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Insider Information

Posted on Tue Jun 2nd, 2020 @ 10:33am by Lieutenant P’rel M.D

Mission: In the Family
Location: Paratus IV, Capital City.
Timeline: One hour prior to “Negotiation”
1500 words - 3 OF Standard Post Measure

The crowd of Paratan men lout out another affirmative roar. The obese orator standing at the makeshift podium, at the head of the crowded filthy room clearly had the attention of the raucous mob before him; pontificating on soldiering and resistance though clearly without having done more than a few minutes of physical activity in his life.

“And so I say...” he boomed into the dimly lit room, dirty containers of a putrid looking substance lined what was obviously a storage room of some kind. “...that we can not tolerate this threat....any longer!”.

P’rel glanced briefly from side to side, the edges of her vision increasingly blurred to where the faces of those further from her were simply a moving, audible, blur. P’rel stood beside Essan, in every way the opposite of the bellicose speaker; scrawny, meek and with a dangerous possession of acute survivability in his dark eyes. Essan nodded as the speaker continued “...the mighty Federation would seek to rob us of our justice! Seek to neuter our struggle and forgive the abominations of our history”!. With every sound bite, the bustling crowd of me cheered an agreement. Not Essan however, he stood silently nodding and all the while thinking how very true these words were. The Federation were arriving as great saviours, to admit Parata into their precious unified family of peace and love. Pathetic, he thought. The Federation would require equality between the genders; that’s not what he nor many others wanted. Justice, was their goal, not whitewashing history and walking merrily on afterwards.

P’rel’s glance mirrored Essan’s, as both looked up to a holographic display now hovering above the orator. “And see how it has begun my friends!” The voice boomed now; “see how the Navy of the Federation, their mighty Starfleet, has already begun to extinguish our suffering!”. Essan looked in disgust, as a cockpit view from one of the dissident’s small combat craft showed a giant, wedge shaped starship looming towards them. It broke into three small pieces, and began to dart around; the combination of the ships’ dancing and the rapidly moving cockpit camera permitted a small headache to creep in. P’rel held her temple briefly with the pain of the headache, but carried on watching as orange phaser fire, unmistakably Starfleet, flashed across the screen in several bright bursts before the footage abruptly ended.

The crowd had grown silent now, and rage bubbled up inside of Essan. “Murderers!” the meek young man called out, echoed by the others.

“Oh yes my friend...” the fat orator looked at him directly now, “murderers one and all brother. Shortly after this atrocity, where our unarmed patrol craft were brutally and callously burned in the sky....shortly after this, the Starfleet vessel...” he said, mockingly emphasising ‘Starfleet’, rained destruction upon the home of His Highness, The Great Duke!”. Gasps and growls of varying levels of shock and anger ripples across the crowd, Essan included. “The Federation speaks of peace! But they bring only our death! Only our continued subjugation! Only the injustice of equality!”.

P’rel and Essan looked around the room; many of the men had already drawn hand weapons from hip holsters, others were clenching fists as if preparing a rifle. “Brothers hear me, and hear me well!” the orator again bellowed from his makeshift podium, as he spoke, his voice slowly lowered in volume to draw in the rapt attention of the crowd. “Starfleet soldiers are this minute conspiring with the Queen. Their mighty starship, the Federation Battle Cruiser Athena, has opened a state of war against us, and we must fight back for our very survival.... In one hour my brothers, cells across the planet will rise up and attack key facilities! We will cripple the women’s iron grasp on us, and forever end our slavery!”

The crowd listened intently now. P’rel, whilst no real fan of Federation expansionism, was finding it difficult to believe the fat man’s tales. To anyone with a trained eye, there had clearly been some kind of manipulation of the cockpit feed. Though humbling through galaxy and often making a mess along the way, it simply wasn’t Federation or Starfleet policy to become militarily involved in the conflicts of others. The notion that the Athena had turned up to put down a rebellion to aid a membership application was, at best, highly unlikely. She had to consider however, it may not be beyond the realms of possibility.

This foul looking man who somehow had the crowd hanging on his every word continued; “brothers we are to take to the streets, here in the capital! We will flush the Starfleet soldiers from their den of sin and consort, and send their bodies back to the Federation, courtesy of the lives their battle cruiser took from us!”. P’rel felt a pang of worry, and allowed it to join her logical deductions. It was usual for pre-member worlds to show flashes of disunity and even aggressive debate during a membership process; the idea of federalising one’s identity was not palatable to everyone P’rel considered that kind of debate healthy. This was something else entirely however, and a dangerous escalation waiting to erupt. The idea of organised rebellion in itself was not new to her in this assignment, and she had made Starfleet Intelligence well aware of it, but this was the first time she had known the rebels to outright plot violent acts of sedition. Indeed, the diplomatic team who were doubtlessly unaware of the level of trouble brewing, were now specifically and directly under threat of execution.

“One hour my brothers!”. Boomed the fat man again as he began a concluding tone; “one hour and we take to the streets! Flush the soldiers into the open, and bring them to me alive! We will show the mighty Federation how we respond to their acts of war!” Even more so than previously, the crowd roared and cheered and chanted various words which the translator couldn’t even begin to identify. Essan brandished a short curved blade above his head and drew in breath to let out a roar of swollen anger and -

P’rel lost her footing as the ground thundered beneath her. None of the men in the room noticed a thing, all were entirely oblivious too, to the second concussive wave which bounced through the floor. P’rel held on to Essan, but he’d concentration was broken; the men faded away as P’rel was knocked onto her knees by a third blast, her hands slipping from Essan’s face and breaking the mind meld. In her neighbour Essan’s living room, she could see out of the window onto the streets below, see fires growing brighter and small explosions punctuating the morning sky. Essan lay on the floor of his small apartment, unconscious but otherwise well enough. Clearly it had been hour since the memory of the gathering had begun, and now the planet was erupting in civil war all around them. P’rel briefly chastised herself for not having been able to reconcile the age of the memory with the current time, and was annoyed that she should have anticipated the detonations of explosives. A moist, green and sore knee was the price she would pay for now, and hopefully would remain a low price if she could locate the diplomatic team before they walked into a trap.

Leaving Essan stirring with moans of a bad headache, P’rel quickly crossed the hallway and back to her own apartment. She couldn’t risk using the communications terminal, it was too likely that such a powerful signal would be spotted immediately by either the Paratan government forces or the rebels. Aware that one way or another she wasn’t coming back, P’rel took the starfleet phaser from the small of her back and fired at the red potted plant. In a journey of seconds it went from plant, to computer, to smoking hole in the floorboards and P’rel took one last glance in the mirror near her door, checked her Paratan prosthesis and civilian morning cloak were in order, and headed out into the city. She absently fingered for the subdermal communicator behind her ear and headed for the roof of her building. It would need to be a rapid run, but she was sure that she could reach the palace facility in short order. A distinct advantage in this case, was the Paratan architecture rooted in reptilian heritage; the buildings were placed close together to minimise heat loss and for her dense Vulcan musculature, the jumps between buildings were not difficult.

As she raced across the filthy flat rooftops, more explosions and weapons fire could be heard at varying distances from her. Survival now, was simply a matter of luck.

OFF: Now concurrent with the end of Negotiation.

Lieutenant P’rel
Intelligence Division
Starfleet Command.

 

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