Cover art & design by Kristopher Mosby Copyright 2008 all rights reserved
It was 12:00 and the illuminae was shinning down upon Fisherman’s Alley, in the distance Topaz Bay glimmered beneath its rays. Citizens had to walk to the ocean’s edge to see the islets of slimy pollution floating atop its waves, and the twisted artillery resting at its bottom.
Bars and rest houses dotted the street but out of the seventeen buildings that lined Fisherman’s Alley, ten were boarded up.
In the year of our One 2875 Topaz was at war.
Five years ago Guinsula, Topaz’s eastern neighbor, was fighting with Ageis, a small western city. Guinsula and her twelve commonwealths already had a lucrative shipping trade. But Guinula’s pirates had been eyeing Ageis’s sea for decades.
Aegis’s answer was to join with Xnobia. Together they became the body Electra: a mighty leviathan with fifteen tributaries. Topaz seized upon Guinsula’s weakness and attacked. At the same time Topaz’s Council offered to protect Electra’s borders.
But Electra refused, for its Council knew that, just two years earlier, Topaz had lured Sorre into a treaty. Once Topaz had Sorre’s trust — and their weapons — Topaz butchered Sorre’s Copper citizens and condemned the survivors to a living hell in the Desert of Exile.
Topaz answered Electra with a full scale invasion — Guinsula’s warriors attacked Topaz…
And so began Tundra’s world wars.
Topaz’s wealthy citizens fled to the safety of Losia, Hiosz and Dexioz island resorts. Those who couldn’t afford to leave the city, ran instead to the cluster of resthouses around Topaz bay — running from the ever growing gangs and their civil wars. Then too, neighborhoods at the edge of the city were less likely to be bombed.
The poor and middle class were trapped. With luck, they earned a living clearing bomb sites, working in factories or at the detention center.
Luckiest by far, were those who could find jobs at Topaz General, the only hospice left standing in the city — as healers, orderlies and janitors. The currency was better here than anywhere else in the province.
But the hours were long and hard. Healers were so few, many had been shipped abroad to war. And orderlies and janitors often found themselves working as doctors and nurses.
Those that couldn’t find work joined the homeless — hiding out in the deserted buildings that filled the city. Living by their wits.
Now, in Fisherman’s Alley at the Salty Dog, Citizens sat in booths lining the walls or perched on bar stools. Among the laughing crowd were Mark and Layla, sharing
a drink at the bar.
Mark was thin with short, unruly blond hair and green eyes. His companion Layla had skin the color of cocoa beans, with full lips. Her kinky, brown hair was twisted into two braids.
He smiled into her eyes. “How’s your Mum doing?”
“Alright…tired of working double shifts.”
“What time’s she going in tonight?”
“Want me to come over?”
Layla grinned over her beer. “Yeah.”
“I’ll be there about 12:30.”
Layla was a skin popper — a placid addict. She shot up between her thighs, so that she didn’t have to wear long sleeve shirts. She thought Mark didn’t know.
Beside them sat Joan, a woman with burnt sienna skin and slanted, brown eyes, staring morosely into her glass of juice.
Across the room her lover Toki grinned up at Keith, another activist, then cut her eyes over at Joan to see if her flirting was making Joan angry. It wasn’t.
Sitting in a booth behind them was José, slender and tan, with hazel colored eyes. Beside him was his mate Consuela, a buxom, sepia colored woman, with a heart shaped face and curly, shoulder length hair. Petite Estella and her heavily muscled lover, Parco, shared their booth.
Two enforcers walked into the bar and the crowd tensed. Both were Fuchsia. The older officer had a reddish complexion, his ample stomach hanging over the waistband of his trousers. But his companion had the scrubbed, fresh face look of a rookie.
“Take the back,” the beefy officer said to his partner, “I’ll start up here.”
“Ok, searg.” The rookie approached Toki and Keith’s table. “Papers!” he ordered.
Keith and Toki reached into their pockets and handed him two black booklets.
These identity papers listed their personal history, including their legal right to live and work in Topaz. Yet Keith’s ID had something that Toki’s didn’t. His draft status.
Every male citizen, sixteen and older, was required to carry a copy of their military record. This record always listed a citizen as ready for service, ready but declined, because of mental or physical handicap or discharged.
If a man’s ID didn’t list one of these categories, he was, in the eyes of planet law: “a draft dodger.” A man hiding from his required duties as a soldier.
The peacekeeper glanced through the booklets and handed them back, moving to the female Citizen at the next table over.
His partner had already inspected The Salty Dog’s first booth, and was now standing before José and Consuela’s table. “Papers!” the enforcer barked. They hastily complied. “Papers!” he said again to Estella and Parco…
Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 2008
all rights reserved