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The Augusta

Posted on Fri Oct 30th, 2015 @ 10:48am by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Vanora's Childhood Home, Elas
Timeline: After "Oathbreaker"

"Strike down our mother now," Helen warned her sister, "and you will become the Chief of the Augusta."

The words were enough to cause Vanora to ease the knife's pressure off of her mother's neck. She finally looked away, glancing at her sister. "What are you talking about?" In her time as both a freighter captain and a Starfleet officer, Vanora had been exposed to many alien cultures. There were more civilizations than just the Klingons who practiced a form of succession to office or title that involved a challenge of combat, often to the death. But Elasians were not such a civilization. Though dueling was still legal and accepted, trial by combat and succession by combat was not. What Helen was saying made no sense.

Helen explained, "An emergency amendment to the Law of Succession, approved by a special committee of the Council of Nobles within the last day." She waived a small paper document and read from it. "'Should the holder of a noble title be determined infirm, a direct blood relative in the line of succession may prove such infirmity by physical challenge. The challenger to the title holder, upon death or disability of the holder as result of the physical challenge, shall inherit the title. Any other direct blood relative with higher natural claim in the title's line of succession may only challenge the transfer of title to the successful challenger by method of the same physical challenge as made to the previous title holder determined infirm.' As an Operations officer who lives with the legalese of regulations, I am sure you understand the gist of it. Certainly it took me a bit longer to understand, followed by some time divining who had proposed such a dramatic change, and why. Which is why I'm only just arriving here now, fortuitously before one of you has killed the other. I am sure you have already figured out who called the emergency meeting and proposed the amendment."

Vanora stared dumbfounded, first at Helen and then at Livia. "You wanted me to kill you?" she asked.

"It was not and has never been my intention to die by my own child's hands," Livia said without remorse, "The change was proposed long ago, it simply took some time to gather the necessary support."

"By exploiting loopholes in our law and subverting the will of the full Council of Nobles," Helen countered. "Mother knows that the Council will overturn this law, but its applications are binding for the time it is in effect."

Vanora knew that what Helen said was correct; it was a core principle of Elasian noble tradition that new laws should never undo past title successions. To operate otherwise would allow nobles to engage in exactly the sort of legal manipulations and maneuvering that Livia had attempted. "And what did you expect to happen next?" Vanora rhetorically asked her mother. "Did you expect Helen to challenge me, and for me to kill her as well?"

Livia kept her lips sealed, staring defiantly at Vanora.

"Perhaps. Or perhaps she would have ensured you had no choice but to hold the title in some other manner," Helen answered for Livia. "Mother has been plotting to have me killed for years now. Haven't you, Mother?" she said, staring hard.

Livia turned her head slightly and looked away from her eldest daughter. "Everything I have ever done," she said in a low voice, "has always been for the Augusta."

"For the Augusta!" Helen laughed bitterly, before returning her focus to her sister. "You saved my life, Vanora, when you didn't return home after Mother abducted your husband. Though I did not understand this until last year. Mother did not lie to you then when she said at that time that I was ill. I came quite close to meeting death. What she was lying about was not knowing what was killing me. She knew full well, since the cause was an untraceable poison that she, herself, was adding to my meals."

"That is attempted murder," Tang spoke up. He had sat quietly as the family members spoke, but prepared his phaser all the while to protect Vanora if there were any attempts to injure her. Though he relaxed slightly when the guards did not immediately attempt to seize his wife, he remained vigilant. There was too much malfeasance happening for him to let down his guard. "You should have alerted Starfleet Security when you learned of it."

Helen ignored Tang, responding instead as if Vanora had spoken. "Knowing what you know now, I am sure you can imagine what would have happened had I tried. What was your plan, Mother?" she continued, shifting her gaze again. "To have me declared a clinically insane paranoid and locked up? Or just to have me assassinated? No doubt any such action on my part would have just hastened the plan for Vanora to take my place as your heir."

"You're sick," Vanora said to Livia. She suddenly felt disgusted, and the expression was painted clearly on her face as she took a final look at her mother, before slowly rising from her knees and turning away.

"You have made a mistake, my Daughter," Livia laughed weakly, stretching her arms and rolling onto her side. She sounded increasingly maniacal and desperate as she yelled after Vanora. "I will have my way, and strength will lead the Augusta, and only strength! Your refusal to act now as your Elasian blood demands means only that I will still have the chance to save you from your Human before you take your rightful place as chief."

Vanora ignored Livia's ranting. "I am done with you. With all of this," she said softly. As her adrenaline levels began to settle, the pain suddenly washed over Vanora in waves. She got herself halfway to Tang before she began to wobble, and then suddenly collapsed back to all fours.

"Vanora!" Tang called out, attempting to crawl over to her.

It happened in an instant. With Tang's phaser lowered as he tried to get to his wife, and all eyes on Vanora after her collapse, Livia pulled a small throwing knife from her garter and, with all of her muscles straining to ensure precision, swung her arm in an arc and released. Like an arrow, the blade flew straight. It missed Vanora's ear by millimeters; the shocking whiz caused her to reactively fall to her opposite side. Unhindered, the projectile continued slicing through the air. That was, until it hit its target precisely, burying itself in Tang's forehead. His eyes went wide with shock, and he mouthed Vanora's name again before collapsing.

"No!" Vanora cried out "Tang!" She scrambled over to her husband, cradling his head. "No, no, no... don't do this. Don't leave me again. You can't, not now."

Helen moved toward her mother with her knife drawn, and the pair of guards followed. "This ends now," she said, as Livia's hands grabbed at the floor around her, searching in vain for a weapon.

She did not find one in time. But neither did Helen reach her mother and take advantage of the temporary amendment to the Law of Succession. The room filled with the shimmering and sound of transporter beams, and a moment later, a dozen Starfleet Security officers were pointing phaser rifles at everyone. They were accompanied by Aleixo and Cassandra, the Starfleet Intelligence officers. "Weapons on the ground now!" they barked at Helen and the guards, who all carefully dropped their weapons.

"I need medical now!" Vanora wailed. "Help me, help him!" Aleixo and Cassandra spotted Vanora and rushed over. Cassandra pulled Vanora away from Tang while Aleixo hit his comm badge hard, calling out, "Emergency Medical Transport now, Code Red! One to transport!" Aleixo then ripped off his comm badge and pressed it onto Tang's chest. It was not even a second before Tang was teleported away.

"No!" Vanora screamed.

Cassandra held Vanora as the woman tried to break free. "It's okay, Vanora, it will be okay. The emergency beam out needed to focus on the patient. We're going now." Cassandra hit her own comm badge. "Three to beam to Federation Hospital," she said. She hugged Vanora tightly, as the pair and Aleixo dematerialized, leaving the home of the Augusta behind.


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