Shoulders rubbed against shoulders in the dimly lit, damp room as Aseeki crowded in with the other people of the community. Humans they were, not aliens. These small communities were refuges for humans situated on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, and were the only places where they could stay reasonably safe from the Setapi. It is in small communities like these, all over the world, that humans dwell. Driven back into the shadows, a lesser minority of the population.
Aseeki looked at the faces around him. They were hard faces, faces that have seen a lot of pain and suffering over the years. No longer are humans living the life of luxury. Now in the year 3980, humans are living on the verge of existence, fighting to gain what was once theirs. However, it is far beyond their reach.
For one hundred years humans have been living like they do now. All because, one hundred years ago, an alien race, calling themselves Setapi, landed on Earth and declared war. A battle was fought for twenty years but the aliens had a superiority that humans did not. The humans surrendered and the Setapi took control.
Aseeki sighed heavily. From these feuding races, two had spawned him into this cruel and unforgiving world. He was a crossbreed and belonged in neither community, having no true place in the world. His refuge was amongst the humans where he could easily disguise the markings that made him different.
Light, thin and shallow purple swirls decorated the backs of his hands and ran vertically up his spine, remnants of his ancestral heritage. Also carried through his alien genes were his eyes. Unlike Setapi's themselves, whose eyes are pupil-less and forever changing colours, half-breeds like Aseeki, retained their pupils, however they still had their emotions reflected in their eyes. Those two differences were the only things that made him physically different, and although one was easy to hide, the other was not so easy.
Thick, woolly gloves covered the markings and were never second glanced at because of the world today, thanks to the destruction by the war, it was forever cold and dark, plagued with regular natural disasters. Of course the markings on his spine were the easiest to hide; all Aseeki had to do was remember never to take his shirt off in public. His eyes were what caused the most problems. Wearing dark sunglasses, although working some days, did not work others. There's not much chance of looking inconspicuous when you're wearing sunglasses and you can barely see outside with them off. So Aseeki did the only two things he could think of. Firstly he spent the most of his time locked up in a room with just the bare necessities and a mirror, teaching himself to control his emotions so that his eyes showed either green, blue or brown. That meant that out in public his eyes could only reveal three emotions, calmness, sadness and embarrassment respectively, and the rest had to be under tight control.
After he had gained the required amount of control over his eyes, Aseeki ventured to an optometrist and asked for coloured contact lens, saying that he'd grown tired of his usual colour and was looking for a change. The lie was accepted and Aseeki was given light brown contact lens. Eventually, after years of waiting, Aseeki looked human.
A screen flickered at the far end of the room. The screen, situated high up and spaning the width of the small wall, was hooked up to the Setapi Public Frequency, and was the way of communication from the Setapi to the humans. Instantly a picture flashed onto the screen, staring up at the face of Head Councillor Xerish.
"Humans!" he began, and already Aseeki heard the mutterings of anger. "A new law has been passed by the Council. Law number 3941 states that, from now on, any sexual fraternising between species is prohibited. Those caught will be shot on site!" Aseeki felt his stomach contract. "Furthermore, another new law passed today, Law 3942, states that all crossbreeds are to turn themselves into us. All those who refuse or run will be hunted down and taken by force. It is in your best interests, humans, to report to the authorities any information you might have concerning these crossbreeds. Grunash!" he said, finishing with the formal goodbye of the Setapi.
Aseeki's heart stopped beating. He had always known this day was coming, but it was still a shock. The Setapi's had and always will have a pride that consumed every aspect of their lives, and to them, crossbreeds like himself were a source of deep embarrassment. Aseeki learnt this especially from his parents, who although loved each other and him, still could not look at him without shame. Eventually it had become too much for them and they placed him in a mental institution, claiming him to be insane as the only way to rid themselves of him without suffering too much guilt. They reasoned that he would be in the safe hands of trained staff, getting food, water, clothes; and much more than he would ever get on the streets or in an orphanage. And in a way they could have been right, if they'd placed him in a private centre!
In the public, government funded institution; Aseeki was beaten, starved and generally mistreated, all because of his heritage. On several occasions Aseeki was beaten into unconsciousness. They probably would have killed him, if it were not for the money his parents kept sending.
Aseeki shuddered, bringing his thoughts back to the present. The room had nearly emptied and Aseeki suddenly realised with a start that he was still standing in the middle of the room. A man who was passing by stopped.
"Are you alright son?" he asked.
Aseeki focused on the face in front of him. It was a weatherworn face with tuffs of steel grey hair puffing out at all angles. His skin was crumpled and deeply tanned.
Aseeki shook his head and rubbed his eyes before replying, "Just a little shocked."
The old man nodded understandingly, a crooked smile revealing dirty teeth. "It is always a shock to hear of such harsh penalties put in place over such trivial things." He laughed. "Not that you need to worry. You are a human and you probably have a nice young lady waiting for you."
Aseeki nodded, trying to show relief. "Yes, you're right."
The man patted Aseeki reassuringly on the shoulder before moving on.
Aseeki troughed through a dark back alley, the ground littered with rubbish. As he jumped a big puddle of putrid water, he smelt the distinct smell of blood. Quickly he averted his eyes away from the fly covered bundle.
In the rough neighbourhood that he lived in, it was unfortunately a common sight to see a dead body in a back alley. That was the main thing that kept people away from these alleys, making them perfect travelling places for Aseeki. This way he could avoid the masses of people and remain inconspicuous.
At the next intersection, Aseeki took a left turn and walked a hundred metres before stopping in front of a decaying door. With a bit of pushing and shoving the door fell inwards, literally. The door had come loose from its hinges and plummeted to the floor. He sighed and picked it up effortlessly, placing it back in the doorframe.
After securing the door, he turned and headed briskly down a long, thin corridor, that's only light came from a singular amber light, hanging above the beginning of a staircase. The staircase was in front of the entrance door, which he hardly ever used and led up to the second, topmost floor of the apartment building. That was where Aseeki was going.
Taking the rickety stairs two at a time, it was not long before he was on the second floor. This corridor was slimmer and darker than the one before. Aseeki had to move slowly, taking care to step over the bags of garbage outside the several doors. 'Obviously they've forgotten to do the second floor !'
He sighed, stopping at the fifth door on the left, his door. Pulling a rusty, gold key out of his pocket, he inserted it into the door. It was insignificant things like keys that made Aseeki wish for the technology of the Setapi, or at least of the richer district where some few people still lived through helping the Setapi or illegal trades.
Entering the two-room apartment, Aseeki felt his spirits fall even more. The state of the apartment was so horrible that it depressed him every time he looked at it. The room coming off the door was his bedroom, lounge room, kitchen and dining room combined. A single bed, with a mouldy mattress, was pushed up against the sidewall to the right of the door. On the far wall was a leaky, mouldy sink, a decaying wooden bench and three cupboards underneath, all missing their doors. A table made of crates sat in the middle of the room. The second room was off to the left and it was a small bathroom, stained and covered in mildew beyond repair.
Aseeki padded across the un-sanded wood floor to pull a battered black backpack from under his bed. With the effectiveness of someone who had been running for almost their whole life; ever since escaping from the mental institution; Aseeki began packing his scarce belongings. He was no longer safe here. Anyone could put two and two together and turn him in.
Turning around he caught a quick glimpse of himself from the mirror in the bathroom. Although being only twenty-three years of age, he looked older because of his grubby appearance. He was a tall man, well built with overly broad shoulders, long legs and big hands and feet. He had a rather square chin on an oval, dark olive face, with a big crooked nose but surprisingly straight teeth. A thick scar cutting across both lips on the left hand side of his face was a reminder of all those painful beatings. Aseeki had light brown hair that had not been cut in a long time. It hung down covering most of his ears and was always falling in front of his eyes. He wore baggy, long black pants that were ripped, stained and dirty. Aseeki also wore a brown, long sleeved top in the same condition, along with his black gloves.
Running over to the kitchen bench to grab his most prized possession, Aseeki heard a bang at his door. He stopped dead in his tracks, object in his hand. His mind went into a whirl, thinking of the possibilities.
Suddenly a clear, male voice cut through into the room. "Merash! Open up!"
Aseeki's heart stopped beating and his mind went blank. The Merash?! They had come for him already!