The Veterans of Serville

By Dennis Kenney

Email:kenneydennis@hotmail.com

© August 2009 Dennis Kenney

The dam was designed to promote prosperity and secure water for the people of Sol and Luna. Luna and Sol were separated by the Fuentes River which flowed into the Northern Sea. Sol was twice as big as Luna and its economy was based on agriculture. Solans and Lunans had lived comparably peacefully for generations, tending their fields and livestock. The nomadic Titans had been driven to the mountainous South, stopping their raids and plundering. The Civil Defense militias of both countries were now used for mitigating the effects of flooding and storms; the Fuentes River was well established as the border and was an aid to trade between the two countries.

The Solans worshipped the sun and the Lunans worshipped the moon. Lunans and Solans intermingled and intermarried seeing little conflict with their competing deities. Live and let live was the arrangement. Even the Solans had to admit that the sun didnít shine all of the time.

Lumber from Sol and fish from Luna were the main commodities traded between the countries. Metal coins were the currency with more banks run by the Lunans. The Eclipse Bank, the largest Solar bank, promoted the idea of building a large dam across the Fuentes. The dam would prevent flooding and the adverse affects of the periodic droughts. Hydraulic power could supplement the photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines which were so dispersed and expensive to maintain. Banks hate small.

The first discontent of the generation-long project began with the massive relocation of people on both sides of the river who would be displaced by the new lake. The militia was expanded to force compliance with the relocation decrees. Politicians were bought to introduce regulations for land acquisition which would reduce the bankís liability to the displaced citizens and establish penalties to the recalcitrant protestors (naturalists). Sabotage and civil disobedience couldnít be tolerated.

Hostilities began when the Lunans in Sol felt that they werenít being fairly compensated for their land. Purifications started to occur as the out-of-country Solans and Lunans migrated home, bitter from their experience in their old neighborhoods. The Solans increased the price of their lumber being used in the dam construction and the Lunans struck for higher wages. One of the naturalists called Nolan started blowing up earthworks and the militias became antiterrorism units as civil rights were suspended. Scores of citizens were put in detention or drowned naked (drowning in cold water was considered to be especially humane) for possession of weapons. It was rumored that Nolan was a Titan since no Solan or Lunan would endanger innocent people to make a political statement. Some Solans claimed that Nolan was a Lunan while some Lunans claimed that he had been born in Sol. Nolan was a barge captain who liked the Fuentes the way it was created by the sun and moon. The Solans had a myth about a savior who would save the world after a flood but Nolan didnít feel like waiting for the flood. His wife took the kids and returned to her village in the hills. So what? All he needed was the river and his barge.

The massive Lunar invasion of Sol ground to a halt on the beaches before the Lunan amphibious vehicles reached the foothills. The hospital town of Serville was filled with soldiers with missing limbs, some staring with sightless eyes into their recent hell. Nolan visited his brother Allen who was upbeat enough sitting in his new electric wheelchair. The new inductees at the Legion drank cheap beer and developed their stories of Solar (or Lunar) cowardness and treachery, memories that would get them through their remaining years. After the initial battle, conscripts and volunteers were promised 100 acres of land; Allen received 400 because of his injuries and a healthy pension. Nolan returned to his job maintaining the back-up diesel generator for one of the overflow locks on the dam, determined to come out of retirement as a terrorist. The Solans were massing in Calais for an attack on Luna.

A meteor passed high in the sky as the troops sat around their campfires eating their dinner. They discussed whether this was a good or bad omen. One of the preachers that popped up like mushrooms in poo said that only the coming of the savior could save them from a horrible eternal existence full of sulfur and flames from the stars. Such punishment would be for the self-indulgence of humanity, unless they repented and cared for their world. The preacher was arrested for inciting violence and jailed along with the mentally-ill, war protestors, prostitutes and eviction resistors. Nolan decided that the gods of war had had enough human fodder for their temples. Nolan blew up the small gate by igniting the diesel fuel tank for his lock at nine in the evening; in the morning the invading Solan army looked across a filthy landscape littered with the invasion fleet at the distant shore of Luna. The staffs of both armies met to discuss what they were fighting for.

The preacher was released when normal citizens stormed the prisons to release their relatives. Nolanís son Todd guessed what had happened. His father was crazy but not as crazy as everybody else. He returned to his fatherís farm and became a barge captain. Much later Todd returned with his grandchildren to show the girls where his father had worked. The breach of the dam had eroded to the top and roads and a train track went through the space. Todd didnít tell his granddaughter the whole story of the dam. He felt that a statue of his father should be where the monument to the savior stood. The Savior eclipsed the sun and moon.

Author Info

Dennis Kenney is the author of Star of Fire, an alternate history of the exploration of Mars. The novel can be freely downloaded for non-commercial use at StarOfFire.com. The Word version of the paperback has the latest revisions. My vanity Website is DennisKenney.com.