The Day The Federation Stood Still
Posted on Wednesday, 30 December 2020 - 5:37pm by Captain Barret Stillwater & Commander Soral & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley & Lieutenant JG Adrianna Eberhardt
Location: Earth: San Francisco
Released from medical care, Commander Barret Stillwater stood in the atrium of Starfleet Intelligence, mug of tea in a trembling hand, the United Federation of Planets emblem on the deep navy-blue ceramic. All the noise around him came to an eerie hush, the footfalls of hundreds of individuals came to an abrupt halt. The only noise was that of the lifts moving through the various levels of the large building, and the display monitors which had news from FNS, FNN, and other major Federation news outlets could be heard. Normally, the sound of people rushing on by chittering and chattering drowned out the anchorpersons and journalists. Not now, not today, not at that moment.
It slipped. The ceramic mug left his fingertips and dropped to the marble floor, shattering upon impact. Nobody cared. His was but only one in a chorus of shattering mugs and mouths hung ajar. A reprise of gasps served as following acts only to be closed out by the beginning of sobbing by an emotional few. There were no words to describe what was being shown on the screens: a trio of shuttlecraft exploding, completely blasted apart over the Pacific Ocean, and raining down blazing parts into the deep blue.
Barret had served in Starfleet for decades. He had been a tactical officer, an intelligence officer, an Executive Officer, and Commanding Officer. All those years in uniform, all that expertise that he had accumulated told him everything he needed to know. This was no accident. That was no pilot error. That was not a mechanical failure of any accidental sort. Those were not gremlins in the system nor ghosts in the machines. That was a heinous act to make a statement, to invoke fear, and inflict damage.
Those were not just any shuttlecraft. They were Federation personal transports with the specialized paint scheme, technical modifications, and the same emblem that had been on the ceramic mug that Stillwater had been sipping from only moments ago. He was in the building that housed Starfleet Intelligence. The men and women of that building knew what they had just witnessed, and the cold silence was sharply broken with a calamity of a hive of wasps. Dozens of people scattered, they dove into offices, ran to the nearest stairwell, and scaled ferociously. They packed into lifts like cans of sardines, faces were like stone on many, some kept a tight upper lip. They did not need investigative journalism or deductive reasoning to know. This was bad. This was beyond bad.
Combadges were chirping left and right like a meadow full of songbirds, but the songs that were being sung today were not sweetly so regardless of the chipper tones of the summoning. Members of Stillwater’s crew were in the atrium with him. He turned sharply on his heels, stepped over the ceramic shards and puddle of tea. “Soral, Kinglsey, and Baciami,” he called to his First and Second Officers and Chief of Intelligence as he steered them towards a small corridor with an auxiliary exit that led to botanical gardens. They would clear out of the building.
Adrianna was only half paying attention as she was trying to piece together what had happened. She thought it was her command badge. "Baciami here, cap-ee-tan - captain."
Stillwater placed a hand on Adrianna's shoulder. "I know," he said reassuringly. Everyone was in a bit of a daze, a hazey fog of shock, while others were sharply attentative. "This is not good," he said crisply.
Adrianna flinched at the contact. She was unhappy about being on Earth and her nerves were shot.
As there names were called, Lieutenant Kingsley realised she had grabbed Soral’s hand as they watched the disaster unfold. It was perhaps the most unprofessional way to behave but ... reluctantly she relinquished her grip before she walked towards Stillwater. “We’re here, Sir.”
Soral held her hand as he watched the shuttles fall. Something inside him steeled and the green blood running through his body turned cold. This had scaled to a size he could not understand.
"The day the Federation stood still," commented Stillwater. "They are not going to be public about what just happened, not for a while at least. We could not prevent it from happening, but I personally vow to help bring those responsible to justice."
"Indeed," Soral said.
“How... what do we need to do?” Alex asked, well aware this entire facility was now geared up to the same purpose as their CO. How could this be kept quiet?
"I have some V'Shar connections, sir, if you wish I can lean on them."
"I may still hold connections from Baciami," Adrianna reluctantly offered, "runners tend to always know a lot."
"No," Stillwater said raising a hand in small bit of protest. He shook his head. "If we go digging around on this one, we are putting ourselves at risk and will get in the way of the investigation. We need to respect the process and let the authorities handle this, but I will offer to have the Standing Bear provide assistance."
Stillwater took a deep breath. "We all saw that. We know those were Federation personal shuttles from the Palais de la Concorde..." noted Stillwater. "Just a matter of was one those Paris One" he added grimly.
"What if this happened because we got involved in the first place? All those people," Alex paused, feeling vaguely sick.
Adrianna looked to Alex and opted to give the same advice her father gave her, "Don't regret getting involved. This may still have been on the cards."
"Commander Soral, I don't know if you agree this, but I feel like Baciami has a point. This was likely going to happen no matter what. The civil unrest in Earth and on other Federation worlds was already in motion well before we arrived. There was already threats that an attempt would be made on the President. I don't think we stirred the hornets nest, Lieutenant Kingsley. I think we merely got caught with our hands inside of it when they were already agitated."
Soral gave a nod. "Indeed sir." He looked around. "How can we be of assistance now?"
"We continue turning over everything we uncover, and we wait until we know more," Stillwater said. "Right now a cloud of dust has been kicked up. We don't know who was on those personal transport shuttles or not. I can put feelers out there, but we are likely going to be left in the dark until the President makes an appearance or..."
Stillwater didn't need to address it. It was possible the President had been aboard one of those shuttles. "Until someone takes the oath of office and steps up to lead the Federation through these dark times."
The man looked at Soral "We were being summoned to meet with the Chief of Starfleet Operations in a few hours before all of this happened. I suspect it was about new orders for the Standing Bear. I recommend going back to Jupiter Station, make sure the last of the repairs and updates are competed, rush them if needed. Be prepared for this meeting to be delayed but expect it to happen. Even if we just witnessed the unspeakable, the Federation and Starfleet will save face by trying to maintain a facade of routine business."
He gave a nod. "Aye sir." He briefly wondered about something but didn't voice it. "We will be ready to go at a moment's notice."
"Thank you. Lieutenant, if you wouldn't mind, please notify all Standing Bear personnel that I'm recalling them to the ship within the next 72 hours."
“Of course,” Alex nodded.
Stillwater looked at his Chief of Intelligence. "I want you to copy everything we have obtained from the Venus weapons depot and all other information before it is turned over to the Federation and Starfleet."
"Already done out of habit, sir," the Italian replied, "one digital and one physical, just in case."
"Good," he replied calmly. "I want to keep our copies separated from the ship's systems. Can we do so discretely? Perhaps compiling it to a PaDD or any sort of device that acts independently from the Standing Bear."
"There's a printed binder in my quarters. It has a few of my notes in, but at least it's non traceable," Adrianna offered, "it'll just need to be manually translated to standard."
"Old school," replied Stillwater. "The best kind. I apologize to you all for unintentionally getting you sucked into this, and for what may very well be an old man's paranoia, but I want to ensure we still have access to that information. Starfleet Intelligence and Security very well may put up a ironclad wall once they have what we know."
Adrianna waived him off," I'm no stranger to paranoia, especially that that turns out to be justified. Let's keep stuff safe."
"Alright then, I'll keep you updated Soral if that meeting is rescheduled and I will poke around and see if I can get any indication of what is going on behind the curtain."
He gave a nod. "Yes sir." He gave a nod. "I shall go get started with my task then."