((“Tholta” Primary Reconciliation Building, Rixx, Betazed))
The Tholta building was the home for all “primary” reconciliation forums, the highest level in the Betazoid reconciliation hierarchy. The forums heard
disputes between its citizens, and on occasion, between citizens and one or more of the Betazoid noble houses. Reconciliation forums, considered different to the Betazoid Government Council (BGC) where disputes were heard between the houses, were built on
many hundreds of years of tradition.
Before Betazed became a member of the Federation, like Betazoid weddings, all participants in a reconciliation forum were naked. However, after joining the Federation, “off-worlders” involved in forums were often uncomfortable with this practice, so the tradition was changed such that all participants wore gowns, similar to Terran Kimonos. Military or Starfleet officers by convention were held in high respect by forums and were the exception to this rule, and were required to wear their uniforms.
Unlike the legal judicial institutions of other worlds such as Earth, a reconciliation forum did not base itself on an adversarial system. Rather, as an effect of the Betazoid Matriarchal society, compromise and reunion of parties is the ultimate focus of the presiding official known as an “adjudicator”.
The clothing (or former lack thereof) was not the only change to the traditions of reconciliation forums. Adjudicators used to have to be female, but that changed in the late 2200s, due to pressure from the Federation.
Keehani Ukinix admired the view from the top circular floor of the building. Her grandmother and exiled Ninth House matriarch Vaxa Ral sat quietly behind Keehani, and next to Hayley Ukinix. Keehani, sensing Hayley’s feeling of awkwardness, turned and patted the Terran on the shoulder.
Keehani: You OK?
Hayley: It’s this robe. ::Pulling robe tighter over chest:: It doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
Ral: ::Smiling to Keehani:: Humans. So much to hide.
Keehani: ::Winking:: You’re fortunate this wasn’t a hundred years ago, Hayley. There would be nothing left to imagine.
Just as Hayley was about to speak, the forum’s administrator, known as the “Keeper”, entered the circular room.
He approached the highest part of the large circular table.
Groixar: Mother is entering. Respect from all.
Keehani helped Vaxa to her feet. Hayley slowly stood from the table, consciously pulling at the bottom of her short robe.
Caanlon Zo, an employee of the Fourth House but assigned to handle the administrative affairs of the Ninth House, had been sent to represent the Betazoid Houses that were opposing Ral’s petition. He stood and raised his chin slightly as he observed the three women. The youngest one had an air of confidence about her, and eyed him in a poor attempt at intimidation. He returned her stare with a smug smile before he observed the elder women. Vaxa Ral, who was standing with the assistance of a walking stick, looked much older and an unwell than the holo-photos he had of her on file.
And then there was the human, “Hayley Ukinix”. The members of the other houses he had liaised with were already slightly aghast that there was suddenly a young Ukinix woman upsetting the houses with the actions brought against them by Keehani. Having another Ukinix, a Terran Ukinix to represent the exiled Ninth House matriarch would cause tongues to wag inside and outside of the houses, and that simply wouldn’t do.
A victory for Vaxa Ral also improved her chances of regaining control of the Ninth House. To some of the other houses, having a member of the old Ukinix family once again in charge of a house was unthinkable.
Leestra Draise, Mother assigned for the case entered the circular room. The tall, willowy woman was clad in a sliver-grey robe. Short white hair spilled over part of her forehead and contrasted with her midnight eyes. Her ancestry was common, but her bearing and countenance were equal to any in the room. Some of the flowering plants moved their blossoms towards her as she approached her seat at the table. She made a quick appraisal of the room before speaking.
Draise: ::spreading her arms and bowing her head :: Greetings, children. I am Mother Draise. We are here by the request of Vaxa Ral, to hear her petition. And to bring harmony, of course.
She motioned for them to sit as she continued, voluminous sleeves swaying with the motion.
Draise: All official communication is to be verbal. Anything not spoken aloud is dismissed. Debate is encouraged, but the goal is resolution, not discord. Truth is an absolute. Anyone being false will be severely penalized. ::Turning her head:: Keeper, Reflector...Let’s begin.
The role of the reflector was to gauge any emotional inconsistencies from any member of a party participating in a forum, and report those to the adjudicator. They were usually naturally talented and strong empaths, although in short cases like these, they were not usually called upon.
Draise lowered herself into her chair, slipping one ankle behind the other and glancing over the small screen in front of her.
Draise: Vaxa Ral, let’s hear your petition.
Ral: Mother, I apologize for not being able to stand, I suffer from a rare neurological disease as a result of empathic synaesthesia and cannot stand for
long periods. Which is ::deep breath:: why I bring this petition before you, Mother, for your consideration. ::Exhaling:: I have the early signs of dementia. As you are likely aware from our submitted brief, I hold the title of Matriarch of the Ninth house.
My sisters have long since passed, and my only surviving sibling, my brother Astradem, was stripped of his title decades ago. I request that Mother sees fit to allow my brother’s wife, Hayley Ukinix, to act as an Advocate for me in future matters regarding
my nobility, given my health issues. She is the most eligible remaining relative who can act in that capacity.
As Keehani kept her eyes on Mother, a proud smile appeared on her face. Sometimes she had forgotten that Vaxa was a matriarch in exile. Hearing her speak so eloquently, like a noble, made her proud.
Draise: And is this Child here?
Vaxa bowed affirmation towards Mother.
Draise: Very well.
As instructed prior to the forum, Hayley stood up to present herself to satisfy convention, nervously tugging at the bottom of her robe.
Hayley: I am Hayley Ukinix.
Leestra arched an eyebrow of curiosity at this.
Draise: You’re not of Betazed?
Draise: ::Her voice lifted a bit in volume:: A Terran? Representing the interests of a House of Betazed?
Hayley: Yes mother, I am human. I am married to Astradem Ukinix.
Draise: I see. Thank you
Hayley bowed her head, and took her seat.
Draise: Does anyone object to this arrangement!
Caanlon Zo stood slowly, keeping his hands placed on the table in front of him.
Zo: Mother, yes, there are some on Betazed who respectfully oppose the Ral party’s petition.
Draise: State your name and relevances to the House.
Zo: I am Caanlon Zo, and I speak in an official capacity for the Ninth house, the House of Agriculture - formerly the House of Wealth. I have been appointed on behalf of several other of the houses of Nobility to administer the affairs of the Ninth House. Mother, as is required, I disclose that I am an employee of the Fourth House.
Draise: Very well. Let’s hear your oppositions.
Zo: Mother, the Betazoid houses of nobility have rules and conventions that have been in place for centuries. We are proud of our membership of the federation - ::sideways glance at Keehani:: - unlike some younger citizens of Betazed - ::looks back at mother:: but Federation jurisdiction respects the laws and traditional cultures of member systems. Betazoid noble law requires that any sibling appointed to represent the affairs of a noble as an Advocate must be Betazoid, and of noble heritage, whether by blood, by marriage, or by adoption. Hayley Ukinix does not meet the first criteria, and she married Astradem Ukinix after his title was removed.
Draise: Caanlon Zo, I will consider your opposition. But I do not appreciate your digs towards the young lady.
Zo: ::Bowing head.:: My apologies, Mother.
Caanlon took his seat.
Draise: Does anyone have anything to add?
Keehani: Yes, Mother, if I may, I’d like to present an argument for your consideration.
Draise: Very well. Name and relevances first.
Keehani took in a deep breath, before standing. She looked at the PADD in front of her that had the notes given to her by law students she had enlisted from the University of Betazed. She took a moment to read over them, before she nervously spoke.
Keehani: Mother, I am announced Keehani Ukinix, granddaughter of ::gesturing:: Vaxa Ral - formerly Vaxa Ukinix. I am a student at the University of Betazed, studying exopolitics.
Draise: ::looking intently at the young woman:: Go on.
Keehani nodded, looked down at her PADD again, before speaking.
Keehani: Mother, the law that the ::gesturing toward Caanlon:: noble houses present in regards to Advocacy is centuries old, and is outdated. Section 44, part 1 of the Betazoid Nobility Charter states that ::reading from PADD:: “any Betazoid siblings, either by blood, by marriage, or by adoption, of a Betazoid House noble, who is not a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power,” ::looking up from PADD:: is eligible to act as an Advocate for a head of House. It was written long before Betazed’s membership of the Federation. If this forum were held pre-membership, ::looking at Cannlon:: yes, the opposing party would be correct. However, ::looking back at Draise:: Betazoid is part of the Federation, in fact as we all know our centenary of membership is approaching. Hayley Ukinix is a citizen of the Federation, and therefore cannot be considered a “subject or citizen of a foreign power.” Parts 4 and 5 state that in the case of non-noble siblings, such as in the case of a stripped title, preference must be given to ::gesturing to Hayley:: a female sibling.
Draise: Now tell me what you’d rather I didn’t know.
Keehani: ::nervously:: The heart of the problem with Section 44 part 1 is the conflict between the words “Betazoid” and “citizen”. A Betazoid citizen is a Federation citizen. We believe that a modern interpretation of Section 44 part 1 would make Hayley Ukinix, a Federation citizen, eligible to act as an advocate for Vaxa Ral.
Draise: You may be seated.
Keehani: Yes, Mother.
Draise: Vaxa Ral, I order that Hayley Ukinix represent your affairs. However, that means come what may, my decisions will remain final. Do you understand?
A weary Vaxa Ral slowly stood, resting her hands on the curved table in front of her. With the most neutral of expressions, she respectfully bowed her head.
Ral: Yes, Mother.
As he took her seat again, Caanlon Zo took to his feet.
Zo: Mother, if I may politely interject. With all due respect, with this decision a precedent has been set that may allow non-noble blood to gain control by proxy of a House of Betazed. The Houses, Mother, which are the very foundation of Betazoid society and culture. As the current administrator of the affairs of the Ninth House, I must ask Mother to reconsider this decision. Vaxa Ral is matriarch by title only-
Draise: I have spoken. Now, no contact between the two parties until this matter is resolved. The Keeper will inform you of when to return. Go in harmony, children.
Everyone in the forum, including the few people in the gallery, stood as a sign of respect to the adjudicator.
Once Leestra Draise had left the room, with the reflector and keeper following behind her, Vaxa sat down. Keehani, wrapped her arms around her grandmother.
Hayley: Does that mean we’ve won?
As Keehani extended her hug to include an unsuspecting and very surprised Hayley, Caanlon Zo made his way over from his table to the Ukinix family.
Zo: ::Bowing head:: Congratulations. ::To Hayley, quietly:: You have become an advocate of a matriarch with no house.
Before an angry Keehani could respond, Vaxa placed her hand over Keehani’s mouth as Caanlon lifted his chin and walked away. Hayley, however, did the work
for Keehani and spoke loudly enough so that he could hear her.
Hayley: That guy is such a w!@$#r.
Caanlon stopped, blinked his eyes a few times, before furrowing his brow and looking over his shoulder. He may not have understood the insult, but he sensed the intent from the Terran. He allowed a smug smirk to appear on his face before he walked away.
Keehani placed a big kiss on Vaxa’s cheek, before wrapping her arms around her again.
Keehani: Now we can fight for the Ninth House again, Grandmother.
Ral: ::Patting Keehani’s arm:: Yes, teardrop.
Keehani looked at Hayley, and held her hand.
Keehani: Thank you for coming to Betazed, Hayley. How does it feel to be an Advocate for a noble?
Hayley: …I’m not sure what that means yet.
Ral: ::Nodding:: The… whatever you called him, is right. I effectively have no house. But if I become increasingly unwell, and my mind deteriorates further...
She placed her hand on Hayley’s shoulder, and swallowed.
Ral: At least any claim Keehani and I attempt to make to regain the Ninth House cannot be challenged. Someone can speak for me.
Her sister-in-law offered a small smile.
Hayley: ::To Keehani:: The water and nutrient containment prototype tech that Astrad “took” before he left Betazed for Earth, we’ve been told it’s possible that our vineyard could eventually be taken from us as compensation by the administrators of the Ninth House. If so, this is my fight as much as is yours.
Keehani: Tomorrow, we lodge our petition to stop the dissolution of the Ninth House, and allow grandmother to regain control. It will be many, many months before our petition is heard. But after today they will not be allowed to dissolve the house any time soon.
Vaxa pushed her chair back and slowly began to stand. Keehani and Hayley both grabbed one of her arms and helped her to her feet.
Ral: ::To Hayley:: I've lost everything that I should have had. ::Patting Hayley’s arm:: Keehani and I will try our hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen
Smiling, she quoted Hayley from their visit to the site of the Ninth House ruins the day before.
Ral: Us matriarchs have to stick together, remember?
Leestra Draise, Adjudicator, Betazoid Primary Reconciliation Forum
Enas Groixar, Keeper, Betazoid Primary Reconciliation Forum
As simmed by
Lieutenant JG Ghant Xerix
Vaxa Ral, Matrarich (in exile) of the Ninth House of Betazed
Keehani Ukinix, Exopolitics Student, University of Betazed, Medara campus
Hayley Ukinix, Viticulturist, Terra Tanunda Vineyards, Earth
As simmed by
Assistant Chief Engineer