Author : Benjamin Fischer
â€œMy lady, is that a joke or an order?â€
Kalifornia raised a painted eyebrow at the the Chief Constable of Luna. The Chief was a solidly built man, veteran of the bitter room-to-room and sometimes hand-to-hand combat of the Secession. He had personally bludgeoned a brace of men to death and dozens more had fallen to his steady trigger finger. Ten thousand Deputy Constables answered to him and to him alone. Even the mighty Fleet deferred to his judgement in matters local to Lunaâ€™s surface.
Nevertheless, his pulse always rose in in the presence of the First Lady.
â€œIs anyone laughing?â€ she asked.
The Chief shifted his weight.
â€œIf you might be more specific,â€ he said.
Kalifornia rolled her ivory shoulders and gazed off at the high ceiling of the Senateâ€™s main vault.
â€œYou know,â€ she said, â€œ the poets. The fortune tellers, the beggars, the street-folk who will tell you rhymes and stories and useless little morsels. The ones who will tell you anything, anything at all to put your coin in their pockets.â€
Her eyes returned to the Constable.
â€œKill them all–even the women.â€
â€œYou are serious, my lady.â€
Kaliforniaâ€™s big clear eyes clouded, narrowed, shrunk to tiny black pools of hate.
â€œAre you questioning-â€ she started.
â€œMaâ€™am, I beg you reconsider,â€ said the Chief. â€œThere are hundreds of them, at least the ones that are known to my people, and to drag every single one of them to an airlock-â€
â€œDonâ€™t waste your time,â€ said Kalifornia. â€œShoot them.â€
â€œMy lady. Hundreds. Hundreds of folk gunned down in the halls-â€
â€œWill be sufficient warning to the rest,â€ she said, running her long sharp nails through her blood-red hair.
The Chief stood before her in awe. If he refused he might live long enough to leave the Senate chambers. He may even make it to the company of Deputies. But their loyalty was to his title, and only that, and by nightfall there would be a new Chief Constable–one who would not hesitate for an instant before ordering such wholesale slaughter.
â€œMy lady, let me make an example of those in Silver City first,â€ he said.
Kalifornia pressed the tips of her fingers together.
â€œWhy, my dear Chief,â€ she asked, â€œwould you limit my desire?â€
â€œThe people here in Silver are unwavering in their loyalty to you,â€ he said. â€œThey will support and commend your bold action.â€
â€œYour words suggest otherwise for balance of communities,â€ said Kalifornia.
â€œThen you hear me right,â€ said the Chief.
He held his breath, waiting for an outburst.
â€œSo what of them?â€ the First Lady asked.
â€œThey would be shown what your iron standard is, my lady. When the extermination continues there, they will not claim some unexpected and unjust atrocity,â€ and the Chief tasted bile at that word, â€œbut instead they will know that they have been held accountable to your new policy, and they will have no grounds for complaint.â€
Kalifornia turned from him for a moment. Then she spun and pulled herself into the Chiefâ€™s arms and she kissed him in a most unchaste manner.
She licked her lips whorishly when she finally pushed away from the lawman.
â€œWise counsel,â€ she said, her smile all vicious white teeth.
â€œThank you, my lady,â€ said the red-faced Chief.
â€œSee that it is done this evening,â€ said Kalifornia, â€œso that the greatest portion of the public may bear witness.â€
The Chief bowed deeply, suppressing a shudder.
â€œAs you wish, my lady.â€