Chapter Fifty Eight - FireBird
Stay or Go
I was at Pluto Station when came the announcement of a lockdown within one hour; all ships to depart or be quarantined.
I get myself around the 'Station Security Office' and hear one minor authority figure tell another there's a report of Sag warships en route to NewFrance.
"He's coming!" I Think.
NewFrance is beyond the beyond. Not to get deep into history, but 'France for the French' was called racist on Earth.
My ancestors who did not wish their sleep disturbed by Muslim call to prayers,
decided to find their own world in which it would be France for the French.
Canadians joined and we did not shun English or German migrants. But when it came to 'others'..no.
Considering the strictness of immigration policies, for NewFrance to open the door to Dalmar meant a lot more than taking in refugees.
And for Sagir to care what NewFrance did meant Priam was alive and in the ascendant.
I went into my ship, set course towards my homeworld. There was no way Newfrance could defy or defend against Sagir. We didn't have much of a military, but were getting a hell of a Dalmar fleet.
That meant if Priam's boat got close....
He must think I am there.
I had to do something to prove I wasn't there. I had to contact someone, something.
I had the noisebox going overtime, reports were hours, days old. I didn't know if Priam and the Sags had reached NewFrance...if he'd been blasted from the sky ... if this was a trap laid by Dalmar...
Panic and fear chewed me.
I got broadcasts from NewFrance, 'on the ground' reports from names familiar to me, who brayed like goats,claiming Sagirs were savages.
Long after it had been proven Sagir didn't blow Dalmar, they kept repeating it.
Diplomats from Earth and other planets were beseeching the leaders of
NewFrance not to provoke a war. My people were claiming they were about to be invaded.
That how many Dalmar had been allowed to land wasn't Invasion.
That Sagir were enroute, was.
I stopped engines. I was the cause of this impasse. If Priam knew I wasn't there all this would be unnecessary.
How do I send a message to him?
Although a stupid idea, I had my A.I. send
'Firebird is not on Newfrance' over every single possible channel.
Sure it would take forever, and considering how far away I was from Newfrance, forever and a half....but what option did I have?
Earth had deployed ships, 'Peacekeepers' they called them. I upped engines,
tried to get into their grid wondering if I should tell them who I was, what was
When I came down in favour of a link; they refused to take my hail, ordered I get no closer than an A.U.
If it wasn't for Prima, I'd of gone insane. But having a baby easily disturbed by my moods, I had to give a semblance of sanity.
What didn't help were the News reports. The same crap recycling. I'd change the channel and get new crap recycling.
Then came the 'revelations'.
Priam had told me how Dalmars hunted Sagirs. Doug confirmed; I'd heard of it before. Now, revelations were filling the airwaves.
All these decades, not a sentence about Gennies. Most Norms didn't know more
than that Eugenics were a sub-species.
The movie, the movie about Doug, was the first ever, to my knowledge, about
Gennies. Not just tossing them in as scenery, or making some reference, but
an actual movie about them.
Suddenly, the airwaves were jammed with factoids about Eugenics.
The first major presenter was an anthropologist, who, In a common place voice, described how Dalmars kill Sagirs like hunters kill deer.
Then there was a Gennie who gave details. He had a flavour of Priam. He was a little darker, wider shoulders, but had that innocent look Priam effected and spoke in that sweet bedroom voice;
"They would put a thong around my neck, one on each wrist and each ankle, after stripping me naked."
He paused, guess so we could imagine how he'd look naked.
"I would be bound to pitons on the bulkhead. They would cut my flesh so my blood would run into a sewer beneath me."
His eyes never left whomever he was speaking to, so he seemed to be looking just left of the camera, just left of the eyes of the audience, into our souls.
"They would replace my blood with a mercury based poison which would eat my organs. If they did it correctly, I would remain conscious throughout, and see my
body dissolve before I died, knowing my blood, my genetic material was obliterated.
I would be reduced to a lump of slime which would be frozen and with my uniform and other possessions, sent to my clan."
I shivered. He made it so real, and off camera came a female voice asking; "Why?"
"They consider it an offense against nature that I should carry the genetic material of the Quartz; Piet Barthol, Bart Tomaka, Vlad Kryshenko and Mical Sergye. Those four are from Moldavia. Their offsprings should have light hair, blue eyes and white skin. But I am Sagir, my ancestors came from Suriname. We were not careful in whom we...endowed...with our genetic material."
The recording was powerful.
Firstly, he was beautiful, a pleasure to look at and his voice, like Priam's, deep and slow and just a decibel or two lower than expected.
Secondly, he was believable. No hysteria, no emphasis, I was sure he told the truth. I think anyone seeing him, (he was extremely sexual and compelling) would accept whatever he said.
The analysts, commentators believed him. They ran the tape a number of times. The only other news was rioting, and demonstrations on Earth and other planets which had populations which could trace themselves to Africa.
Newfrance became the centre of racism in the Universe. For Newfrance accepted Dalmar.
If this wasn't bad enough, a few hours later came an interview with a Dalmar.
Where these reports came from, anyone's guess.
However, the background of the Sagir and the Dalmar were the same, some one took both images. Someone did the interviews.
The Dalmar, looking smug and although perfect as a Gennie would be, was aloof and despicable. His voice had a sneer in it, not soft and seductive, but arrogant;
"Sagirs are filth. They have taken the gift of genetic perfection and sullied it. They
use the keys of our greatest heroes to fool sensors into thinking they are perfect when they are no better than normals."
This went over well.
Anti-Dalmar feeling was ignited. Many people on Earth who'd advocated giving the
Dal's refugee status were now screaming they didn't want them on Terra.
Others were dismissing the reports as propaganda.
This was provoking 'race riots' on Earth as it was followed with anti-Sagir blurbs.
Media mouths were claiming Sags were criminals, pirates, waving wanted posters,
posters I'd seen before.
This went on for the better part of the day. I was switching stations, but all were
running versions of it. Sides were being taken.
Everyone had an opinion, pro/con. And after this went on for over two days.
I couldn't sleep, eat, hoping I could make Newfrance before Priam.
Then there was another interview, by the same Sag Gennie, but in a different
"All Sagir are hunted by the Dalmar clan.
The reward of Ten Million is on every one
of us. I know how the Dalmar operate.
When we are young, if they capture us,
they sell us into slavery. When we are
older, they put rewards on us hoping you
(and it jumped here, some words missing, but)
...risk...lives capturing one of us."
(the jumping stopped and the rest came clear);
tries to capture me, and I resist and
kill you, then I'm a murderer.
If I try to escape, perhaps seise this
ship, I'm a pirate. If I reach a planet
or a space station and am hunted and
retaliate I am guilty of mayhem.
Hence, the wanted poster is accurate."
In this propaganda war, the Sagirs were winning.
Each time I saw the tapes, (which I dled) they came across just as powerful. The spinners and apologists couldn't knock the Sagir's intensity or impact any more than they could soften the Dalmar's pomposity.
I could testify that this was how the Dalmar behaved. Anyone who'd ever had to deal with a Dal knew how they held their heads so you could see up their nostrils and spoke with a frown as if it was an effort.
There couldn't be any debate, the Sag and Dal said the same thing.
After another day the novelty had warn off. The tapes had become part of the collective.
And now Firebird begins to ponder; where did the recordings come from?
Who were these Gennies?
Where and why were these bits of data held until this minute?
My grandfather was the first Firebird. Then my father. Now me. I had been born to be a Bounty Hunter. I had been trained to investigate, to be suspicious. To be able to know, not guess. To accept nothing, doubt everything. It kind of ruined relationships, but kept me alive.
They now put a name to the Gennie; Gye Tomaka.
I'd seen the posters.
That fem...that fem who'd tailed me...on Smudge.
Those years ago, long before I met Priam...these recordings were held for this expected moment when the Dals and Sags go to war and someone wants to make sure the Sags get the sympathy.