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The Cytherean War #2: Cytherea Breathes

Sam Cameron-McKee lives in Adelaide South Australia with his partner Veronica. He graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Creative Writing and Linguistics and is currently completing his honors study in Creative Writing and Cultural studies. He has been writing fantasy and science fiction for many years, and considers his inspirations to be Ursula K. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson. When Sam isn't writing he spends his time listening to progressive rock or watering his garden.
Artura hated the people of Earth, and he had a headache.
"I will ask again," he said, straightening his tie. "Please refer to my planet as Cytherea, we voted against the name 'Venus' more than five years ago."
"Voted?" the Earthen ambassador asked, his sarcasm disguised by layers of rock-hard
professionalism. "Your government was not granted the authority to vote on that matter."
"We do not need your permission!" Artura snapped.
"You do, however," the thin-lipped, bloodless man said, "need our support... for many things." The other Earthen diplomats around the holo-table chuckled.
Artura clenched his fists, knuckles turning white. The ambassador was referencing a popular quote from a speech the Earthen president had given a week ago.
"We will bring hostilities with Venus to a close quickly. After all, without our support, they can't even make enough air to breathe."
He knew that the ambassador was trying to make him angry. He smiled ever so slightly at the
thought; if that pompous moron knew what Artura could do.... He straightened his tie.
"Don't weasel around with me," Artura said, taking an aggressive posture. "We agreed to this negotiation for your sake, not ours. Grant our demands, or hostilities will continue."
Increasingly, Artura hoped that the ambassador would continue to be stubborn. His head was pounding, and every glance at the thin, arrogant smirk of the ambassador made it worse.
"You are mistaken if you believe that you bargain from a position of power Mr. Artura," the Ambassador said.
"Am I mistaken about the satellites we blew out of orbit?"
"A small loss, easily replaceable."
"Easily replaceable?"
"We have ample manufacturing."
Artura froze.
He had been part of the committee that had decided on that strike. He had sat awake in the cloud cities of Cytherea for hours, debating within himself whether it was the right thing to do. He had weighed the thousands of deaths--the horror that they would unleash, against the freedom and dignity of his home, and finally he had chosen.
For all that to be written off. Too be discounted like an accounting error, or goods that could be replaced.
Artura's head throbbed with pain, but he retained enough composure to offer one last try.
"We can do it again," he said, voice cracking. He received a shrug in response. "Do the lives of your people mean nothing to you?"
"The deaths are regrettable," the ambassador said, "but we will not allow you to steal the resources and wealth of Venus with a simple threat."
Artura went cold, his headache cleared. The Ambassador had spoken plainly, and clearly. Wealth and resources--that was all that ever mattered. He now knew exactly what he must do.
He stood at the table, and fixed the Ambassador with a stare.
"What?" the hateful man said.
"Cytherea Breathes!" Artura yelled, and pressed the button hidden beneath his tie-knot. He smiled as his vest detonated, and the smug smirk of the ambassador was wiped away.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019
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