Executive Order 6099
By Steve M
Yeah, I wrote this. Blame no one else
I met her at the fountain near the center of town. Most people were home asleep at midnight. Still, I came across a couple of drunken men that yelled slurred slurs at me until I ran away.
When she turned the corner at the travel store, I watched her long, black hair get caught by a sudden breeze, bouncing up first then out in the wind, wrapped and twisted. She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen! She kissed me desperately when we met. Kiron doesn’t waste words. Never has.
“I think we should leave here. We can hide in the mountains of Krill. They won’t find us there. Not if we stay underground, out of range of their detectors,” she said.
“That will only delay the inevitable,” I responded. “We will have to come out to get more food. Then, we get caught.”
“Then let’s steal a cruiser and leave the planet,” she said.
“Have you ever flown a cruiser?” I replied.
“Then lets stowaway on one,” she argued back.
“When they catch us, they can legally throw us out of an airlock. I don’t want to die from cold in outer space.”
“We need a plan, Hinto. And we need one now.” She squeezed my hand and looked into my eyes. Her dark black eyes wide with worry.
“I go with my family,” I replied. “We go to the relocation planet with the rest of the Wan. When the war is over, we come back.”
“But you aren’t Cleso. You were born here. You are as Alborian as I am,” she countered.
“They don’t see it that way. Wan looks different. Cleso attacked the outpost. All Cleso are Wan, to all Wan are bad. It’s a simple as that. And after the hangings, we’re safer on the relocation planet. It’s dangerous to be pale on Albor now.”
She hugged me. She hugged me tightly as if I were a flotation device and she was drowning.
“I can’t let you go,” she said and squeezed me even tighter.
“I know. I don’t ever want us to be apart. I love you.”
“I love you,” she echoed.
It was the desperation of the circumstances that caused us to say those words that we had wanted to say to each other for so long but were afraid of saying for fear that the other may not have felt the same. We kissed passionately for a long time that seemed like a blink of an eye.
“Death to Wan” we heard a voice yell. It was an old man stumbling towards his home drunk. He pointed his finger at me.
“My son was on Fortis Three, when you bastards attacked,” he yelled at me.
“I didn’t attack anyone,” I barked back at him.
“You’re all in it together. Hanging is too good for Wan scum,” he shouted back before turning the corner.
Fortis Three had been attacked two days ago. Seven hundred cruisers attacked the Alborian outpost in the asteroid belt. It was the primary outward base in the solar system and had been destroyed. The people of Albor were now afraid of an invasion fleet from Cleso, the ancestral home of the Wan. And to think that just over one hundred years ago, Cleso and Albor were allies, with trade agreements, freedom of travel, even significant intermarrying. This was in the time before Warren came to power.
“We need to move. You’re too exposed here,” Kiron said to me.
I pulled up my head covering on my jacket to hide my white hair. But anyone with decent eyesight could spot me as Wan if they saw my face or hands. We rushed out of the square towards the produce market which would open in a few hours.
“But you mother is Alborian. What about her?” Kiron asked.
“She has been declared the wife of an enemy alien,” I replied.
“But your father is a citizen of Albor. He’s served in the government. How can they do this?” she asked.
“Juriko” I replied.
Asfar Juriko was a Wan that operated a successful grocery store on Fortis Three. Wan made up just over ten percent of the population of Fortis Three and almost half of the business owners. When one of the Cleso fighters crashed during the battle, Juriko provided shelter to the pilot. He defended the pilot against a crowd intent on hanging her. Juriko shot and killed four people before he was killed and the pilot was hung from a tree. Juriko was a life-long citizen of Albor. But his act precipitated the backlash that was just beginning. All Wan were considered potential spies or at the least sympathizers like Juriko.
“I will come with you,” Kiron said.
“No, darling. I can’t put you at risk. There are some among the Wan that are beginning to hate again. My father is trying to get an exemption for my mother to stay here,” he explained.
“Warren won’t let her stay. He wants every Wan and every Wan-lover off the planet,” Kiron replied. “And I’m a Wan-lover,” she added.
I looked down at the wet concrete of the produce market. Trapped against the vertical support was a piece of lettuce, dirty from the splash of water that moved it across the floor to its resting place against the steel I-beam unable to travel anywhere else.
“We need comms,” I said. “We need to be able to stay in touch.”
Kiron sighed deeply then dug into her purse. She removed a round, metal comms bracelet.
“It will handle solar system comms with only a four hour delay,” she said as she put the bracelet on my wrist and activated it. It blinked red twice. “I’ve added scrambling to it.”
“Good,” I replied. No need for anyone to know who we are or what we are saying.”
Ahead of us were two men washing the floor down with water hoses. I pulled my hoodie down around the sides of my face as we moved towards them. Nearby were two high-pressure air hoses singing the song of minor leaks at the fittings, their whistle attesting to the constant pressure of the compressor. They looked up at us for a moment before returning to their work.
“All of this over Tefonica,” I said as we walked along.
“We should share it with Cleso, fifty-fifty,” she added.
“Yeah, makes sense to me. But you know how they are. Fifty one percenters,” I replied.
Fifty-One Percent was a philosophy of leaders since the beginning of time but had been formally documented as a philosophy a few hundred years ago by a man mostly loathed by everyone who knew him. He pointed out the obvious thing to all of us. No matter what was at stake, the leaders had to believe that they had achieved at least fifty-one percent of the benefit in any negotiation, else they had failed. It usually leads to problems. And with Tefonica it seemed an exceptionally stupid strategy. With its wealth of resources and viability for colonization, there was more than enough to share. There was enough for an economic boom on both planets due to the resources. But sharing it just doesn’t happen. Well, at least not as often as it should.
“Ring pics?” she asked me.
“Yes” I replied. I tapped my ring twice on the blue stone, and a picture of the two of us projected in front of me. “I’ve got the entire album.”
“I don’t trust Warren,” she said to me.
“Neither do I. But it will be safer there than here. Did you see them this morning?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
This morning the owner of the largest Wan focused news bureau, and the rest of his family were found hanging from a large tree outside of his home. Police cameras in the area had somehow been offline during the night.
A few feet past the two men with hoses, I felt the cold water hit my clothing.
“Wan Scum,” he said. “Go home.”
I turned around infuriated.
“This is my home. I was born less than two kilometers from here. I am home,” I screamed at him.
“Then leave before we kill you,” he said. He looked closely at Kiron then gave his opinion of her by spitting on the ground.
We began to walk away quickly. But then I heard the sound of the two heavy, brass nozzles on the end of the cleaning hoses hit the concrete. I turned to see both men now running towards us.
“Run,” I yelled and pulled Kiron by the hand. She managed a quick glance back then began sprinting as fast as she could. Even with the rush of adrenaline and the fear, I looked over my shoulder just to watch Kiron run — truly something of beauty. Yes, guilty as charged.
We turned the corner onto the street that led to the transport terminals. It was not empty, to the contrary, it had significant traffic. I pulled us into the first darkened doorway. Kiron pulled herself close to my body, and I could feel her heavy breathing from our running as she pressed against me.
“Can you,” I began to say before she put her hand over my mouth.
“Where are they?” asked one of the men angrily.
“They couldn’t have made it to the next corner. Too far away. They must be hiding somewhere around here” said the other man. “Let’s look up there, a nice dark place to hide.”
They walked past us. Didn’t notice us at all. We waited for a few seconds then came out from the shadows.
They were standing in front of us waiting for us.
“Wans stupid too. Isn’t he?” asked the smaller of the two men.
“Stupid and likes ugly girls” replied the other man. “Now you go and get out of here,” he said looking at Kiron. “We don’t need to kill both of you. So get going, if you know what’s good for you.”
“You are what’s wrong” she replied. Then she turned to me and said: “Run”.
Except she ran directly towards the two men. At the last moment, she put her head down and hit the larger of the two men in the gut. He fell backward onto the ground. Less than a second after they hit the ground she kneed him in the groin and punched his face as hard as she could. He was disoriented by the pain, but after a moment he thrust both of his arms forward which acted as a catapult for Kiron who was thrown nearly two meters before she hit hard on the concrete. She didn’t move, the top of her head against the concrete curb.
I ran at the smaller man and tackled him as he was trying to pull his knife from his pocket. It was a sandworm tooth knife, most probably a fake. But fake or not, they were known to be razor sharp. I landed on top of him and hit him in the stomach. He managed to get his knife in his hand and cut my arm deeply. I hit his face as hard as I could while holding his right arm with the knife. He relaxed his grip as a result of my blow and the knife fell from his hands.
Decisions happen in an instant sometimes. I don’t remember the decision to pick up the knife. Nor do I remember the subsequent decision to plunge it into his chest. But I do remember the way blood spit from his mouth onto my face. Mostly I remember the fading in his eyes.
The larger man hit me in the back of the head. It wasn’t a full on blow as I had leaned forward slightly a moment before impact. Still, it knocked me over. I rolled onto my back then looked up.
“Die Wan scum,” he said.
I didn’t have anything to say. I got up quickly to my feet, the knife in my right hand. I looked over at Kiron. There was a large puddle of blood surrounding her head now. She was shaking and shuddering and convulsing.
The large man ran towards me. I crouched down as if to take the brunt of his blow then moved to his left at the last moment. I reached down and cut his leg at the calf muscle. The sandworm knife cut through his uniform and leg like it was butter until it hit bone. He fell.
I was on him in under a second. I thrust the knife into his back. I needed to get medical assistance for Kiron as soon as possible. That is why I cut the large man’s throat. Efficiency.
But by that time she was already dead.
I cried for a long time.
Then I ran for along time.
I ran out of the city and into the farm belt. I’ve been hiding in the forest and stealing food to survive. Tomorrow I head for the Krill mountains.
I was able to use my comms bracelet to check the media.
They want me for the murder of two market workers.
Worst of all, I’m wanted for the murder of Kiron.