Civis Romanus

By Robert Lynch

The modified dropship raced towards the dome. Sentry guns fired, but the intense speed of the ship prevented the guns from getting a target lock.

 

Inside the dome, they looked up. The guns were outside in vacuum, but the sound of the gears positioning the guns, and the clatter of spent shells falling into their hopper carried through the ventilation shafts. The vibrations from the huge slides clanking as shells were ejected and reloaded shuddered through the regolith for kilometres. The colossal guns fired barrel-sized projectiles, each capable of bringing down an enemy ship.

 

Expecting to see an explosion, the farmers of the dome panicked when the ship zipped through the perimeter and headed straight for their roof. Clamouring for the safety of the airlock, no one noticed when Mary tripped. She had been watching the sky, and not where she was going, just like everyone else. But unlike everyone else, she had rolled her ankle on the edge of a garden bed and fallen into a garden bed of carrots.

 

At the last second, the dropship fired it’s landing thrusters. It still hit the dome roof with considerable force, but instead of shattering the whole structure, a large triangular spike at the base of the dropship punctured through a single triangular panel. The spike was an airlock. It broke through the single panel, then came to a stop as it stuck into the panel’s metal housing. Roughly jammed into panel’s place, foam ejected from the spike, carried upward by the escaping air. In seconds, the foam dried and sealed the dropship to the dome.

 

Mary was out of the carrots, but unable to put full weight on her damaged ankle was hobbling toward the airlock where the other farmers were. The spike airlock opened, and six ropes rolled out. Six figures began to repel down the lines—one, hanging upside-down holding a sniper rifle, aimed at Mary.

 

Mary didn’t make it to the airlock.

 

Touching the ground, the six figures opened their blackened helmets; breathing deep the air. The tallest of the six surveyed their work.

 

“Excellent,” He said, “Begin loading supplies, I’ll go talk to the natives.”

 

He walked confidently past Mary to the adjoining airlock where the other farmers were. “Listen up.” He said through the airlock intercom, “We are taking what we want from this dome, then we’ll decide where we go next. If you load this airlock full of valuables, we’ll decide it isn’t worth the hassle of searching through the whole complex. Nice and easy. If you don’t, you’ll make us search the place. If we have to do that then this –” He pointed at Mary, “Won’t be the only tragedy today.”

The pirates began to load up everything they could lift. After about 15 minutes, Jacob, one of the farmers who had fled the dome, rang out a message over the intercom. “I’ve talked to the colony leaders. They have decided on your ultimatum. They have an answer for you. They said to say ‘Civis Romanus.’”

 

The tall pirate walked over to the airlock. “What the hell is that? Gibberish?”

 

Jacob rolled his eyes. “It’s Latin. It means ‘I am a citizen of Rome.’”

 

“You’re a citizen of what?” The pirate asked.

 

Jacob sighed. “In the ancient world, a Roman could walk in any country unarmed and unmolested, all he need say was ‘Civis Romanus.’ So great was Rome, and so certain was the retribution of the Empire that no one dared lay a hand on a Roman citizen.”

 

“I don’t think the Roman Empire is going to help you now.” The pirate said. “And all your little speech has made certain, is my anger. What did you think would happen? Did you think I would be scared off by a history lesson?”

 

“No,” Jacob said, “I thought you’d be distracted while the others repositioned the sentry guns.”

 

A barrel sized bullet tore through the dome, hitting just before the dropship’s spike airlock, tearing straight through it. A second bullet hit the dropship in the centre. The explosion filled the dome with fire. The pirates didn’t get a chance to seal their helmets.

 

Chunks of dome panels and dropship rained down to the floor of the dome.

 

“Fiat justitia, ruat coelum,” said Jacob.

END

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