Venteris New Frontiers, Inc.
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The Langford Estate

Posted on Thursday October 24th, 2019 @ 5:48pm by Simone Langford & Tabitha Vale Ph.D.
Edited on on Thursday October 24th, 2019 @ 5:49pm

Mission: #1 Prelude
Location: Earth, Catalonian Coast - Langford Villa
Timeline: FLASHBACK - 2241.10.19 13h40

Summary: Simone and Tabitha arrive at the Langford estate, where the latter is introduced to the former’s family.

= BEGIN

“Thank you for letting me know. I think the best thing to do is to have personnel work remotely for the next couple of days. This is becoming too disruptive and we have a schedule to keep. I’ll do meetings at the villa, so you can direct them there. No, that’s fine, you work from wherever’s best. I don’t need you on site... Thanks, Amiyah. Bye.”

Simone ended the call with her assistant and sighed as she looked out of the window to the landscape below. Once the shuttle had left Paris airspace, it picked up speed and it wasn’t long before they crossed the mountains towards Catalonia.

She glanced at Tabitha, turning her attention to the other occupant of the shuttle. “The authorities say the bomb scare was from the Humanitarian Front. They’ve been making use of the protests to voice their objections regarding the expensive nature of Venteris’ prices for relocation.”

Tabitha considered this for a moment. “Bomb threats are hardly a way to get their point across though.” she replied.”I doubt there are many who would sympathise.” It was a sore point for her but she didn't refer to anything else.

“In a way I understand where they’re coming from,” Simone continued. “But space travel isn’t cheap. Starships and hypergates don’t build themselves. We have a sponsorship program in place, but it’s not big enough to appease the Front. Until the Earth gateway is complete, relocation will remain expensive.”

“They should realise that posing threats isn't the way to get what they want. Its a generous sponsorship programme as it stands.”

Simone nodded in agreement. “The program was initially my father’s idea but the UN government claimed the credit for it and included it as a non-negotiable part of New Frontiers’ colonisation contract. Needless to say if the UN were run more efficiently, we wouldn’t be facing fortieth percentile unemployment rates and rising poverty.” She paused a moment to take a breath and then offered Tabitha a calmer smile. “But let’s not get into politics. I much rather prefer business.”

The clouds they were flying through dissipated and the coastline came into view, sunshine glinted off the white exterior of the shuttle as it began its descent towards a villa situated against the slopes of a mountain cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

“Here we are, home sweet home,” Simone said, starting to unbuckle her seatbelt as the shuttle slowly set itself down on a landing pad at the top of the villa. “You’ll be meeting my parents… and perhaps my brother. I apologise in advance.”

A short chuckle was Tabitha's reaction to this dry comment. She smiled as she shook her head wondering if it was the brother needing the apology or the parents or even all three. She followed her hostess from the shuttle to the ground meeting a blast of very warm air as she did so.

The brilliant sunshine caused her to squint until she acclimatised to it a little but she could see the beautiful two storey villa built of sun bleached stone surrounded by sculpted gardens. Terraces with potted Cordylines and Bougainvillia edged perfect emerald green lawns with formal pools broken by elegant fountains. Tall Cypresses reached towards the bluest of skies and the whole place spoke of wealth and status. It occurred to Tabitha as she slowly drank in the view towards the sparkling sea that the Humanitarian Front would have a field day if they saw this.

“This is beautiful,” she said meeting Simone’s eye and spoke honestly because there was nothing that could improve the setting.

“It’s been in my family for a couple of generations, but it’s much older than that,” Simone replied as they walked towards the house, her tone implying she wasn’t showing off, but merely stating fact. “It has heritage status so we aren’t allowed to make any alterations to the exterior, but to be honest I don’t think we’d want to even if we could; its history is part of its charm.”

“I can understand that.” Tabitha replied looking up at the tall windows mostly reflecting the sun although two were shuttered to give, she imagined, a coolness within and a pleasing dim light in contrast to the brilliance outside.

They came to a large French door and, before Simone opened it, she turned to Tabitha and said in a more serious tone, “My father has Rajan Syndrome. I’m not sure if you’ll meet him since he spends most of his time in his room nowadays, but he sometimes ventures out when he feels up to it.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Tabitha said, slowing her steps having some knowledge of the incurable condition and its effects. “That's distressing for you all.” she added catching up with Simone.

“Thank you. It’s the reason he stepped down as Executive Director of New Frontiers. My mother is still on the Venteris executive board and my father remains a legacy partner. I was initially going to stay on after Aquila to oversee the next project, but we decided as a family to all make the move to Proxima Aquilae IV.”

Tabitha nodded as they neared the house and an open French Door. There was little to say really that couldn't be construed as intrusive, something Tabitha would never do.

They stepped through into a large sunroom that was beginning to feel the pleasing warm effects of the early afternoon sun. Barely had Simone taken two steps before a golden retriever came running at them from the hallway beyond, wagging its tail and giving her a friendly welcoming bark.

“Hey Odren! Hello boy!” Simone greeted the dog as he circled her, scratching the golden fur around his ears. He was quickly distracted by the newcomer, however, and went directly to Tabitha, looking up at her with big eyes as if to ask, ‘who’s this?’

“Hello?” Tabitha said offering the back of her hand to him before giving a quick pat to his soft fur. His tail swept from side to side regardless of the potted plant on a low table now in imminent danger of destruction. “And who are you?” she asked as the dog appeared to smile at her in the typical way of his type. “You’re a lovely boy aren't you?...mmm?”
She smiled at the large dog stroking his silky head and patting his shoulder seeing him lapping up the attention.

“Don’t mind him, it’s just a scam to get the attention of the pretty boys and girls,” a man’s voice joked and Simone looked up to see her brother coming into the sun room, perfectly dressed for the weather in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

“So you came after all,” Simone grinned and walked over to her brother, giving him a hug and a peck on the cheek. Much taller than she, Simone had to stand on tip-toe to reach. Despite the height difference and the hair colour - he was blonde - the family connection was evident in their eyes. “How was Brazil?”

“Brazil was fantastic, as always. There weren’t any delays in Rio so the flights were on time,” he replied, grabbing an apple from a bowl of fruit and biting into it sharply. “And who’s your friend, sis? Or did you run into problems with Starfleet… ?” He said jokingly, but there was something in his tone that implied problems with Starfleet wasn’t an impossibility.

“No, this is Lieutenant Commander Tabitha Vale, she’s joining the Aquila program as a crew member,” Simone explained. “She was interviewing at the head office when we were evacuated.”

“Ah, that explains the uniform. Hunter Langford,” he said to Tabitha, extending his hand towards her. “Venteris New Frontiers Liaison for Venteris Mining Corporation. Basically I mediate disputes between the two umbrella companies. It’s a bit like babysitting corporate directors.”

Her hand met his in a short firm handshake. “Pleasure to meet you Mr. Langford. I’m a psychologist hopefully soon to be working for the company.” She smiled to him politely, meeting his gaze aware that as he stood chewing a bite of apple he was assessing her as much as she was assessing him. He was, she decided in his early to mid thirties and from his physique spent plenty of time away from his office.

“A psychologist? So you’ll be making sure the passengers we take on the ship are sane then?”

Tabitha smiled politely at what she assumed was a joke. She’d heard such comments many times before. “Something like that,” she replied.

“That’s good… we don’t want a repeat of the Taurus 1 incident, do we?” he replied, looking at Simone.

“Hunter, she doesn’t have clearance yet,” Simone said firmly, giving her brother an admonishing look.

“Whoops. That’s my cue to leave,” Hunter grimaced awkwardly. He gave Tabitha a wink and then whistled at Odren, snapping his fingers and disappearing towards the pool with the dog in tow.

“Don’t mind him,” Simone said to Tabitha, unconsciously referring to her brother in almost the exact tone he used to refer to the dog earlier

Tabitha watched the pair disappear from view, Hunter consuming his apple and Odren pacing along beside him, tail fanning the air at each step.

“Simone, is that you, dear?” a woman’s voice called from the hallway.

“It’s me, Mama,” Simone called back and a few moments later a blonde woman with the same height and bearing as Simone entered the sun room. She wore an elegant summer dress, her long hair pinned back behind her shoulders, and her eyes immediately rested on Tabitha.

“A friend?” she questioned curiously, a slight hint of amusement in her voice.

“Mama, this is Lieutenant Commander Tabitha Vale,” Simone introduced her soon-to-be employee once again. “She’s joining the crew of the Aquila 4 as a psychologist. Tabitha, this is my mother, Minerva Langford.”

Minerva’s eyes lit up at the word ‘psychologist’ and she extended her hand warmly toward Tabitha in greeting. “A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant Commander. My late mother always said you can never have too many therapists. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of reasons to put that doctor-patient confidentiality clause to good work once we get underway. Would you like a drink?”

Before tabitha could reply, Simone spoke up.

“Mama, Tabitha will be staying for the night, so I’d like to get her settled in one of the rooms. The two of you can chat more over dinner.” Simone urged, trying to get Tabitha away from the overly-curious attention of her mother.

“Oh yes! Of course, you must join us for dinner,” Minerva insisted. “Simone rarely ever brings anyone from work over.”

“It’s just temporary,” Simone explained. “And there will be a couple more coming over the next few days. With the bomb threat, I’ll be taking my meetings here, if that’s all right.”

“Bomb threat? What bomb threat?” Minerva replied, suddenly looking worried.

“At the New Frontiers building, mother, in Paris. Now can you please tell me, is Hunter using the pool house?” Simone replied a little impatiently.

“Yes, you can use the garden cottage instead,” Minerva suggested. “It has more rooms anyway.”

“Thanks, Mama,” Simone said, then turned to Tabitha. “Let’s get you settled in?”

“Er… yes, thank you,” Tabitha replied mentally checking the clothes in her holdall at the mention of dinner imagining it might well be semi formal at least in this household.

“I’ll see you both at dinner. I’ll send the chef around to find out if there’s anything you don’t eat,” Minerva said with a smile to Tabitha.

“That’s very kind… but really, please don't go to the trouble. I don't have food allergies or anything.”

“Nonsense, that’s what he gets paid for,” Minerva replied, furrowing her brow as if she was confused why someone would think that the chef would do anything less than his full duty.

“Of course,” Tabitha replied quietly not wishing to offend but never having known such detailed attention before. Seeing Simone waiting with slight impatience she turned to follow her.

= END

Simone Langford
Aquila Program Executive Director
Venteris New Frontiers


LtCmdr Tabitha Vale, Ph.D.
Psychologist
UN Starfleet Medical Corps

 

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