III. Freedom Fighters
"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Cigarette smoke gently wafted up from behind Linga's desk as he stared at the man tied up in the chair in front of him, a non-threatening expression adorned with a faint smile painted on his face.
"Whose freedom fighter are you?" laughed his prisoner, fear evident in his voice.
"Every man, woman, and child on this planet who gives a damn about governing their lives and destinies," he paused for a second, noticing that his audience wasn't meeting his gaze "their hopes and dreams!"
"Their hopes and dreams?" the man recoiled in fear, "You honestly expect me to believe this is anything other than a grab for power and personal gain? You're nobody's freedom fighter."
"I disagree." Linga took a long drag from his cigarette and gently flicked the ashes off to the side, "You see, your ability to berate me is one of the things that I'm fighting to protect. The thing you need to understand is that we are not... can not... be terrorists because terror is not our aim. We don't seek to kill innocents or cause hysteria, and we don't engage any target that is not military in nature."
"Says the armed rebel to the hostage in his office!" the man snorted indignantly, struggling against his bonds.
"You are here because you are a danger to my compatriots." Linga pulled on his cigarette down to the filter, "You are bound because it doesn't take a Xenomechanical Scientist to figure that you would try to escape if you weren't... am I wrong?"
"Of course not," the man admitted sheepishly, failing to make eye contact.
"Exactly." Linga extinguished his cigarette carelessly on the desk and leaned back, his feet on the table, "And have we tortured you here? We've provided you with living conditions on par with our own, and we haven't harmed you in any way."
The man looked at him in silence, fuming.
"You see?" Linga laughed as he crossed his bare arms and set them across the front of his vest, "We're not monsters, we just want the ability to control our own destiny... God forbid Kretzaugh should lose any of it's pomp and circumstance by not having control of the entire system."
"We can't be ruled by men on ivory towers from a world away," Linga rose from his seat to punctuate his speech, tossing his long, greasy brown hair over his shoulder as he began to walk around the room,"You see, in theory, being a vassal state to Kretzaugh isn't even that bad... but we've proven that they don't have the power to protect us, and more importantly, that they don't give a damn about our well being. Arliss has the resources and the knowledge to be self sufficient in it's own right... sure, we may not have a voice in galactic politics, but we are not the galaxy, and this does not concern us."
"You keep talking about wanting representation," the man looked over his shoulder at Linga, "Yet you really don't care that the people of this planet won't have a voice on the Galactic Council?"
"At the cost of having control of our own planet?" Linga laughed as he came to a stop behind the man and put his hands on his shoulders, startling him. "You don't even realize how twisted your logic is. This cause is more important to us than any sort of imaginary power structure."
"Imaginary?" the man shook his head, "The GC controls the fate of every race, both Terran and Extraterrestrial, in the galaxy. They do and have done so for centuries."
"Do they?" Linga strolled back to his desk, his hands clasped behind his back, "Then where are they now?"
Stunned silence filled the room, and the man glared at Linga, his cognitive wheels clearly turning in overdrive. Before he had a chance to respond, however, an explosion erupted in the distance, and was followed shortly by the sound of frantic shouting and small arms fire. Linga grabbed the tarnished, dark olive bullpup from behind his desk, performing a quick functions check while ensuring he had adequate ammunition. Two guards immediately burst through the wooden door, similarly armed and clothed.
"We've made contact, sir," spat one of the men in a gruff voice.
"So I hear," Linga nodded in response "Take the prisoner to a secure location."
"Right away sir," the man moved forward to perform his task as he spoke.
"In time," Linga slung his weapon haphazardly over his shoulder, pointing towards the ceiling, "I think you might see things our way. We're not trying to topple your little empire, we just want to be free."
"I want to thank you again for agreeing to meet with me this morning, sir," Adrian shifted uncomfortably in his seat, staring Brigadier Armentrout in the face as he sat up completely rigid in his seat.
"Of course," Armentrout's gaze bore straight ahead "I don't have anything planned until this afternoon, but don't let that lead you to believe that I have all morning to waste."
"Yes, sir," Adrian nodded as he set his polyglot on his knee and dictated as he spoke. "Well, I suppose the first thing I'd like to ask..."
As trouble continues to brew in the Kasvanaugh system, some have begun questioning the stability of the region. The Grand Marquis issued a statement this morning that a cruiser and Brigade of Marines is being dispatched to sector 03-1, moored in the nearby Kaskal system, to support the local government, should things take a turn for the worst.
Brigadier Hammond Armentrout, the commander of the unit being deployed, stated that there had been no orders issued from any higher command with regards to engage any sort of enemy force. Armentrout also stated that his force was in Engagement Code Green, and he highlighted that it was very probable that there would be no hostile action of any sort.
Critics of what has been called a low-threat potential police action have accused the Grand Marquis of taking advantage of the situation and making a power play for a Velgar rich planet whose location might prove strategic in galactic trade and politics. The Grand Marquis, however, maintains that he is content with maintaining a relationship with Kasvanaugh's government conducive to peace and intergovernmental cooperation.
Armentrout has also pointed out that his detail includes a small contingent of aid workers whose primary mission was to help clean up things in the region regardless of weather military action came into play.
"Strike that next paragraph. Corporal Glass should knew better than to release something that tactically sensitive in an article... even if the Brigade Commander did release it to him."
"Yes sir," the Staff Sergeant editing the article nodded without looking up.
"Uhmm..." the Lieutenant who was dictating the contents of the article held out his hand and cocked his head, urging him to stop. "Read that to me before you delete it."
Armentrout's key concern, should violence erupt, is the lack of surprise. The political implications surrounding Marquetta's involvement have compromised the task force's ability to strike without having their every move anticipated by enemy forces. 'I wish there were another way around,' says Armentrout 'If we have to go in like this, the loss of life on both sides could border on attrition. If that ends up being the case, we then have to worry about having the personnel to occupy the planet. This could be a real mess.'
"Hmm..." the Lieutenant leaned forward looking at his Polyglot "Alright. I think I'm satisfied content-wise... please use. Go ahead and clean up the spelling and punctuation and send it up."
"Roger that, sir."
The Lieutenant rose and left the room, barely taking his eyes off the small viewscreen in his hand. He thought carefully as he walked down to a red door at the end of the hallway. He rapped gently on the door and waited a couple of seconds.
"Major Barta, sir? Lieutenant Ricker." his hands instictively clasped behind his back.
"What?" the voice was deep and booming.
"I just finished reading Corporal Glass' first report." he paused briefly "It was satisfactory, but I noticed a few 303 flags."
"Seriously?" the voice sounded irritated, but not angry "Come in."
The door wooshed open and Ricker jerked forward as he moved swiftly into the office. Major Barta, the Executive Officer of the 703rd Journalism Battalion, was a large, square jawed man that one would not expect to see behind a desk pushing paper professionally.
"First Sergeant said Glass was prepared for this task." Barta clasped his hands together and let out a sigh "What the hell is this?"
"Well, in Corporal Glass' defense, sir," Ricker handed his Polyglot to his XO, who took it willingly "We've got one on a senior officer as well, sir."
"Crap." Barta rubbed his eyes and shook his head. "Sit down. Let's go over it."
"It's probably nothing, sir..." a guilty, sheepish tone crept into Ricker's voice as he sat down, "I just thought you should know"
"You can never be too careful, Lieutenant." Barta shook his head and all at once became gravely earnest. "Patriotism is the fuel that keeps the war machine turning."
19 July, 2009