Chapter 32: Terror from the Rift

Julian,

As per your instructions, the databank from the courier taken at G 130-4 has been downloaded and we’re sifting it now.  The necessary updates have been made and she’ll be set to sail within the next twenty-five hours.  I’ve assigned Miss Kitty as the pilot her due to the importance of the message getting through and because her assistance might prove useful on the other end.  Please let me know as soon as you get this if you want her replaced.

Enclosed is a partial transcript from an upload found in the courier’s memory bank.  Thought it might interest you.

Jones

 

PROGRAM FILE:  The O’Leary Equation with Dick O’Leary:  No. 2846

UPLOAD TIME:  22,432,009:  515 NE:  London Archology

TOPIC TITLE:  “Terror from the Rift”

 

Dick:  “Good evening, welcome back.  As the Core Worlds enter their second megasecond under martial law, in response to the terrorist attack on the Lockhard Corporation’s Jupiter Shipyards, the death toll continues to rise in dozens of star systems where rioting and acts of mass treason have brought a halt to commerce and the distribution of vital supplies on industrial worlds with little or no food production.  Profit losses for the next quarter are expected to be in the tens of billions of monits in this unprecedented breakdown of civil order on previously law-fearing worlds.

            And now this: Yesterday, at twelve-hundred hours local Earth time, a massive fission event took place of the coast of the North American cotenant.  ISS spokespersons have confirmed that a co-operative venture by groups including the Workers Alliance Revolution and Class War Action Front detonated a sixty-megaton nuclear kinetic disassembly device, toppling the New York Archology and destroying it utterly.

Five and a half million lives ended in the explosion and its immediate aftermath.  Nearly twenty million service personnel were also lost.  This constitutes the most devastating terrorist attack in recorded history, right on the heels of the previous record holder, the Jupiter Disaster.

            Naval vessels and personnel are being stretched to the limit dealing with emergency resupply efforts and quelling the uprisings that have spread like plague throughout the urban sprawls of a half-dozen worlds.

            Who are these Rifters?  A series of brutal and unprovoked attacks against the population of the core worlds and then they seemingly vanish.  What sort of creatures are these?  What do they hope to accomplish through this monstrous pogrom?’  Important questions perhaps, but more importantly: Where are they?  What are they planning next?

            With us tonight to discuss these topics are best-selling political author June Cuttler and retired FDF Navy First Admiral, now independent military analyst, Casper Howell.  Martin Lockhard, who was scheduled to be with us tonight, remains at Lockhard City where he labors to reestablish his company headquarters in the wake of the recent terrorist attack at Jupiter which took so many lives, resources, and specialized workers at a critical moment for the Federation.  All our thoughts and hopes are with the Lockhard Corporate family and their stockholders in this tragic time.  Welcome panelists, thank you for being with us.”

Cuttler: “Thank you, Dick.”

Howell:  “It’s good to be here.”

Dick:  “So, let’s get right to the meat of the matter.  Our freedom and way of life are under attack by an organized and intractable enemy bent on the senseless waste of property and life.  The war they have visited upon us engulfs us more deeply by the day.  What’s to be done?”

Howell:  “Now, Dick, I think you’re misrepresenting the situation a tad here.”

Cuttler: “How so?”

Howell:  “We are talking about events that are only related in that one has created a cultivating atmosphere for the others, as though they were part of some vast unified movement.  Nothing could be further from the mark.

            It is vital that we remain rational and not play into the hands of our enemies by making their position seem more tenable then it really is.  This will embolden rebel groups within the Federation and aid in their recruitment efforts.”

Cuttler: “Rebels.  There are no rebels in Federation space, only insurgents from the Marches and the Expanse.  These bloodthirsty fanatics are bent on the destruction of human society and the desecration of the liberty that we all hold dear.”

Howell:  “That is a grossly simplistic way of–”

Dick:  “So anyone who believes in preserving this union of hope and freedom against a foreign threat is supposed to stop defending their family, their values, and their way of life to consider how a bunch of murderous criminals and terrorists feel about things?  Come on.”

Howell:  “I don’t even know what you’re talking about now, what I’m saying–”

Cuttler: “We’re talking about the preservation of civilization, Mister Howell.  That’s something that a few people are willing to defend.  Exactly why did you resign from the Federation Anti-Terror Council not five megaseconds after its formation, just as this war was beginning?”

Dick:  “That would be a good place to start, since it has been argued by some that these ‘Rifters’ are only responding to the terrible treatment they’ve received at the hands of your old outfit, the FDF Navy.

            No one in such circles of course, wants to bring up the fact that it was the actions of these brutes that forced us to move-in and pacify their population in the first place.”

Cuttler: “Which will only help these people in the long run.  Only the true freedom of the free market can bring meaningful peace and relieve the poverty suffered there.”

Dick:  “Very true, what about it?”

Howell:  “What are you talking about?  The armed factions in the Expanse are separatists.  They’re not related to groups like W.A.R. or the C.W.A.F. in any way.  Plus they’ve been quite for the better part of three-hundred megaseconds.  The last thing they want is attention.

            The situation with the Rift corsairs is what set this whole thing ablaze because it was made as a political decision and not a military one.  A single task force was sent to annihilate what amounted to a sizable fleet of well-crewed and disciplined fighting ships once they were forced to consolidate.”

Cuttler: “Blame the Federation!  Have you no shame?”

Howell:  “I am blaming poor planning.  I am blaming poor execution.  I am blaming the assumption that brute force would produce anything but retaliation in kind.”

Dick:  “So you’re laying the blame on our military and fine service people.  How very patriotic.  Anyone else whose feet you would like to lay fault at?”

Howell:  “Blaming the military?  Where do you get that from?  The armed forces simply implement policies that come down from the Federation Armed Services Committee.  If there’s blame to be laid at anyone’s feet, it’s the Administrative Oversight Committee that chose to start awarding FASC seats by bid.

Cuttler: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing!  Now you’re going after the free market!  Who besides our top defense contractors are suited to run the military?

Howell:  “Off the top of my head, I’d say anyone.  Contractors only want more and bigger contracts.  Expecting them to put the Federation’s wider interests before their own profits is patently foolish.”

Cuttler: “Unbelievable!  Communism!  Communism, sir!  And from a former officer of our military.”

Howell:  “Now hold it right there!”

Dick:  “Ladies, gentlemen.”

Cuttler: “I am so grateful that you and the entire galaxy are here to witness this, Dick.  Our own conspire against us.  ISS Chairman Todd Wise has warned us again and again to be weary of citizens who seek to undermine our way of life.

            We are surrounded by traitors and their apologists.  What we need is to toughen our stance against our enemies, not lower our guard at the very moment we need to raise it.  I suppose, Mister Howell, you want to empty our prisons of debtors and dissidents!  End our public surveillance programs as well!  Just let criminals walk the streets among us!

            We don’t need bleeding hearts at a time like this, we need ‘Jim Power Justice’ to get us through this crisis.”

Howell:  “Are you serious?  Really, are you?  You’re invoking a fictional secret agent as a basis for our internal security policy.  I’m the one who can’t believe what he’s hearing now.  It’s exactly this sort of nonsense that is driving people to sympathize with our enemies.  What do you think is going to happen when you brutalize people and call all disagreement treason?”

Dick:  “Now, Admiral Howell, surely you don’t mean to suggest that law-fearing citizens of the Federation are somehow part of this vast conspiracy.”

Howell:  “What conspiracy?  The only thing going on here is our proverbial chickens coming home to roost.  We armed radical groups in the Expanse to put down the nationalist movement growing there, never stopping to think of what would take its place–”

Cuttler: “I think that if history has taught us anything it’s that rival powers cannot exist but in a state of conflict.  A monopoly of political power is the only way to ensure order and decency.  These malcontents, traitors, and brigands represent a threat to the very survival of the human species.  This is not a clash of civilizations but one between civilization and chaos!

            Now, perhaps Mister Howell would like to join those who call for us to coddle those who contribute nothing to the economy.  To lessen our own happiness, morality, and worth so that vultures may live, bleeding us of resources needed to subsidize industry and growth.  That we should let them breed as they will and not control their populations.  Those who shrug their shoulders at the barbarity of the prol and dismiss it as one might a mischievous child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Saying they are poor, they lack opportunity.

            I would remind Mister Howell and those who think like him, that there has been no war for more than four gigaseconds thanks to the Federation and the free exchange of goods that it protects.  Free trade ends wars.  It was the great Ayn Rand who said: ‘Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.”

Dick:  “Miss Cuttler does have a valid point, Admiral.”

Howell:  “I seem to have missed it.  And we have a war right now, don’t we?”

Dick:  “Do you deny the reports that this is, in fact, a new religious uprising?”

Howell:  “Where is this coming from?”

Dick:  “Is it not so that a large number of both Christians and Muslims are with the corsair fleet?”

Cuttler: “We all remember ‘The God War’ and ‘The Long Night,’ Mister Howell.”

Howell:  “Gentleman, I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to engage in this sort of fear-mongering.”

Cuttler: “How dare you, sir!”

Dick:  “I have to break this up here, join us next time when we will discuss the new rise of extremist religious violence and the grave threat that it poses to all humanity.  Our guests will be Commandant Beatrice Rice of the Rumsfeld War College and actor Rusty Crowley, who will be playing the villainous Julian ‘The Bastard’ McAllister in the upcoming mini-series, ‘Jihad of Doom.’  Do join us.”

 

            Julian, standing in the corridor outside his cabin, raised his fists in the air as he finished reading.  “Yes!” he bellowed, “I am the Anti-Christ!”

            “We know,” someone said.

            Julian stood there smiling, feeling pleased.  Suddenly, an icy glaze took hold in his eyes and his pleasant grin became menacing.  A thought had occurred to him, a dark and malicious thought, and he began to laugh.  A cackle at first, growing to a thunderous baritone howl that chilled the blood of all who heard it for years to come.

 

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