Come The Revolution – Snippet 25
The clip ended. I sat down on the couch and started watching more lines of feed.
At first all anyone had was that one clip, played over and over. Then other streetcam clips started showing up. An abandoned Munie checkpoint, police van still in place. A different check point with a gutted van and dead Munies on the pavement. A clip of Army soldiers pushing disarmed Munies, all of them with their wrists restrained behind their backs, through the rear hatch into an APC. All across the city the Army was moving in and disarming the Munies, except where they resisted, in which case they just cut them down.
I noticed the Army wasn’t taking over the checkpoints when they were done with the Munies; they just took off with their prisoners or left the bodies where they fell and moved on. They were creating a vacuum.
I also saw a clip of Varoki troopers loading a dozen panicky Katami, their feathery cranial membranes flaring and swaying, streaked with fear color, their short arms cuffed behind their backs, into the open hatch of an armored carrier. Another feed showed forlorn-looking Buran being herded along by MPs, looking like so many shuffling tree stumps. The Army apparently wasn’t crazy about aliens. I didn’t see any feed of Human prisoners, but I saw some bodies in very bad shape. No way of telling who’d killed them, but whoever it was, they’d really gotten into it.
Within an hour the feed heads reported military units in most government complexes in Sakkatto City, and then the other cities in the Commonwealth of Bakaa. I saw some fighting in other cities between police and Army units, and even reports of fights between Army units — “rebel” and “loyalist” although I wasn’t sure which was which.
Reports started coming that elements of the military high command had taken control of the government to stem the rising disorder and had appointed a provisional government for the duration of the emergency. Back on Earth they called this sort of move a coup. The reports were garbled at first, and sometimes contradictory, but as the sun started coming up, the heads of the provisional government addressed the nation over just about every feed channel. The address coming at dawn must have been meant to be symbolic.
The new head of state, appointed by the military, spoke first. He wore the uBakai astro-naval gray uniform with the rank insignia of a rear admiral, which seemed fairly junior to be the guy in charge. Either he was a figurehead or this was a Young Turk coup.
The feed caption identified him as Provisional President Talv e-Kunin’gaatz. He talked about rampant corruption in the Wat and the civilian government, how they no longer reflected the will of the people, how that was why the police, as instruments of the Wat, had tried to crush the spirit of the people, had murdered well over a thousand of them.
“As do all members of the armed forces of Bakaa,” he said, “I swore an oath to defend the people of Bakaa in time of peril. Whatever we all may differ over, no person within the sound of my voice can dispute that the Cotto’uBakaa now face a graver peril than at any time since the dawn of the Stellar Age. If I and other senior officers did not feel that the leaders of the civilian government had dishonored and abandoned their similar oaths, we would never have acted. But they have. So we have taken control of the government in the name of all uBakai. Discipline and values will replace corruption. The Municipal Police, who have shown their brutality and corruption, have been replaced by the Ground Forces Military Police, who you will find to be stern but principled.”
He didn’t go on much longer; he spoke briskly and to the point. His commanding presence and self-confidence made him sound like he knew what he was doing, but he was astro-navy, and everything looks easier from orbit. If this admiral thought a bunch of Army MPs could just step in and seamlessly take over the police functions of one of the largest cities on Hazz’Akatu, he was delusional. Whatever lid the Munies had clamped on the Sakkatto pressure cooker had just been removed.
The next guy to speak was the vice-president-designate, none other than Elaamu Gaant. So that’s what all that astro-navy brass was doing at Med South earlier: chatting up Gaant and cutting a deal.
Maybe Gaant was part of the government to give it the veneer of civilian participation, or maybe to let the rioters know whose side the military was on. His head was swathed in spray-on bandages and I thought he had sort of a wild look in his eyes I hadn’t seen before. His speech ran longer than the admiral’s and it was . . . something else — a rambling rant about the destiny of the Varokiim, and the corruption not only of the uBakai Wat, but of the whole Cottohazz.
Look at all the Varoki have given the other races of the Cottohazz, he lectured: the orbital needle, which enables them to economically move people and material from planet surface to space, and the jump drive, which enables them to move between the stars in the blink of an eye instead of the passage of a lifetime — the same words he used to me a few days earlier. There would be no interstellar civilization without the Varoki, he said, and the idea that the other races of the Cottohazz even had a voice in judging a Varoki nation incensed him.
“It is not for that collection of talking animals,” he finished, his voice rising, skin flushed and ears flared, “which calls itself the Cottohazz Wat to pass judgment on our destiny. If the Cottohazz does not have the vision to recognize and honor the special place in history of the Varokiim, then we say the Cottohazz can rot!”
In the three hundred years since the Varoki had started their journey into the galaxy, a lot had happened, but never anything like this, not that I’d ever heard of anyway. A Varoki nation taken over by a military coup and now telling the Cottohazz to go screw itself? This was crazy talk, deeply and disturbingly crazy.
This new so-called government had taken out the Munies and didn’t have the resources to protect the non-uBakai nationals and non-Varoki the way the previous administration had. Now it was pretty clear they didn’t have the inclination either, and I knew from experience that Gaant had an especially dark place in his heart for Humans.
A military spokesman announced that the Provisional Government had closed the borders and suspended all international travel for the duration of the emergency. Then all the feeds on the smart wall went black and I heard the hum of jammers in my head. I powered down my commlink. Whatever this new government intended to do in Sakkatto City, they didn’t want anyone watching, listening, or recording. Gaant might be particularly interested in finding me, and one of the first place he’d have the Army look would be right here. With the Munies all dead or in detention, my range of options had narrowed way down.
How could I have fucked this up so badly? Once I got back to the apartment yesterday and gassed Bela and Pablo, all I’d needed to do was get the travel cover, book a shuttle flight right then, and get the hell out of here. Instead I’d gotten cocky. I’d dicked around with the interrogation, the visit to Gaisaana-la, the hospital, and now my escape window had slammed shut in my face.
My chest grew tight with fear and I started to sweat. I’d thought my situation was bad before but it was nothing compared to this. I’d really put myself in a hole.
I shook my head to clear it. Panic and recrimination weren’t going to help anything. Where to from here? Someplace where there were Humans, that’s for sure. No way to hide in a sea of Varoki.
Of course, nobody on any side of the power struggle there gave a damn about my survival, but two things encouraged me: Stal wasn’t particularly set on killing me, and where there was conflict there was also opportunity.
I walked to the intercom and hit the button. “Bela, I’m going to Sookagrad. I need transportation and muscle, and I’m paying cash. You interested?”