The Daily Scoop (1)
Sara was a 28-year-old suburban mom. She led a normal life, had a normal level of education, and was, in no uncertain terms, an important person.
In fact, according to the Hope’s selection standard, she shouldn’t even be allowed onboard.
There was, however, one detail of her life that she was proud of, and that had essentially saved her life. She was married to a Navy SEAL. When the riot started, it was her husband who kept her small neighborhood intact.
Despite the pandemonium ravaging the world, Sara felt perfectly safe beside her husband. Their three-year-old daughter was her only and biggest worry.
That worry had dwindled tremendously after they were escorted up the Hope and given residence at the Barracks. Life on the Hope, in spite of its many restrictions, was a special kind of bliss for Sara. Watching the smile that had disappeared during the traumatic riot days return to her daughter’s face had brought immense joy to her heart. As time moved on, life for Sara slowly returned to the comforting suburban rhythm.
That was until a few days ago…
“Dear Mrs Thompson, on behalf of the Hope’s third infantry regiment, we would like to thank your husband for his honorable service. We will never forget the life that he has given for the greater good of the Hope, the greater good of the twelve million people on board. Because of his bravery and sacrifice, we were able to rescue 341 technicians and 74 soldiers. Again, we would like to thank you for his service. The details are all in this letter…”
Sara basically blanked out after hearing the first sentence. She had been expecting this letter ever since families around the Barracks started receiving similar notices. She knew in her heart that she would not see her husband return, but to be handed the actual letter was still a great blow to her.
Tears would not stop falling as she shakily accepted the letter. If not for her daughter, who was holding on to her skirt, she would have keeled over right there and then.
“Mommy, please don’t cry,” said the little girl innocently. Sara looked at her young daughter, and in the girl’s eyes reflected the calm countenance of her father. Touched, Sara swept her daughter up into her arms and held her firmly to her heart.
Sara knew that she had to be strong for her daughter. It was her duty now to ensure that her husband’s legacy lived on. She needed her daughter to know that her father was a hero!
A hero who sacrificed his life for the survival of humanity!
No, he deserved much more than that! He should be given a proper burial! A government-validated burial! It was their responsibility because…
He died for the government. It was only fair that his death be given a notice greater than that of a stupid letter! Not only that, she had to make sure that the government ensured that the families that were left behind were properly taken care of…
And thus, hoping to seek justice for her husband and others like herself, Sara started contacting other families who had lost family members on Planet Sahara.
She found out that about 300 people had lost their lives on Planet Sahara. The families that they left behind totaled up to about one thousand people. After Sara’s intentions became known, connections between these one thousand people started forming. Finally, the day came for these family members to meet.
A multimedia room was decided to be the venue. At this moment, about two hundred people had already gathered within and more were still coming.
“Mrs. Jennifer and Mrs. Isle, sorry I’m late,” said the arriving Sara to the two ladies who were walking towards her.
One of the ladies, Mrs. Jennifer, had a mixed heritage. One half was African American and Caucasian, while the other was European. Mrs. Jennifer was about 24 years old and Mrs. Isle was five years older. They both smiled at Sara, and the younger of the two chided her after seeing the large stack of paperwork she was carrying. “Sara, you sure did your homework!”
As the two ladies offered to share the load, Sara responded, “Yes, here are some of the laws pertaining to US military protocol on field casualties and the ensuing familial reparations. Most of these are from the states, but there are some that are from China, since… you know… our major is Chinese.”
The two ladies smiled politely at the colored remark, then Mrs. Isle added diplomatically, “Yes, he is Chinese, but he is also a hero who have saved twelve million people, has maintained a continuous sense of order on the Hope… and it was his bravery that saved us again on Planet Sahara. He is a trustworthy leader.”
“Oh no, you misunderstand me, Mrs. Isle. I do see him as a real hero and leader, and his government has been fair with all the dealings on the Hope. I bear him no ill will. It’s just that as a Chinese, he might not be familiar with our military’s protocol, that’s what I meant,” explained a flustered Sara.
The other two ladies nodded their heads. They then started discussing Sara’s legal findings. They knew that Sara had been busy going back and forth between the Barracks and the civilian campgrounds to ask for advice from legal experts from America, Europe, and Asia. They were very impressed by her dedication and devotion to their cause.
And it was this important cause that connected these three ladies. All three of their husbands had perished on the Planet Sahara. None of their loved ones’ bodies had been retrieved, and they were left with children to fend for. These similarities in their situations had formed an unbreakable bond between the three ladies as they championed for a better funeral or memorial service and reassurance of their children’s future from the government.
As Sara walked up to the podium, she frowned when she saw the measly two hundred people who had gathered in the room. She laughed awkwardly as she spoke into the microphone. “Has there been a mix-up? Isn’t today the day for the important meeting? So… why are there so few of us?”
The people who were there were equally confused. A lot of them were similarly focused on this cause, some of them even came prepared with stacks of paperwork like Sara… It seemed uncouth, but one had to ponder: was it possible that some families just didn’t care enough about their dead children, parents, or loved ones?
A lady in the front row suddenly stood up. “Mrs. Thompson, I’m sorry, but I think I can offer some explanation,” said the lady apologetically.
The lady who stood up was a pretty, bespectacled Asian woman who looked to be approaching thirty.
Sara asked kindly, “is it Mrs. Manos? Do you know why other families aren’t coming?”
Accepting the microphone that was passed to her, the Asian lady nodded her head. “I’m sure people have noticed my Chinese heritage by now, but I left China when I was young. However, ever since boarding the Hope, I’ve formed relationships with some of the Chinese families. In fact, some of them had family members who died on the desert planet. I talked to many of them before coming here today, and they have all refused to come along. I believe they prefer to wait for the official government response, and I have a feeling they might be afraid to attend this meeting.”
Most of the people couldn’t register what Mrs. Manos was saying. Grabbing a microphone, a fifty-year-old elder stood up asking for clarification. “But it is because we have waited so long for an official government statement that this meeting is being held. We would like to discuss how to properly broach this topic with the government. But that aside, why did you say they are afraid… What are they afraid of?”
Mrs. Manos had obvious difficulties speaking freely, but under public pressure, she elaborated, “They are afraid of the government… They were too spooked by the lawlessness of the riotous days…”
An African woman stood up and asked, “That might be true, but shouldn’t they feel safe now? The rules they have on this ship almost borders on personal harassment. Order reigns supreme, so why are they still afraid?”
Cornered, Mrs. Manos finally caved. “That is what they are afraid of! Current conditions on this ship reminded them too much of the dictatorial regime they once had. They are used to living under conditions where the people have no say in the administration. They are afraid that a request like ours would earn the ire of the government. They have their children to think of, they are content with how things currently are, and they do not wish for it to change!”
Chaos erupted following Mrs. Manos’ statement. A sixty-something-year-old man stood up and said, in a booming voice, “Why would they think so? This is the first time the Hope has faced such a situation; we are setting a precedent for, God forbid, future repetitions. Why wouldn’t they be a part of this? We aren’t criminals, we are merely exercising our rights!”
“I agree, and our Major is a just hero, surely he…”
“We are helping the government streamline their protocol, how could that get us arrested…”
“Mrs. Manos, are you sure there hasn’t been miscommunication…”
People started talking over one another, so it was hard to tell who had the reason and facts. Right then, the door busted open. Two Black Star Unit members and about fifteen soldiers marched in.
That effectively settled the upheaval. Everyone turned to look at the newly arrived soldiers. Mrs. Manos was so riddled with fear that her body started shivering.
One of the two Black Stars was Liu Bai. He extricated himself from the group and ambled up the stage to the podium. He smiled genially at Sara as he took over the microphone. After giving everyone a deep bow, he said, “Major’s orders: there will be a solemn star burial service in the coming days to honor the heroes who have lost their lives on Planet Sahara. At the same time, one of the Barracks’ pavilions will be renovated to build a Memorial Hall. It will be used to record the legacy of our fallen heroes so that their selfless deeds will be forever remembered by humanity.
“Regarding the issue of familial reparations, the government is open for suggestions. We will set aside a week to listen to your suggestions. But please do not worry; your loved ones’ memory will be properly honored. The families will stay on their current residences and the children will receive the best education possible so that one day they can proudly say to their friends that…
“My father, my mother, my sister, or my brother was a true hero!”
The news was greeted by a room of stunned silence. However, that quickly dissolved into soaring cheers, as if they had just won a war. Amidst the festivity was an overjoyed Mrs. Manos, who started sobbing uncontrollably like a child…