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Paving the Road to Hell

Posted on Wed Sep 8th, 2021 @ 4:00am by Chief Comms Angel Ferris

Mission: Holoworld
Location: Federation News Service - Satellite Offices
Timeline: Two Months Ago
960 words - 1.9 OF Standard Post Measure

Zaxel Narx looked up from his desk with a start, the slamming of his own office door jolting him away from the PADD he had been studying.

"Angel," he began warily. "Could I invite you into my office for a quiet chat?"

Aannyil Ferris quickly brushed aside the verbal jab at her own rude entrance and slapped a PADD of her own atop his. "What is this?"

He didn't break eye contact with her. "I'm going to guess that it's a letter from your Editor in Chief telling you that the Federation News Service is currently uninterested in pursuing propaganda pieces. I am going to further guess that my postscript suggestions for you to instead focus your efforts on reporting on 'the broader scope of Romulan societal state structure and rebuilding' wasn't given its due consideration seeing as how I sent this reply to you -- " he glanced at a chronometer " -- 2 minutes ago."

"You know me!" she spat back at him. "The last thing I would ever do is write up recruitment copy for the Rangers."

"But you won't exactly tear them down, either..."


He spread his hands. "Okay. So what IS the angle?"

"The angle?" She folded her arms, all the better to keep her clenched fists from pulsating at her sides. "The angle is to tell the real story. Lay it out flat. Cut through the rumors and the gossip and let the public decide."

Zaxel considered her a moment. He fell back in his chair, shaking his head. "I'm sorry, young one, but the Fenris Rangers have their backs up. The moment they see a reporter coming at them, they'll fill your belly with all the sights and sounds that they want you to eat. And then you'll regurgitate that meal to the rest of the quadrant. I don't doubt that you'll tell their story straight. The problem is that they're going to make damn sure you only experience the good and not a hint of the bad during your ride along."

Aannyil bit her lip. She pulled a hand away from her chest so that her fingers could make their way into the long mess of her red hair. "So I don't tell them I'm a reporter. Not exactly. I join up, in some small way, somewhere I can stay out of trouble but still live and breathe with these people. And I observe what's really going on. The real, complete, raw story."

"And if they find out what you're really about? Then what?"

She dismissed the question even as he spoke it. "No way. I've had too much training to give up my cover to a group like this."

He bit his cheek. Thinking.

Aannyil had to struggle to keep her lips firm and unsmiling. She could tell she was winning him over. "What if a telepath gets a hold of you?" he asked finally.

"Chief, my parents raised me as if I were their own flesh and blood. I rate as much mental discipline as any other Cardassian."

"But you're still human."

"Not when it comes to this." She tapped her skull. "I graduated from the same schools as all the other kids on Cardassia Prime. Believe me when I tell you that I don't break easy."

"And if they DO discover you?"

She shrugged, doing her best to show a calm she didn't truly feel. "Then we'll really know what these people are really like, and you'll have one hell of an ending to your series on the Fenris Rangers."

Zaxel breathed. In her anticipation the sound seemed so loud to Aannyil that it nearly made her wince. Finally, he bent over to press a thumb against her PADD. "Approved."

She blinked. "What? Really?"

"Yeah, really." He set his elbows atop his desk, lacing his fingers together. "Look, Angel, I know that you've been patient. But I also know that for a lot of reporters, their first undercover is their last. Either you'll get in over your head, or you'll get enough notoriety that you'll never be anonymous enough to pull the wool over unsuspecting eyes ever again. Either way, you're calling your shot here."

"I know what I signed up for when I joined the undercover track. I've never published a single by-line to my name, and I've never been able to tell my own family what I do. As far as anyone is concerned I'm a hapless deep space communications translator who is coasting from day to day waiting to discover my true purpose in life. This, right here, is what those sacrifices have been for. This story, the story of these people, it matters. It's time that the public hears it."

Zaxel took her PADD and handed it up to her. "Good luck, young one."

Thinking better than to press her fortunes, she accepted his offering, and immediately turned to leave. She knew him. Knew him well. If she could just get out of his office, he would consider the matter closed and he wouldn't dare bring it up again until it was time to start publishing her reports as she sent them in from the field.

But before she reached the door he spoke once again. "Just remember: sivit tro yassa ven sava du'un yassa dal."

Aannyil hesitated. Despite Zaxel's horrible pronunciations, she found herself utterly surprised at hearing such an old-worn idiom spoken in his attempt at her childhood tongue:

Enemies make dangerous friends.

She set her fingers on the door handle, remembering another favored saying from her homeworld. "And secrets are like the blade of a knife. The harder you grasp, the deeper they cut when pulled free." She turned the knob. "I know what I'm doing."

"Just...stay alive, Angel."

She opened the door.


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Comments (1)

By Captain Rueben Gregnol on Wed Sep 8th, 2021 @ 6:25am

#juststayalive should be the ships motto:-). Nice solo post.