by Steve M
Yeah, I wrote this. Blame no one else.
The Telus are short. The tallest one is maybe five feet if they stand on their toes. Except for that, the only other noticeable physical attribute is that they all have slightly long arms that almost come down to their knees. They’re humans just like the rest of us. They’re just a slightly different branch of the same tree, been part of our community for hundreds of years. The Telus are important members of our society. And it’s not just because of their high math skills. Sure they can do in their heads what the rest of us have to do through the interface. But it’s their contribution that we value. I count them among my friends. On our island, we have over 300 Telus that live among us. I really see no reason to hate them.
But they are hated. The ignorant hate them because they look different. Others hate them because they behave differently. They seem to have a natural tendency towards fairness. This makes them particularly good at arbitrating disputes. They act as judges and for this they are particularly despised. On the island, we go out of our way to teach our children that the Telus are part of us and should receive the same respect as the rest of us.
Sadly it is not like that everywhere. Some planets didn’t allow any Telus on them. Others will permit Telus but only under extremely restrictive circumstances, such as they can not own land, they can’t operate a business, and they can’t hold positions in government administration. Whereas on Colonum we’ve twice elected a Telus as our representative to the Council of Islands.
But not all things are within our control. There is an ugly force spreading across our galaxy. It rolls back thousands of years of progress. In its place is The Kingdom. The Kingdom is the name for one of the most brutal philosophies ever created. Personally, I don’t think it’s a philosophy, it seems more like one of those ancient Earth religions to me.
Gilliard Three had to make a choice. We could either let our planet fall under the control of The Kingdom or align our world with the Homeland Defense League. Neither was a good option. Reports indicate that The Kingdom sometimes slaughters half the population of the planet and the other half are retained as slaves.
The Homeland Defense League (HDL) is led by a very charismatic leader named Duri. He inspires many to defend their homeland against The Kingdom. Gilliard Three has no defenses. We’ve never needed them before. But now we do, and now there are nine cruisers from Commander Duri’s fleet in orbit above us.
It is not just limited to spacecraft in the sky. There are 50,000 troops now on the planet to help us prepare our defenses. I wish I could tell you that their arrival went smoothly, but it didn’t. Civilian populations do not follow orders as well as military populations. Civilians will question orders and the decision-making process behind them. There was conflict. Four people died. Now we have training for both civilians and military on methods of interacting for successful outcomes. Still among most of our population, just below the surface of the polite facade, there is resentment.
So, there was a rumor that Commander Duri was once in love with a Telus woman. Yes, I will admit that they are attractive. But they are small and while I count them among my friends, their way of looking at the world and their philosophy of life, if they have one, can be quite tedious. Perhaps I’m not as capable as they are of being pedantic. Guess I’ll never be a judge. They will discuss something until all is known about it, much longer than my interest level. Either way, if the commander had his heart broken by a Telus woman that could explain his hatred of them. The man we depend on for our defenses declared just recently “Telus are not even human.”
We’ve heard that he has rounded up Telus on other planets and put them in over-populated camps under armed guards. Now, I hope you appreciate my problem.
In less than an hour from now, an agent from the HDL will arrive at my office and expect to receive a list containing the names and addresses of every Telus on our island. I told him yesterday that it would take until today for me to put the list together because we don’t make a distinction on any of our records.
Last night all of the Telus were taken to the Pirates Cave. Thermo shields have been put in place to keep them undetected, and there are plenty of provisions because we use the cave as an evacuation center during winter storms.
I’m so sorry, my manners are terrible. I am Purdue, chief administrator on the island. Other islands call them mayors.
The man coming to see me from the HDL is an ordinary looking man. My height, not too fat, very short hair and his black uniform will be in immaculate condition. It’s when he opens his mouth that I despise him. He is a zealot, one that feeds on the hatred of the Telus. I sat politely and smiled as I listened to the vile words he spoke to me yesterday. And know this, I am not prone to violence. But yesterday I wanted to hit this man. I wanted to hurt him for the words like ‘exterminate,’ ‘problem,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘bitches,’ ‘vermin.’
So I will listen politely to the man again. I will think about the ancient projectile weapon in the drawer of my desk. I will dream of using it on him. But I won’t.
And yes, I will give him the list.
On it will be one name: mine.
Today I am Telus.