Serebrov Terminal, HR 6421 System
Wilbur Bernard's craggy face was twisted into the blackest of scowls at the man sat opposite him, he had in the past always got on with the tall, elegantly dressed spaceship captain sitting on the other side of the table, even liked him but right now he could have happily grabbed hold of the man and smashed his perfectly groomed face into the plexi-glass tabletop. Repeatedly.
"You've got a nerve showing your face here." Wilbur snarled.
"I am a member of this organisation," the man drawled languidly, "and quite a senior one."
"Then fucking act like it!" Wilbur bellowed slamming one of his huge fists onto the table with enough force to shake the cups in their saucers. "Have you any idea just how much shit we've had to clear up thanks to you?"
The man raised a single, quizzical eyebrow.
"Don't play fucking games with me Stannis, just what the fuck was that shit show in Coma all about?"
"Freedom," the man replied casually, "I thought we were rather keen on that idea."
"And the mess that went with t?"
"Cost us, not you. We've had the devils own job persuading the Imps it was nothing to do with us."
"I was acting alone, I never claimed otherwise." Jellicoe replied evenly.
"Fucks sake Stannis you're known, you're a consul, one of our senior faces, you turn up in Coma signing that damned declaration, shooting anything that moves and running wild with that pack of fucking murder hobos and you seriously think nobody will think we're involved? Are you seriously that fucking thick?"
"Members have always been free to do their own thing, we've never been a full time organisation."
"Yeah maybe, to an extend but you have responsibilities, what were you playing at?"
"Fighting them." Jellicoe replied, emotion for the first time breaking into his voice, his eyes shining with an intensity that made Wilbur profoundly uneasy. "What all of us should have been doing, what she died doing."
"That's not what we do Stannis," Wilbur replied, his anger softening slightly, "We're not soldiers, we're watchers, we uncover secrets other want hidden, we work in the shadows and you son have just shone a fucking great searchlight on us so don't come here lecturing me on what she would have done, she hated war, hated killing you know that."
"Maybe, but she also knew that sometimes there was no other choice."
"We can't fight them Stannis, not all of them now is a time just to survive, to wait for our time, to slip back into the shadows like we decided to do."
"I never agreed with that decision."
"I don't give a shit if you did or not, everybody had their say, you put your case and we rejected it so fucking accept that."
"So Aegis, look at them, they stink to high heaven, even Alessia's warned us about them, and we're going to do nothing?" Jellicoe's usually ice cool exterior was beginning to crack.
"What do you want us to do?" Wilbur asked in exasperation, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "Lead a group of explorers out to start blazing away at a body with all three superpowers behind them, that most of the human race think are heroes standing between us and the alien terror?"
"No, not nothing." Wilbur growled his temper almost done, "But we can't fight them now, the only way we can win this is with information, show the galaxy the truth, but first we have to find that truth."
Jellicoe snorted in derision, "She showed the galaxy the truth, they killed her for it and nobody cared, we need to learn that Wilber, all of us need to learn that, nobody cares until we make them care."
"Like you made them care in Coma?"
"Yes," Jellicoe snarled, "exactly like that, the only way these people listen is when you've got them by the balls."
"And you plan to grab the whole galaxy by the balls do you lad? You and your gang of gangster mates are going to grab the Federation Empire and Alliance by the balls all by yourselves are you? Stannis I need your solemn promise that you won't go off on any more of these mad killing sprees? We can't afford these people to know we're still working against them."
"I can't give you that Wilber, I won't promise something I have no intention of keeping. I plan to make Aegis pay and pay very dearly."
"Then I'm sorry Stannis but you need to consider your position." Wilber said quietly. "Or we'll have to."
"Then I'll save you the trouble," Jellicoe replied quietly, resolutely but with a hint of regret, "I stand down as a consul of the Children of Raxxla and cut all ties with the organisation, I wish you all well in the future.
"So what now?" Claude asked as the Resolution passed out of Serabrov's no fire zone.
"We head for the Pleiades," Jellicoe replied, "we're going to war, and this time we're going alone."