Protagoras taught us that there is always two sides to every story. One cannot turn their gaze upon the talkshows or the news wire without hearing reports of the Freedom’s Legion. Namely, we are told they are dangerous malcontents who are potentially harmful to themselves and our way of life. But who are they really? Through no small means, I have secured an interview with the original demagogue himself. Readers, viewers, and listeners, prepare yourselves for an evening with Pallas Cant.
Cetus Lapetus: Good evening, sir. May I call you Pallas Cant, or should I assume that is a nom de guerre?
Pallas Cant: You most certainly may call me such. It is the name I was given, and I wear it proudly as I am sure you do for your own. But I can understand why you, and your viewers, would feel the need to ask that question. To seek assurance that I am who say I am when so many others have taken my manifesto and my name.
Cetus Lapetus: Indeed. Especially when you were reportedly captured in the Rigel system some time ago. Clearly those reports were exaggerated. We heard your moving tale of woe that resonated so deeply in the hearts of the masses. But we yearn to know more. Who is Pallas Cant when the cameras are off? What occupies your days in between what we may expect to be regular public addresses?
Pallas Cant: Now that we have reached the crux point of affairs, you may well count on hearing me expose the true nature of the United Federation of Planets. But in the before of all of this, during what some of my contemporaries call me Wandering Time, I have spent that out there on the fringes of Federation space. After the events that saw me, a loyal Starfleet officer, evicting my own family and people from their world…I knew I could not stay. I knew I could not wander the opulent halls of the core systems, or enjoy the luxuries taken for granted by so many.
And so I travelled from distant star to distant star. I listened to wise village elders and sat in rapt silence as Union Leader fought with words and not fists to better the plight of their people. I shared tea with a village of Vulcan mystics who had left their homeworld centuries before. And along the way, I grew something of a following. People who felt like I did, who had lived my life as an attack dog on the end of the Starfleet leash. We knew that we were not machine men, with machine brains and machine hearts: we were beings of compassion. Can such a man be said to exist who can, with a stroke of a pen, consign a whole world as a prize to a monster?
*A rueful chuckle*
You will have to excuse me. When the fire is lit, it finds suitable timbre in me. My apologies.
Cetus Lapetus: Why, certainly. We ask for no quarter here, that we might understand you all the better. Being a man of the people as you are, can you comment on the recent protests you’ve inspired? Not one of them holds two things in common save for the informal and anonymous manifesto of Freedom’s Legion.
Pallas Cant: I can assure you no one was more shocked by the recent events of the past few months than I. When I had written my manifesto, I did so as a document of private disclosure. Something I would speak of with people genuinely affected by the problems I had outlined. But clearly, there are those out there, in your audience tonight no doubt, who have read my words and have sort to take action based on them. That alone, I believe, paints a far more damning picture of the state of the Federation than I could with a crowd and a team of speechwriters. If my words are but an ember, see how easily the flames have caught.
Cetus Lapetus: Despite the decentralized protests, there are those who label you a seditionist making a mad grab for power. A particularly colorful statement from one talking head is that you have incited secession against the Federation for personal gain. How do you answer these accusations? Are you merely carving out another star empire?
Pallas Cant: I do not style myself as President, Chancellor or Supreme Regent of anything. I am but a private citizen, exercising my right to speak freely to those who would listen. If those people find merit in what I say and choose to act on this new imperative I cannot be said to be leading them. If I were would I not be behind a banner or flag? Perhaps a snappy uniform to dress my cadre of functionaries with? But I think the real question that needs to be asked, if you’ll pardon me for taking your role for a moment, is what does the Federation have to fear from mere words?
We live in a democracy, and like any democracy before it, there is the accepted possibility that it will choose to dismantle itself. Four worlds have chosen to sever themselves from the Federation, freeing them to make a new start. I would hope that other worlds would take their example as proof that life doesn’t end with the absence of the Federation. And if the United Federation of Planets instead chooses to enforce membership by denying the people a hand in their own destiny, can we say we live in a democracy at all?
Cetus Lapetus: To be sure. Yet your detractors would argue that the four seceded worlds are so insignificant that they scarcely warrant a record. I can scarcely recall their names, at least. As a frontiersman such as yourself can attest, border colonies rise and fall every day. Are these four secessions materially any different than colonies which pull stakes and leave? How do you answer those who say your argument is a mountain from a molehill, as it were?
Pallas Cant: I can see you’ve fallen into the well-worn trap we’ve all been taught to accept as fact. Why shouldn’t these four brave worlds be as important as Tellar, or Andoria, or even the vaunted sphere of Earth? For centuries it has been a fact of our lives that the central worlds of the Federation hold precedence over all others. During the Border War, when my home was ceded to the Cardassian Union under a banner of peace, those diplomats went back to their homes knowing their world would never be held to such a crude bargain. I tell you, and your viewers this much: if the old worlds of the Core want to hold any relevance beyond childhood questions of ‘where did we come from?’ then they should shoulder the burdens better than they have.
Cetus Lapetus: Darling, do not mistake my questions for criticisms. In that vein, though, I would be remiss not to ask how Federation core worlds could shoulder the burden, as you so eloquently put it?
Pallas Cant: By seeing each world under their protection at an equal value to another. If a foe takes one of our worlds, he has taken all of them! Instead, those in harm’s way are battered away like coins of old! Would the Federation have given away Andoria to the Romulans? Or Tellar to the Klingons? No. No worlds like Kavallen, and Script Note, with a combined population of five hundred thousand, were! If the Federation truly represents every citizen under its banner, then it should protect them all equally or not at all! That is what the Freedom’s Legion is at its core, a promise to every member that you are not alone nor are you any less important than any other. That-
*A scuffle of footsteps and voices arise from behind the holo-recorder, and a woman in a plain grey jumpsuit steps into view. Pallas’s attention is drawn away from Lapetus and he listened to her hush words, before narrowing his eyes and nodding. He looks at Lapetus and gets up slowly straightening his coat*
Pallas Cant: It would appear our time has grown much shorter. I apologise for what is to come your way my friend, but the free press is not the friend of a tyrant. I’d keep your recorders rolling when they arrive to hunt me down. To those who have listened to my word tonight, know that you are not alone. The Freedom’s Legion is the rising dawn of a new age, even in this most dark of times. You will hear from us again, soon.
*Pallas walks out of the recorder’s range, followed by the woman.*
And there you have it, forum. Court order forbids me from disclosing what happened next. The FNS barristers also require that I reaffirm our commitment to being the most trusted, fair, and balanced name in news. On a personal note, however, I am withdrawing my sizeable annual donation to this year’s Federation Marshals Pension Gala.
This is Cetus Lapetus for the Federation News Service, signing off.