Veronica pushed the speared olive around her drink with a lazy finger, spinning it in circles as Jun watched her intently from across the table.
“This will change everything.” Jun was blunt when he spoke. Veronica liked that, but at times it could feel like a kick to the chest. This was one of those times.
Around them, the small street-side bar hummed with the lazy life of a late Wednesday night. A few midweek bar-goers floated about, some chatting, others reading screens or watching a repeat of last week’s football game. None paid attention to Veronica and Jun sat at the far back corner, where even the bartender had forgotten about them. From the narrow street outside, the usual shout of traffic rolled past, and the mixture of harsh lights filtered through the windows, lighting the room in a mixture of purple and cool blue glows.
“Ve, you asked the questions, I’m giving you the answers. You want this change, this is how we do it,” Jun said. Veronica sipped quietly at her drink, wincing at the sour tang that travelled down her throat. She didn’t enjoy drinking.
With a tired sigh, Jun leant back in the booth chair and took a forced sip of his own drink. What a pair they made, two non-drinkers hiding away at the back of a greasy bar.
“I don’t know Jun,” Veronica said hesitantly. She tapped a finger at the rim of her glass. “What if this backfires? The consequences would be-”
“Extreme? Yeah, people don’t take kindly to coup’s.” Blunt, again.
“This isn’t a coup though,” Veronica argued, pushing the drink away from herself. “This is the survival of the Confederacy we’re talking about. Keeping the one other species in this galaxy alive!”
“And these attackers? How do we know what they are? What could they be, if not another life form?” Jun was right. The information they’d gotten from the Confederacy was scant enough, and with the fleet refusing to send any scouts, they had no idea what was happening in that system. They were flying blind.
“Whatever they are, the Confederacy needs our help, and I need you for it,” Veronica pleaded.
“I’m all for this Ve, don’t get me wrong. I’m the one who asked to meet you here after all. But…” Jun tapped at his empty glass. “I need you to understand the ramifications this will have on you. I’ll be taking a leap, sure, but that’s alright in my books. But for you… Ve, you’re a research team leader, not a politician or a military commander. This could really bite you hard. People will come for you if they find out, you know as well as I how they’ll feel about joining this fight.”
Veronica stared blankly out the distant front window. People walked past in the light rain that had begun to drizzle, the pale purples and blues playing across their faces. They were blissfully ignorant. They had no idea what was happening, and to be honest, many were probably happy with that fact. Too many people had an uneasy trust of the Confederacy. If they went to their aid, how many would realistically do so willingly?
“I know what I’m signing up for.”
Jun’s stern gaze felt as though it tested Veronica’s own will. He really was pushing her, and her heart beat a little faster in her chest.
“Whatever will be, will be. We can’t let this slide, no matter the consequence,” she finally said, ensuring her tone was strong and certain. Satisfied, Jun leant back in his seat.
“Good, glad we got that covered,” he breathed with relief. Raising his hand, he waved the barman over for another refill.
“So, how do we do this?” Veronica asked. Jun gave a casual shrug, nodding as the barkeep staggered back away.
“I show evidence to parliament, they instate CAF emergency powers, and then we send the fleet to do whatever needs doing.”
“You make it sound all so easy.”
“In a very watered-down theoretical sense, yeah.”
With a sigh, Veronica snatched up her drink and knocked back the last of its contents, sliding the empty glass back away as she tried to keep down the nauseous feeling in her gut.
“And what do I do?” Veronica wasn’t sure if she asked out of necessity or anxious fear. Either way, the look Jun gave her was one of warning.
“Stay low, keep to business as usual. If anybody asks, we were never here.”