“OUR PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED THESE PAST FIVE TURNS. WE HAVE WATCHED OUR FELLOW MEN DIE IN OUR STREETS. THESE SHAMELESS LOSSES TO THE PROBLEMS OF OUR WORLD BELONG IN THE PAST. WE HAVE WATCHED OUR LANDS DRY—OUR JAWI ROOTS, GRAINS, AND BERRIES—WITHER IN OUR FIELDS. WE ARE A PROUD PEOPLE—INTELLIGENT AND HARDWORKING, CURIOUS AND PROSPEROUS—WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO LOSE OUR CHILDREN, THE FUTURE INVENTORS AND LEADERS, TO THIS DREADFUL DROUGHT. OUR PEOPLE DESERVE BETTER AND THE SOLUTION TO THESE PROBLEMS SEEMS CLEAR.
WE CANNOT BE FREE UNTIL ALL HAVE FOOD IN THEIR BELLIES, HEAT FOR THEIR HOMES, AND CARE FOR THEIR LOVED ONES. OUR PEOPLE CANNOT BE MADE FREE UNTIL ALL LIVE IN THIS HARMONY. WE, THE PEOPLE OF ANABAR, WILL DO THIS TOGETHER. WE HAVE THE INVENTIONS IN OUR POSSESSION TO END THIS DISASTER. THE WINDS OF PROGRESS HAVE BEEN SLOWED BY THE TURN OF THOSE WHO HAVE CALLED US RADICALS. TODAY, I SAY THEY ARE THE RADICALS. WE WANT TO FEED THE CHILDREN AND PRESERVE THEIR HEALTH. THEY WOULD HAVE US DIE FOR THE WORDS OF THE GODS IN THE HEAVENS INSTEAD OF SERVING THEIR PEOPLE. WE CANNOT ALLOW FOR THIS TO CONTINUE MY FRIENDS.
TODAY, I AM DIRECTING OUR RESOURCES TO THE WEATHER CONTROL SATELLITES THAT WILL BRING RAIN BACK TO OUR LANDS. I AM USING THE RESOURCES OF THIS OFFICE YOU BESTOWED UPON ME TO FUND A CLEANSING OF OUR OCEANS AND OUR AIR TO MAKE SURE OUR HEALTH IS FREE FOR ALL. WE MUST STRIKE AT THE HEART OF OUR ENEMY: THE FEAR IN THE FACE OF THIS DIFFICULTY; THE TRUE SHACKLES.
OUR WORLD WILL NOT CHANGE ITS PLANS FOR SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY TO MAKE ROOM FOR THIS UNDERTAKING. WE WILL NOT TRADE ONE WITHERING CROP FOR ANOTHER. WE WILL PRESERVE THE PROGRESS WE HAVE MADE TOGETHER. THE TRANS-LIGHT ENGINE WILL NOT BE SACRIFICED FOR THIS PROJECT. THIS I PLEDGE TO YOU TODAY. WE WILL EXTEND OUR HANDS FURTHER THAN WE CAN GRASP AT THIS MOMENT. THAT IS OUR PURPOSE. THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE. THAT CANNOT BE COMPROMISED.
MAY THE GODS OF THE HEAVENS CONTINUE TO BLESS US. MAY THEY GUIDE OUR PATH INTO THIS BRIGHT FUTURE.”
Paragon is beautiful this time of year. Many capitals throughout the Northern provinces pale in its majesty, especially now, when the seeds have turned to buds, and the grand trees lining the streets come alive after the last thaw. I have never, not in my 25 turns, been more proud to call my home in the capital then when the visitors from the other provinces start showing more often after the great thaw. The buildings stretch to the sky like a hand reaching for the gods. I have never seen the heavens myself. The aircrafts could take me away from this city, but why would I want to leave? Here is where the Social Science Academy is located, the best school on all of Anabar.
“Ya’Hale? Daydreaming again? We’re going to be late.”
“Language is the root of all civilization--” began my lecturer Ghab’anu, a dark, stoutly man who’s final bits of graying hair clung on his rigid head, matted down by hair product. His webbed fingers tightened as the voice of Yosh’inra echoed beyond the seat next to me.
Today is the first day of class at the Academy and simultaneously my first at the institute. My friend Yosh’inra signed up for all the same instruction periods. His family dates back to this city before mine. His family has been here for 9 whole sections. His father was an instructor at the academy 20 turns ago.
“But, sir, aren’t laws the root of civilization, why it doesn’t break down?”
“Yes, but how are laws enacted? By the use of language, shared and understood by all who read or hear them.”
“That’s like saying I am nothing but what I eat. Without a use for the language, language would cease to exist.”
“It would still exist. It would cease to be used. The berries of our harvests would still be here, even if they did not serve the purpose of being nutrients for superior beings like us.”
“But societies are older than the first written languages.”
“True, but keeping uniform standards allow them to flourish and maintain order.”
Yosh’inra felt my hand go across his. On his first day he was about to be kicked out of the Academy. He tempered himself after starting another response.
“What is your title, sir?”
“It seems you need a lesson in the laws of this room, Sir Yosh’inra.”
“Sometimes laws have to be broken,” he managed to get out before he was told to leave the room. I was alone for the rest of the day. For someone who has grown up around lecturers his entire life, you would think he’d know how this school can be. It is not an easy process to become a student. Only the best are allowed in Paragon’s Academy.
“Your friend is not wrong. He shouldn’t have confronted the instructor. Save it for your first assignment, I would tell him. Laws are the foundation of the compact we make with each other. When law breaks down, we all suffer. Anarchy.”
“But wouldn’t it be better if everyone was nice because they were free to do it?”
“Perhaps. But I would rather not trust that every man has the decency not to become a monster. A monster resides within us all.”
“I love our talks, father. You are wise and bring me much clarity.”
“Ya’Hale, you will one day be freed from my house. When that day comes, I need for you to be prepared for the new world the First Counsel is proposing. We could be living in a very dangerous time, much uncertainty in all these changes. Do not fear them, embrace the change. I will not be here to protect you. You will be free to make choices and to even fail from time to time. That is the nature of this world. You cannot soar until you have fallen.”
“Father, that day is long away. I cannot afford to live off your property. I must live with you. And, I need more wisdom.”
“I know you will be ready. You are a bright, intelligent girl. You make for father very happy.”
“JOIN US TOMORROW TO PROTECT US FROM THE GODS IN THE HEAVENS. TELL CHIEF COUNSEL U’NIA THAT WE WILL NOT TOLERATE HIS DISOBEDIENCE IN OUR NAME.”
“What is meant by this?” I asked the man holding the flier outside of the main building on campus.
“We believe that the weather satellites, you do know about them?”
“Good. The gods in the heavens control the weather. We have dissatisfied them in some way. That is the cause of the famine. Why would we try to control that which is uncontrollable?”
“It frees us from famine and death, why wouldn’t we do it?”
“It is not the way of the gods in the heavens. They have blessed us with life. How can we turn our back on them now?”
I walked home looking to the heavens, the hands the buildings reaching for the sky. I thanked them I didn’t have to wonder where my next Jawi root soup would come from. Father would provide from the local farmer who used irrigation from Paragon’s main river to create his crop. The Northern Provinces had been spared this famine. It was the Eastern Province where the satellites were needed, but the Counsel proposed them for all of Anabar.
Stories of uprisings in the Western Provinces filled the morning news report. It seems my flier is not the only place where we can see this backlash to the First Counsel’s words. The man on the broadcast had deeply disturbed me. The government had already put the weather satellites in place. It was just a matter of time before we had control of the weather. I began to tremble.
“Our government no longer represents us. They have abandoned the gods in the heavens. We must throw off the shackles of the evil they represent. This is a threat to our spiritual well-being.” The broadcast cried.
“It is a threat to the lives on the Eastern Province. Father are you watching this?” I shuttered.
“No, and you are late as usual. Please get to class.”
At the school at demonstration had broken out. They were blocking all the entrances; I couldn’t get to my instruction.
“This is not our power. This is the gods power—the power of rain and water!!!”
“Yeah!” the crowd responded.
“We cannot be led to this destruction. We must protect the essence of our people! We are mighty and luminescent beings! Our way of life is in peril! This is not the solution to this problem of the famine! Only the gods in the heavens can provide that! Freedom from spiritual tyranny!”
Law enforcers came down the embankment to where the demonstrators were located. Many of the protesters gathered rocks and sticks to fight off the dispersal force.
“We are on the side of the gods in the heavens! You will not dissuade us from our cause! We are just!”
Those were the last words I heard before a loud series of bangs and I fell to the ground in agony. Flat on my back, I looked to the heavens and saw the buildings reaching to touch the sky. I saw clouds of rain and even the sun from behind those clouds. I saw the buds on the trees and the fly-wings against the heavens. I saw it only for a brief moment, and then everything stopped, went dark.
“Beam them out of there now, Mr. O’Brien!” The captain of the Enterprise bellowed, filled with anxiety for his crewman and shipmates.
“We’ve got them, Sir. But three of the landing party are injured.” O’Brien said a moment later over the com-link.
“Mr. Data, you have the bridge, Counselor Troi.” The Captain wisked his way to the turbolift and Troi followed behind him.
“What sort of damage do you think we could’ve caused their society?”
“It’s difficult to say. These people, from the reports, do not seem ready for first contact. If they saw the transporter beam, I doubt they will be able to believe it was visitors from another planet.”
A moment later the turbolift stopped and they headed towards sick bay.
William T. Riker emerged from the turbolift near the Captain’s Ready Room and nodded to Commander Data to keep the center chair. Holding a PADD in his left hand, he approached the Captain’s doorway and stepped inside.
“Number one, please sit down. I assume that’s your report.”
“It’s all there for Starfleet, Captain. Of the 16 people we had on the planet, and the four at the site of the protest, only 14 returned, two were lost in the riot.” He turned away painfully, shifting in his chair, and calmly continuing. “We had no time to assess the situation. It was a flash-mob. Posing as students in Paragon were the last task of Lieutenant Reed and Lieutenant Hawkins. I’ve recommended them both for Starfleet’s highest commendations.”
“Continue.” Looking down at the PADD, Picard realized his first officer was visibly upset. “Speak freely, Commander.”
“I’m sorry, sir. It’s just that I warned Starfleet after we received the profile on this world that we were not going to be able to make first contact. That their society had not been united and there was this ancient religion, an orthodoxy, which threatened the warp engine.”
“I made the same overtures at your request.”
“Captain, those Admirals aren’t out here, we are. This was an incredibly dangerous mission that didn’t have to come with a body count. It seems we are being led by some very pompous and arrogant people, Sir.”
Picard half-smiled, and returned to his seat behind his desk.” I will include your opinion in my report to Starfleet…personally. That will be all, Commander.”
Six months past before Picard was awakened in his quarters at the early time of 0457.
“Captain, we’ve received a message from Starfleet command, priority two.”
“In my quarters, Lieutenant.”
“Jean-Luc, considering the people lost on this mission, I thought you would like to know Starfleet’s response to your report. We have continued to monitor the Anabars and have a full situation report. I am sending a copy to you with this transmission. Starfleet out.”
Picard looked at the monitor and tapped the control panel, sending the report to his desk. Grabbing a cup of tea he sat down to read why two of his crew members had died in a flash mob.
STARDATE: 44561.1—CIVIL WAR HAS BROKEN OUT ON ANABAR. MOST MAJOR CITIES HAVE BEEN DESTROYED. THE UNIVERSITY IN PARAGON IS RUINS. TWO INDEPENDENT STATES HAVE FORMED—THE RELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT MOVEMENT AND THE ANABAR LIBERATION GOVERNMENT. THE ANABARS ARE UNABLE TO USE THEIR WEATHER SATELLITES; THE TECHNOLOGY WAS NOT PERFECTED BEFORE THEY WERE LAUNCHED INTO SPACE. THE ENTIRE FIRST COUNCIL WAS EXECUTED AS ENEMIES OF THE STATE FOR THEIR HERESY. THE RELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT MOVEMENT, THE FORMAL NAME OF THE UPRISING, HAS PUT A HALT TO PRODUCTION OF THE WARP-3 ENGINE. THE FAMINE HAS SUBSIDED ON THE EASTERN CONTINENT. THE ANABARS ARE NOT READY FOR FIRST CONTACT AND IT IS PROJECTED ANOTHER GENERATION WILL WILL NEED TO PASS BEFORE ANY REEVALUATION.
Picard sat back in his chair, let out a sigh, and put both hands over his face. “God forbid we ever meet them in space.”