The enemy’s first act if war was to release the goats.
Fisher found the animals well west of the Continental Divide, gorging themselves on his Cascadian undergrowth.
He shot them with his .22, sending their Prairie goatherd running.
Fisher tracked the boy across the Divide and the biostate border. When the Prairie patrol hollered at him, he held up his hands and tried to smile. Fisher had called in his mission, but his backup was hours away if it was coming at all.
“I am here to official apologize for shooting Prairie goats in the Cascadian Biostate,” Fisher said, and the Prairie boarder guards all pulled sour faces.
Fisher knew how this would go. The Prairies had already relayed the conversation back to whatever tractor-mounted yurt the Prairie government called home these days. The reply would take some minutes in coming, and in the mean time, the boarder guards and he would trade light insults. “You Cascadian boys didn’t use to shoot our goats.” “Well you Prairie boys didn’t use to graze them on the wrong side of the rain shadow.” “Seems to me the rain shadow of Cascadia should start at the Cascades and these mountains were the Bitterroots last time I checked.” “A rain shadow’s a rain shadow; is the other side of the Continental Divide Cascadia green or Prairie brown?” “Hey! The color on our flag’s called ‘sere,’ asshole, and it’s that green our animals need.” “Let your animals graze there, and it wont be green much longer.” And on and on.
It was a conversation Fisher had at least once a month, the price he paid for his posting on this contested border. He could have had fun on the Californian border, but that was too far from his family, and the Boreal guards were just crazy.
Fisher’s Prairie interlocutor looked up and put his hand to his ear. “Yes? Yessir. I understand.” He smiled and pointed his rifle at Fisher’s heart.
Which sank. “So it looks like you guys are trying to un-contest our border.”
“Your government declared our goats an act of war,” answered Fisher’s captor. “That means you killing them was retaliation and your coming into our biostate was provocation.”
Fisher licked his lips. “You going to shoot me?”
“Course not,” the enemy soldier smiled. “If you’re dead, you can’t herd goats can you? Come on, let’s turn your side of the border just a bit browner.”