Above the Kiwomian Homeworld,
Prior to deployment planetside...
For the moment, the Edward Deming was passing over the Kiwomian homeworld, the lower observation deck oriented to provide a clear view of the planet below. At this distance it was impossible to see the other ships nearby, the cluster of Taipan warships was only a twinkle off in space as were the Edward Deming’s own support craft. The only thing that was clearly visible was the extensive jungles of the Kiwomian homeworld.
The room itself had once been the ship’s CIC, though many of the displays remained, the desks had been removed, leaving just the extensive transparent surfaces allowing a view of everything below the ship as well as the launch bays located a bit further forward of the observation deck. Wazu himself was floating around, taking advantage of the zero gravity to have a set of pads floating nearby showing various technical readouts.
For Diana, boarding the Edward Deming again sent a comforting feeling throughout her whole body. She had been pulled away from the Summit and the ship so suddenly by New Horizons when the Summit broke down and her bosses wanted time to reassess with Diana over her comfort levels and the need of her post within the crew. Diana had ran into a brick wall whenever she tried to get back to the IAS Edward Deming until the Hoshiko’s counter-strike towards the Kiwomians hit the news. Despite some well-intentioned reluctance on their part, Diana’s superiors eventually relented and allowed her to return to the Deming to gain a full perspective on what was happening on the Kiwomian homeworld.
To start off her return to the Deming and her crew, Diana had managed to arrange for an interview with Heram Wazu to both get an overview of the conflict as a whole and to re-orientate Diana to the situation at hand and her purpose in it. Plus she would just be happy to see Heram again, to get another chance to work beside someone who had a mind to do good in the galaxy. She walked towards the lower observation deck, taking a moment to look out one of the outer observation bay windows towards the planet below with a sorrowful look in her eyes.
“It’s a shame, I wanted to see the Kiwomian homeworld but not in the wake of such brutality. Though I suppose brutality is just like breathing to you, isn’t it Hoshiko?” Diana whispered aloud, looking towards the planet below for a moment longer before turning away.
She came to the door to the lower deck and opened it, watching the light flash green and hearing the gears spin before it pulled open. Stepping inside, Diana immediately felt her feet lift out from under her as she entered the zero-gravity, seeing Heram in the distance as she floated, she called out.
“ This will probably be one of the oddest interviews I have ever done, gonna be hard to record your answers when I'm floating on my head.” Diana said.
“It is good to stretch your space-legs. Lots of these soldiers think they can just slap artificial gravity onto something and their land-based skills will just transfer over.” Heram said, having a much easier time moving about in zero G than he did in regular gravity, a slight move of his arm and a twist of his torso would re-orient him to face towards Diana. “It is great to have you back, hope you enjoyed your time away from the ship?”
Diana shrugs her shoulders, swinging her arms about gently to steady herself as she floated about. “Not at all really, I was doing good work here and getting pulled away and trapped behind yellow tape and legal clauses was not something I was going to take lying down. It’s dreadful that it took the devastation of the Kiwomians to get my bosses to see my place was here, but I’m glad to be back. How has the galaxy treated you since the Summit, Heram? You seem a bit more...Weathered than the last time I saw you.”
“Ouch, I don’t look that bad do I?” He laughed, “The time on the Adlet homeworld was a bit rough… though I didn’t get beat up too badly, it was like a 4 out of 10 at worst.” This was, perhaps, the wrong tone to take. It did feel nice not to have to focus on any particular thing for just a moment and talk with an old friend but she was a reporter. There was more going on here than just interpersonal interactions. If he didn’t set the tone for this properly then he very easily could lose control of the narrative, “... Perhaps dealing with Hoshiko has aged me faster than I’d like. Her forces appear to be behaving themselves for the most part… but their actions planetside are disastrous.”
“I highly doubt that Hoshiko or her forces will behave for much longer, she’s already crippled the Kiwomians as a ruling body but they slighted her and her empire, not a chance this ends that easily.” Diana spoke in a somewhat grave tone before refocusing herself, forgetting for a moment that she was still suspended in zero gravity. She would have liked to keep up a more open banter with Heram but she knew that time was short and each second counted, it was time to get to work. “Why don’t we both get on our feet and get seated and then we can start the interview? I have some questions ready about the Alliance’s intentions in regards to this occupation along with what is planned to aid the people below. Then you can tell me what you’re going to need from me to help out, it’s been a while since the Summit but I'm ready to do what I can to help stop this slaughter.”
“It doesn’t help that the Kiwomians love to fight, even though they aren’t especially good at it. It feels like Hoshiko is picking on children.” Heram said, feeling like he may have been a bit too open about his feelings. This was a delicate operation after all, Hoshiko had done a fantastic job of confusing the situation to make it difficult for others to get involved. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could easily turn public opinion against him so care was required. He would use this time to pause, slowly turning up the artificial gravity in the room and plucking his datapads out of the air before they fell. “So, let us start at the beginning. What questions did you have about the Alliance’s involvement?”
Diana grunts as the gravity in the room increases, taking a moment to steady herself as her heels pressed against the floor below. The Kiwomians were a blunt people but they were also young in the galaxy, to have a civilization that can be crippled by one assault such as this was evidence enough for this point. “I wonder if in her own sort of way Hoshiko thinks she is helping the Kiwomians? Making the ones that survive this stronger and smarter, more prepared the next time something like her comes around. Just something I've been thinking about.”
She reaches into her bag and pulls out her data-pad, turning it on and opening up her notes and as the app open, a holographic pen formed in Diana’s hand as the app open. She looks towards Heram with a more firm look in her eyes. “ What is the Alliance’s intentions in offering our aid to the Kiwomian people? What is being done currently to either come to a truce or a least a pause in action from Zhongjiang Hoshiko? And finally, why are you here? What is your angle for the Alliance in helping end this brutality?”
“Maybe she is, but would that change anything? I have to act on the actions of others. Their intentions don’t always factor into it.” Heram said, holding back quite a bit. He’d love to say how if Hoshiko was trying to help, then she is doing it in the worst possible way. “The expedition from Hawking is here with Alliance Support in an attempt to help ease the suffering of sentient beings. The Kiwomians lost most of their infrastructure when Taipan attacked. The factions on the ground are devolving into civil war. The locals are in danger of dying to lack of food and exposure to the hostile elements of the planet… all things I can’t sit by when I can do something about it. Our end goal is to negotiate a peace settlement between all involved.”
Diana writes as Heram speaks, careful to capture each word and detail to ensure that nothing is missed or altered in anyway. “These factions on the ground that are breaking apart, how does the Alliance even hope to pacify them if Hoshiko and the Tai Pan forces relent? Do we hope our aid will be enough to call for a truce? As for the Tai Pan, does the Alliance have any plans in regards to ending or at least halting the occupation below?” Diana’s gaze was steady and she was reading any type of tick or gesture she could perceive, she liked Heram but she liked the full truth even more.
“Humans have been fighting these kinds of conflicts for hundreds of years. If your goal is to bring them to a peaceful resolution then there is a lot of historical material to pull from. Ultimately that consists of finding a solution that enriches everyone. It is my hope that through engaging the groups on the ground we can help bring conflict to a close.” Heram stated, giving a bit more thought to how he wanted to respond regarding Hoshiko. “...and it is my hope that by engaging with these groups, we can bring an end to the occupation.” It certainly seemed like the same unsatisfying diplomatic-talk that the rest of the Alliance used when they came out in support of Taipan’s invasion, but there was a reason for that. Heram fully intended to be the reason why Hoshiko would be forced off the planet, and he would need Diana to make that happen. Public opinion would turn against Hoshiko, and he would be the one that makes it happen.
“A solution that can enrich the desires of Hoshiko and the Kiwomian people at the same time? That’s an interesting proposal to say the least. Though I do agree that engaging and working to at least pacify if not unite the warring factions is crucial in ending this occupation. Has any sort of effort been put forward by the Alliance to make contact with the leaders of these various groups, as likely unorganized as they may be?” Diana asked, before clearing her throat for her final questions, taking on a more relaxed tone and staring at Heram for a moment, her dark green eyes taking in his feature with an inquisitive focus before returning to the datapad. “Does the Alliance have an endgame in regards to this crisis? If Hoshiko and her forces can be driven off-world and out of this system, does the Alliance intend to stay and help the Kiwomians rebuild or at least stabilize? What about you, are you going to aid in recovery and aid efforts past the occupation or does the Deming and its crew have other plans?”
“I intend to extend the same help and support we were providing the Kiwomians from before this conflict broke out. We have an interest in seeing the Kiwomians become a reliable and reputable partner in interstellar events. We will be here for years helping them develop their infrastructure and capabilities.” Heram stated, “... As for the situation on the ground, it does not seem like Hoshiko has put in the time to try and meet with the major players. I am lining up meetings with everyone I can though. I should have a much better idea of who the major players are once I have had the opportunity to do some ground work. From what I understand already the Royalty and their loyalists are having a hard time holding onto the major city now that their infrastructure is destroyed. It appears that none of the other groups have managed to take charge either.”
Diana nods her head as she writes this whole crisis could hopefully be morphed into an opportunity for advancement for both the Kiwomians and the Alliance, if they played their cards right. “So it seems that the Alliance could gain a major ally out of this if the talks with the warring factions go well, how fortuitous... That seems to conclude all of the questions I've prepared for this interview, both in the interest of time and knowing that much more will be clear once we’ve truly focused in on the crisis at hand.” She could have easily gone on with questions about various housing and other utility based plans and the long-term intentions of the Alliance in interacting with the Kiwomian people but those were things she could learn on her own, it was time to get to work. Deactivating her datapad, Diana sent Heram a small smile before speaking, “So, I am curious what you need from me to make these ambitions of yours in regards to the Kiwomians and Hoshiko happen? I know you have an angle for this and I want to know where I fit in, care to enlighten me Heram?”
“I just need you to report on what you see down there. Hoshiko has a reputation for being heavy handed and I expect her not to disappoint. If you show what is going on down there, then I think it will make it progressively harder for Hoshiko to stay planetside. Be a journalist. Discover things. Let people know. All the good stuff.” He replied with a smile. It seemed slightly forced of course, Heram never quite seemed all that emotional ever. He would need to give her plenty to report on of course, but he couldn’t outright tell her that.
“I would prefer you stay with our people. Green-Squad is in charge of security and I strongly recommend you coordinate with them before you go anywhere. They are the best when it comes to this kind of stuff… of course, I understand that you’re ‘the press’ and if you feel this is compromising your ability to do press-stuff then you can go out on your own. I won’t dictate what you can and can’t do down there… though I would like you to stay up here until we have our operating base setup planetside. You’ll have a room down there and can go through Enid for shuttle transport to wherever you need to go.”
Diana smiled, this was one of the reasons she had been so keen to return to the Edward Deming and its crew. Having both access and a slight level of autonomy planetside was unprecedented for members of ‘the press’ and it was not an opportunity she would let slip through her fingers. “I will keep Green-Squad in the loop in regards to any ventures I am making once we are planetside, I imagine making basic contact with the populus will be first on my agenda. Could you just tell me Heram, what do you honestly think are our odds of quelling Hoshiko and the Tai Pan and restoring the Kiwomian societies infrastructure? What are our chances of this situation not spiraling into something worse?”
“Not good.” He replied, “This is a long shot. The Kiwomians have already made things worse by letting themselves get goading into attacking. That doesn’t play well. Their government is in shambles, so even if we knew the exact next steps to take they might not be able to carry it out anyways. The situation is bad even without Hoshiko’s involvement, and I do not think her temperament is well suited for this kind of delicate work.”
Diana felt herself laugh despite the tinge in the back of her mind, at least she could count on Heram to be honest with her. “Well I suppose if this type of situation were easy, then the Alliance wouldn’t have needed to send you nor the rest of the Deming in to manage and contain the situation. Perhaps diplomacy with Hoshiko or trying to manage the morale of the populous will be the best ways to manage this mess. Right now getting Hoshiko and the Tai Pan off of Ulimwengu Wa Kifo should be the main priority and then repairing the Kiwomians can come next.” Diana rises from her chair, “I suppose we should get to work then, no sense in losing anymore time.”