“OUR PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED THESE PAST FIVE TURNS. WE HAVE WATCHED OUR LANDS DRY—OUR JAWI ROOTS, GRAINS, AND BERRIES—WITHER IN OUR FIELDS. WE HAVE WATCHED OUR FELLOW MEN DIE IN OUR STREETS. THESE SHAMELESS LOSSES TO THE PROBLEMS OF OUR WORLD BELONG IN THE PAST. WE ARE A PROUD PEOPLE—INTELLIGENT AND HARDWORKING, CURIOUS AND PROSPEROUS—WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO LOSE OUR CHILDREN, THE FUTURE INVENTORS AND LEADER OF THIS GREAT LAND, TO THIS DREADFUL DROUGHT. OUR PEOPLE DESERVE BETTER AND THE SOLUTION TO THESE PROBLEMS IS CLEAR.
WE CANNOT BE FREE UNTIL ALL HAVE FOOD IN THEIR BELLIES, HEAT FOR THEIR HOMES, AND CARE FOR THEIR LOVED ONES. 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, TURNED IN IRONS BY THOSE IN THE RULING BODIES, 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, PRESERVING THEIR ESSENCE.
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 TO FUND A CLEANSING OF OUR OCEANS AND OUR AIR TO ASSURE OUR PEOPLE REMAIN HEALTHY. 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 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. WE WILL BUILD ON THE PROGRESS OF TODAY, BETTERING OUR FUTURE. 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 the capital my home than when our spring light festival draws the visitors from all provinces this time of year. The buildings stretch to the sky like a hand reaching for the gods. I have never seen the heavens from above the clouds. 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. Here is where my father has made his home. This is a city others envy.
“Ya’Hale? Daydreaming again? We’re going to be late. ”
“Language is the root of all civilization--” began my lecturer, Sir Ghab’anu, a dark, stocky man whose 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 as if I say 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 us superior beings. The ability to learn language exists in early turns.”
“But societies are older than the first written languages.”
Ghab’anu’s tone sharpened as he said: “True, but keeping uniform standards allow them to flourish and maintain order.”
Yosh’inra started to become enraged, seeing this, he 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. My instruction does not come with commentary. I will allow time for questions at the end.”
“You’re conclusions are trite!” 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.
I often wondered about why he was so abrasive. He seemed to be talented and well-schooled, but he still wouldn’t let the smallest things pass him.
“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.”
My father remains my closest friend. He sees the world as it should be seen. I have learned much from him. This collaboration is only our latest.
“But wouldn’t it be better if everyone was pleasant because they were free to do it?” I thought I had him cornered. Papa loves to talk about the nature of people’s better instincts.
“Perhaps. But I would rather not trust that every man has the decency not to become a monster. A monster resides within us all. We would not need the gods in the heavens otherwise. Their laws are the ones we have to follow. We are merely vessels—we cannot kill the essence that lies within our marrow.”
“I love our talks, father. You are wise and bring me much clarity.”
“Ya’Hale I want to say something.” He face became sterner and he reached for my hands, turning towards me. Looking at me in the eye, he said, “One day, you will one day be freed from my house. When that day comes, you will need to rely upon your own wisdom. I cannot teach it all to you and one day I may not be here to guide you at all. That is the way of things. I want you to be prepared for the new world the First Counsel is proposing. We could be living in a very dangerous time, there’s much uncertainty in all these changes. Do not fear them; embrace the change, even if those around you do not. Yes, you will be free to make choices and even to even fail from time to time.”
He smiled at me with warmth and wisdom, released my hands and said “That is the nature of this world. You cannot soar unless you risk falling.”
“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.”
“Your father said what!?” Yosh’inra was exasperated.
“He said that you were not wrong, but you should not have confronted the lecturer.” I felt uneasy when he was this upset. He can be very pompous at times.
“I’m not the only one in the lecture hall. If he finds some impressionable, young mind that hasn’t thought for more than a day about our society, then they will say those things to someone else. What is the point of an education if you never use it or they teach you all the wrong things? He’s wrong and oversimplifying the entire reason behind civilization. The truth was at-stake, and unlike the gods in the heavens, we have actual proof that he is wrong. Farmers started civilization, no longer being nomads, and that is in my paper.” He continued pacing along the floor and clinching his fists as I sat watching him.
He was impassioned. There were times I thought about what it would be like with a man that passionate. Sometimes I wish we were more than friends. What it must feel like to have that much emotion at your command. I sometimes wish I could live my life, just a day, in his mind to experience the world as he does, the mind he has. Yet, we can’t do that, can we? We are independent from each other and always will be. This thought, an old one, always makes me feel lonely. Knowing him more intimately would not change this fact.
“Ya’Hale, are you listening? What else did you father say?”
“Nothing…well, nothing about you,” I lowered my head and I was sullen.
“What is it?”
“He says that I need to find my own wisdom. I think he just wants me out of the house. I’m not ready to be independent from him. With Mother’s passing, he needs me, too.”
“Haley, he’s not wrong about that,” my eyes became wide and my face reddened. How could he say that?
“What are you in school for?” he continued softly.
“To learn, to be learned.”
“Okay, and what will you do after you are learned?”
I started to feel like he was worse than my father. This obnoxious attitude was more than I could take.
“I don’t know.” I put my head down, and clasped my hands together.
“Then find out here. He has spent time and energy, money, and loved you all while he did it. The least we can do is be in a position where we don’t have to do that anymore, and maybe, one day sooner than you think, you can help him the way he helped you.”
He paused for a moment, sat down next to me.
“First Council U’Nia is right. We have to grasp, reach as far as we can. That way Paragon and Anabar will remain the jewels of their territories. Can you imagine what we’ll find out there with the trans-light engine?”
“We’ll probably find some moss on one of the outer worlds. Space moss.”
“I can’t imagine we are alone.” He said with wonderment in his voice.
“I think you should find it for them.” I whispered, my smile returning.
He smiled, tilted his head back “No! Not me! My feet our staying in Paragon, the same as yours.”
“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.”
On my way home from Yosh'inra's this is the notice handed out in front of the main entrance.
“What is meant by this?” I asked the man holding the flier outside of the main building on campus several weeks later.
“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? And the space flights. He’s leading us away from the love of the gods in the heavens.”
“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.
I met with counselor Inis’ra about what my father said. He was supposed to guide me towards a plan for the future. All he did was hand me a piece of paper and told me to write with I think.
“Ya’Hale, do it until you find yourself. And as the sacred texts tell us: ‘to know yourself, think for yourself.’”
I nodded in understanding, got up from my seat and gathered my things to head out on my journey of self-discovery, hopeful, I could find the way. I turned and thanked him for his time letting him know that I would let him know in the coming weeks how I was doing.
For three straight nights, I sat in my father’s house, in my room, looking at a blank sheet of paper. 25 turns and I cannot answer this basic question: What do I wish to do with my life? I would ask father for his advice, but I don’t think that’s what he wants me to do. It’s times like this I wished for my mother.
By night four, I was afraid, from the moment the heavens lightened until the end of my day, to go home and stare, once again, at that sheet of paper. After a half rotation, instead, I went to father.
As I approached him, I started tearing up. It was too much for me to take. I felt like an empty slate, unable to find the words or express what is within me, what I want for myself.
“Ya’Hale,” he said with concern, “what is wrong?”
“I have tried to learn father, to see what you want me to see. To be independent enough for my own property and—“
“You’re happiness, Ya’Hale. This is a struggle and one that you must learn to be happy. That’s all I want for you. This will come in time and experience. You will be ready, but you are not ready today. “
“I just wanted you to start your journey, not finish it before our next meal.” He chuckled. “Don’t grow up too fast. Come. Watch the broadcast with your father.”
Stories of uprisings in the Western Provinces filled the news report. It seems my flier is not the only place where we can see this backlash to the First Counsel’s words. 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.” A man on the broadcast stated.
“It is a threat to the lives on the Eastern Province.” I shuttered and thought of father’s words. Had this time of uncertainty led to the two deaths on the Eastern Province, as the news report stated?
“Father, what should we do?”
“As much as I like to think I am a member of this world, I doubt we will have to do anything. The satellites will go on as scheduled and First Counsel U’Nia will wrangle enough people to quiet this dissent. Not much to do; it is so far away.”
The next morning word came too late that a demonstration had broken out. They were blocking all the entrances; I couldn’t get to my instruction. I was stuck outside, waiting to get in.
“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. I tried to run, but Yosh’inra was hit with a rock as I watched from a distance! I tried to run towards him and when I did, people started to cry out: “We are on the side of the gods in the heavens! We are just!”
Those were the last words I heard before a loud series of bangs from the dispersal force, 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 is injured.” O’Brien said a moment later over the com-link.
“Mr. Data, you have the bridge, Counselor Troi.” The Captain whisked his way to the turbolift and Troi followed behind him.
Picard looked to the ground, away from Counselor Troi and muttered “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 on campus, 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 mob. Posing as students in Paragon were the last tasks 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 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 NEED TO PASS BEFORE ANY REEVALUATION.
Picard sat back in his chair, let out a sigh, and put both hands over his face. “May they learn from their mistakes.”