Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
Chapter 29 - Wufei
by Dyna Dee
Wufei Chang sat stiffly in the leather chair facing the Preventors' Director. He concentrated on projecting the picture of stoic patience while his boss once again read over his scathing and detailed report on L2, written after his and Agent Barton's brief stay on that colony. Taking the moment to observe Lady Une, he thought her similar to himself and his former comrades in one respect; she seemed older and by far wiser than other men and women of a similar age. At thirty, Director Une was a disciplined, organized task master, who was steadfastly determined to carry out the UEC's goals of maintaining peace. He noted the slight wrinkle forming between her narrowed eyes as she flipped over yet another page and continued reading, obviously not pleased by the report's contents. Spread across her desk were the original color photographs he'd handed to her moments ago, each one revealing the atrocious conditions within L2, truly saying more visually than the lengthy report she was now reading.
Ten minutes passed with only the turning of pages interruped the silence. Finally, after the last line had been read, the brunet woman closed the folder and set it down on her desk. Another full minute passed before her eyes rose to meet the steady gaze of the agent sitting across her desk. She was now ready to address the report.
"This reads more like a condemnation of the UEC than your normal cut and dry statement of evidence and conclusions, Agent Chang."
"I believe it is," he answered cooly, his gaze never wavering.
"It is interesting, however," she began, picking up one of the pictures. Wufei caught a glimpse of the photo and determined it to be the one showing the food distribution center and the line of starving people lined up in front of it. "That this lawless colony seems to have found some order during their time of crisis."
"That order was born out of necessity because of the desperate state of affairs our government has caused those suffering people," Wufei said with a frown. "There is no excuse for what the UEC is subjecting those men, women and children to. You can see for yourself in the pictures Agent Barton took of the deplorable living conditions they are forced to live in. As a group, the colony has sidestepped starvation by creating a system of food and water distribution as well as order, and they continue to survive by hanging onto the hope that their nightmare will soon end."
"And it's your opinion that these marauders, who have been attacking supply shuttles for the past couple of years, have been giving their stolen goods to the colony?"
"The colonists we spoke to became hesitant about speaking with us when the topic of their food supply came up, other than their caustic condemnation of the UEC for the embargo. Even if they had any knowledge about where the food was coming from or who delivered it, which I'm not certain the majority of them do, they're grateful enough to their benefactors to remain silent, protecting them and thereby ensuring the continuation of the much needed supplies. I have no physical proof that the marauders are doing this, but I strongly suspect that is exactly what's going on. The goods they've taken have not shown up on any other colony. But without proof, my theory remains conjecture only. Yet I would ask you who else but these marauders, with their cloaked ship, could sneak past the UEC's barricade that is set up around L2?"
The director clasped her hands together, her index fingers forming a steeple upon which she rested her chin as she contemplated the subject further. "You've had no luck in finding the marauders' base?"
"No," Wufei replied with a frown. "Heero and I have discussed certain possibilities, and he's trying to locate the original engineer of the stealth system used in Deathscythe during the wars."
"Yes, but he's having little to no luck finding the man." Wufei then explained further. "The Sweepers are a close, tight-lipped society, and we're having little success in getting anything out of them."
"You've contacted Duo Maxwell about this?"
"Of course, but he and Howard have had little to do with each other since the war ended. A falling out seems to have occurred after Duo blew up his gundam, which was engineered by Howard."
Lowering her hands to her desk, the director looked thoughtful for a moment before speaking again. "You commend the marauders in your report."
"You do realize that you're compromising your position here in the Preventers by making such a statement?"
"Perhaps. I am a Preventer, but first and foremost I'm a man with a conscience. How can I condemn in words the actions of men willing to risk their lives and freedom for a group of people who cannot defend or provide for themselves? My former comrades and I stood up for our otherwise defenseless colonies each and every time we climbed inside our gundams and fought to free them from the Federation and then the Alliance's tyranny. I would prove myself a hypocrite if I should now condemn the same actions of other men."
"Your duty then conflicts with your conscience."
There was a long pause as Wufei considered his reply. To agree with her statement could mean his removal from not only the case, but also from his position. "After seeing the suffering taking place on L2, I find myself questioning of the validity of the embargo. Why is it in place? With the evidence I've gathered it's clear that order had been established on L2 and that the supplies being sent there are woefully inadequate. Why is that the case? Thousands have died because of the embargo alone. How many more will die before someone takes a stand and does something? I submit to you, Director Une, that the marauders are doing just that. They are helping those who have no one else to turn to and no means available for them to tell anyone of their plight."
Leaning forward in his chair, Wufei looked directly into his superior's eyes. "Why is it that there has been no official reporting or follow-up on L2? While insufficient humanitarian aid is being sent by the UEC, apparently no official ferret out have been delivered in regards to the deteriorating population or improved, non-violent conditions within the colony. Again, I ask you why? And I'd also like to know the reasons for the UEC's disregard and brutal treatment of L2, which is not only atrocious and goes against reason, but it's also immoral."
"Ours is not to question why, Agent Chang," the director replied with a grave expression. "We are the protectors of peace and answerable to the UEC government."
"As a citizen of the UEC I have the right to question the actions of our leaders, especially when they prove detrimental to other citizens, such as those trapped on L2. How can anyone justify starving of old women and men, of mothers carrying babies and especially the little children? It's not right, and after what I've seen I cannot sit idly by and do nothing."
"Of course you can't," the director said as she rubbed her red-shot eyes. "But regardless of your feelings about this matter, I must remind you that you are a Preventer and have a job to perform."
Wufei tried to hide how startled he was by her last statement. He had been prepared to have her ask for his resignation after she'd read his report. "What do you mean?" he asked cautiously.
"I want you to return to space and continue your assignment, to ferret out and arrest these marauders." She held up her hand after sensing he was about to protest. "Whether or not this group of bandits are modern-day Robin Hoods, they are still breaking the law and must be brought to justice."
Seeing his frown, she continued. "Consider this, Wufei. If your hunch is true, that these thieves are supplying L2 with the stolen goods, then once the marauders are brought to trial every atrocity on L2 will become a matter of public record. As Director, I'm bound by orders and guidelines for how to operate and maintain this organization. My orders come from persons higher up in the government chain. Like you, I am bound by duty and my hands are tied to an extent in investigating and exposing the government's reasoning behind the embargo, despite my own concerns. I cannot allow your report nor your condemnation of the UEC to be used to sway public opinion. But a trial, conducted openly in court and reported on by the press here and throughout the colonies, will not only bring to light what has been going on, but will no doubt initiate an official investigation as to what is behind the embargo and the sorry lack of supplies to a distressed colony. I can't think of a more effective way to bring this matter out in the open than finding the marauders and putting them on trial for all the UEC's citizens to view, and more importantly, hear."
Wufei contemplated her suggestion for several minutes. He really hadn't thought Director Une would call a press conference and relay an account of his report. That would be political suicide for her job and perhaps for the Preventer organization as well. But a well-televised trial would certainly bring out the motive behind the marauder's charitable acts. The only alternative would be to take a copy of his findings and the images captured by Trowa and give them to a reputable news agency and hope for the best. Losing his job was an acceptable loss in return for the sympathy and aid such actions might bring to the hungry people on L2, but the suspicious shadow his actions might cast on the Preventer organization was not something he could take lightly.
"I'll return to space... for now," he stated. If he didn't uncover any leads on the elusive bandits, then he'd fall back to his secondary plan of giving his report and pictures to a news agency.
He watched as the woman behind the desk picked up another of the many pictures spread out before her. The one in her hand now showed one of the children who had braved entering the building where he and Trowa had camped in order to get some extra food. His wide smile showed a lack of dental care and his eyes were devoid of the light and happiness most children bore. The gaunt face was that of a malnourished child. "It breaks your heart, doesn't it?" Une whispered, not unaffected by the plight of the children at least.
"It does," he replied. "But it also furthers my resolve to do something about this." He reached out his hand for the photo and after a moment, she handed it to him. "I'll keep this with me in order to remind me why haste is necessary. This child, and others like him, won't last much longer, even with the added supplies given to the colony by the marauders."
"I'll see what I can do on my end, speak to my superiors about your report," the director said, her eyes still fixed on the many faces of L2 strewn across her desk.
Wufei stood from his chair, but as a second thought came to him he asked, "Are there any new leads on Relena's case?"
Suddenly, as if he'd put on glasses that fine-tuned his vision, Wufei could see the slight slump in the young woman's shoulders, the look of fatigue and weariness on her face. No doubt she was being pressured on all sides to have both Relena's case and that of the marauders brought to a satisfactory conclusion. He felt sympathy for his boss, and a bit guilty that he was glad not to be sitting in her place.
"I'll keep in touch," was all he could think come up with in reply. Turning about, he left her and began to mentally prepare for his departure from Earth once again.