[identity profile] anne-arthur.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] b7friday
Title: The Zizannie.
Prompt: Children's stories.
Word count: 695.

Set during the attack on the communications centre in 'Seek - Locate - Destroy'.

The communications centre on Centero was a concrete desert. It would be, thought Vila bitterly. Not even the zizannie, whose bright blue flowers had spread to every human colony in the galaxy, had found a foothold here. And he had particularly wanted a zizannie flower. Oh well. He went back in.
He had not bothered to tell the others his plans. They wouldn’t have understood. The alpha grades had grown up with Del Starbuck, square-jawed space pilot, defeating the enemies of the Federation in a daily viscast. Blake and Avon would probably have had Del Starbuck action figures, Del Starbuck bases, Del Starbuck ships – he had seen them in the shops every Federation Day. He had stolen them, even, and made a good profit selling them. But not, usually, to delta kids.
For the service grades had their own hero. En. Unlike Starbuck he did not have a girlfriend, a sidekick, a ship – all those marketable accessories. Some of the stories hinted at a background in the Mars riots of ’37, when he saw his parents die – but that was not important. Nor was his name – he made one up in each story, usually from some natural object – En Twotrees, En Sky, En Moondust. That was the starting point of so many of his father’s stories – the labour gang, lowest of the low, trudging off the ship on the latest world where they were needed, the bored Federation official checking off names – and the hero looking him in the eye and giving him that preposterous name, daring him to say ‘That’s not a real name,’ or ‘That’s not on my list’. And of course he never did, because, as all deltas understood, labour gangs were hardly real people – it was simply not worth making more than a token effort to work out the correspondence between the names given and those on the list, provided the numbers were right. But Vila and his sisters would know that that absurd name would be a sign - that prisoners would be freed, pompous officials robbed and the money given to farmers or factory workers, the Administration left with no idea who had outsmarted them - and they would listen eagerly. In other stories there would be several characters who could be En, and the children would have to guess which he was. ‘That’s En’ they would cry, ‘No, that’s En’, until finally, the Federation official, tricked of his taxes or his corn supplies, would berate an insignificant functionary, ‘and’ (as Vila’s father would say, his voice dropping), ‘he looked into a pair of eyes as black as the limitless bounds of space’. And that would be En. His other physical attributes varied, although he was always small and insignificant, but always you knew him by the black eyes, the grandiloquent names – and the zizannie flower, as commonplace as himself, that he left at the scene of his triumphs.
And that was why Vila had wanted a zizannie. Since he had been on the Liberator he had begun to dream that he too could be a trickster, a righter of wrongs – and he had determined to leave a zizannie in the ruins of the communications centre. But there were none. Typical.
Gan was in the entrance hall, setting charges. He looked up at Vila and smiled.
‘No zizannie?’ he asked. Vila was stunned. How had Gan known? His shock must have shown on his face, for Gan said, ‘That’s what you went out for, wasn’t it? For En?’
Vila nodded. Of course Gan would know En too, would have grown up with the stories. Warmth flooded through him. Gan smiled.
‘Then we’ll just have to make our own.’ He took the stub of a graphite writing stick from his pocket, and drew on the wall by the door – five petals, a black centre, long oval leaves. A zizannie, and surprisingly competent. When this place was blown up, it would mean nothing to the officials sifting through the rubble, but to the labour gang who would clear it away it would speak of hope, and possibilities.
‘There you are,’ said Gan, admiring his handiwork. ‘For En.’
‘For En,’ echoed Vila.
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