Law Enforcement Team 72
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Freedom's Legion

Posted on 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:50pm by Lieutenant Heather Kowal & Admiral Zachary O'Connell & Commodore Gareth Tau

Mission: Freedom's Legion
Location: Starbase 72
Timeline: 19 MAY 2389

Whenever a day started with a nascent migraine, Gareth knew it was going to be a doozy. The previous evening's Long Jump Gala was supposed to be a political time of hobnobbing and socializing with the benefactors of the joint operation between the task force and the civilian project. Instead, it turned into a nightmare and ended in screaming. And what with the endless tiers of investigations launched since, Gareth had not a wink of sleep.

Taking his seat at the conference table, he was pleased to see that the others had already arrived.

"I beg your pardon for my tardiness," Gareth said. It seemed appropriate since he had been the one to call the unscheduled meeting. "As you should have been briefed by now, there was a violent protest yesterday which culminated in the self-inflicted deaths of three protesters. The deaths were preceded by a masked figure who hijacked the communications and holography systems of the SS Hermes, the private yacht of one Maximilian Straus who was hosting the gala event."

With that off his chest, he finally took his seat.

"While the Marshals are continuing the investigation into the event, what we're here to discuss is what the masked individual referred to as his 'manifesto.'" Gareth paused to reference the notes at hand. "He mentioned a number of worlds - New Far Florence, Caspin’s World, Betarix III, Carpathia and Tumble Down." Coughing into his hand, he said, "All five of those worlds were also mentioned in reports filed this year with the Office of Special Investigations. Things... did not go well with them, one way or another. That means, ladies and gentlemen, that this 'Legion' spokesman has access to data leaks. Bear that in mind as you consider the following."

Gareth nodded to the Ops tech in the corner, who in turn activated the prepared video footage.

When I was a child, I looked up to the pale twinkling stars in the night sky in wonder. They were the magical worlds of fantasy to a child, a million billion possibilities and dreams shining down on me. Just me. But that was life on a startup fringe colony, wasn’t it? Your parents move there for their own dreams, of settling a new world, and making something new, and the next generation that comes along stares up at the sky seeks only escape.

When I got of age, I left my home to join Starfleet. 17 years old, never been off-world, and bumming a lift on a Bolian tramp freighter that did the fringe run along the Demilitarized Zone. It was like a dream to me, proof that my choice to leave was correct. And at the Academy, I learned the science of the stars that captivated my childhood imagination, and they took on a whole new magical aura to me.

But I never, not once, paused to think if I regretted my choices. I was out amongst the unknown, and sure there were frightening things out there. But there were also wondrous things, vast remnants of a time when the universe was summoning itself into creation. And then word came down the chain of command, and the CO called me into his office. My home colony had been seized by the Cardassian Union. I use the word seized, but the official word on the treaty was ceded.

He gave me the day off, told me to talk to the ship's counsellor.

I’ll never forget the look of pain on my parents face as they told me about the relocation, of how men and women in the uniform I wore so proudly had beamed down to their settlement and demanded they leave. It wasn’t even a choice, given the Cardassians were ready to move in their own population of colonists. Forty years of back-breaking toil, all to prepare a world for new tenants.

But it taught me something which I am grateful for. It's a painful lesson, and one I think all who read this will understand. Earth. Vulcan. Andor. Tellar. Betazed. Trillius Prime. The Federation. All of these must come first, with all other considerations taking a distant second place. The politicians we vote into power use their Starfleet to reaching out a hand to the stars, and say ‘Mine’.

And when something threatens the core, the idea that is the Federation of Planets, it is the hard work of the Fringe that is spent to buy peace for the inner worlds of the Federation.

When the Cardassians threatened renewed hostilities along their borders, to regain worlds lost during the Dominion War, it was not Alpha Centauri or Earth that were given up on the altar of peace. It was the worlds of Blue Box and Casterfell. It was not Cardassian troops who beamed down to the streets to organize a rout of the public, convincing them by force of will and arms to be uprooted. A Starfleet ship might be billed as a tool of exploration, but do not believe the lies. A phaser array blast from orbit can scour a field clean of life, and a photon torpedo can turn a colony into a glass dish a kilometer wide.

If we raise our voice in question to these actions we are called rabblerousers and trouble makers! If we ask the question ‘Why my world?’ our patriotism is called into question! And if we ever for a second suggest that this manufactured paradise, this utopia of our own making is not perfect…then we are not Federation.

I am not Federation.

My name is Pallas Cant.

And I Am Legion.

The footage came to an end, with the visage of the masked man revealed for all to see.

"Before anyone asks, yes, we know the whereabouts of this man, Pallas Cant. He was apprehended on Rigel VII in attempts to cause a riot in the shipyards by declaring what you have just heard."

After so much talking, Gareth had to clear his throat. "The reason for my tardiness today was that I just left the briefing given by my team of specialists who interrogated him after his arrest, and it is their professional opinion that he has acted alone. Furthermore, they concluded that he wanted to be caught. No further actions, no grand scheme -- that he simply wanted a broad platform to release his manifesto."

Pausing for effect, Gareth continued. "And, with recent reports, he is not alone. Half a dozen other such individuals from Earth to Bajor have been arrested by local authorities for disturbing the peace. Upon closer review, they all told stories such as this one, and to a man, none of them had any connections between them."

Gareth looked to those present. "As Director of the Office of Special Investigations and Executive Officer of this Task Force, it's my recommendation that we escalate this Worlds' Legion of Freedom, this Freedom's Legion, to the category of domestic terrorism."
Steepling his fingers, he left the matter open to discussion.

"Terrorism?" Zachary simply answered, his tone bewildered more than dumbfounded. He didn't glance around the room to survey his peers, which included several members of the Task Force Operational Staff, and other key Commanding Officers and individuals from throughout the Task Force, who were all attending physically. Even Captain Harper had been summoned away from Bajor as to not allow for any leaks on the subspace communications network.

Echoes of movements like the New Essentialists appeared in Zachary's mind, trying to process what this Freedom's Legion could be attempting to accomplish, though even a group like that seemed to bear no similarities to what they were now experiencing. The Admiral had a lot of questions, relating from motives to timing and beyond. "There has to be some connection, however buried or obscure it is. Say we do recommend to Command that we upgrade this group to terrorists. How do we combat their ideology, much less identify potential individuals who would subscribe to what we've seen in recent days?"

"There is always dissent in free society," Gareth said, "and I don't mean to join the philosophers in one debate or another. There must be a common origin for the manifesto, but its means of distribution has been decentralized to the best of our knowledge. What's more is that each apprehended demagogue has put their own personal twist to it."

Gareth set his notes down and knuckled the blurry fatigue out of his eyes. He sighed before continuing. "Whoever wrote it clearly wishes to spur protests across the Alpha Quadrant, but they aren't the ones damaging life and property. That distinction belongs to Pallas Cant and his ilk, whom, I must reiterate, have absolutely no connection apart from their newfound ideology. If Starfleet cracks down on protests, even in the name of safety, then the manifesto may go viral; if we ignore it, then at current trends it could spread to every sector. With either of those responses, Starfleet will only give it legitimacy in one form or another. Rather than combat this Legion, my suggestion is to have everyone from Starfleet Security and the Marshals Service on down to municipal constables remain on the lookout for terrorist activity when and where these protests appear. That can only happen if Command recommends that the Federation Council adds Freedom's Legion to its list of terrorist groups. I just don't see any other way."

The fact Kennedy was here in person spoke volumes, but she knew the campus was left in great hands. And as she sat and listened to what was being said, she knew why her physical presence was needed. This information seemed to be quite sensitive, and subspace communications weren't guaranteed to keep this quiet. Terrorism? There always seemed to be someone somewhere that wanted to cause trouble. "You mention that these incidents aren't connected? How can you be sure about that?"

"That's complicated, Ma'am," Lieutenant Heather Kowal spoke up, for the first time. "There are multiple incidents in history where people hold the same ideals, responded the same to an objection and were not actually connected to each other beyond the belief. Information is as powerful as a handshake if this manifesto is out there for people to find they can follow it without ever communicating with the source." Heather had done a lot of research since the Academy in various crime and terrorist organizations wanting to be up on her specialty assigned by personnel. In fact, she was hoping to complete an advanced degree based on criminology and public safety once she was more settled in her new role.

Gareth tossed a scowl in Heather's direction. As the leader of the investigative team that had just briefed him, she was supposed to wait outside unless called upon. Nevertheless, she had inserted herself into the meeting, and he was frankly too exhausted to argue decorum.

"Lieutenant Kowal is correct," he said at length. "Specialist teams of investigators like her own will be our frontline defense against future acts of terrorism and fishing out any material connection between them..." He ran a look past Kennedy on his way to facing Zachary once again. "... so long as Starfleet has an official sanction from the Federation Council to do so."

"All I can do is run it up the flagpole," the Task Force Commanding Officer calmly stated. "Until then, I'm more than aware that our options are limited. Still, we have a few arrests. There's nothing stopping us from investigating further so long as we follow the rule book. And, according to that rule book, we can beef up security in our vital areas, here, fleet yards, critical ports of call, even the new Academy on Bajor. If it's the fringe worlds that are breeding grounds for these... Legion people... they might consider Bajor as a trophy world and make it a target. Or even Deep Space Nine."

Gareth nodded approvingly. It was as much as could be expected, given the circumstances.

"My team is available for assisting in security efforts or to consult with other commands as needed, Admiral," Kowal said, looking to Admiral O'Connell directly.

Captain Colby Drayton, newly assigned as the master and commander of the starship Nogura, had been sat in silence listening to the briefing from the officers of the Task Force and couldn’t help but shake his head slowly. For his new crew, it seemed like it was from one terrorist group to another and now a third. Why couldn’t people just live harmoniously for once and let Starfleet focus on its mandate of scientific exploration? Nogura and her crew had developed a bit of a reputation for dealing with such threats, usually with great efficiency and precision, so it was no surprise he had been invited to this briefing. “As always Admiral, Commodore, Nogura is at your disposal,” he nodded towards both of his superiors.

"We all have jobs to do," Gareth cut in. "Unless there's anything else, I suggest we go do them."

The Lieutenant glanced to the TFXO there was a look of annoyance which she knew she should have covered up a bit more. Then she turned back to the Admiral to see his interest in her team taking lead where needed.

Admiral O'Connell nodded his confirmation. There was nothing more for him to do here, aside from starting to go up the Fourth Fleet's chain of command to see what could be done about this Legion.

Captain Harper cast a glance in Gareth's direction before she looked away again. Surely she wasn't the only one to notice he was about as pleasant to be around as a Nausicaan at a tea party, but as a professional, she would never let those thoughts be known. She looked toward Admiral O'Connell and cleared her throat. "Sir, with your permission, I'd like to remain here for a couple of days just in case there are any new developments."

Zachary nodded his confirmation to Captain Harper as well. Her volunteering informed him that she had her faith in her staff back at the Academy. That faith was good enough for him, at least for now. "Then we are dismissed," he announced aloud, rising from his chair and preparing to exit.

 

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