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Same as the Old Boss

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Her daughter had left a holo-broadcast on when she went to bed. It was the same crap that had been playing since the 'United Mankind Clasbul Liberation Army' took over the airwaves, about how the Abh were genetic engineered monstrosities who ate kittens and kicked babies, and how United Mankind were bringing freedom and humanity back to Planet Clasbul. Marca was beginning to miss the normal garbage shows that played -- at least those were mostly home-grown Clasbul garbage.

Marca silenced the damn thing with an annoyed mutter. She had just gotten back from an Independence Party meeting, the first since the United Mankind military had landed. She had had to drive out of town, which meant discovering the checkpoints set up by the United Mankind military. Marca had enough of smart-ass ignorant comments about local politics from bored soldiers to last a lifetime, so she was already in a foul mood when she showed up late to the meeting.

Like every Independence Party meeting Marca had ever attended, it was an argument that played lip service to Robert's Rules of Order for about fifteen minutes before it became a free-for-all. Some people were cautiously optimistic that the United Mankind would live up to their promises. Most people, though, were already asking questions like when the territorial government would be released from internment. Surprisingly, the meeting hadn't broken up with the normal shouting match; instead, some military police had knocked on the door and asked the crowd to disperse due to 'temporary restrictions to hunt out anti-human sentiment'. Marca had left quickly, knowing that some idiot was going to start a fight, and she'd rather not have to call her her husband to bail her out of jail. If she didn't just disappear, like the territorial government and any of the Empire's citizens on the ground or in orbit during the invasion.

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss," Marca said to herself as she went to the kitchen to fix a snack before bed. She didn't know where the saying came from, but it was something her grandmother said at every election without fail. It had annoyed Marca when she was young, and full of sentiment that she could change the planet, and maybe even challenge the Empire. Maybe this time it wasn't quite true -- the Abh were a pain, but they mostly ignored planetary governments, something that annoyed the anti-imperialists to no end. It was hard to oppose an Empire that didn't do anything besides monopolize travel off-world. They didn't even have the decency to cause any restrictions in trade. United Mankind was proving to have no clue about Clasbul's people and their previous lives under the Empire. At least not the people setting the policy for running the planet. Or, Marca thought, maybe they were just idiots, which was always the most likely explanation in politics.

Marca heard a ring and she went to answer the call before it woke up the rest of the house. it was Minh. "Do you have any idea what time it is?" she asked him. "I have a family, you know."

"That's not important right now!" Minh said. "Those blasted United Mankind invaders are going to pay for this! How dare they!" Marca hadn't turned on video on the call, but she didn't think she needed it. She could picture Minh just fine. Unfortunately.

Marca pulled a chair over and sat down. "What happened? I've been stuck in military blockades for an hour and the news is less than useless."

"Those damn offworld bastards shaved my head!"

She must be tired. Why the hell was he calling her to complain about that, when there were people missing and soldiers patrolling the roads, looking for sympathizers? "What?" Maybe she should turn on the video, just to see if he looked bald to her.

"They said that blue was an unpatriotic color. They wouldn't even let me change the dye. I was planning this new look for ages!"

Marca remembered now. Minh had a taste for extravagant dye jobs, and he was doing some kind of tricolor thing with his mustache and hair. He had talked about it. Extensively.

"I'm telling you, we need to do something," Minh continued talking. "If the rest of the cell isn't going to step in, I'm going to go all the way to the top!"

"Good luck with that -- the parliament's still missing, and the United Mankind seems to have an obsession for not being the Abh." For one thing, the Abh Empire had unintentionally mastered the art of making most Clasbulians not give a damn about them. The United Mankind was quickly going to annoy the average Clasbulian in the street, who didn't care about space, but did care about trends and their daily commute. An Anti-United Mankind political group would be far more effective than an Anti-Empire group. And probably get them all arrested. "But, something does need to be done." She wasn't sure what, yet. "Don't worry, Minh, your blue hair will be avenged." Here Marca was glad the video was turned off -- it was easier to make her voice sound serious then to hide the smirk as she said that.

"Thanks, Cell Leader," Minh said. "Oh, yeah. Daswani said to visit his hotel tomorrow. Says he has something you need to know about."

"Did he tell you what?" Marca said. "It's not like I have copious free time, and traffic tomorrow will be horrible."

"Said it was too secret to mention over an unsecured line."

Marca rolled her eyes. It better not be on the level of Minh's mustache or the checkpoints. "Fine. I need to run some errands nearby there anyway. If our beloved liberators don't object to a woman buying groceries for her family after work."

"You meant it about the haircut right?" Minh asked.

"Yes, Minh. Goodbye, Minh." Marca hung up. She took a moment to look out the window at the stars. The freedom to go where she wanted, without even the Humankind Abh Empire to give her direction, and was what kept her little cell together through the numerous Independence Party schisms. It was looking like the United Mankind was infringing even on her freedoms as a Clasbul citizen, let alone traveling the stars.

But, she had never taken the Abh lying down, so she wasn't going to let these new offworlders walk all over her either.