I’m still vacillating when it comes to the name of the planet. Rudanos I like, but now I started thinking about the fact that the main character is named Rahan, and the Shemasharra guy is called Ryn, and that may be too many names starting with R in one story. Rahan and Ryn are, hopefully, just different enough that they won’t confuse anybody, but maybe I should use something different for the planet after all.
So, back to the mythology books. Well, this time I looked at older Greek deities, and found a goddess called Tekmar. Seems to have been the lady of limits and end of lives. Scary. Well, the planet is supposed to be dangerous (or rather the people there) so… maybe. I will think about this for a few days.
Ryn had known the police would be coming sooner or later. The AI had informed him that the Ytjar had identified their male suspect as one of the offworlders from one of the five ships currently sitting on their single starport. The men outside the hatch were, however, members of the regular police. Not that surprising though, the Ytjar had jurisdiction over the regular police, and could use them to do their dirty work when necessary.
“Should I open the hatch?” the AI inquired.
“Yes. If they require me to go with them I will. Keep tabs of all the information you can get at.” Ryn wasn’t particularly worried about his own safety. These people presumably knew what he was. But they had no experience dealing with people like him.
And if he saw people who knew something face to face he’d find out what that person knew. That might give him the lead which would help him to start unravelling this whole tangled ball of yarn. Information was what he needed most of all right now. He would not be able to act until he knew at least something.
It would be still be over a week before the ship would be able to make a jump safely – provided the police would not prevent the repair shop from fulfilling their contract – but it would be able to get into space. If he got Rahan back they could either risk a jump, or hide somewhere in the system and wait for help to arrive.
But he needed to find the boy first.
The headache was the first thing Rahan noticed.
The next one was that he was lying down, but not on the floor, on something at least a touch softer.
He spend a few moments listening before he finally opened his eyes. It was fairly quiet, there were some sounds of the kind of traffic you’ll hear in any larger town or city but they were muted, and he heard nothing indicating anyone was there – wherever there was – with him. Something which got confirmed when he did look around.
A bare room, with walls, floor and a slanted ceiling consisting of raw, rather new looking planks. One window, small and closed. The bed he was on, one shaky looking small table, three chairs, one of which was missing a leg. One closed door.
“Looks like I have come up in the world,” he muttered to himself. “From the cellar to the attic. Yee. Lets celebrate.”
He felt slightly dizzy when he sat up, and needed to rest a bit before he dared to stand up. Had he conked his head when he fell? The knock-out gasses or liquids which could be used as an aerosol, the few he knew about, shouldn’t have affected him like this.
But none of them should have made him pass out for more than a few minutes either. Presumably he had been given something after the initial attack.
It was full daylight behind the small window. Rahan walked to it, shuffling his feet a bit, and saw a scene consisting mostly of rooftops, and some higher buildings in the horizon, plus a blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds sailing across it.
How high an attic was one question. How well guarded was a different one. Was he a prisoner or a guest?
And ‘where’ was the third. The scene didn’t look like the more sparsely built area – and those buildings had been lower than these seemed to be, and there had been trees – where the building with the cellar had been.
He could not see to the ground from the window, and he could not open it for a better look either.
Should he break it? The glass seemed thick, but he doubted it was nothing more than ordinary window glass.
Next he tried the door, but it was every bit as locked as he had assumed it would be. Rahan spend some time examining the hinges and the lock of the door, but then retired back to the cot.
He needed information.
Food and drink might be nice too. Not to mention toilet…
He settled down to wait.
It took maybe an hour, but then he heard a key being used in the lock, and the door opened. The first person who came in was a woman, but not Lida. Her face was almost completely covered with a bright lime colored scarf, and she was carrying a tray with some bowls and a tall glass on it.
After her a man came in. He was sporting a scarf too, only his was black, and instead of a tray with food and drink he had some sort of rifle with him. Rahan peered at it but could not make out much, the make was unfamiliar. All he could tell that it was of the type which used ammo, not an energy weapon.
“Eat and drink. Your friend will come soon. She will tell you what you need to know,” the man said while the woman put the tray on the table and then left.
“Okay. Any chance of a toilet visit?”
The man shook his head, then yelled something in an unknown language, without taking his eyes off Rahan.
After a moment the woman came back in carrying a plastic bucket and a roll of toilet paper. She put it against the wall and left again, and this time the man followed her.
“Okay, I guess that will do.”
The armed man had seemed fairly professional. No openings. Except for the fact that Rahan could have attacked the unarmed woman who came in first.
He wasn’t sure what to make of that. If anything.
He had just finished eating when Lida finally came in. This time the guard didn’t step in, but Rahan thought he heard him, just outside the door.
Lida was dressed differently than before. The generic look was still similar, bright pastels, a tunic and trousers, but it had, before, seemed like an upscale imitation of what the lower classes here wore, now the cloth was the cheap synthetic and her leather boots had been changed for the cloth slippers used by the all the poorer people here. And her hair had been straightened and dyed black when it had been dark brown and curly before.
“So… how about some explanations?” he asked.
“Yes, I guess I owe you that,” Lida said and blushed lightly.
Rahan got up from the chair and walked to the cot, then slopped on it and crossed his arms. She took the chair he had been using and brought it next to the cot, then turned it around and sat down, resting her arms on the its back, and sighed.
“Sorry I got you involved in this mess.”
“And what mess would that be, precisely?”
Lida looked at her hands for a moment, then said slowly:” You know the system we have here?”
“Okay. It’s kind of… well, it’s just not right, is it? The peons are practically slaves, and it’s almost impossible for anyone born into that class to rise out of it. They have no power, and they are permanently poor, and…”
“I get it. Let me guess, you want to change things?”
She glanced at him and went back to studying her hands. They looked a bit different now too. There was ingrained grime on her palms and underneath her now short fingernails. Whoever had designed her disguise was either experienced, or smart.
“Yes,” she said quietly. “Anything wrong with that?”
“Nothing. A lot. Depends on how you are going about it.”
“We have secret schools for the peons, and we distribute medicines and have hidden autodocs, and we are trying to organize them so that when there finally is an election maybe we can keep it honest…”
“Does sound recommendable,” Rahan said while studying her face.
Was she being honest? The man with the gun had seemed pretty experienced too. Considering what little he had learned about this planet Lida’s organization would need to know how to deal with violence, but how much violence were they willing to use? Underground teachers, rebels or terrorists?
And would she know?
“You are a noble yourself?” he then asked.
Lida nodded. “I wanted to do something. My parents are… not bad, but they are unwilling to disturb the status quo because they are scared of the consequences. But I wanted to do something. That friend I talked about…”
“The one who died?”
She nodded again. “Yes, she was in before me.
“And it’s possible her flyer accident wasn’t an accident. The Ytjar… they can play ugly.”
“Why did they jump you? Have they found out about you?”
“One of those men had maybe seen me when they almost caught up with one of our med shipments two months ago, or possibly there was a cam I didn’t notice, and they have images of me now. I really am going offplanet, and that’s the main reason. So, he recognized me, anyway, and since it was away from the nobles’ compounds – I am still safe there, a lot of the nobles are not all that involved in politics, and the Ytjar do not want to cause any alarms among them. And I’m not the only child of the Families who is involved either and many of the parents kind of turn a blind eye to us, and while they might let it slide if any of us get caught here, as long as the sentence wasn’t too harsh anyway, they would definitely get angry if their own area was disturbed. I guess the elders kind of see it as a phase most of us will outgrow, or something. We do suspect that if one of us becomes too much trouble in the opinion of the Ytjar – and if the High Lords approve – there may be an ‘accident’, there have been some suspicious ones, although they probably are very careful about doing those.
“So, to repeat, I’m personally not in that much danger, probably, even if I get caught outside our compounds I will just have to sit in a slammer for a while but it’s unlikely they will otherwise do any more than make my parents pay for me, and that they can easily afford. And my family is… pretty well connected… an accident, like the one that happened to Becca, is unlikely. Becca’s family is pretty low tier. They had no resources the Ytjar would have needed to worry about. If it was arranged it was well done too, it really could have been just an accident. It’s just that there have been more of those lately than there should have been if they were all just real accidents. And unless the family pays for a private investigation there is no way to tell which are real ones and which have, maybe, been arranged. Mine definitely would if anything happened to me. So I don’t worry too much about this.
“But you… if they catch you it could be worse. You are Corps, but they don’t respect the Corps all that much here.”
“They should,” Rahan said drily. “So what now, then?”
“You can’t go back to the ship. The landing field is too well guarded, you would not be able to get inside. But once your ship has been fixed – it’s not likely they will try to interfere with that, the nobles do want more ships to visit and any rumors of that kind of trouble would be bad to the port’s reputation. It’s one thing if a crew member gets arrested for a crime, another if the police then go after his ship when there is no real proof that the rest of its crew was involved, so no, they will not do anything like that, your ship will get fixed. And once it has been – it can land anywhere, right?”
“That ship is Survey. Yeah, it can land anywhere.”
“Well, your shipmate -”
“The captain. He is my commanding officer, and captain of that ship.”
“Your captain can then take off and pick you up from the country, right?”
“What kind of planetary defenses do you have here?”
“Hardly anything, just some robots and a pretty lousy missile system. They will know what happened though, the surveillance is good enough, and they may send something after the ship, but it won’t be anything particularly dangerous, and your ships, the Corps ships, they do have good combat preparedness too, right?”
“Okay. What we have planned is this: we will sneak you out of the city, and get word where to find you to your captain. He will take off once the ship is ready and make a slight detour, pick you up, and you will be good and gone.”
Rahan frowned. “Are you sure you can’t get me in contact with my ship now? You do have encrypted communications between yourselves? It should not be that hard to call the ship.”
Lida shook her head. “Our leaders don’t want to. You lost your com, and we can’t go back there to look for it. We have eavesdropped on the police net, and you have been identified. Which means any communications through the local channels to and from your ship will be very closely monitored now, and we are not that much better than they are, we operate mostly on the strength of trying to be where they are not right then looking. The plan was to send the information on an actual letter, you know, paper?” she said and grinned a bit, “We do have some friends in a couple of the cleaning crews which work on the field, one of them could hand deliver it. When the time is right. But that might take days.
“So, I’d really recommend that you go with our plan. Your captain will have to worry for a couple of days, but the Ytjar vigilance will surely slacken after a short while, and then we can tell him. And getting you from the country with the ship would be a lot easier than trying to get you into the ship while it’s still in that field. And it’s a lot safer there too, the Ytjar and the police are most active here in the city. So how about it?”
Well, it did sound like a reasonably good plan. If everything she had told him was true.
Did he trust her?
He wasn’t… quite sure. But he wanted to. And the alternatives he had weren’t good. No, he would probably not be able to sneak back to the ship, not easily, the port was well guarded. And even if he could and the ship had not been fixed… well, they could jump, but it would be risky, and he wasn’t sure if that was an acceptable risk, or whether Ryn would think it was. One alternative of course was for him to hide somewhere on his own and try sneaking back when the repairs had been done, but he didn’t know much of anything about the planet so hiding here for days might be difficult for him without help. And he knew nobody here but Lida.
He decided to trust the girl. For now.
But he would keep his eyes open.
Ryn had been sitting in the police station for several hours now.
They were trying to make him nervous. Mostly he was slightly amused. They knew what he was, but since they only had theoretical knowledge of his abilities they didn’t quite believe in them.
If he wanted out of here he would get out of here. The only complication was that it would probably require killing quite a few of these people, but killing people like most of these seemed to be was not something he had any personal problems with. And his own superiors – if there seemed to be any justifiable reason to suspect that his life or well-being might be in danger, or even if he was only detained but feared for the life or well-being of his crew, that being one idiot cadet, so he had to get out in order to go after and try to rescue said cadet – they would probably approve.
Even the human ones.
But as long as there seemed to be no pressing need to get out he would not risk harming them. He might not give a damn about them but he preferred things clean and ordered. Doing something which would, no doubt, be seen as inappropriate behavior by at least some human groups would not be be that.
He yawned and settled more comfortably. He was sitting on the floor of the interrogation cell, leaning against the wall. There were chairs in here, two of them, on both sides of the table, but they were not very comfortable, especially not to somebody his size.
He could wait. It would be interesting to see how long the local police would.