While waiting for the train, Stella Valdez saw the striking public service advertisement inside a black frame. Glossy and freshly-printed, it showed three beings looking upward with determination in their eyes, with space and the Earth behind them. At the bottom of the advertisement it read:
TOGETHER, WE WILL TRIUMPH
The figure in the center was a human female like Stella, but was in her 40s with a hint of gray in her black hair.
To the left of the human female was a tiger with the physical build of a twentysomething human male. He represented the Anthros: a race of Earth animals with human physiology and physical features. They could walk upright, speak, and reason just like humans.
Anthros were sometimes viewed as a curiosity or a fascination; but more commonly they were feared, viewed with suspicion, or otherwise despised by most humans. Stella, however, didn't mind the Anthros. She found a lot of them to be decent and kind, although she wasn't friends with them.
However, she had a much more negative attitude concerning the other Anthro on the right side of the dark-haired human: the fox. Wearing a black and gray military uniform, the fox folded his arms across his chest in such an arrogant manner that it set Stella's teeth on edge.
The Melani, whom the arrogant fox represented, are an alien fox race. They run a "confederacy" of some eight worlds. And they added Mars, the Red Planet, to their empire.
The nerve! she thought. They knew Earth nations had robot explorers there in advance of an eventual visit by humans, but the foxes set up stakes anyway. They also took their own sweet time about making contact with Earth: a month.
Stella wondered what would the foxes' attitude would have been like if humans were able to travel interstellar space then...
Not too long afterward, the Melani agreed to "share" Mars with Earth, and soon they became part of everyday life. They brought new science and technology, as well as two separate wars against some lizard race called "Hux" and a robot race called the "Paklet."
To this very day those damned foxes and those damned robots are still fighting, and Earth is still in the middle of it. The Melani managed to recruit many of Earth's soldiers to join them in fighting the Paklet on Earth and beyond. Including Stella's younger sister.
Earth had problems of its own before those bushy-tails showed up! Why did they add to it?
Finally, Stella saw some words written neatly in black marker above and on the arrogant fox's head:
WE OF THE TRUE HUMANITY
REJECT OUR SPACE FOX OVERLORDS
AND THOSE WHO SNIFF THEIR TAILS!
As a train approached, Stella Valdez pulled out her smartphone, intent on searching those hashtags.
Stella Valdez, the Melani, and the Hux © Wesley Brown
The Paklet (BEO series: 2K10V2, Arch Angel, Reaper, Quad) © Christopher Haigood () & Jared Buchanan ()