The alarm began to blare out, and the ship’s computer spoke two of the scariest words known to humankind: “Emergency: Code White”.
“Heilige kak!” I cursed myself inwardly for my unprofessional outburst, however, outwardly my body more than matched my panicked tone. The color in my face must have changed at least six shades, as I turned as white as the emergency code blaring through the ship’s speakers. It’s my worst fears come true. The highest alert has just been sent out, and I haven’t had enough experience as a captain to handle this. Sure, I had dealt with alerts before during my tenure as second of command of this ship, but they were nothing more than mere scuffles among the crew, or among the people downtown. I had trained for code white emergencies, of course, as a cadet. But that doesn’t prepare you for the real thing, especially when my bridge crew is in the brig.
After what felt like days, Lieutenant Mario Rodriguez called in. “Captain, this is an emergency. That video caused panic all over the ship. There’s violence going on everywhere, fear and panic like I’ve never seen. As is protocol, the off-duty security team went in to try to help the situation, but it’s not enough. I sent the entire bridge crew down to help. I’m the only one up here! Please, send help.”
Completely numb, and acting on nothing but pure adrenaline and instinct, I began to try to control the situation. My words seemed to come out automatically, as I felt like I was standing outside of my body watching someone else handle the situation. “Release everyone from the brig. We need to be at full staff.”
As the doors opened, I looked at my shamed crew, hoping that simply being in the brig would be enough to snap them out of it. If that’s not enough, hopefully, my speech will do the trick. I don’t consider myself a wordsmith by any standard, but I’ve always been able to inspire the crew to rise above and beyond. I hope I can still do that today. “All of the senior officers are to return to the bridge. Remember, you are officers of this ship. Put all of your anger aside, and do your duty to make this ship as safe as it can be. You are the face of this vessel, as all civilians on this ship look up to you for moral guidance. Everyone here earned their position, and I have faith in you all to overcome your demons and be the best officers that you can be.”
As the officers all began to leave the room, I looked over at Carla Jackson and Maria Corben. The physicians were amazing. They both had no outward scars from the fight, and that fact led me to think of a plan. It was a risky plan, but I was optimistic that it could work.
Both women were looking at me curiously, obviously wondering if they would be free to leave as well. I mustered up all the courage I had and hoped I could muster up a speech to help them rise above their hate as well. This will be the real test of my leadership, as the hate between these two is so raw, and my plan won’t work without them both.
“Maria, Carla, I need you two the most. I know that you are both furious at each other right now, but please overcome your hate for now, for the safety of this ship. Maria, as the ship’s counselor, I’m sure you want to do everything you can to ease the situation. Carla, as the mother of two of the ship’s officers, I’m sure that you care about the safety of the ship as well, and especially about the safety of your sons. I’m going to address everyone aboard the ship, and I need both of you to help. Please, help me convince everyone to settle down. The presence of you both together should be enough to get things back to normal.”
Maria Corben agreed without hesitation, but Carla Jackson didn’t share her enthusiasm. “I don’t want to be near that… her. If people are beating the splicers, good. That doesn’t affect me or my family. Splicers shouldn’t be able to mingle with the rest of us anyway. I’m not participating in your ridiculous ploy. This riot doesn’t affect me, and it won’t affect my sons. None of us were insane enough to change our genes and lose our humanity.”
I displayed the security footage of Main Street, and gritted my teeth, hoping that I could make my point without losing my cool. “That’s the electronics store where your husband works.” The scene showed people, non-splicers, breaking the windows, smashing the products that were on display outside the store, and stealing everything they could inside. “Don’t tell me this doesn’t involve your family. It’s bedlam out there, and anyone could get hurt in this. Please, please, help me stop this.”
Carla’s eyes widened as she saw the scene, hoping that her husband was alright. His livelihood, and more importantly, his life, was in grave danger. Begrudgingly, Carla admitted that the situation had gotten out of hand, and agreed to try to help calm the situation. I began to address the people on the ship, with both women at my side.
“Please stop this violence Both of the women shown involved in the fight this afternoon are fine, and neither wants this kind of violence to continue. Remember, we may all be different, but we all came from the same planet. We are all on this ship together. We’re not just neighbors and colleagues, we’re family.” At that moment, Carla, surprising both Maria and myself, took the initiative and spoke up: “Don’t destroy our community over me.” Maria, for the first time not sure what to add, simply stated: “Please stop.”
The gamble seemed to pay off as reports of fights began to lessen. The violence didn’t stop completely, of course, but it tapered off enough that the security crew could manage things. I allowed Maria and Carla to return to their homes. I was exhausted and was tempted to go home as well. However, I couldn’t stop yet. The ship’s alert system was reduced to yellow, or medium alert. There were still pockets of violence, but it wasn’t near the ship-wide panic that we previously confronted.
However, the continuing violence wasn’t the part of this situation that troubled me the most. The computer’s system had obviously been hacked. Someone took the surveillance video, edited it to remove the beating of Maria’s mother, and then streamed the edited video through the emergency broadcasting system. This meant that the person, or people, involved in this had extensive technical skills. Even more worrying, the computer system is only accessible in corridors that are restricted to crew members. All evidence so far seems to point towards that as the most likely scenario. However, I shudder to think that a member of the crew would sabotage the alert system in order to promote violence against people on this ship.