“Arcadia is humanity’s legacy among the stars, and we are the inheritors of that legacy. Do not be fooled by the rhetoric of the progressive media! They want you to believe that our world should be equally shared by all races. Ask yourself, though, who tamed the jungles of the Southern Expanse? Who broke ground in the Rodarian Mountains? Who was it that tamed the wild herds of Korg and settled the Elysian plains? The answer to all of these, my friends, is humanity! Our great grandfathers settled this world first, and it should be our birthright to do with as we please! Do not let Earth dictate our destiny. The future of Arcadia is ours to decide!”
Bruce swirled the drink in his hand as he listened to the garbage flowing out of Governor Sebastian Kincaid’s mouth on the holo-vid behind the bar. The ice cubes sang out their own protest against the movement around them as they clinked against the glass. That was the way of things in the universe; peace required a certain level of stasis. Once you disturbed the status quo, there was going to be consequences. Thermal energy agitating a single molecule could change an entire ecosystem. Things were no different when it came to politics.
Arcadia had been settled by humankind almost 150 years ago; that much was true, and it had been controlled by the United Nations back on Earth. Since joining the Interstellar Confederation of Planets, however, Earth had been persuaded to open their sole off-world colony up to being settled by other members of the I.C.P. Over the past fifty years, representatives of over a dozen different worlds had flocked to Arcadia for one reason or another. Some came for the abundant natural resources, others came just for some breathing room.
Bruce turned on the barstool and leaned back against the polished Bak wood bar. The red wood had green and blue swirls in it. It was more colorful than any Terran wood, and twice as light. Looking out over the dimly lit room, he saw most races that lived on Arcadia gathered around small tables. Many were hunched over their drinks in quiet conversation. The voice of Governor Kincaid still droned over the holo-vids that were peppered throughout the establishment. Some paid attention with a derisive sneer. Others just ignored the fat politician.
There had been talk of Earth relinquishing control of Arcadia and making it an independent member of the Confederation. Little by little, certain powers had been handed over until it was jointly controlled by both governments. Confed Peacekeepers had outposts near every major population center. The theory was that no one race should police a world populated with such diversity. That was when the problems started.
Bruce waved down the Ichthorian bartender. The slender alien drifted gracefully over and refilled his glass. His skin shimmered in the dim light above the bar. Despite its translucent appearance, Bruce knew it was tougher than Korg hide. Looks can be deceiving, he thought.
That’s what happened when Kincaid ran for the office of Governor of Arcadia. In the first election of its kind, the leader of an entire planet was to be decided by its citizens instead of being appointed by the United Nations. The man had seemed kind and jovial at first, spending time winning over the hearts and minds of the people. Once that was done, he started to play to the fears of the majority. He told them of how humanity would lose control over their own fate upon the very world they had settled. He warned that the I.C.P. was going to take away their rights. He warned that Earth would not let them have a say in their future. Most of all, he warned that the aliens were going to take their jobs, soil their homes, and threaten the safety of their families.
Bruce snorted in derision as the very same rhetoric that Sebastian Kincaid had been spouting for two years projected from a score of speakers around him. The man had ridden a wave of xenophobia into the governor’s palace, and now he was using this same tactic to ensure that he never had to leave.
Kincaid was lobbying for an independent Arcadia. This was not a bad idea, but the details of his plan were atrocious. He would be governor for life, passing the title to his son Alexander. The International Confederation of Planets would be forced to withdraw. Arcadia would stand on its own, with humanity ruling over the aliens trapped there now that free travel rights had been greatly restricted.
Bruce turned back to the holo-vid over the bar. Kincaid’s speech had been interrupted for a breaking news story. A scene unfolded on the streets of the city from the perspective of an airborne camera drone. It looked like two waves colliding amid a sea of concrete. On one side was a myriad of shapes, sizes, and colors. Humans and aliens who had come together to protest Governor Kincaid’s speech today in front of the capital building. On the other side was a wave of blue and white as a mixture of ConFed peacekeepers and Arcadian police crashed into the throng of dissidents. There seemed to be gunfire on both sides of the altercation, but the soldiers and police quickly had the upper hand. Soon, the only souls left standing were humans in pressed uniforms and encased in shining body armor. The camera drone dove down for a closer view. It hovered next to one of the peacekeepers, and the last image that it broadcasted before it was destroyed was the muzzle of his assault rifle.
Sighing in frustration, Bruce turned back to the crowd and watched the front door. Things had only gotten worse in the last few months. Kincaid had been planning this all along. Using his limited executive power, he had made certain decrees over the last two years that chipped slowly away at the freedom of all people of Arcadia. These could pass under the guise of increasing security concerns or so-called economic improvements. In the end, however, they simply limited how people lived their lives to fit his vision of a free Arcadia. And should anybody step out of line or express their resentment, the iron boot of the military police would quickly set them straight.
In the wake of Kincaid’s stirring speeches and executive decrees, two separate activist groups had sprouted up. The first was the Humanity First movement, who saw Arcadia as a human birthright. They were xenophobic and wanted Kincaid’s vision of an independent Arcadia to come to fruition. The other was the Terran League, a group devoted to maintaining ties to Earth as a colony, but whom were equally discriminatory against aliens. Although it was unlawful for a private citizen to own a weapon of any kind on Arcadia, both of these groups had weapons caches that were ignored by the authorities.
Once you disturbed the status quo, there was going to be consequences. As these two groups rose to power, a third group rose to oppose both. The Free Arcadian Militia was an underground resistance composed of members of most alien races present on Arcadia and several human sympathizers. Bruce was one of them now. He had not wanted to get involved, but when a Baltarian woman named Kendra had been stalked by a mob of Humanity First protesters, he had not hesitated to help her escape.
The door to the bar opened, and in she walked. Her confident swagger contrasted her little elegance. She wore black fatigues and a loose-fitting hoodie. Her purple skin was dotted with blotches of pink, and her head was created with spines which supported delicate membranes. The spines fluttered in her race’s version of a smile as she saw Bruce. “Chiss is waiting for us,” she said, “ready to go to work?”
Bruce downed the rest of his drink and stood. He grabbed a gym bag that had been resting by his feet and said, “Let’s get to it.”
They left the bar together and climbed into a rusty old car. The vehicle had no registration tag and any records of ownership had been wiped from the system by Militia hackers. Bruce’s own identity had been similarly expunged. Before meeting Kendra, he had felt like he was nobody. As far as the government was concerned now, he was nobody.
He smiled at his friend as the engine rumbled fitfully to life. He had never felt more alive than he did now. For the first time in his life, however, he felt like he was doing something important. He held the bag in his lap, and an assortment of firearms and explosives jutting out at odd angles dug into his flesh.
B.K. Bass writes at his studio in Tennessee. He enjoys crafting science fiction, fantasy, and gothic horror. His influences include pulp magazine stories and mid 20th century sci-fi and fantasy. He has long been an avid reader, film buff, and all-around geek.