Chapter 15



            "The social dynamics of societies have never really been studied with a total absence of external influences. This presents a unique sociological research opportunity second to none. It will finally put real Science into future interventions."


Dr. G Zola, Chief Operating Officer Sysgov. Pyscometrics and Sociological Monitoring and Adjustment.




            "We need to go back to her, Derfel. She's in trouble and so is Kretz. He's out there somewhere," said Abret, trying for a semblance of calm amid the surge of aliens that cramped him. "Look, I'm sorry that I said to her that we needed rescuing, but we do. Unless, well, you haven't given me your local language dataset, can you talk to them? Get them to let us get out of here. Or you can stay if you want to. But Kretz and Selna both need our help."

            By the sour expression, neither of those were popular names. Well, that wasn't surprising. Derfel had had his attentions refused by the better part of the crew. It wasn't his fault, maybe. But it meant that he had a few extra grudges, as if he needed such excuses. "No," he said. "Let Kretz help Selna. You're not making things easier here. They expect you to behave like a leader."

            Abret had made up his mind. He drew the laser pistol. "Tell them that they're to take me to the airlock. You're needed, Derfel. But you can stay here if that's what you want. Let's go. Now."

            Derfel didn't move. "Check your charge meter," he said.

            Abret looked down at it. It was blue. Empty.

            "I expected trouble from you, Abret. You always treated me as if I was fecal matter. Now it is your turn." He spoke to the coterie of brown uniformed aliens in their language, and they advanced warily on him. Abret turned to run.

            Later, in the cell, he realized that that had been a mistake.

            But at least he was alone.



Chapter 16


            "A societal structure based on group dominance has an intrinsic problem: it needs an underclass. Without them it has no reason to exist. It needs to keep them down, and this provides cohesiveness and also usually structures the society. For instance, if the discrimination is on the basis of color, then the skin color of the upper echelon will be as far from the color of the repressed as possible. If it is based on religion, leaders will be high priests and the repressed or despised will be apostates, etc."


From: Elementary Societal Psychodynamics. 2089. James R. Grey (ed). New Harvard Library (Pub.) ___________________________________________________________________



            Alone in the cage, Howard prayed, hard, for redemption, for his companion, for guidance, and for a pair of shorts.

            All he got, in the short term, was a prod with a shockstick to chase him into the courtroom. And without the insulation of his suit that really hurt. He was herded like a sheep into a box with railings on the top edge. For a blessing the solid part of that box was just over waist high.

            The room was full. A woman stood up and said. "The pretrial hearing of the male found in the beta-airlock in the presence of the alien is now in session. All rise for Judge Garanet."

            A courtroom full of painted bare breasts did. He was the only male in the place. The paint was as varied as the breasts, a part of Howard's mind noted, dispassionately. The rest of him was too shocked, and frightened.

            A middle-aged woman came in and took her seat behind a desk—a desk embossed with a woman—naked—holding a bow in pursuit of what looked rather like a badly drawn sheep, with upright horns.

            "Sit down," she said, in a pre-occupied tone. She looked at the papers in front of her. And then at Howard. And then again at Howard, with more interest. "What is your name and which woman is responsible for you?" She asked. "I've got you down as male, unaccompanied."

            Perhaps at last he'd get the opportunity to set things straight. She looked to be a woman of some authority. "My name Howard Dansson, Ma'am," he said respectfully.

            Her expression warmed a little. "And which woman are you bound to, Howard? She needs to be brought before the court, as you know," she explained, as if she was being nice to a small and perhaps slightly mentally deficient child.

            "I am not married, Ma'am," replied Howard.

            She blinked. "Married?"

            "Bound to woman in matrimony, Ma'am."

            The Judge shook her head incredulously. "Where did you get that from? The last time I came across that word I was reading some ancient history. So, you are still in the custody of your mother, Howard."

            "My mother is dead, Ma'am," said Howard stiffly.

            She peered thoughtfully at him. Or at his physique. "So, who assumed responsibility for you then, Howard?"

            "I was an adult, Ma'am," said Howard wishing that she wouldn't stare so. "I have responsibility for myself, Ma'am. As my companion might have said to you, we have come from another Habitat. Our customs are a bit different from yours." He remembered that he was supposed to be talking their way out of this mess. "I do apologize for any offence we've caused. We're just passing through. If you could take us to far airlock and put us out we'd be very grateful. It would be a charitable thing to do."

            She seemed to have ignored most of his statements and focused on the first part. "A place he claimed you called New Helen."

            "New Eden, Ma'am. The Society of Brethren live there." Remembering Kretz's story of the first bead, he added. "We're a peaceful people. I was simply sent to try to help Brother Kretz to get home."

            "I have it here," she tapped the paper, "That you assaulted Captain LaGarda. Did you?"

            "No ma'am," he said. "The Society of Brethren do not condone violence. She struck me. When she tried to attack us with her black stick I held onto it to prevent her doing so."

            "I find that hard to believe. That you could hold her off without striking back."

            Howard's patience was getting a little thin. "Ma'am. I can show you, if you like."

            "I do like," said the judge. "Captain LaGarda has something of a reputation. Is she in the court?"

About Eric Flint

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One Response to SLOW TRAIN TO ARCTURUS — snippet 35

  1. Alejo says:

    This was a good book. What follows was particularly humorous.

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