S2: Episode #51: Among Soldiers

Posted by E.S. Wynn Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Date: 8th April, 2307. 08:01 (ES/GMT)
Location: Officers’ Conference Chamber, TCV: Wu Ang Hok (Frontier Space)

“Major Eisenherz.” Virek began, the silence rising to meet him. Seated at the center of the room with a guard off each shoulder, Tessa regarded the old admiral silently, her features blank, almost tinged with concern, almost touched at the edges with the iron built through years of service. “Rise, please.”

Guards helped her to her feet, cut free her synthplastic cuffs with a gesture from Virek. Izzy glanced at her from the sidelines, met her eyes loosely.

“In the light of the value of the intelligence Major Eisenherz has provided, the testimony given by Lieutenant Copperfield, our own reviews of transcripts and a recent communique confirming Admiral Blavatsky’s input code on the orders to breach the conventions of New Arahal, the members of this court have decided to drop all charges against you as they currently stand.”

An exhale escaped Tessa that she didn’t even know she’d been holding. She smiled reflexively, glanced at Izzy, but only got a careful nod back in response. Biting her lip once, absently, she turned back to the admiral, her smile already fading, falling away.

“You are hereby exonerated of all crimes, and all mention of the charges brought by this court will be stricken from the record.” He let his eyes drop to the silicon sheets in front of him. “Officially, this incident will be filed in public record as a military flight test accident involving the failure of the experimental drive of a top secret prototype on lease from Seindrive. The Stormfury will be ‘returned’ to the fleetyards at Sirius immediately, and no mention of time travel will be made in any of the associated reports. As lieutenant commander of Minerva Squadron, you are hereby recognized for your valor in the situation and have been granted induction into Ultima Thila with the rank of Major. The breach of the conventions of New Arahal will be acknowledged only on a single report which will accompany all transcripts we’ve generated during your stay, and the entire data package will be handed over to Ultima Thila as maximum eyes-only classified status materials scheduled to remain so indefinitely. Any mention of the events which actually transpired here by any of the parties involved, including members of the judging panel, will be grounds for immediate seizure and execution without trial under charges of treason.” Virek paused, fixed Tessa with a meaningful stare. “Do you understand?”

She nodded once, firmly. “Yes sir.”

“Confidentiality agreements will be circulated within the hour, along with a copy of the official story that is being fed to the media. It is your duty to familiarize yourself with this version of events so that any questions which may come up can be answered without casting doubt on the story as it stands.”

A fresh smile caught on Tessa’s features as she nodded again, let the curve of lips break to almost hesitant white.

A better world, Ben had said. Yeah. I can see it now.

“That leaves only one matter still to be addressed.” Virek shifted in his seat, his sudden grimace harsh enough to fade her smile. She glanced at Izzy, but the other woman had already looked away, refusing to meet her eyes.

“Major Eisenherz, as a citizen of the Commonwealth with confirmed GMO ancestry, you are ineligible for military service of any kind.” Virek began. “As such, you are effectively guilty of perjury for knowingly providing false information on your entrance forms, as well as providing false samples to and or bribing the medical examiners during standard health screenings.” Tessa swallowed, features paling as the admiral continued, her face empty of the fleeting smiles that had tugged at it before. “The sentence that this court has ultimately decided as punishment for this crime is immediate discharge from service and a loss of all rank and benefits you would otherwise be eligible for. Your service will be noted, and your termination will be listed as a discharge for medical reasons. You will be required to register with the Department of Licencing for Genetic Constructs within seven days. Do you understand?”

“Yeah.” Tessa managed, breathed, tore her eyes from the floor. “Yes sir.”

“I want you to know that this decision did not come easily, but it was unanimous.” The old admiral said, tone softer, less formal. “The loopholes in the system that people such as yourself exploit are left open precisely because we realize how valuable soldiers with GMO ancestry are to the service, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the laws that the people have enacted, no matter how much we might disagree with them.” He pulled in a deep breath. “As soldiers, we are the thin line that exists between chaos and order. As soldiers, we pledge ourselves to protect the Commonwealth and all that it stands for, whether we agree with the decisions that have been made by the people or not. We support the whole, because the moment our practice breaks from the policies of the people, our nation takes one step closer to becoming a military dictatorship where no one can be truly free.”

Tessa swallowed, held his eyes. “I understand.”

“Major Eisenherz, stand proud.” Virek added, the edges of a smile tugging at his face. “You may not have won the war yet, but make no mistake that this moment marks a decisive battle for the rights of citizens with GMO ancestry. It is such moments which the people remember, and which stand as important steps forward in struggles of rights and social change. Your service to the Commonwealth both as a major before this moment and as a citizen forever after, have set an example that we could all learn from.”

Slowly, Tessa’s smile returned, spread. “Thank you, Admiral.”

“No, thank you, Ms. Eisenherz.” He smiled, folded his hands in front of him. “Given the nature of your sacrifices, your service record, and the risks that you’ve taken to ensure the safety of the Commonwealth, we owe you a debt of gratitude.”

- - -


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