Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

I’ve often seen the graffiti around the city: ‘We will be freed’. Some of it is decades old. Like everybody else, I ignore it. The Detrin – referred to as ‘sticks’ since Eldasy’s seminal film – have been an underclass since their tyrannical reign was ended in my great-grandfather’s time. Personally, I think it was restrained of we Taznor to leave so many of them alive. I mean, if you’d had eighty percent of your race exterminated, wouldn’t you want revenge?
The sticks doing the graffiti have no grasp of Galactan, either. How long does it take a Taznor to become proficient in a language? Six months? A year at the outside. The sticks been misspelling ‘free’ since the last century. I often wonder if it started as a spelling mistake, but has been retained as some quirky mark of defiance. As children, we’d often go and correct the graffiti in our neighbourhood. It got boring after we found the sticks put the ‘d’ back. They walked past the corrected daubings without showing any sign of seeing, but within a week, each was reverted.
What are we going to do with the sticks? It’s a question that more and more Taznor are becoming engrossed with. Three main factions have emerged. The largest backs doing nothing. The next campaigns for extermination. The smallest is calling for giving them the Gartland desert and highlands as a home, then leaving them to it. Not sure that’s any different from extermination – except in how quick they’ll die – but that faction is gaining support.
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“Monkrel? What are you doing?”
I look up from the screen to see Tassil leaning on the doorframe. She looks haggard. I guess I look the same.
“Reading the piece I was preparing for the convention.”
She grins.
“I presume it’s been cancelled?”
I go over to embrace her.
“Yes to both. I’m never going to finish it, and the convention was deemed superfluous.”
Tassil breaks away and leads me into the kitchen.
“What now?”
Gazing at the patterns on the ceiling, I shrug.
“I’ve made an academic living pontificating about the causes and effects of the Detrin Regime, with a focus on the aspects emphasised by Taznor histories, and the tacit wishes of my sponsors.”
She hands me a drink.
“What now?”
What now, indeed? Actually, I know what comes next. I’ve just been too scared to face it. I grin at her.
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“During my studies and investigations, I’ve come across a lot of material, not all of it Detrin in origin, that conflicts with official histories. Of course, I found it easy to dismiss, because of the proofs provided by the way we lived. But…”
She comes and leans against me.
“Since one of the fundamental tenets has been blown apart, you’re wondering what else we’ve been told differs from actual events.”
I step back and take her hands.
“True. They always said they would be freed. We were taught to ridicule their poor grasp of our language. Twelve days ago, something so big our sensors couldn’t interpret it arrived, and came partially into our atmosphere without causing any adverse effects. Over the following six minutes, every Detrin vanished. Then the whatever-it-was departed, leaving the words ‘we are free’ burned three meters deep in strokes a metre wide into the paving of Victory Plaza – done with a device we couldn’t detect.”
“Do you think the Detrin will hold any further grudge?”
“That’s the worry which has been keeping me up at night.”