Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead
Task Force Vanguard
To Triumph and Not to Mourn
by Michael D. Garcia & A. J. Gertner
"In private, grief with careless scorn. In public, seem to triumph and not to mourn."
-- John C. Granville
It was raining, the last thrashing of a storm which had soaked the coast for two days. Everyone walking about the city was hurrying in the same way; head down to avoid the puddles and not dallying in the streets. She was just another person trying to avoid the weather while going about her business. Neither her heavy cloak nor her boots nor any other piece of clothing betrayed her station. For all anyone could tell by a glance, she was just another employee on her way to her job.
She ducked into the communications center, quickly pushing back her hood to shake off the water in the entryway and made her way over to a free terminal. The center wasn’t yet crowded since it was so early in the day. She chose a screen further in the back, one less likely to be glanced at by a neighbor, even though she had no intention of recording her message where someone could overhear it. She removed an isolinear dataslip from her pocket and inserted it, uploading the recording she had made in the privacy of her own quarters at the family home. Despite her purposeful movements, she hesitated once the transmission was ready to send. Her finger stilled over the button as her doubts came once again to the surface.
If she did this, there was no turning back. There would be no forgiveness if she was caught. Even thinking about sending the message was not just treason, it was a violation of everything she had been taught to believe. Everything she still believed. Their greatest strengths were their honor and their loyalty, their unity in the face of enemies from without and within. Could she really betray that?
She looked away from the screen and towards the entranceway. She could easily walk away right now. As of this moment, the only proof that she had done something wrong was in her own hands. She could simply wipe the chip and no one would be the wiser. She hadn’t even told her cousin about the exact nature of the plan. There could... no, there had to be another way. There was no need to turn to outsiders and no need to betray her most deeply held values.
Just then, a man entered the center as she watched the doorway with a small child of about five or six by his side. The man's attention fully upon the rain, he pulled the child further away from the doorway with gentle command, pointing out how the water was nearly entering the shop itself. It took only moments for the child to grow more curious about the place they had entered then the power of the storm and she saw that the child was a little boy when he turned his face toward her. He was plain-looking but still retained the adorable nature of the very young, with bright brown eyes and shining black hair. Before she knew it, she found herself returning his own shy smile.
In looking at him, she felt her resolve strengthen. There was no other way. The family was barely a generation removed from the last time they had been “honored.” When her uncle’s oldest son made a rare trip to visit the family, her elders always whispered that nothing remained of the young man who had left them years ago. Their efforts to protect him had failed, as much due to those who really did see his conscription as an honor as the ineffectiveness of the plan to hide him among the family’s vast estates. He was humorless now, a man who spoke only of his religious devotion and his duty to the state. Everything that had made him an individual was gone. The cousin who had gladly entertained her as a child with fantastical stories could barely carry on a conversation about his own siblings. They didn’t even know much about his own children beyond their names and the name of their mother. He had never even seen fit to introduce them to the family of his birth.
There were two boys whose own smiles would be threatened by the “honor” which awaited them scant months from now. Two boys whose futures were in her hands, even if they did not know it themselves. Her expression faded as she turned back to the terminal. She had to protect her family from the enemies within and without. She was upholding her most sacred oaths, taken as she became an adult. Honor did not forbid this course of action, rather it demanded she save her family. These boys deserved nothing less than her best efforts at freeing them from a future without laughter.
Decision made, she sent the message without any further delay. Once the transmission was confirmed, she erased any record of the message on the chip itself, then pocketed it once again. Despite the pounding of the storm, she pulled up her hood over her own black mane and paused at the threshold to give the little boy a smile, one whose mere presence had given her the courage to save her own family. When she ventured into the rain once more, her steps rang confidently on the well-watered streets.
There were many travel arrangements to be made if she was to be at the rendezvous at the right time.