This is the second part of a Fortune's Fools two-part extract from Haruspex:Trust A Few. If you missed it, you can find the first part here.
“Let me get this right,” Charis said, incredulous. “You are telling me that because I took a break from the freight shunts to help a friend with their new business I am – ” It felt surreal and for a moment Charis had to close her eyes.
“No longer a citizen.” the official finished for her. “That is indeed so, Var Sweetling.”
She opened her eyes again and tried to deal with the situation in a calm and logical way.
“Look, if the Coalition needs me on the cargo runs so badly, I’ll go back to Rota tomorrow.
They will be happy to have me back. They told me they would.”
The official’s face wore an expression which might even have held some trace of regret.
“I am sure you would and I am sure they would. But, I am sorry to say there is an issue with your doing so. Those posts are only open to those who are citizens of the Coalition. And, as you have now confirmed all the details which underlie the ruling of the committee, the status of your non-citizenship has already been confirmed.”
Charis felt her mouth dry up as her throat became suddenly constricted and sore.
“I want a lawyer,” she said, snapping out the words and without even waiting for permission she sent a link out to her mother. It failed to connect and dropped away.
“You are welcome to seek legal representation if you wish to re-apply for asylum, appeal the decision or seek citizenship, but only once you have been deported. As a non-citizen, you have no right to residency in any of the CentralCentral or other Coalition worlds, so whatever legal steps you feel you need to take will have to be conducted from outside them.”
The full horror of her situation impacted then and left Charis feeling weak, as though her muscles could not support her body. She felt herself slump back into the chair.
“I need to go home if you are going to deport me, I need my things. I -”
“That is not going to be possible. You will leave here for a detention facility where you will be informed as to what options may be open to you. I do suggest you co-operate as it makes the process less unpleasant for everyone, but most of all for yourself.”
“But – you don’t understand. I am a citizen of Central – raised here, educated here, my parents live here, all my friends are here, I don’t know any other life. I couldn’t survive a day on half the Middle World protectorates I’ve shunted cargo to, let alone on some below low-tech Periphery hell hole. I won’t know the culture, the way of life, the people. Why take me in and teach me, nurture me, make this my home – then throw me out? What was the point? It’s beyond pointless – it’s – it’s cruel.”
Her voice broke a little on the last word and she had to stop talking or risk allowing the tears of anger and frustration, which pricked in her eyes, from showing.
The official looked a little weary as if he found himself dealing with this situation one time too often.
“The Coalition always takes the cases of displaced minors, children who need asylum, very seriously and the Protected Children Program has been long established as a humane and fair way of treating unaccompanied or orphaned children who come to us in need. Those, such as yourself, who are accepted under Amendment D are required to repay the community through military service, which you did. After which you may be accorded rights of citizenship if you are working in reserved employment – as you were for many years. There is nothing unfair, pointless or cruel about it.”
Charis heard the door open behind her and, still in denial when her arm was taken in an iron grip, she felt as if the end of her life had begun.