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Hold The Anchovies

Harris Tobias
The Wizard's House

Jeromy Henry
Against a Diamond

Michele Dutcher
Louisville's Silent Guardians

Michele Dutcher

A Controlled Intervention

by Branden Szabo

A snowflake fell onto Vincent's nose.  The battle had moved on without him, distant explosions shook the cold air while steam rose from blast craters in the frozen ground.  Everything was a mess.  He was lucky to have escaped the engagement with a mere laser wound but the pain kept him down.

The intergalactic community was appalled by the crisis unfolding on his planet, everyone was working night and day to make sense of it.  Grunts like Vincent had no such problem.  The detestable Prezan Empire was responsible for all this.

Thirty years ago, civilization was pushed to its breaking point by world war.  The postwar recovery years were hard on everyone.  Then she came to power: a woman known only as The Marquise.  She created a strict matriarchal society known as Preza that promised a new era of peace and equality. 

Vincent smiled wryly.  Preza was supposed to unite the world but it only divided it - in the most unthinkable way: women against men, men against women.     

He heard a voice: “Hey, boy, what are you smiling at?”

It was an enemy soldier.  Her wounds were as bad as his were, red dribbled down her blue and white uniform.  How blue and white became the official colors of the female race was a mystery to everyone. 

Vincent propped himself up and got a better look at her.  She was young with a short cap of blond hair.  One of her eyes was closed, most likely a war injury.

“Dunno why I’m smiling,” he said to her.  “That blue uniform means you're from Preza, right?"

"It's not blue, it's cerulean!" the girl snapped. "And yes, I'm from Preza.  Call me Racheal, pleased to meet you and all that crap.”

“Can you move?”

She shook her head.  “Got shot in the hip, can’t stand up.  You?”

“I was hit in the stomach.  I was lucky, I think the laser bolt cauterized the wound.”

Racheal clicked her tongue.  “Wouldn’t have happened if you rebels would have accepted the peace treaty we offered you.  How old are you, anyway?”


“That young?” 

“I lied about my age to join the resistance.”

“For Goddess’ sake, why?  Why fight against us?  It was you men who screwed up the world, we’re just trying to fix it.”

“Blowing up rebel settlements that defy you isn't fixing anything."

Racheal tried to move but couldn't.  “Ngh, shit.  What happened here today was a necessary evil.  The problem with male-dominated societies like yours is that they always forget about us women.  Preza is a beacon of equality.”

That was a laugh to Vincent.  Women who wanted to live in Preza were put through a ridicules amount of testing and those who didn’t support everything The Marquise believed in were thrown out on their asses. 

“Equality?  What about all the women you turn away?”

Racheal closed her good eye and lifted her nose like a haughty teacher.  “The sad truth is that the biggest threat to women’s rights is other women.  We have to be strict.”

“Well, aren’t you a happy little collective?  No room for disagreement in the holy sisterhood?”

“Shut up.  Preza only needs strong and independent women."

"Or you just hate each other."

"That's not true.  Our Marquise ensures that all women have housing, healthcare and anything else they need.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Vincent interrupted, “You claim to be strong and independent women but you need The Marquise to take care of your every need?  That’s one hypocritical ruler you have.”

“She’s not a ruler – there are no rulers in Preza.  Just like there’s no war or oppression.”

“No war!?”  Vincent threw a finger at the destruction around them.  “You destroyed my home!”

“T-This wasn’t a war!” the girl stammered.  “This was a … it was … a controlled intervention, that’s all.  Because you wouldn’t sign the treaty.”

Vincent gave up and collapsed back into the snow.  The cold air burned his lungs.  “Admit it, you're just another tyranny.  Perhaps men and women aren’t as different as we think.”

He reached into his pocket and found a diamond ring.  It was supposed to be a gift for his sweetheart, one of the many girls denied entry into Preza.  She didn’t accept it.  Vincent didn’t understand why until now.

“Look, I get where you’re coming from,” he began, “men have a tendency to forget about women.  We can be stupid, selfish, violent …,” He glanced at Racheal’s cleavage.  She quickly covered it up.  “And horny,” he said with a sly smirk, “but that doesn’t mean we don’t care.  Sometimes we just have trouble showing it.” 

He tossed the meaningless ring into the snow.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me.  I’m going to get up, find the love of my life and give her what she really wants from me: a great big hug.”

He got up.  The pain was excruciating but he endured it, he had to, he wasn't about to freeze to death in the snow. 

Not wanting to be outdone by a man, Racheal tried to stand as well.  Sweat ran down her endured face, she used her rifle as a crutch.  “H-Ha!  How about that?” 

Vincent could sense a quiet understanding between him and his enemy, he respected it by not bringing it up.  He staggered off through the bloody snow with a smile on his face and a girl on his mind.

“Hey!”  Racheal called.  “Any chance you can help me back to my lines?”

Vincent threw a toothy smile over his shoulder. “You’re a strong and independent woman, you don’t need my help.”

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
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Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
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