Secessionists Unwelcome


A science fiction story in Olympus Union by Gary Bloom

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The Speckled Trout was a pub frequented by the miners of Hanover. It wasn't the fanciest bar on Luna, but unlike many places on the moon, it was inexpensive. That was more than enough for the five men resting with a pint in the wee hours. Having completed a late shift in the mines, fresh air and a stool to sit on was enough.

Idle chatter prattled on about various sporting events. Spatial limitations had led to indoor lacrosse becoming the most frequent attraction on the moon. Each of Luna's cities had their own squad. The Hanover Hens had lost to the New Dresden Lynx in a close game earlier this evening. Complaints ranged from the lackadaisical midfielders to an overly passive coach.

Talk of sports eventually morphed into other talk. In short order, one of the men started complaining about the Olympus Union. He complained of corruption and unfair treatment, that he deserved so much more than he had.

"Those Jovian's had the right idea," he complained. "Freedom from the Union yoke, and a chance to get what we deserve! We could take this entire moon over, if we all got together. Never have to do a hard day's work again!"

"Hey, lazy ass, why don't you shut your hole?"

"Shut my hole?" Ruben Menke was outraged. "Why should I? If we were more like the Jovians, we'd be living it up! No more long days, no more aching muscles and dirt beneath the skin. No more pulling up ore for the taskmasters."

Having already issued his warning, the other man hauled off and slugged Menke. Catching the malcontent unaware, the grizzled veteran knocked Ruben right off his stool.

"We don't need any traitors around here!"

"That's enough Delmar," the bartender admonished. "We need the authorities causing me issues even less than we need traitors."

Delmar looked down at the man he'd upended. His fellow miner had legs splayed, arms akimbo. Ignoring the barkeep's words, he continued the assault. Putting his boot to the man's legs, others in the bar came to duplicate the actions. The other men were more halfhearted, randomly swiping toes at the prone man. More often than not, the other miners stumbled into Delmar's way.

Using the unintentional distraction to his advantage, Ruben scrambled out of the way. Dragging himself up the bar, rising on unsteady legs, he locked eyes on his opponent. Slipping a glass bottle from the bar top, he hid it behind his back; fighting through the scuffle of others, Delmar never saw it.

"The Olympus Union is nothing but a collection of tyrants and fat cats," Menke called out.

Infuriated, ever the patriot, Delmar shoved the other men out of the way. He stormed forward, prepared to finish what he'd started. Ruben, meanwhile, continued leaning on the bar with his right arm, the bottle clutched in his left.

"You bastard! My son is a pilot for the-"

Delmar's cry was cut short. Ruben was heartier than the others had realized; the wounded pose was a ruse. He'd whipped the bottle from behind his back, breaking it across the side of the patriot's head. Blood dripped as Delmar stumbled backwards.

"Your son is obviously a fool," Ruben laughed, dropping the remains of the bottle. "Supporting those tyrants is disgusting. He's enforcing his own father's slavery."

Ruben picked up a stool as he stalked closer to Delmar. The other men moved out of his way. Still staggered from the blow to the head, the patriot was unable to avoid the obvious. Ruben swung the stool from side to side with slight oscillation. It was just enough to discourage anyone else from having a change of heart. Stepping into his swing, he broke the chair over his opponent's back. Wood splinters flew everywhere.

"I'm no traitor. You people, you blind sheep, you're the traitors. The Jovians, those are the smart ones. Why, I'm thinking I might just start my own revolution right now! Who's with me?"

The crack of the gunshot was deafening inside the bar. Menke had a moment to look down at the hole in his chest before falling. Quietly, the bartender returned the rifle to its place under the bar.

"There will be no talk of revolution inside the Trout," he growled softly. "We're law abiding citizens in here. The Olympus Union has done right by us, and done right by you too. If you want to go to Jupiter, I'm happy to send you on your way."

Ignoring the dead body on the floor, he walked into the back to round up some cleaning implements. Unexpectedly sobered up, the men in the pub stared at the fallen dissident. Blood spurted from the wound onto the floor. When he returned, it was with a mop, broom and bucket.

"Police ought to be here soon. Let's have things a little tidied up for when they get here." He looked down at the other prone figure. It was still breathing. "Someone move Delmar into the corner, would you?"