Day 016: Unity Day On The Ark
Summary: The other side of the disrupted communications during the Unity Day pageant.
Date: 22 June, 2016
Related: First Unity Day
Jaha Kane Li Ark 

16 Days After Delinquent Launch — The Ark

For this historic occasion, one of the larger open areas of the Ark has been secured, and a hundred or more people are crammed into the Alpha Station mess hall. All across the Ark, people have gathered in mess halls and meeting spaces to celebrate Unity Day. In Alpha Station, the entire Council has gathered, as well as prominent politicians, scientists, Guards, resource allocation specialists, and their families.

The Ark anthem begins, and Thelonius Jaha's calm, steady features are broadcast throughout the Ark and, for the first time, to a makeshift screen in front of the dropship on Earth as well, "My friends, this is a historic Unity Day." His voice is smooth, hope sparking in his eyes, "Every year, we mark the moment our ancestors of the twelve stations joined to form the Ark, but this is the last time we do so while aboard her. Next year," he turns to look to his teenage son, "on the ground." The words draw polite but heartfelt applause from the crowd.

The Chancellor looks around the crowd offering up a calm smile, "For ninety-seven years, we have eked out an existence, hoping that someday our descendants would return to Earth. That day is no longer in some nebulous future. We are no longer an interim generation. This generation, the people alive today, will be the ones to return to Earth. Some of us are already there."

Looking directly into the camera now, Jaha continues, "To our sons and daughters on Earth listening to this message, we will see you soon. The first Exodus ship will launch in under sixty hours, carrying you the reinforcements and materials that you need, so stay strong. Help is on the way." Again, applause ripples through the crowd, this time joined by a few whistles.

Looking back to his live audience, Jaha's smile returns, a placid, reassuring expression, "We have seen the true soul of our people, and it is unity. In that vein, I would like to announce that one month after our arrival on Earth, elections will be held to choose a new Chancellor on Earth, and that Chancellor will select an entirely new Council predicated on the needs of our people on the ground." A buzz begins to rise throughout the audience, and a husband and wife, caught up in worrying about their daughter on the ground below, look at one another nervously.

"But enough from me. You are all here for the pageant and the One Hundred's thoughts on unity anyway, right?" This draws a chuckle from people who have seen the pageant time and again, but still enjoy it, "Without further ado, I present the story of us." Jaha steps aside from the podium to pretty solid applause as twelve children carrying flags and one with a dataslate move to stand before it. The husband and wife eye one another again, and then make their excuses, slipping back into the crowd and out of the room.

A big-eyed girl of about ten years old starts to speak as the others circle around her, "Long ago, when the Earth was on fire, twelve stations floated through space, all alone. Then one day, Mir floated by Shenzhen, and they realized life would be better together. The other stations saw this, and they wanted to be together, too. When all the stations were joined, they called themselves-" Those in the Alpha Station mess hall never get to hear the rest of the yearly story, as an explosion rips through the room from the wall behind the podium.

In an instant, the room is filled with noise, fire, smoke, and pain. Thankfully, the fire is a momentary gout, there and gone again, but the other intruders linger, the roar of the explosion fading away to a ringing in the ears of those present, and the moans and screams of the wounded — and there are many.

Chancellor Jaha rushes to the side of one of the fallen, cradling a teenager's broken body in his lap, his son Wells, now a casualty of terrorism… or is it revolution? Shaking off Councilor Li's concern, he stabs finger furiously at Marcus Kane, snarling, "Kane. Find out who did this." The Security Officer nods, starting to move off, and then remembers something, searching the human wreckage and finding heartbreak. His mother, badly wounded but still living.

He rushes to her side, crouching down, and she grasps his hand, her own trembling, blood smeared across her face. Kane is shocked, stunned, whispering, "Mom…" A jagged spear of metal pierces her, and his carefully-constructed world crumbles a little as he realizes that she isn't going to make it.

Anna Li looks up from stabilizing one of the pageant children, watching the realization pass over Kane's always-composed features. His mouth works as he looks for something to say, his eyes mist up, and he falls back on the Traveler's Prayer, words he claimed to have forgotten long ago, "In peace, may you leave the shore. In love may you find the next. Safe passage on your travels." His voice shakes, quavers, but he presses on, "Until your final journey to the ground. May we meet again."

For all the bustle and chaos in the wake of the explosion, the universe disappears for Marcus Kane as his mother dies in his arms. Li steps over, putting a hand on his shoulder, "Marcus. I'm so sorry." And finally, he tears his tear-streaked gaze from his mother, looking around the destruction. He takes a deep, shuddering breath, and some part of the old Kane returns.

Marcus nods to Li, and then rises to his feet, moving over to where Jaha cradles Wells' body, "Sir, we need to get you out of here." Jaha does not respond, lost in his grief, and Kane pulls him up to his feet despite the Chancellor's resistance, "Sir, this was a coup. Councilors Retter, Underwood, Vanniyar, and Silva are dead. If you hadn't cut your speech short, you would be too."

That shakes Jaha out of his grief, at least a little, and he looks around, "A coup? Where are the Rees?" Kane frowns, looking around.

"They left." Dawning horror spreads across Li's bloodied face, "They left early."

Kane snarls again, the loss of his mother eating away at his usual self-control, "I'll find them."

"You do that," Jaha's response is sharp, and as Kane turns to go, the Chancellor turns away, back to his dead son. At another time, in another place, he might have thought to double the guard on the dropship, to put the Ark on lockdown, he might have thought about the launch window for the first Exodus ship to read the Delinquents. They will come to him later, and Kane will handle the lockdown, but here and now, he only has thoughts for his loss.

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