Monday, 11 May 2015

Spaceman: A Planet Called Inhospitable (part 2)

"Snicker stole my Warmth Slippers!" Skelton Evans announced, one of her wrinkled fingers elongated towards Snicker. Floyd rolled his eyes.
"The old bag lies!" Deputy Snicker replied. "She hates me cause I sold her a dodge ice worm once!"
The argument had been jumping back and forth, back and forth for close on an hour. He didn't blame Grene for going to the Womanry rather than come with him to this. Snicker and Evans were well known to argue on a regular basis, over anything from a misplaced sock to an announcement of preferring one radio stream to the other. When he'd taken the duty of benvolio, he'd hoped he might see an end to the constant disruptions of their mediocre war.
That was five years ago.
"Deputy Snicker," Floyd began, grimacing at the old fashioned feel to the rank. Evans began to snigger as she believed her nemesis was to get in trouble. Floyd turned to her. "Calm down, Skelton Evans. I'll get to you in a second."
She scowled behind his back and began to sulk.
"Deputy Snicker," Floyd resumed, "you are to immediately refund Skelton Evans for the 'dodge ice worm' that you admit to having sold her."
Snicker began to search through his pockets. Floyd turned to Evans. "And you, Skelton Evans, are going to go to the bottom of the staircase and look for your warmth slippers. When you find them, you are to come into this room and apologise profusely to Deputy Snicker for accusing him of such criminal activity. Understood?"
Floyd followed Evans into the hall, and whilst he pulled his thermal jacket, six gloves and finally his ice mask on, Evans stood up, her hands holding the missing warmth slippers. She looked at Floyd and then grumbled, walking off to apologise to Snicker. Floyd shook his head, pulling a hood over it, and wondering why such a couple would insist on being married?
He heard the seeping of the Frost Lock door, not every building had the luxury of heat fields, and then heard it seep closed, before a light above flicked green and the inner door opened. Floyd reached to his face and pulled the mask away. "Crane?"
Crane was Floyd's assistant, who roamed Solace trying to find the problems and ruptures between residents for Floyd to solve. "Begging your pardons, sir." Crane said. "There's an incident going on in the central pass."
Floyd pulled his mask back on and felt his hand tighten around the blaster on his side. "Let's go and deal with it."
They stepped out of the Skelton's house and stared onto the central pass, through the centre of Solace. Floyd had only seen it full twice in his time there, and those times had heralded major events, like landing and then the first visit of the Federation. Now was for a completely different reason.
"You've got your work cut out, brother." Grene said, emerging from no where in particular. "A native has breached the peace."
"You've always been more comfortable with shooting these guys than me." Floyd said. "Fancy giving your benvolio a hand?"
"I'd prefer to help my brother, but you know how it is." Grene laughed, unlatching his blaster from his belt. "I'll let you do the talking, peacekeeper."
The Mayweather Brothers shouldered their way through the hooded crowd of spectators, urging their way to the centre. Grene was right. One of the natives had breached the stronghold.
"I need you to calm down." Floyd said, in the mother tongue of the Federation. "You are placing the inhabitants of this fine city in danger."
The native continued to rotate in the clearing of the crowd, a frozen arrow head tightened to the end of a wooden shaft. She spun it between her fingers, lashing out at each resident, and laughing as they backed away. Floyd had been on the receiving end of the spear once. Nothing was sharper than a frozen arrowhead.
Grene said a few words in the native dialect, learnt from years on the Frontier. The native looked at him strangely but dropped her spear. Floyd rushed forwards and pulled a pair of iron cuffs from the back of his belt, slipping them over her thin wrists. Her skin was tough against his gloved fingers, like the stewed flesh of the ice hounds they pulled in from beyond the Frontier.
"Grene, tell her we're taking her to be held in the cells. Away from the crowd."
"Floyd, do I look like a translator?" He asked.
"Good point." Floyd said, and began to drag her to the Benvolio's office, in the northern sector of Solace.

There was a cell in the Bennvolio's office and only fourteen people had ever been detained in there. Floyd pulled the door open and sat down on a wicker chair, looking straight into the eyes of the fifteenth. He repeated the phrase that Grene had taught him confidently. It sounded like complete nonsense, up until the moment when he said, "Floyd Mayweather." And then it was nonsense again as he explained he was the town's peacekeeper.
She began to laugh, her bound hands running through her braided black hair. "You keep no peace, Floyd Mayweather." She replied in stunted words. "You bring the war."
"You speak the Eden Tones?" Floyd asked.
The native didn't reply to that, just continued with her angered rant. "You bring the cracks of the ground, the spewing of the Alquarara, the death of our home. You people brought this upon yourself. You are demons unto yourself and unto those that you meet."
Floyd stood and walked out of the cage, slamming the door shut and walking over to Grene. "That's surprising."
"That she can speak the Eden Tones?"
"No." Floyd said. "The fact she can do so and still remain to sound so pretentious."

That night, Floyd heard a noise from the Benvolio's office downstairs. It was a giggling and a quick converse of native slang. He eased himself out of bed and pulled his ice boots on, wrapping his thermal coat over his normal clothes. He hurried to the stairs, each step a cringe as it made just too much noise. There was a spot he could stand in that would allow him to remain hidden whilst still looking into the heart of the office. The two figures had escaped the cage and were making their way towards the door. Floyd grabbed his blaster, prepared to shoot them, but realised that was the wrong course of action. Following them would be a much wiser idea.
Floyd holstered his blaster and pulled on his mask, chasing down the stairs and following them out of the door into the central pass. They were already running, chasing towards the narrow exit and onwards to the Frontier. The Benvolio took a deep breath and quickly chased after them, his boots' extending wire frames leaving broken foot prints in the floor. The two natives were fast, by the time he emerged from Solace, they were beyond the crevice, chasing across to the Frontier itself. Floyd contemplated running after them, but he'd walked the distance the other day with Grene. He knew it was a long way. No, instead, he took one of the Speedster's that the Frontier men used to travel from the Frontier to Solace and took the perimeter route to catch up with them. They seemed to have keys to the Frontier buildings, a security risk Floyd would have to inform Grene of. Floyd dismounted his speedster and dropped to the ice, cowering in the shadows of the Frontier when they turned to stare at the noise. They turned away quickly, their faces hidden in the darkness, and so Floyd continued to follow them. He crept through the tunnelling corridors of the Frontier complex, hiding behind the next set of doors at every turn, until they reached the final link in what they called the Frontier chain. It led out onto Inhospitable's main bulk of land, through an ice lock door. As the natives activated it, Floyd saw their faces in the glow of the red bulb above. One of the natives was the lady he'd imprisoned earlier. The second wasn't a native at all.
It was Grene Mayweather, his brother.

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