- Mar 4, 2015
Berlin - July 3
“A cappuchino for a…Angelica Havs?” the barista called.
Angelica walked over to the counter. “Yeah, that’s me. And it’s Haus.”
“That will be four marks,” the barista said.
Angelica held her card to the scanner. The scanner buzzed.
“I’m sorry, your card was declined,” the barista said.
“Weird,” Angelica said, “I definitely didn’t go over the balance.”
“Try it again?” the barista said.
Angelica held her card to the scanner again. No dice.
“Frak,” she said, “I’ll call the credit card company, ask them to sort it out.”
“Look, you can’t just walk out of here with free coffee,” the barista said, his eyes narrowing.
“I get it,” Angelica said, handing over some bills, “Here’s cash.”
“Okay,” the barista said.
He turned away. “Women these days. Irresponsible.”
“What did you say?” Angelica said.
“You should have known better than to come here with an unusable credit card,” the barista said, “Of course, what would you know about money? Stupid b*tch.”
“I’d like to talk to the manager,” Angelica said.
“Okay, Karen,” the barista said.
“It’s HAUS!” Angelica said.
“Thank you for your patience,” an automated male voice said, “Due to the unexpectedly high call volume, we are experiencing longer than average wait times. If you would like to continue to hold, please press or say ‘One’.”
“One,” Thea said.
“Thank you,” the automated male voice said, “A customer care representative will be talking with you shortly.”
Some lo-fi music played.
“Frakking liars,” Thea said.
Alexandra walked into the room, a phone in her hand.
“You too?” Thea said.
“And apparently every woman at the lab too,” Alexandra said.
“What?!” Thea said.
“Sounds like they froze any bank account with an ‘F’ on it,” Alexandra said.
“That’s ridiculous!” Thea said. “They can’t do that!”
“They apparently just did,” Alexandra said, “All they needed to do was just push a few buttons.”
“Is that legal?” Thea said.
“They just made it legal,” Alexandra said, reading her phone, “Imperial decree. Women can't own property now.”
“Wait, what?” Thea said. “Are you frakking serious?!”
“The Kaiser just announced it this morning, as part of the Second Nullification Act,” Alexandra said, “It’s a temporary moratorium while the Bureau of Housing and Urban Development reviews the laws and regulations around property management to remove any bias caused by affirmative action.”
“Yeah, sure, ‘temporary’,” Thea said, “Sure, removing any bias by targeting only women.”
“And it seems like bank accounts were also targeted,” Alexandra said.
“So where the frak does the money go?” Thea said.
“I think it says to husband or male next of kin,” Alexandra said.
“Oh, so Alex then,” Thea said, “That’s good.”
“You two aren’t married yet, like Magnus and I are,” Alexandra said, “Which means…”
“Oh no…” Thea said.
Tesla Dynamic, Frankfurt
Mina angrily slammed a slip of paper on Theodor’s desk.
“Explain yourself,” she said, “And why most of my stock options are suddenly gone.”
Theodor looked up from his computer. “What makes you think I have anything to do with this?”
“Because every time something crazy affects our company, it’s always traced back to you, and I have to clean up your mess,” Mina said.
Theodor leaned back in his chair. “Alright, you got me this time. I talked to the Kaiser, and he took my suggestion.”
“Wait...what suggestion?” Mina said.
“You know, this little Nullification Act,” Theodor said.
“You...you did all this?” Mina said.
“Yeah, sure I did,” Theodor said, “I couldn’t bear to see my dear sister traipsing around with some leftist Jewish street rat, so I took back her money.”
“Surely there is an easier way of going about it,” Mina said.
“Why would I take the easy way when I could kill two birds with one stone?” Theodor said. “Thea gets what she deserves, and so do you.”
Mina leaned forward, brow furrowed. “You...you did this to punish me?!”
“Yeah,” Theodor said, his smug expression not changing, “I did it.”
“Why are you admitting all of this now?” Mina said.
“I’ve got the Kaiser’s ear,” Theodor said, “What are you going to do to stop me?”
“If you want me to quit and turn over my responsibilities to you, think again,” Mina said, “I’m not going anywhere. This nullification act you’ve had a hand in won’t stop me.”
“What makes you think I’m done?” Theodor said.
“They can’t just do this!” Thea said. “They can’t!”
“They can, and they just did,” Alexandra said, “The Kaiser’s word is law.”
“We’ve been under martial law since Bloody Tuesday,” Thea said, “They said all this was going to be temporary, while they captured the terrorists. But this? How does this have anything to do with capturing terrorists?”
“Maybe there were never any terrorists,” Alexandra said.
“Then what’s all this about?” Thea said.
“Something else,” Alexandra said.
“Something else?” Thea said. “Sounds like something your mom should be looking at.”
“Believe me, she is,” Alexandra said, “So far, she’s organized a bunch of protests. Main one’s going to be in Cordoba on the 5th.”
“And so will we,” Thea said.
Cordoba - July 5
Thea had never been to Cordoba before. Alexandra went there for her honeymoon, before all this madness happened. They were now in front of the Grand Temple of Cordoba…or what it would have been. The committee, with the support of the governor, had ordered it shut down after receiving a report that it was a hub for terrorists to hold meetings, recruit members, and plan attacks. Now its ancient spires and minarets played host to the large crowds gathered on the streets around it. Thea saw Alexandra waving a large sign in the direction of a line of police and Argus men in riot gear. It read “Enough is Enough,” ironically. She could barely hear anything over the cacaphony of the crowd.
“Come on!” Alexandra said. “Be angry!”
“What do you mean?” Thea said.
“Show them you don’t like this!” Alexandra said. “You don’t want this!”
“Yeah!” Thea said. “Women’s rights are human rights!”
“That’s right!” Alexandra said.
“The Kaiser is a jackbooted thug!” another protester shouted. “Down with the committee!”
“We want our freedom back!” someone else said.
As the protesters approached the police barricade, throwing food and trash, the Argus men tapped their earpieces, receiving orders. Then they stepped forward.
“Hey, Alexandra?” Thea said.
Alexandra couldn’t hear her. “WHAT THE HELL EVEN IS ROMANITAS NOWADAYS?”
“ALEXANDRA!” Thea said.
Alexandra turned around. “Yeah?”
“The police…” Thea said.
“What do you mean?” Alexandra said.
“I think we’re done,” Thea said.
“We’re just getting started,” Alexandra said.
“And so are they,” Thea said.
The Argus PMCs robotically raised their assault rifles and aimed at the protesters. Alexandra’s eyes widened. Thea tackled her to the ground just as Argus opened fire, the first few shots shredding through the lines of protesters, who fell like dominoes. The shouts of defiances turned into screams of pain and pleas for mercy, all muffled or interrupted by the unending gunfire. Thea helped Alexandra back on her feet, and they ran back down the street, dropping their signs behind them. Bodies dropped, and bullets pinged off the sidewalk concrete. A woman next to Thea was shot in the leg and went down, and her blood splattered on Thea’s arm. Others scattered in all directions, trying to dodge the gunfire.
“Over there!” Alexandra pointed at a cafe.
“That still too close!” Thea said.
The street in front of them exploded from the impact of a rocket-propelled grenade, through debris into the air. Shards of concrete struck Thea, bruising her cheek.
“Do we really have time to argue about this?” Alexandra said.
“Okay, okay!” Thea said.
They ran into the cafe and ducked under a table. Another protester followed them in, but he was shot in the back twice and fell through the doorway. Thea didn’t want to look at the body, but she couldn’t help but keep watching the doorway in case any gunmen came in. Another explosion shattered the glass, and the two women took cover under the table. Thea covered her ears, hoping to at least tune out the deafening gunfire if not the whole incident. This day had gone from great to terrifying in just a few seconds. What had the nation come to?