Author : Bob Newbell

Officers Castillo and Thrin'Lar heard the terrorist screaming epithets at them both as he was escorted out of the courtroom. With court adjourned, the two LAPD officers who had testified against the man who was accused of bombing four different buildings resulting in 18 Flureshtay and five human deaths went out to their patrol vehicle. The car's ducted fans pushed the vehicle 100 feet in the air and then pitched to provide forward momentum.

“Tom?” said Thrin'Lar after they'd been on patrol for a while.

“Yeah?” responded Castillo.

“Mind if I ask a somewhat awkward question?”

“Go right ahead.”

“Is what you did back there difficult? Testifying against another human, I mean?”

Castillo looked at Thrin'Lar and then back at the expanse of Los Angeles through the vehicle's windshield. “No. Just reported what I saw and what I did.” He looked at Thrin'Lar again. “Some reason it would be?”

“Well,” said Thrin'Lar, “there are some humans who consider that man and people like him heroes. You heard him call you a 'race traitor'. He was tried as a terrorist but there are those who would call him a freedom fighter.”

“I kinda doubt the families of the people he murdered would call him that. Kinda surprised you'd even entertain that nutjob's point of view.”

“My ancestors invaded your planet. If humans had invaded Flureshtegar, I can imagine my people reacting similarly.”

“A hundred years after the fact?” asked Castillo.

“I don't know. Possibly. My people committed atrocities back during the invasion. There are many humans who would like to see every Flureshtay dead. And, yes, I can understand why they feel that way. We're a lot more enlightened now and humans and Flureshtay live and work side by side. Most of my people are ashamed of the behavior of our ancestors. But nothing can change what was done.”

Castillo shrugged. “Human beings had a history of violence long before you guys showed up. Human sacrifice, wars, gulags, concentration camps.”

“True, but those were crimes committed by humans against humans. Isn't it different when an outsider is the enemy?”

“There are several examples I could give of humans keeping feuds and grudges alive for generations, even centuries, the people who started the conflicts turned to dust. The last Flureshtay who was directly guilty of invading Earth and killing innocent people has been dead for something like 40 years. How many generations out from the one that was responsible for war crimes do we get before we stop saying to the bombers and assassins in the here and now 'I understand how you feel' and start saying 'Enough! You're not a patriot or an avenger, you're a murderer'?”

“Tom, you realize there are some Flureshtay living on Earth right now who think we should have totally exterminated humanity 100 years ago? They say we should be running this planet, not working alongside Mankind, not giving humans advanced technology to assuage our collective guilt. They're outraged that Flureshtay put their own kind on trial for war crimes.”

“They want to live in the past just like some humans do. Stupidity isn't confined to one planet. Or to one species. You know, we've got a much bigger problem to deal with than ancient wars and small-minded people.”

“What's that?”

“It's almost lunchtime and I'm starved,” said Castillo with a smile. “What about that Kitt'Ril restaurant we went to last week?”

“Being hatched and brought up in California, I never really developed a taste for Flureshtay food,” Thrin'Lar said, his maxillary palps bristling, a Flureshtay “smile”. “How about some nice egg foo young?”

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