'Only those who have lived before the Revolution can know
the true sweetness of life'
Somethin' is happenin' here
Dave looked at the ID tag clipped to the pocket of his new friend's short-sleeved pale-blue shirt. A confused mass of styli sprouted over the tag, barely restrained by the pocket protector.
'Hey, far out...Blake...are you Inga's brother?'
'First cousin,' Roj said wearily. 'Her Da and mine are brothers.'
'Inga is...well, she's just a happenin' chick. I mean, usually chicks who are into politics are, like Libbers, with the hairy armpits and the combat boots, but Inga...she's...'
'I think she should grow up,' Roj said. 'So should a lot of people. This is a university, not a holiday camp. We're here to learn something useful, not parade about in costumes waving signs.'
'Oh...yeah. Sure. Whatever. Have a nice day.' Dave hunched his shoulders and moved off. Well, an engineering nerd, what could you expect? Federation Engineering Academy and the University of the Federation (Terran Campus) might physically share a campus, but in many ways they were in different layers, imposed on the same background but unable to touch.
What it is, ain't exactly clear
'No Andromedan ever called me nigger,' Hal Mellanby told the small group assembled around him.
A little girl in a pink dress, a redolent diaper protruding beneath, toddled around barefoot, one chubby fist in the air. Eventually, one of the woman students picked the girl up and sat her down on her lap, nuzzling into her sunflower nimbus of soft hair.
'Dig, the Federation is a wartime state. They have to have a war, someplace. Either they need conquests so they can exploit the resources of new planets, and send out colonists to planets that haven't been poisoned by the Atomic Wars, or they need to stir us up into a frenzy of hate so we won't notice that all the resources go to the Alphas. Otherwise, we might think that all the Grades had some common cause to make. This way, we just stay put, and we put up with the shortages they create because it makes us feel patriotic. And we put up with our boys and girls dying in those wars, because otherwise there'd have to be jobs for them, and housing for them, and education for them, here at home.
'So, just shut down the war machine. Resist the draft. Stop the war.'
'Scuse me while I kiss this guy
'Little Kay,' Guillam said, brushing aside the longest hair worn by a male FEA student in remembered history, to plant an au-revoir sort of kiss on the back of his lover's neck.
'I don't appreciate being turfed out of bed for this, Little Gerda,' KM told him, rolling away and picking up the nearest set of underwear.
'That's simple,' Guillam said. 'Come along with me. You're certainly brave enough,' he said cannily, betting (wrongly, this time) that Avon would never be able to resist a challenge.
'But not stupid enough. I've had a roommate get himself killed hideously for no good reason, and God, I'll miss you if it happens to you.'
'Join us. Fight for us. Fight for yourself. We shouldn't always have to be looking over our shoulders. Always be afraid.' Well, that's something, Guillam thought. He'd never admit to caring a rap about me while I'm alive, but as soon as he thinks about me being dead, I'm valuable.
You had to hand it to KM, Guillam thought. Anybody else who kissed you to bits ten minutes after meeting you and then told you he was cold-hearted, selfish and promiscuous would be angling for reassurance. When KM did it, it was just because he had noticed that people objected when they found it out, so he told them from the beginning. He never understood why they were disturbed -- empathy was not his primary talent -- but he'd noticed.
'The opposite of homeopathy, you mean? To avoid a bit of fear, you go and put yourself in terrible danger. Absolutely brilliant, that. Anyway, you know I don't join committees, or groups, or tendencies...' KM said, buttoning most of the fly of his black jeans (they were too tight to button the next-to-last button).
Christ, he thought, I hope I won't have to spend the rest of my life looking out for a never-ending series of idiots who don't have the sense to come in out of the rain. Shirt -- well, there had to be one around here somewhere. He wasn't bothered whether it was his or Guillam's he put on, but he did like his leather jacket, which was carefully hung up in the cupboard.
'You used to be a Patrol Scout,' Guillam said.
'If you hadn't grown up on Albian, you would have been a Patrol Scout, round here it's compulsory. And the only thing I liked about it was the circle jerks on camping trips. And it's our goddamned business anyway.'
'Abominable and detestable crimes against nature.'
'We don't live in the kind of world where it can just be our business.'
'If nobody cared, it wouldn't be half so exciting.'
My Daddy calls 'em rubble. But they're my kind of trouble
'That uniform just kills me,' Hal said fondly. 'You look so serious. And it makes you look so sexy.'
'I can't stay long,' Anita said. 'I've got a committee meeting at 20:00 hours and a raft of essays to read before then.'
'That's a damn shame,' Hal said. 'Tamiqua's working late tonight, and Dayna's over at her aunt's house playing with Rafik. Sit down, I'll get us a beer. You're being careful, aren't you?'
Anita wondered which of the many shades of meaning applied. Careful -- so Tamiqua wouldn't find out? Careful, so Anita herself wouldn't get pregnant (inconvenient, but so much what she wanted?). Careful, so the rest of the FSA faculty wouldn't learn about her subversive associations, and the cadets she taught would absorb the message subliminally, and would carry it to their postings on the diverse worlds?
'Of course I'm being careful,' Lieutenant-Colonel Kasabi told her lover. He handed her a bottle of beer, and kissed her forehead lightly before he sat down, his feet up on the ottoman, enjoying the coolness of the beer. She thought of a song from her favourite musical. We kiss in the shadows.
Mystic crystal revelation. And the mind's true liberation
'Hey,' Inga said. 'You got any stuff?'
'It depends,' KM said. 'What had you in mind?'
'Some righteous smoke, you know, open up all the chakras, or maybe some acid if it's really pure.'
'Not my sort of thing. If I have any FlameFlowers left over, I might sell them. But that's serious. That's for accomplishing some work. I don't believe in frittering away your brain cells -- if you have any -- just for the sake of some pretty pictures.'
'You sound just like my cousin Roj,' Inga said.
'I'm sure the one thing standing between my life and perfection is not having met him,' KM said, shutting the door.
Don't stand in the doorway. Don't block up the hall
'If we'd just stop paying agents provocateurs, sometimes I think all our problems would just go away,' Vice-Chancellor Flixivian told the Security Service liaison, Mau'en'e Kluewer. 'I mean, if a bunch of students have to choose between copying a load of subversive leaflets and buying a keg of beer, we all know what they'll choose.'
'But the problem wouldn't go away,' Kluewer said. 'There's always been this struggle -- call it what you will. Light and Dark. Good and Evil. Order and Anarchy. I suppose that sometimes it doesn't seem that way, but you have an elite group here. At least some of them intelligent, some of them talented. The question is how they're going to use all that. I daresay most of them are decent enough, they simply have too many hormones, too much time on their hands, and too few responsibilities. Now, if you give in to them, then you'll not only be ruining a fine institution, you'll be sending them the wrong signal entirely.'
'Oh, I don't know, it seems harmless enough.'
'Strolling about on a fine day with picket signs is harmless enough, but once they get the bit between their teeth -- or rather, once they remove it! -- they'll think nothing of going on strike, or occupying buildings. Next thing you know, you go in terror of opening your mail in case there's a letter bomb. We've seen it all before, on a dozen worlds, Flixivian. And if we were prepared to let any world go to the dogs, it wouldn't be Earth.'
I wish they all could be California girls
'I don't even know why Inga bothered to pledge,' said the Kappa president to her social chairman. 'She doesn't exactly represent the Greek ideal, does she? And we're not running a hostel for layabouts, much less for subversives.'
'Well, we had to take her, Jenna. She was a legacy.'
Jenna leaned towards the mirror, her eyelids stretched wide so the shiny liquorice of her eyeliner could dry. 'I don't like troublemakers. And it's getting so you can't go six feet without tripping over a Trooper.'
'Some of them are awfully cute,' Nina said.
'Gammas? Are you crazy? You'd go out with a Gamma? If I found out anything like that, I'd have to make sure you got expelled as social chairman, if not thrown out for good. You represent us, you know.'
Jenna straightened one of the white fishnet stockings connecting her lime-green mini and white patent ankle boots, tugged the cashmere poor-boy sweater caught up with a wide white patent belt, and picked up her handbag. Keys -- Pill compact -- silver lipstick -- eyeliner -- white eye shadow -- powder compact -- cigarettes? No, no cigarettes.
She stopped at the vending machine. Two credits twenty-five for a pack of cigarettes! Stupid as hell -- everyone knew that it was all taxes, the damn cigarettes didn't cost fifteen decks to make. Well, sometimes when the moon was full, one of the Amagon exchange students would get a package from home -- or rather a shipment from home, things that had fallen off the truck.
If I'd never loved, I never would have cried
KM found Guillam, a few vodkas into the evening, at a point when he was both the only and the last person Guillam wanted to see. It would all have been perfect -- well, he would have been a lot less frightened -- if he knew that KM would be there the next day, holding the other end of the banner, but it was pointless even to suggest it.
Although Guillam was pursuing an Arts degree, he was quite aware that various colourless, odourless compounds could be dropped into a glass of vodka. He was honest enough to admit that, by the time KM turned up, he probably wouldn't have noticed a fluorescent orange liquid with an associated sound file dropped into his drink.
A few more vodkas later, Guillam allowed himself to be steered back to his room. One thing about leaving the pub incapable: no one looked twice at another bloke having his arm around you.
The next thing he knew, it was fourteen hours later, he could only vaguely hear the commotion going on in the plaza, he had an intimate knowledge of the commotion in his head, and KM had just finished tying his left ankle to the footboard of the bed.
By turning his head, Guillam was just able to see a strip of lavender satin with a bit of paint on it fastening his right wrist. So his preliminary hypothesis was that, even if it weren't too late to carry the banner, there wasn't one anymore to carry.
Once he had finished, KM sat down on the bed, his eyes searching Guillam's face, a last bit of hope vanishing behind an encroaching wave of rue.
'Why did you do this to me?'
'You're alive, aren't you? And I wouldn't be surprised if some of those stupid bastards aren't.'
KM touched two of his fingertips to his lips, and rested his hand on Guillam's chest, where he could feel his heart beating fast -- faster, as a wave of violent arousal swept over Guillam.
'All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will yet be well,' KM said, but it was obvious that he didn't really believe it.
Guillam took a fraction of a second longer than he really needed to open his eyes, then he deliberately fixed them on the corner where the back wall adjoined the ceiling and told KM to get out and that he never wanted to see him again.
KM stood up and walked away and didn't look back.
'Aren't you going to untie me, God damn it?' 'No,' KM said, his back still turned. 'I won't. It'll keep you out of trouble for a little longer.' And that was his last gift.
Stop -- yeah -- what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down
'We set the guns to stun, eh?' one of the Troopers had asked, earlier. You couldn't tell which one -- they'd removed all ID from their uniforms, and because there'd be tear gas, they all had their helmets on.
'Fuck, no,' the Section Leader said.
'Then we fire over their heads,' another Trooper said confidently.
'I see anyone doing that, sunshine, and it'll be a court martial -- that is, unless they find him with the big hole in the front and the littl'un in the back.'
'Section Leader, we can't shoot them -- they're just a bunch of kids, like us.'
'They're nothing to do with us. When we're out in the colonies up to our necks in slime and lasers, they're getting puking-drunk on beer and spending Daddy's money on drugs.'
'Sounds all right to me,' another Trooper said. 'Throw in the free sex and I'll be filling up the application form.'
'This place isn't for the likes of us. It's for Alphas, and a Beta or two who can lick boots and pass exams.'
At first there were a few students in the centre of the plaza, and a lot hanging around the edges. The groups interchanged some of their members. The viscast teams arrived, and the protest signs and the banners came out. Somebody walked up to the line of Troopers, and stuck a daisy into a gun barrel.
The Vice-Chancellor broadcast a voice file out from his office, ordering the students to disperse at once. A few of them tried, or at least milled around.
As best as anyone could reconstruct it later, the Section Leader looked up at the window of the Administration Building, where Kluewer gave him a signal. The Section Leader ordered the Troopers to open fire. And some or all of them did, and they retreated or broke and ran away.
As the much-smuggled and pirated viscubes showed, there were four dead bodies on the ground, and a girl, long fairish hair streaming in the wind despite the band across her forehead, knelt next to them, her arms reaching up towards whoever, on a higher level, was interested in her opinion.
We can change the world. Rearrange the world
'Inga,' Blake said, kneeling next to her and putting his arm around her shoulder. 'Come on. Let's go home. I'll take you home.' He wanted to get her away from there, before the soldiers came back and started shooting again.
'I don't want to go,' Inga said. 'Those...those bastards. I want to fight them. I want to kill them.'
Well, so much for peace and love, Blake thought. That hadn't been a very viable strategy anyway. He pulled her to her feet. 'We'll talk,' he whispered. 'But let's get away from here, where it's safer.'
'Roj,' she said, once they had left campus and were walking through a Gamma district where monitors were few, far between, and often broken. 'How could they do that? The whole system -- it's all rotten, right from the top to the bottom. You can't change it peacefully, from the inside. They won't listen to petitions. It's all got to go, all of it.'
'Well, that won't get done by sticking out your chin for them to punch it, now will it? Inga, it's all got to be organised. It can't just be students, after all everyone is suffering at the hands of the Federation. And it can't just be on Earth, either. The black bloke with the kiddie -- Mellanby -- he showed me some viscubes smuggled out of the Outer Planets, just horrifying the exploitation that goes on there...'
By any means necessary
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