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More Work To Do
A Peace or Purity Log with Aenaek, Malino, Counselor N'Tazzia and 1st Lt Peter McMillian
Many of the gathered Romulans had lingered in the stadium, the earlier attack by the “Purists” and Aenaek's bold proclamation had given them a lot to talk over. Aenaek had tried to slip away to have dinner with Malino and his parents but she kept getting stopped by various people who wanted to discuss the situation with her or to congratulate her. While Aenaek worked the crowd Taz, Peter and Malino were pretty much left to stand around smiling.
Taz looked at her son and felt a wave of love and pride for him. Malino was the picture of confidence and that was quite new. He had been a gregarious and loving child but he had always seemed somewhat self-conscious. When she and Peter adopted him, Malino was very little and didn't know what was and was not socially acceptable on the Excelsior. He had found himself rubbing a number of people the wrong way and had been repeatedly chastised for his actions. Taz suspected this was why he had felt inferior at times. The change is his bearing and the conviction in his voice let Taz know that it wasn't just his hormones driving his dedication to Aenaek. Her son was no longer a child, he was a young man. A young man with a cause he believed in.
“I love you honey.” She said softly to Malino. “And nothing can ever change that. I'm sorry the Kirk Academy didn't work out, but when you're ready, I'm sure you will find a school that will be a better fit for you. I'm still going to worry about you staying with Aenaek. I wish you would have kept my commbadge, just in case you get in over your heads. At least promise me that while you are busily protecting Aenaek that you also watch out for yourself.”
Malino managed not to roll his eyes at his mother. “I promise to be as careful as I can be. And thank you. Thank both of you.” He looked from his mother to his father then back. “I can't explain my involvement with the Romulans as well as I would like to, but I know that I need to be here watching and keeping her safe. This is something that I have to do. I appreciate your trust in me.”
As Aenaek slowly wound her way through the throng toward the exit, they followed. Taz overheard a few snippets of the conversations the people who had heard Aenaek were having and it seemed as though the majority of those who had heard Aenaek 's speech agreed with her. Taz did however sense an undercurrent of worry and even some fear lurking in their emotions.
They had almost made it out of the stadium area when all the vid screens broadcast an “Alert” tone and began to flash. The shrouded figure of the voice of the Purist movement came on the screen in an apparently live broadcast.
Everyone still there became fixated on his vituperative words.
"Federation Council, and people of Earth. It has become apparent to us that you did not take our previous message to heart. The usurping enemy aliens continue to live among us. To WALK among us as if they are one of us. One of them dares utter the words of friendship and peace, when it is proven history that their kind, the Romulans, do not want that. It is a very little known fact that it was the Romulans, using a cloaked warbird, that allowed a Breen spy to get aboard the Utopia Planitia space station, steal the designs for the slip-stream drive, and consequently cause the explosion on that same station almost a decade ago. It is also little know fact that it was a Cardassian-led plot that killed President Bacco! These people cannot be trusted!
"As a final slap to our collective faces,..." The scene changed to show Aenaek with Malino, Taz and Peter right there with her. "It is believed that these two people talking with the enemy are Starfleet officers. It seems Starfleet now worries more about them than us.
"Therefore, we the Purist group must be the ones to look out for your safety! IF the Romulans and Cardassians and any OTHER enemies of the Federation are not made to leave this planet... To leave FEDERATION space, our next message will make the last statement look like a love letter.
"We realize this is not something that can happen overnight. We, therefore give you five days..... FIVE DAYS, to meet our demands.
"Remember. We only have the safety of our society in mind. We do not want to go to this next step, but you leave us no choice. Heed this warning, Federation Council for we are serious. And good people of the Federation, of Earth, you will know who to point the finger at when we do strike."
The crowd had become increasingly unsettled as the Purist terrorist spoke. Some of them were glancing around nervously and it looked as though they might be on the verge of panic. Malino tried to usher Aenaek away but she took one look at the crowd and refused to leave.
Taz had been shaken by the fact that the Purists had footage of Aenaek's speech so soon after it had ended and it also disturbed her that the Purists had shown a shot of that included not just Malino but also her and Peter -- using their presence to insinuate that the two of them were, and by extension imply that Starfleet might be, a part of Aenaek's cause.
I suppose we are part of it now. Taz thought. She strongly believed in peace, but was this the best way? Perhaps by default it was, because Aenaek seemed to have the purpose and passion that would be needed to continue to speak out in the face of such dogged opposition.
“Apparently, I still have work to do here.” Aenaek announced resolutely as she brushed by Malino and headed straight back to the podium. Malino started to follow her but hesitated and looked back worriedly at Taz.
“Go.” Taz told him and Peter agreed. “We'll be fine.” He told Malino, who then climbed the stairs and took up the same position that he was in earlier in order to watch over Aenaek.
Peter looked at Taz. “Do you want to go?”
“I'm staying,” she told him.
“Good, because I am too. In case they need help.” Peter advised her.
The crowd looked …€Â“ and sounded …€Â“ as though it was on the verge of becoming a dangerous mob. Peter and Taz stood close to the stage out of the way.
Aenaek tapped on the microphone and the mic squealed loudly. Her first attempt only attracted the attention of a few people and she had to repeat her actions a few times before the rumbling started to quiet and people stopped what they were doing and looked at her. She spoke to the crowd for a second time.
“My friends, my brothers and sisters! Please! If you wish to leave, do so in an orderly fashion. We do not need to cause injury to each other in reaction to the words of the Purist shill. He and those who share his ideals are horribly misguided creatures and he has carefully chosen his words with the express intention of breeding fear and panic among us. I beseech you, do not listen to his lies. We must be resolute for the path laid before us is not an easy one to walk, but we owe the olive branch of peace to the Federation for giving us assistance and shelter at a time when the specter of our past actions as a people still leads many of them to fear us. It is up to us to show them that we mean what we say and that we are not the threat they fear. We must demonstrate our true dedication to pursuing peace. I urge each of you to set aside the desire to turn away in fear and to fully commit yourselves to our cause. Furthermore, I ask each of you to spread the word among our Romulan families and friends -- on all worlds and among all species. Let us prove the Purists wrong once and for all! FARR JOLAN!!”
A number of those who had listened her second speech left the area immediately but again most stayed behind eager to speak with her and express their feelings …€Â“ which ranged from solidarity to extreme concern.
For someone so young Aenaek was quite self-assured and well-spoken leaving Peter and Taz astonished by the way she managed to spend the next two hours calming and reassuring everyone. Malino stayed glued to her side, ever watching for any danger to her person.
Taz and Peter had been so fixated on her actions that when their commbadges beeped at the same time both of them were startled.
Taz tapped her device first. “Counselor Tazzia here.”
Captain Holden replied. "Counselor, are you and Lt. McMillian able to break away and provide a situation report regarding what's going on down there?":