Blackadder of Starfleet
Blackadder: Bureau of Starfleet Personnel
(As names fade in and out across the bottom of the screen, a starship with the classic design of most Starfleet vessels appears in the distance and approaches swiftly. At closest point of approach, it turns back to the stars, and a small object falls from it. It screams down through the atmosphere. The camera turns and sees Commander Blackadder narrowly escape the crash of the cargo pod to the surface. He shakes a fist at the sky, then kicks the pod. It falls open to reveal an object. Each episode has a different object, which is at least slightly relevant to the plot.)
(Pod Contents: a stone tablet with ancient writing)
(Blackadder enters Melchett's office. Beside the admiral, at his desk, sits a Bajoran woman dressed as a Vedek.)
BLACKADDER: Reporting as ordered, Admiral.
MELCHETT: Ah, Commander Blackadder. Come in, come in. I want you to meet Vedek Cordial.
BLACKADDER: Pleased to meet you, madam.
MELCHETT: Vedek Cordial belongs to one of the Bajoran religious orders that are involved in the operation of the Bajoran government. She's here to request our help.
BLACKADDER: But of course, sir. How can we be of assistance, Vedek?
CORDIAL: Are you familiar with Bajoran history, Commander?
BLACKADDER: Only the high points of the Founders War, I'm afraid. And the flashier reports from Deep Space Nine, of course.
CORDIAL: Ah. Well, when the Cardassians left Bajor, the two most powerful sources of authority left among the populace were the Church and the Resistance. It's been noticed, recently, that our government is organized along the same lines as our religious orders, and the military is organized much as the cells that the Resistance operated under.
MELCHETT: That's understandable, I suppose.
CORDIAL: Quite. However, it's not exactly desirable. We have an opportunity to overhaul the system, and replace it with something more appropriate to an organization that doesn't have to provide cutouts between commands, or fear retribution if someone gets ahold of the names in the chain of command. We also want a government that channels the needs of the populace up as well as the decisions of the leaders downwards.
MELCHETT: As a ranking expert in the nuts and bolts organization of Starfleet, who does what and where the bodies come from, the Bajorans have invited you to lend supervision to their military efforts.
BLACKADDER: Me, sir?
MELCHETT: Actually, they invited me, but I have the Regatta coming up next week.
BLACKADDER: Ah, yes, and we can't let the side down, sir. If you weren't there, shouting incoherently along the pier, who knows where they might fall in the results?
MELCHETT: Who, indeed, commander, who, indeed. So, you'll go on the Bajoran courier, spend about a month there, keep me apprised of your efforts, let me know if you need more time, help where you can, and so on. You're primarily there to help improve their military organization, but the civilian side may monitor your progress from time to time.
BLACKADDER: Yes, sir.
CORDIAL: So, if you could be ready to go by…
BLACKADDER: Oh, I can be packed, download the necessary documents, and make all my arrangements within a few hours, Vedek. Shall I meet you at the transporters down the hall at, say, 1800?
CORDIAL: That would be fine, Mr. Blackadder. The Sanctuary Against Surrenderand her crew will be ready for you then.
(Blackadder enters his office.)
BLACKADDER: Baldrick! I'm going to Bajor for a month. Route all official details through Lieutenant Phissssspok-tal; hold all personal matters until I get back.
BALDRICK: What are you going to do on Bajor, Commander?
BLACKADDER: I'm going to own the place by the time I'm done. (Sits at the desk, starts searching through and moving computer files to a portable data reader.)
BALDRICK: Really, sir? How are you going to do that?
BLACKADDER: Bajor is a very spiritual planet, Baldrick, and there's two things you really need to understand about spiritual people.
BALDRICK: Their faith and their humility?
BLACKADDER: No, Baldrick, they can't hold their liquor and they don't know how to gamble.
BALDRICK: And that means...?
BLACKADDER: It means, I'll be meeting movers and shakers in their government and military. And when I invite them over for an evening entertainment, they won't know what hit them. Oh, make sure there's a case of Romulan Ale in inventory. I'll need to pack that.
BALDRICK: Isn't Romulan Ale illegal, sir?
BLACKADDER: Please, Baldrick. If it's on the flagship of the fleet, or served at senior officer wedding celebrations, just how illegal can it be? Just… just mark it 'Mineral Water… Boloos IV.' All right?
(Blackadder sits in a lounge aboard the Bajoran ship, The Sanctuary Against Surrender. At the table in front of him sit quite a few piles of coins of various denominations, a deck of round cards and a small flask. He's examining the money when Vedek Cordial enters.)
CORDIAL: So, Commander, are you enjoying… what is that?
BLACKADDER: Oh, just familiarizing myself with your monetary system. Something of a hobby of mine, you see. I always find understanding the financial dimensions of a society helps me understand that society better. Won't you sit down? (she does)
CORDIAL: I see. And does this increased understanding extend to my crew?
BLACKADDER: Excuse me?
CORDIAL: I was wondering why my Navigator is in sickbay? He looks wretched and seems to think I'm his mathematics tutor.
BLACKADDER: Ah. He seems to have had a small allergic reaction to (gestures to his flask) my mineral water.
CORDIAL: Any idea why he's singing something about a little goblin?
BLACKADDER: Not really. Probably the allergy medicine he took.
CORDIAL: And I noticed that most of third shift is having to borrow shirts in order to stand their watch this evening.
BLACKADDER: Oh, that. Yes, I also find the characteristics of uniform fabric very fascinating. They all loaned me their jumpers, so I could compare the differently aged shirts for wear this evening.
CORDIAL: So, they'll be getting their shirts back tomorrow, then?
BLACKADDER: Oh, they'll get an opportunity to get them back. I mean, yes, they will.
CORDIAL: You know, it seems to me that anyone trying to understand Bajor would concentrate more on our religion.
BLACKADDER: Well, anyone but a human, maybe.
CORDIAL: Why's that?
BLACKADDER: Most planets seem to adopt a single religion about the same time they join in a single world government. Humans have somewhere around 20,000 religions, depending on how you count divisions, reformations, sects, cults and hermits. Since the diaspora to the stars, the count's only gotten bigger.
CORDIAL: So how does that affect a study of Bajor?
BLACKADDER: It's hard to see any religion as significant when you're raised to be roughly familiar with, and officially tolerant of, so very many.
CORDIAL: I still don't see...
BLACKADDER: (holds up a coin) Think of your money standard. All of Bajor uses this coin. It has a world-wide value, a buying power everyone pretty much agrees on. It may fluctuate, currency does that, and the buying power on any other world depends on a number of things, but if I go anywhere on your world, and plunk this down, your merchant and I both have a sort of understanding on what it's worth to me, to him, and to his creditors.
BLACKADDER: Now, imagine if any single group of three or more persons were able to mint their own money. Families, businesses, unions, bowling leagues, churches, congregations, fishing camps, farmer's markets… all with their own coinage, backed up by whatever standard they chose to hinge their fisc upon: livestock, personal service, land, poetry, jewelry, palm readings…
CORDIAL: It would be… confusing.
BLACKADDER: Yes. Then imagine that one day someone shows up with another coin. And says they use it where he comes from. In fact, the whole planet uses it where he comes from.
CORDIAL: It would seem like a good idea to me.
BLACKADDER: Probably. Certain less confusing than what you're used to. But how could I convince your father that my Federation Credit was worth as much as the Vedek-Mark he named after you? Or that you mother's choir-dollar, from her church bank, was worth half a Credit?
CORDIAL: I see. And the Prophets…?
BLACKADDER: Can't say anything against them, Vedek, but it's hard to imagine an audit that might prove or disprove their solvency.
CORDIAL: You're something of a cynic, aren't you, Commander Blackadder?
BLACKADDER: Oh, no, ma'am. But I am a skeptic.
CORDIAL: What is the difference?
BLACKADDER: A skeptic isn't certain that anyone else is right, while a cynic is certain that everyone else is wrong.
CORDIAL: Either way, Commander, I fear that you may not be the most ideal person for this effort.
BLACKADDER: Oh, don't worry, Vedek. I'm just here to overhaul your administrative system, not the bedrock of your faith.
(Blackadder follows Vedek Cordial through a hallway in a Bajoran temple. Every person they pass bows slightly and welcomes Blackadder to Bajor.)
CORDIAL: And here, Commander, is Kai Winn, leader of our Faith.
WINN: Commander Blackadder. I'm so pleased to make your acquaintance.
BLACKADDER: Thank you, Kai Winn. I must say, I'm rather surprised to make yours. I wasn't aware that this administrative refurbishment was going to garner such highly placed attention.
WINN: Oh, I take an interest in anything Starfleet does on our world, Commander. They've done SO much for us. I wonder if I might ask you for a favor?
BLACKADDER: Of course, Kai. I'm here to help.
WINN: The official start of our overhaul coincides with an important religious festival observed by this order. I wonder if you might say a few words to the team?
BLACKADDER: A kick-off pep-talk as it were?
WINN: Something like that. Since everyone knows we searched for an expert to help us in this effort, they're looking forward to hearing how Starfleet is going to help us, without trying to remake us in Starfleet's image. They'll want to be reassured that Starfleet respects our traditions and standards without any patronizing view to our autonomy.
BLACKADDER: Oh. Of course. It's against our policy to interfere, actually. I'd be glad to reassure your people.
WINN: Against your policy, is it? I should wonder if anyone has ever told that to your Captain Sisco. Well. Right this way (gestures Blackadder to precede her through a door. As he steps through, we see he's coming out on a balcony over a plaza. A plaza full of Bajoran dedicants. Many, many dedicants. All smiling faces looking up at him.)
BLACKADDER: Oh, my. (Loudspeakers forcefully blast his words over the plaza and probably halfway up to a standard orbit. He jumps, nearly knocking the Vedek over). Oh. I guess you can all hear me...?
(The crowd laughs)
WINN: (Speaks to crowd, loudspeakers a bit more forgiving to her effort) Starfleet has agreed to help us redesign our military administration to a more efficient organization, by sending their Commander Edmund Blackadder, an experienced military administrator. So it is appropriate that he has volunteered to join us on Dedication Day, and offer the opening prayer, both to the celebration and the work before us.
BLACKADDER: (whispers:) Prayer? (Winn smiles (read: Winn shows her fangs) and gestures him to the edge of the balcony.) I, um… well, alright. Let us pray. People of Bajor, I respect your religious beliefs and traditions, without personally sharing them, though I don't really know why as your prophets have certainly turned out to be real enough and protected Starfleet interests and personnel in this Sector in a number of wars and smaller conflicts, so what is traditionally referred to throughout the Federation as religion might well, in your particular case, be called 'History.' or even 'Paying Attention.'....amen. Thank you.
(The crowd cheers. Those on the balcony retire inside the temple, walk down the hallway.)
WINN: Interesting prayer, Commander.
BLACKADDER: The crowd seemed to like it.
WINN: So, it wasn't sincere?
BLACKADDER: I didn't have time to prepare anything manipulative, Kai, even if that were my intent. All I had at my disposal was sincerity. But it did seem to reassure your vedeks that I'm not here to reshape anything for the Federation's benefit.
WINN: And so it did, Commander. (They stop at an alcove with an Orb of the Prophets within it) One more thing, Commander. Part of the opening of this religious observance is the Dedication of the Orb. If you could-
BLACKADDER: Oh, I'm not worthy of such an honor.
WINN: But traditionally the leader of the opening prayer-
BLACKADDER: The prayer I 'volunteered' for?
WINN: Yes. As the leader, it is your place to Dedicate the Orb as well, that the Prophets may be sure to hear our prayer.
BLACKADDER: Ah, very well. What do I do?
WINN: You step onto the dais and place both hands on the Orb-
CORDIAL: Kai, I don't think-
WINN: It's perfectly alright, Vedek.
CORDIAL: But he doesn't-
WINN: It's perfectly alright, Vedek.
BLACKADDER: Something untraditional going on, here, I assume?
WINN: Nothing for you to worry about, Commander. Unless-
WINN: Unless you mean something underhanded for the Bajoran people.
BLACKADDER: Of course not. Like this? (He places his hands on the Orb. A bright white light flashes)
(Blackadder sits playing cards in the lounge of The Sanctuary Against Surrender. Also playing are Baldrick, Melchett, Winn and Cordial. Cordial picks up some coins from in front of her. Through the following conversation, the players move cards and coins about, mostly as busywork, a sham of an actual card game)
CORDIAL: What is a wager?
BLACKADDER: Hmm? A wager is a bet. An assertion, or a hope, that a certain event will take place. Also an amount of money staked against that event.
MELCHETT: What is money?
BLACKADDER: A unit of exchange, most basically to reward someone for their efforts to produce something.
WINN: How does a wager reflect a linear existence?
BLACKADDER: (sits back from the card game, looks around.)Where am I, and why am I lecturing like a Vulcan? (Looks at Baldrick) And do you have a question?
BALDRICK: Yessir. Do you have any threes?
BLACKADDER: This isn't real. For one thing, it's not a poker game. You're just moving the cards around aimlessly, like window-dressing. For another, I've never even been drunk enough to play cards with Baldrick, and I avoid gambling with religious authorities like I avoid shouting matches with drunken Tellarites. Where are we? And who are you?
MELCHETT: What is money? Why do you want it? Why do you want so much of it?
BLACKADDER: You must be The Prophets.
BALDRICK: Yessir. Do you have any queens?
BLACKADDER: What do you want with me?
WINN: You're touching the Orb.
BLACKADDER: Does this happen to everyone that touches the Orb?
MELCHETT: For the last 3,945 people that touched the Orb, we merely granted them a clearness of thought for the benefit of their communications.
BLACKADDER: How clear?
CORDIAL: We removed their ability to harbor untruths.
BLACKADDER: (to Kai Winn) So you… wanted to make me unable to lie.
WINN: _I_ am not Kai Winn. I merely assumed a reflection of someone you know.
BLACKADDER: I'm guessing Kai Winn has studiously avoided touching the Orb.
BALDRICK: That's right, sir. Do you have any Knaves?
BLACKADDER: Okay. So why am I here? Why treat me different from the last four thousand penitents?
MELCHETT: We sense that there is much we can learn from you. Much that we have not seen in those that wear your uniform.
BLACKADDER: Ah. Yes. (collects all the cards, starts shuffling them) And what is that worth to you...?
WINN: What would you want?
BLACKADDER: What have you got?
(The white light fades, and Blackadder steps down from the dais. Winn and Cordial stand as they were when he touched it, watching him closely).
CORDIAL: How are you… feeling, Commander?
BLACKADDER: I am feeling wonderful, Vedek Cordial. How are you?
CORDIAL: I'm fine, thank you.
WINN: Do you feel any different?
BLACKADDER: Different? No, no difference. Should I feel different?
WINN: Well, no, of course not. You just, just dedicated the Orb, that's all.
BLACKADDER: Oh, shame on you, Kai. You were trying to pull a fast one on me.
WINN: What do you mean?
BLACKADDER: The prophets are well aware of you, and what you tried to do, here. They're not exactly like us, so I wouldn't say they're displeased, but they are certainly not pleased with you.
WINN: You… that's ridiculous.
CORDIAL: Kai, he touched the Orb. You can't dismiss anything he says, now. Wasn't that what you wanted?
BLACKADDER: Quite right, Kai Cordial. Quite right.
CORDIAL: Oh, I'm not Kai, Commander. I'm a Vedek.
BLACKADDER: Oh, yes. (walks away from the two ladies) I'm getting ahead of myself. Oh, and I'll gladly donate ten percent.
(Winn spins to stare are Cordial, who just smiles at her, then follows Blackadder off. As Winn stands there, fuming, another vedek runs up to her)
WINN: (mutters) Ten percent of what?
VEDEK#1: Kai Winn! You need to see this.
WINN: See what?
VEDEK#1: In the plaza! An orb descended from the sky!
WINN: An Orb!?! Take me!
VEDEK#1: It's gone, Kai. But for a second, it hovered over the plaza, dropped something, and climbed back up.
WINN: What did it drop?
VEDEK#1: Gold, ma'am. Lot and lots of gold coins. Piles of them, higher than a man can reach!
WINN: Gold? That much gold? (She smiles brightly, but it fades quickly when she hears)
VEDEK#1: Yes, Kai. But each one has 'Property of Commander Edmund Blackadder' on one side, and his face stamped on the other.
WINN: (through clenched teeth) Another Starfleet Miracle. Very well, set people to gather them up for him. (she glances at the direction Blackadder left) And look to see if one in ten has 'donated by CDR Blackadder' stamped on it.
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