DIVA: Blue Stars ZERO

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Mon May 27 05:04:13 PDT 2019

Have I got a deal for you!  And by deal I mean the first time the DiVerse has
dipped into a /purely cape-oriented/ sort of storyline!  Unfortunately the capes
will have to wait for next time, but one must lay the groundwork at some point,
so here it is - the starting point to tie together 'Silverblood' and Sister
Tangerine and so much more...

Blue Stars ZERO: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Felix


"You say we have a problem, I say we have an opportunity."

The man at the head of the conference table was old - balding, wrinkled, what
hair he had gray and silver - but his eyes shone bright with a keen
intelligence.  Which was good, and also critically important, since he oversaw
pretty much everything involving Emergency Services.  "If you approach things
negatively," he continued with that quiet intensity of his, "people will
generally follow your lead.  Likewise if you do so positively.  So let's go with
the latter, alright?"

General nods of assent, with a few more hesitant than others.  Well, that was to
be expected; this sort of thing wasn't an easy undertaking, or a simple one. 
"Before we get too deep into things, let's outline the main points so that
everyone's on the same page."

He shuffled the paper reports in front of him, then tapped a few keys on the
data slate and brought up the display on the wall behind him.  "One: The
department is understaffed."  He waited a few moments for the voice recognition
to kick in and copy his words, then continued.  "Two: Our funding remains
/mostly/ unchanged."  One last pause, then: "And three: We are authorized to
pursue /alternate means/ of accomplishing the department's mission.  This is the
important one, right here."

Lyle Gordon Marshall had wanted to do something special for Sapphire City ever
since he arrived.  It was a beautiful place - seaside, brightly glittering
water, lovingly cultivated parks and gardens - and the seafood was /incredible/.
But more than that, it was full of /good people/, people who deserved to live
in safety, not in fear of disasters - natural or otherwise - or even lesser
misfortunes.  He'd had difficulty with the limited resources at his disposal,
but now there was a bright ray of hope.  If he could just show it to everyone

"When you say it's important," began the nasally voice of Peter Nunn, head of
logistics, "I can't help but think you already have a plan in mind."

Lyle managed a smile.  Peter wasn't the easiest to work with at the best of
times, and his section had been hardest hit by recent events; but he was a key
team member, and one of the best logisticians around.  Lyle needed him, and
everyone else here.  "I have the outline of a plan," he clarified.  "If we all
work together, I think we can bring it to life - maybe not how I envision it
now, but the best way ahead for all of us, and for the city.  That sound good?"

A few more nods.  No one seemed opposed just yet, though he knew once he brought
the plan up there would almost certainly be some pushback to it.  Well, change
was difficult.

"So here's what I have."  Lyle folded his hands on the table.  "Simply put, a
new section for provisional employees; standby and contracted, that sort of
thing.  We need to be more flexible to meet the challenges ahead of us, and our
current structure doesn't support that."

Linda Pantera, the head of Personnel Relations and Administration - what in a
colder organization might have been called Human Resources - made a quiet 'mm'. 
"We're understaffed and underpaid, and you're looking at /hiring/?" she finally
began, the skepticism all too clear in her tone.  "To be honest, that sounds
like a bad situation on the horizon - or more accurately a worse one, when we're
already under the microscope for the last few months."

"It does, doesn't it?" Lyle returned.  "I won't tell you it's going to be easy,
or that we'll be able to continue on as we have, because neither of those is
true - but if we can make this work, and I think we can, everyone will be better
off for it.  The department /and/ the citizens."

"There's more to this than just a new section, then."  This time it was the
permanently harried voice of Van Hunter, the bespectacled chief of dispatch. 
"What've you got for us this time, Marshall?  No need to prolong the suspense."

Lyle smiled evenly and spread his hands.  "Nothing too fancy.  I just want to
prepare the new section to be staffed mostly with Specials."

There was a momentary silence around the table, and then Linda let out a breath.
"You /would/ say that, of all things."

"I'm serious about this."  Lyle looked around the table at his department heads,
making sure they all met his gaze before continuing.  "For a number of years
now, SCES has depended on our people - our full-timers - and our tools, and
that's been enough.  But the Leviathan attacks proved that the support we
provide has gaps in it.  For everyone's sake, we have to close those gaps.  I
know that there will be some in your sections who don't want to work with
Specials, but the truth is plain; we're not in a position where we can afford to
exclude anyone.  And to be honest, if I may - if someone /wants/ to join us, to
make a difference?  We should have included them from the /very beginning/."

No one disagreed directly, though he could see unspoken doubts lingering here
and there.  "I'm not asking for this to happen overnight," Lyle continued, in a
more conciliatory tone.  "But it's important that we /start/ the process as soon
as possible, and for that I need you all on board.  No one here is expendable;
even if you're stepping back from an active role to a more advisory one, or if
your people are, the wisdom and experience can't just vanish into the night.  We
can't afford to lose any more of it."

There was a brief moment of collective silence at this last thought.  In the
aftermath of the Leviathan's visitation, a number of SCES employees had either
quit outright or submitted their resignation.  Unsurprisingly, the accompanying
paperwork cited work stress as a preeminent concern; no one had signed up for
Emergency Services expecting a wartime environment, but it had happened - and it
had come without any warning.

"Anyway, if anyone has any substantial reasons this /can't/ happen, we need to
have it on the table now, before we go any further."

Peter opened his notebook and started scratching away at a list of figures with
a furrowed brow - well, slightly more furrowed than usual - while the rest of
the section heads brought up their data slates and started looking through
things.  Several minutes passed, and eventually everyone was back to looking at

"No objections, then?"

"It does depend on what, er, quality of Specials we manage to attract," Peter
began, "and how we can integrate them into all facets of the organization, but I
don't see any /major/ problems."

"We'll likely end up minus a few individuals who are solidly opposed to said
integration," Linda continued, looking around and seeing nods of agreement from
the other section heads, "but it won't make it unworkable.  A bit thinly
stretched at the beginning, perhaps, but not unworkable."

Lyle waited for any additional input and, not finding any, nodded firmly. 
"Right.  Let's get to our first task, then: someone needs to lead the new
section.  It needs a name, too, come to think of it."

"How about Section Zero?" piped up Megan Mallory, with her traditionally
unquenchable cheer.  One of the youngest team members, the head of Public
Relations - which suited her perfectly - had the kind of enthusiasm that was
always somewhere between refreshing and maybe a little too intense.  "Zero
restrictions to entry, zero limitations on the good you can accomplish, zero
previous history - a fresh start for everyone!"

Blinking at the sudden outburst, Lyle found himself at a bit of a loss for words
momentarily.  Well, perhaps some of the finer points there weren't /exactly/-

"Ah, we can even call it Section Z-E-R-O, for Zero Emergency Response
Operations!  Recursive acronyms are fun!  Oh, and we can have a /zebra/ as the

... Well, at least she'll supply the energy, Lyle thought with a little smile.

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