by Yong Phillips
Each day, the comm-relay systems at the System Communication Division of UEE’s Building One in New York chime repeatedly as incoming diplomatic packets clear their encryption verification. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t any chiming alerts between the various types of messages – the system doesn’t know what’s important and what isn’t. That responsibility falls to the analysts, who read, sort and assess messages from political contacts throughout the UEE and its embassies, as well as messages from the Xi’An Empire and the Banu Protectorate. Many find it to be a tedious job.
This morning, that tedium was broken.
The UEE and the Xi’An have had a tempestuous relationship in the best of times. Since the signing of the Akari/Kray Treaty and the end of the Messer Era, it has seemed that Humanity and the Xi’An were sorting out our differences. There have been setbacks and stumbles along the way, but the pervasive fear of total war and mutual annihilation seemed to be a thing of the past.
This morning, the fear stirred from its slumber.
Sources inside the UEE who asked to remain anonymous today informed the New United that a diplomatic packet was received at 12:43 SET from the highest levels of the Xi’An Empire, alleging that they had captured a UEE spy.
All attempts to contact members of the Imperator’s office or the Senate have been unsuccessful at this time as the governments seemed to go into lockdown mode – a press blackout apparently validating the seriousness of a charge that a simple public statement might have deflected.
“They’re scrambling,” a contact who was not authorized to comment on the record indicated via comm. “Everyone’s denying it, even internally, but word is that [Imperator] Costigan is furious. He and the Senate are already hunting for the heads of whoever’s responsible. It’s only a matter of time before there’s blood in the water and things get real bad.”
At this time, it’s unknown what was included in the Xi’An diplomatic packet, in particular whether they included evidence or the identity of the suspected spy, but the UEE is obviously worried. Comm traffic spiked over the next few hours, causing outages for public relays as official UEE comm-messages usurped priority in the transfers.
During that time, reports began to trickle in from Kilian and Hadrian that UEEN capital ships were being pulled from tactical drills. Although these reports have yet to be substantiated, they suggest that the UEE is preparing for the possibility of renewed military action.
With the turbulent political and bureaucratic atmosphere and the lack of concrete answers, is there a danger to Citizens and civilians? No travel warnings had been issued as of press time. With the rumors of military activity, the New United contacted UEE Customs to see if the government had instituted tighter security measures but their response offered little insight:
“There have not been any additional protocols handed down in the past twenty-four hours,” replied Customs Agent Yori Henna of the Tayac Station. “We at UEE Customs are operating at our current standard of excellence in the prevention of illegal entry or the transport of contraband into UEE space.”
Finally, after nearly ten hours of requests from this and other newsorgs, Adrian Womack, Media Secretary for the Imperator, held a news conference at 21:20 SET and issued the following statement:
“Early this morning, the Xi’An Empire claimed to have captured a UEE spy in their territory. Imperator Costigan and the Senate have spent the day trying to ascertain the exact nature of the situation and the evidence of the suspect’s crimes, but would like to flatly deny that any covert action was authorized by this administration. We take these charges and accusations very seriously and are working closely with our Xi’An counterparts to find an amicable solution to this utterly distasteful turn of events. We are proceeding with the utmost confidence that we can resolve this peacefully.”
Mr. Womack refused to answer any questions and quickly receded behind the wall of guards into the UEE building.
As a member of the news who regularly attends these sorts of news conferences, you start to get a sense of how a media secretary really feels about the information he or she is disseminating by the things that are not said. Subtle cues in the posture, even in the patterns and inflections of their speech, can hint at how the administration really feels about what it’s saying.
I caught a glimpse of Womack after he had turned from the cameras, before he disappeared back inside. In my twelve years at this newsorg, it was the first time I had seen a media secretary scared.