The God. Damned. Heat.
Drawing himself up from where he was crouched in front of a particularly dusty stalk of corn, he looked at the meager crop that surrounded him.
Corn grew in lopsided rows in every direction. It went as far as he could see and being in the middle of the field always gave him the eerie feeling of being watched. He liked to blame the scarecrows, but knew it had more to do with the tight corners and easy hiding places. His sister had scared him one too many times growing up not to be half-nervous in the fields.
Now, with the twin suns of Meia and Leia high overhead and the end of the harvest only a week away, he couldn't wait to be done with the damned crop until the following year.
Having both Meia and Leia in the sky for the last year had played havoc with everything. The days were hotter and shorter. The nights were colder and longer. The frost decimated entire fields in a single night and the heat-induced drought had suffocated more plants than he cared to think about.
His harvest would be a lot smaller than he wanted. Still, he couldn't help but feel lucky in the face of it all.
At least he wasn't on one of the contested worlds.
As a rule, George tried to ignore the news coming out of the more centralized systems. The news talked of little else than the political turmoil, the evils of one side or the other, and the men who died by the thousands in the name of their government.
He supposed that in the war between the Federal Democracy of Planets and the Honorth Allegiance, he should care more about the FDP since they controlled Shone III; the little planet he called home. Yet, between one corrupt system and another, he really just didn't care.
Men fighting for power and money. People dying in the name of lost causes. Homes and planets destroyed in that hunger and avarice.
The thought of hardskin boots tromping through his fields and soldiers setting fire to his barns crossed his mind. It twisted his stomach into knots and his lips into a scowl.
"Fuck 'em." George said to no one in particular.
"Fuck who now?" Lelena asked as she appeared from behind a dusty stalk and walked towards him.
"No one, dear." he said, his tone softening.
"Aww. You're no fun. Here I thought that was an invitation." she responded in a singsong voice.
His gaze drifted up and down his wife's form and a smile crossed his lips. She was filthy. Her overalls were ratty and covered in dirt, her shoulders were bright red from working under the sun, and her her face was beginning to wrinkle like leather.
And she made his heart skip a beat.
"Hey there, sexy." she said, walking up and wrapping her arms around his middle; a cloud of dust puffing off of them from the contact.
"Got a cigarette?"
"Maybe. What's in it for me?"
He leaned down and kissed her. Her lips tasted of dirt and salty sweat, but he didn't care. She was his and he was hers and if he was bothered by a little bit of field dust, they'd chose then wrong life together.
"Mmm. I like that." Lelena chided with a silly smile.
"Yea?" he asked, drawing one of the last hand-rolled cigarettes from his vest pocket.
"Yea." she agreed, pulling out the silver lighter from her pocket and lighting up.
They shared the tobacco for a long minute before either of them spoke again. This time, it was less lovey dovey and more business. But George was ok with that.
"We lost another cow." Lelana remarked solemnly.
"Was it the old brown one that Jeffrey was telling us about the other night?"
"That's the one."
"Not the first." George sighed. "Probably won't be the last before year's end."
"Mmm." Lelena said in way of agreement as she took a long drag.
George reached over and plucked the cigarette from his wife's fingers. He took a drag of his own and flicked the butt into the dirt, careful to avoid the dried out corn stalks on either side of them.
"Come on." he said with a squeeze of her arm as he ground the burning embers under his boot. "We should get cleaned up. I'm sure Jeff and Nadia will be demanding dinner by the time we get there."
"Let 'em wait. Those kids do nothing but eat."
"They take after their Daddy." he said with a smirk.
George leaned down to give his wife another kiss when a deep shadow passed over head. It moved straight through the light of Meia and Leia and, not a moment later, was associated with a high pitched keening noise.
They both stared up in shock.
An orange red fireball plummeted from the sky at a sharp angle. Bursts of flame and sparks jetted out from its belly and a glittering trail seemed to stream from all sides.
"Is that a ship?!" Lelena asked in shock.
As if to answer her question, the flames began to peel away from the spacecraft's nose and reveal the metal hull. It was searing red and heat billowed off of it even as the fireball dissipated. It was only then that George realized the 'glitter' he saw were chunks of metal tearing from the ship's surface.
"It must have hit the atmosphere at too sharp an angle." George said before turning to his wife. "Go get on the horn and get the marshall out here. Ambulance too. Those folks might need help."
"And what are you going to do?" his wife demanded.
"Go and help."
They stared at each other for a long moment, the echoing screech of the dying craft punctuating the silence between them. It was broken by an echoing crash! and WHUMPFH! as the craft hit the ground just outside of their fields and burst into a brand new inferno.
"GO!" he shouted as he turned to take off running.
He could hear her heading in the opposite direction as he ran towards the burning wreckage that was billowing smoke and fire in fields just past his farm, slapping corn stalks away as he went. He escaped the corn field, ran out onto the open road, and headed towards the mass of twisted metal and raging heat.
More God. Damned. Heat. he thought to himself.