Nico (vilakins) wrote,
Nico
vilakins

Ficlet: New Horizon

Since I actually wrote a story for b7friday last week, I thought I'd better cross-post the previous one, written back in March. Yes, I have been a slack fan.

This was for the Characters of Colour challenge: 400 words set in season 2.

New Horizon

"The first thing I shall do," said Ro, waving a sheet of official paper, "is close the mines."

"No."

He stared at Selma in surprise. "Why? You were there. You would have died there if--"

"If I hadn't been released, yes."

Ro looked away. "I only sent you there to keep you alive. They'd have killed you outright otherwise. I didn't know about the radiation then." He turned tortured eyes to her. "I didn't know what they were like. I'd never looked."

"I know." Selma smiled. Malleable was the word she'd heard the Federation use for him, but he had found his sticking point: those he loved--his father, and herself. She had first fallen for his softness and gentleness, but she loved him even more now for the steel he had shown at last. She placed her hand on his cheek in genuine affection. "But nevertheless, we keep the mines open. We need them."

"Why?"

"So that the Federation has no cause to wipe us out or take us over. If they still get their monopasium every year, nothing has changed for them but management. And that," she said dryly, "is probably a plus in their book. They don't have to maintain a force here. And what do they care if we take our own path."

Ro still looked troubled. "But the conditions down there--"

"You can easily improve those. Better food and shorter shifts will even increase production."

Ro crumpled the paper he had been holding, and sat, slumping in his throne. "They'll still die, and we still need a work force. Who do I possibly order to go down there?"

"The same people as before: primitives, criminals, dissidents." Selma took the crumpled order from his unresisting hand and walked away to drop it into a bin. "Except that now they'll be the ones who oppose our changes."

"Ah." Ro straightened up. "I could release those who disobeyed the Federation."

Behind him, Selma smiled, pleased that she had seen that on his own. "A good idea. An act of clemency is always appreciated in a new ruler."

Ro was silent, probably thinking about the orders he was now going to have to give without the excuse that they came from above.

Selma came closer. "It will be hard," she said softly, "but it must be done, Ro. A ruler needs a strong hand." She placed hers on his shoulder.

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