Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap.
The sound of my fingers on the datapad is the only thing I can hear. It's quiet around here. Too quiet. I try to will them to move faster, as I don't know how long I have. I could have an entire lifetime ahead of me. I could have five minutes.
Tap tap tap...
I took a risk. I shouldn't have trusted the hunter. I shouldn't have expected my cover to be kept. But I needed to know the truth. The people aboard the Pioneer 2 need to know the truth.
Tap tap tap tap...
Did the hunter report me to the authorities? Would there have been a reward offered for turning me in? Was the money I paid him to take me down to Ragol not enough? Does he agree with the government's efforts to conceal what happened to the people aboard Pioneer 1?
Tap tap tap...
My report is nearly complete. A strange noise from off in the distance catches my attention. Is that a siren? It couldn't be a siren. If they're coming for me, they wouldn't want to call attention to themselves. Regardless, I type the last few sentences as quickly as I possibly can.
"...no signs of an explosion or any survivors from Pioneer 1. Clearly, Ragol is not the peaceful world we were told it was and the truth has been knowingly kept from us."
Just as I save the file, a flash of light penetrates the window of my small apartment. I stand up and peer at the shimmering column that starts at the ground six floors below me and extends upwards indefinitely. A telepipe. Right outside my building. This can't be a coincidence.
Sure enough, a squad of uniformed soldiers emerges from the wavering portal, accompanied by a trio of intimidating androids. Each one is equipped with a massive rifle and the stomp of their heavy metallic feet as they make their way towards the entrance of the apartment complex can be heard all the way up here, where I'm still standing at the window. My worst fears have been confirmed. The hunter must have reported my illegal presence in the restricted areas. They know.
I fight back the waves of nausea and grab the small computer as I make sure my door is locked. After checking that all the bolts are securely in place, I rush through my living room, kitchen, and bedroom, all the way to my bathroom in the back and barricade myself in. None of these measures will stop them for long, but maybe, just maybe, I've bought myself enough time to set my plan into motion.
They may think they know everything, they may think they see and hear everything, they may think they have complete control over the Pioneer 2, but they don't. They never will. As hard as they try to pretend that everything is fine, we civilians are not stupid. Even if we don't know specific details, we know what's right and what's wrong. We know when they're lying to us. And we won't sit back and accept it for long.
I've always done what they've told me to do, report nothing but positive news and paint our leaders in a glowing light, all with a cheery smile. But today will be different. Their pretty blonde journalist who has worked her way into the hearts of the people as the face of the media has some ugly things to share.
I'm not the only dissatisfied citizen aboard the ship and like-minded people have a way of finding each other. While I may not know everything there is to know about technology and communications and security, there are plenty of people who do. I've ensured that my findings will reach every single person aboard the Pioneer 2. I've done my work and all that's left is one last little click of a button.
Someone's pounding on my front door. The pit of dread that has formed in my stomach is nearly unbearable, but I have resigned myself to my fate. Many secrets have been passed along to me by my nameless allies and I know that death is probably my best option at this point. Mere imprisonment is too light of a sentence for those who dare to speak out against the government. With our advanced weaponry and range of techniques, we have the capacity to inflict severe damage not only against our enemies, but against ourselves. I knew the risks when I set out on my mission, but I will not be maimed, shocked, paralyzed, or otherwise tortured. I won't give them the satisfaction.
The banging on my door has changed from a salutatory knock to something more forceful. They're going to get inside. And they will stop at nothing. I don't have much time left at all, but I might have just enough...
I drag my fingertips across the screen of the electronic tablet and activate the video function. Staring straight into the glowing light at the top, I begin to speak in a rushed whisper. "I don't know all that happened on Ragol, but the government is lying to us. Something bad happened and we're not safe here." A loud crash interrupts my impromptu speech. I continue on. "No matter what happens, I urge you to seek the truth. They may silence me, but together, our voices will be too loud to be ignored." A lump forms in my throat, but I try to stay composed for the camera. "This is Nol Rinale, signing out for the last time."
I tap the screen a few more times, fervently hoping that my attempts to hack into the ship's networks were successful. My written report, now with the accompanying video, will be sent to every communication device, be displayed on every screen, and flaunted before the people who had tried to cling so desperately to the illusion that they could keep dangerous secrets. Like an effective virus, my findings will spread throughout the masses and the ensuing rage towards the betrayal by those who were supposed to protect us will have no cure.
The ominous thud of footsteps grows closer and closer. They are calling out my name, but I will not acknowledge their presence in my home. There is only one thing left to do. I will choose what happens to me. I am in control, if only for a few more moments.
The handgun I had procured this morning rests in the holster at my hip. I take it out and hold it in front of me, examining it as I carefully turn it over in my hands. Earlier today, I had used it to defend myself against the vicious animals on Ragol, but now it would be used to prevent a different sort of cruelty.
They'll find me shortly, the crimson stains splattered across the pristine white tile. They'll see my datapad and know what I did, but it will be too late by then. I am unstoppable. The quest for truth is unstoppable.
The doorknob shakes and I know it won't be long before they burst inside. I raise the gun up to my face and, with very little hesitation, insert the end into my mouth. It feels strange, like the foreign object it is. The metallic taste is somewhat unpleasant, but it doesn't matter now. The door begins to buckle beneath the strength of the androids ramming into it and a million different thoughts are running through my mind as I curl my finger around the trigger. I hope my discoveries reach everyone. I hope this isn't going to hurt too much. I hope the people of Pioneer 2 can one day find a safe place to call home.
I hope it was all worth it.