Thursday, February 20, 2014

2/20/14

Protocol
By Eric White


The outraged scientist and his research team barged onto the bridge. I had to be firm with him, but I had to prevent the situation from escalating. His researchers watched as he marched directly up to me.
“Look Captain, I didn’t complain when we were forced to cease research, to park this vessel. I understood we were just following protocol,” he said. “And I didn’t complain at the fact that we’ve been sitting here for the last nine days. Like you said, it’s just protocol. But now you’re telling me that we have to abort the mission indefinitely?”
“I know that this wasn’t the intended outcome, but-“
“You’re damn right this wasn’t the intended outcome. Do you know how much time and effort has been put into this project? We have only explored sixty-five percent of the oceans, but now we’re just supposed to leave with our research incomplete? This is unacceptable.” He poked his long skinny finger into my chest as if to frighten me.
“That’s not the case. Protocol simply states that-“
“I don’t give a damn about your protocol!” he said. “You owe us an explanation, as to why you’re cutting this expedition short. We’ve been sitting here for nine days. We demand answers.”
The other researchers nodded and agreed in approval.
“This is not the proper way to discuss your concerns,” I said. “If you will follow me, we can discuss the situation further. Everyone else needs to return to their quarters. If you would just cooperate we can explain further.”
“What? I’m not going anywhere with you. You think you can just shut us up? Not today. I’m done taking orders from you and your under-evolved crew! Our research is paramount to the council’s final decision. You’re just glorified bodyguards. We’re not going anywhere! We’re not abandoning this mission!”
The angry mob of researchers moved forward, but my guards already had their blasters drawn. The sudden appearance of a lethal threat halted the researchers in their tracks.
“I’m done with this. You will follow me, or you will die where you stand. Anyone else who does not immediately return to his or her quarters will be dealt with accordingly,” I said.
I didn’t wait for an answer. I started down a corridor, leaving my guards to deal with the crowd. I heard the scientist’s scuttling footfalls behind me. The conference room doors glided open as I approached. I stood in the doorway and ushered him in before me.
“Have a seat.”
“No, it’s okay. I rather stand,” he replied skeptically.
“It wasn’t a question.”
Once full of threats and demands, the scientist shifted uncomfortably in his seat like a scolded child.
“I will give you your answers,” I said while standing behind him. “Even though there’s not a damn thing about what we’re doing down here that’s of any importance at all.”
“That’s not true! If we-“
I slammed his head into the table.
“And that is the very last time you will interrupt a ranking officer of the Alliance.”
“You can’t do this!” he squealed. “ I am a sanctioned scientist. You have no right to-“
I slammed his head into the table harder that time.
“I can do whatever I want. You organized an attack against Alliance military personnel while on a mission. As of right now, you’re guilty of treason,” I said as I moved to the front of the table to look him in his beady eyes.
“Nine days ago, a boat on the surface began blasting this area with sonar. We were ordered to dock on the ocean floor, and cloak ourselves to avoid detection, but this morning there was a power surge and our cloaking shield was disabled for a few moments. During that time, our research vessel was located by a sonar scan. It is protocol to cease all mission objectives until the area can be confirmed safe for further research. As you know, our existence must remain unknown.”
The scientist was wide-eyed with fear. Once boisterous and demanding, the scientist now cringed as he shrank into his chair. The trail of purple blood running down his temple almost brought a smile to my face.
“Did you know that there are thirty other research teams just like yours on this planet right now? Each team thinks it is more important than the last, and I escort every damn one of them on hundreds of mission just like this one every year. But let me let you in on a little secret,” I said.
“None of you matter. The only reason you are here is because it’s Alliance protocol. We have to explore every resource on the planet, but the truth is there’s only one research team of any real importance, and that’s the one observing the human species. Their findings will decide whether or not Earth becomes part of the Planetary Alliance. Not you and not your research. The decision doesn’t rest on Earth’s resources. The decision rests on its people. If you believe otherwise, you are truly delusional.“
The scientist sat dumbfounded and silent.
“Protocol dictates that we leave the planet tonight. Once out of the planet’s atmosphere we will dock with an Alliance cruiser. Until then, you will stay in your quarters and keep your mouth shut.”
I unclipped my blaster’s holster, and I leaned in close.
“If you can’t comply with this, let me know now.”
Silence.
“Good, because you don’t want me to follow the protocol for someone who has committed treason,” I said as I left the room.


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Eric White is a writer currently attending Full Sail University. Eric enjoys all forms of story telling, and he plans to one day utilize his skills within the entertainment industry.

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