NOTE: transcript of audio recording, December, 2684 A.D.
I went to the meeting tonight. Bruce was there, along with half a dozen of the other captains. Everyone looked nervous, but determined. I suppose I was the same. We’d all been through it out there. We’d seen what we had to see, on colony world after colony world, to become convinced that there had to be a better way. They tell you in officer school that the look in the eyes of the colonists is respect. That’s a lie. It’s hate, mixed with fear. You see it everywhere. I’ve even seen it in the eyes of my own family. Once you put this uniform on, you stop being one of them. You stop being one of the little people, and become something else.
Bruce showed me the tablet that’s gotten the others so excited. It’s an ancient piece of paper, encased in yellowed preservative plastic since who knows when. The language is ancient too, written in what I can only assume is hand cursive. If the date at the top is right, that document is almost a thousand years old. When I asked Bruce what the document was, he handed me his pad with what he claimed was a modern translation.
I read it to myself while the others remained silent. Bruce had highlighted several portions for me. I kept coming back to the one that he’d highlighted and set in bold. I made sure to have him copy me that excerpt, because I wanted to read it again, and I’ll read it now, just because I like the sound of it:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I’m still getting chills down my spine as I think about what these words mean. I don’t understand anything about the political situation on Earth a thousand years ago. But the sentiment behind these words speaks to me unlike anything I have ever encountered in any text at the Peacekeeper academies. It’s almost obscene, how it flies in the face of the Colonial Oath that every child learns in school.
When I’d gotten done reading the translation, I stood and stared at my comrades — men and women I’d known since I was a cadet. I was the senior-most officer among them, and they were each, I suspect, waiting to gauge my reaction. Had I reacted negatively, I am not sure what might have happened. Perhaps one of them would have pulled out a sidearm and shot me.
But I didn’t react negatively. The words had been too beautiful. My tears must have revealed my feeling, because Bruce pulled me over and placed my hands to the surface of the tablet, scratched and pitted by time. “Feel the spirit of these men,” he told me. “They’re offering us our future.” And my tears kept coming. And pretty soon all of us had our hands pressed to the tablet, and the weeping became a shared moment between us.
We meet again tomorrow. It will be our last chance before we have to act. I warned the lot of them that if we did what we agreed needed to be done, there could never be any turning back. Because nothing like it in the history of the Peacekeepers had ever occurred before. No single ship had mutinied, much less half a dozen. We debated how best to present it to our crews, or even whether or not to present it at all. We debated whether or not to try and get other captains in on the plan. If any part of it were to reach official ears, it would be the end of our careers, and probably our lives as well.
— from the personal audio journal of (former) Peacekeeper, and commander of the United Nations Starship Regulator, Captain Tanna Noribatu. She and roughly a score of Peacekeeper ship’s commanders would defect during the Secession War of 2685.