie, you’re loveable and honest and honorable, but you’re about as subtle as a brick to the groin. This isn’t about the law, or contracts, or any of the other crap they’ve tried to drag into it. We’ve sorted all that, and the Federation, Via ad Sidera, and the Trust are all insulated. This is about you and your reputation, and they’re trying to make you destroy that.”

She dropped Kendra’s hands and put hers on either side of Kendra’s face. “And the reason they’re trying to make you do it is because they can’t. You’re the woman who’s giving humanity the stars; how can they compete?”

“I know you’re right, but it still makes me furious!”

“Then let’s stop talking about if for now. Besides, we have planning to do.”

“Planning? For what?”

“Well, for one thing, Dawn and I have finished drawing up the plans for the Wolf gas mine.”

“What? When?”

“Just a couple days ago. That’s the good news.”

Kendra’s excitement fell. “That implies bad news.”

“Not bad, as such. Just not as good. We’re going to have to wait on construction until we have the fabricators online; trying to make the equipment from our current construction base will put too much of a strain on the systems.”

“But you have a plan?”

“Oh, yes. And once we have the fabber running, we should need about six months to get it all built.”

Kendra thought about that. “A year from now?”

“More or less. But there’s more.”

“Were you going to make me drag it out of you?”

Cass laughed. “No, I just thought I’d lead with the gas mine, since that’s going to have the greatest long-term impact. This is still good, though.”

“Lay it on me.”

“We’re ready to set up a mining operation on Lemnos.” During the Enterprise’s first deep exploration mission, Lt. Zihal had been responsible for discovering that Tau Ceti e was a virtual treasure planet, loaded with platinum group metals in concentrations a hundred times common on Earth. PGM were particularly necessary for high-tech applications due to their high temperature resistance, mechanical strength, electrical stability, and the fact they were noble metals; that is to say, disinclined to combine chemically with other elements. The core of the UE’s problem with the Solarian Union was the demand by the Union for PGM’s. If the Federation could acquire a new source, perhaps the entire burgeoning conflict could be derailed.

“You’re right; that is good. Maybe even better than the gas mine, at least for now. How?”

“As it turns out, we own a mining company.”

“Surprise, surprise. Is there anything we don’t own?” They were still being surprised by connections that the Trust created, even over six years later.

“Probably. But between BHP and HLC we have our bases covered for a mining base. We’ve run some simulations through the medical AI in charge of the nanobot programming, and he thinks that they can be reprogrammed to strengthen the human body sufficiently to withstand the gravity.”

“Doc Zimmerman?”

“That’s him.”

Kendra looked troubled. “We’re not going to create trolls or something like that, right? This isn’t a one-way trip for our people, is it?”

“No,” Cass hastily assured her. “Doc said that the changes would be cosmetic, not genetic.”

“Now I’m confused.”

“Hold on.” Cass commed the AI, then said, “Doc, explain.”

The slightly nasally voice of the AI came over the system. “Admiral, Commander Cassidy said you had questions about my proposed solution to the Lemnos problem.”

“Yes. She said the changes would be cosmetic, not genetic. What does that mean?”

Kendra would swear that she heard the AI sniff. “That’s not entirely accurate. I said that the changes to the Lemnos personnel would be at the cellular level, not the genetic level. I would instruct their nanobots to increase the strength of their hearts and lungs, so they would function under high gravity; improve the blood’s ability to transport oxygen; increase their metabolic efficiency; and add structural support to their bones, probably by adding some metallic elements. All of which would be temporary and reversible, unlike genetic modifications.”

“Ah, okay. What sort of timeline is it?”

“For the initial conversion, a week to ten days, with hefty increases in consumables. Return to standard will take longer, but they will be able to function in Earth-normal conditions while they recover. Will there be anything else?”

“No, thanks Doc.”

“Very good.” The AI cut out of the circuit.

“Two weeks to get personnel ready, a day out to Tau Ceti, and how long to set up the mining colony?” said Kendra as soon as he’d gone.

“Actually, the plan is, after sending a ship out to do the preparation remotely first, all we’ll need to do is install equipment and seal it up. It’s just a matter of dropping some programmed drills and letting them do their thing.”

“If I’ve learned one thing putting the Federation together, sweetheart, it’s that things are never as simple as they seem.”

Cass chuckled. “You mean like when I did a faceplant on Niflheim? Don’t worry, Admiral dear. We’re not underestimating things. But there is one more little detail you ought to know.”

“I knew it.”

“We’ve, um, that is…”

“Hesitancy isn’t a good look on you.”

Cass drew in a breath and said, in a rush, “We have all the volunteers and they’ve started the upgrading and we’ll be ready to drop the supplies tomorrow if you give the word.”

“Wait, what? When did, no, you just told me when. Who?”

“Well, BHP is a Trust company, so I told them what we need, made a pitch to the miners, and sewed that up. Alley’s onboard, since we’ll need to use Enterprise for the Wolves, and HLC’s been ready with equipment for weeks.”

“You know, someone keeps telling me about this thing, called chain of command, keeping superior officers informed. I think it might be your Captain Martinez who talks about it.”

Cass said, a bit defensively, “Yes, and I did keep my superior informed. She’s also in charge of her starship; something you, my love, made clear to her months ago, when you told her that you weren’t going to ask her for the details of every mission. So long as the system is being patrolled by one of the ships, you haven’t asked about the whereabouts of the other.”

Her tone softened. “You’ve been so tied up in everything that we just didn’t think this was a burden you needed to bear.”

“Ah, hell, Cass.” Kendra sighed. “You’re right. Okay, then. When do we leave?”

“We?”

“We.” She pointed to her chest, though she wasn’t currently in uniform. “Me Admiral.”

Kendra swept her arm around the cabin. “Enterprise Admiral’s flagship. Where Enterprise goes, Admiral goes.”

“And why haven’t you been on any of our other non-patrol missions?”

“Because, like you said, I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into the minutiae of running the Federation and the war and the lawsuit and all that other rubbish. But you’re right. That’s taken me away from the reason I started all this in the first place.”

She stood up.

“That ends now. Come on,” she added, bringing Cass to her feet and heading for the hatch.

“Where are we going?” asked a pleased and surprised Cass.

“To see Alley and go over this scheme.”

Cass tugged Kendra to a halt.

“What?” said Kendra, pulling against her taller wife.

“You might want to dress?”

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