“What is it? You know something.”
“I can’t say,” Eni told him.
“This is about what Norris said, isn’t it?” Stavo asked. “When he said we’d all be sorry soon.”
“I can’t say,” Stavo didn’t press. Norris had connections at the station, but wouldn’t be as scrupulous about not naming something which should be kept secret. He looked down at Eni, to tell her he understood. She’d fallen asleep on his shoulder. He held her, knowing the news would be public soon enough.
Eni headed for work in the morning, unsure how she had gotten to bed. Stavo must have carried her in. She smiled at the thought until she remembered what was coming today. Stavo had stopped for lunch when the message arrived that there would be a town meeting at six. Per brother Dom, the boy said everyone was required to attend. People arrived early to the hall, heated speculation and discussion moving from one part of the group to another. Stavo kept to himself, leaning against the wall by the doorway leading to the kitchen. Neither he nor any of the others had noticed Children of the Stars troopers where they waited out of sight in the bars of shadow created by the setting sun. The settlers grew restless and angry as the time wore on with no word of what this was all about and why only men had arrived so far. No one else appeared by the time brother Dom entered the room and stepped onto the stage, followed by a Star Children’s captain.
“My name is Captain Michael Cameron,” he said, stepping up to the reader’s stand. “I know you’re wondering why you’ve been called here and I won’t keep you in suspense. Arcadia is now the property of the Children of the Stars and I will be in charge of this region.” The men shouted in anger and rose to their feet. They yelled and argued, but were shouted down. They turned to leave, only to find their way had been barred. Black-clad troopers guarded the door and, through the windows, could be seen surrounding the building, laser rifles in hand. They did not look friendly. Now that they were standing, they could see in the distance that the women of the community were being herded into hastily-erected, prefab pens. Stavo could see no sign of Eni in the group and his heart sank.
The night descended and grew long. Some of the men had approached brother Dom who told them he was helpless to change what had happened. He said that he, too would be relocated. Tired and worried, the men sat or collapsed to the floor, unable to believe or accept what had happened, but powerless to do anything about it. But the anger was there and eventually some roused others to take action, to storm the door before it was too late. Stavo knew this wouldn’t work, knew that even if he joined them he could not, would not fight. Before the settlers plans had fully formed, the troops moved them together and marched them out to the waiting pinnace. From their it proved a short trip to the waiting vessel above them. Stavo could not see their crawling insect ship or the glory of the stars. They had stolen his face.