Come The Revolution – Snippet 14
“Sasha! Oh, thank God you’re alive!” Marr said, bursting through the door and into my one good arm, all in one blur of sound and motion. I’d been talking to the Munies non-stop for almost an hour and all of a sudden I couldn’t say a word. I just held her, eyes squeezed shut, lost in the touch of her hands on my back, the fragrance of her hair, things I didn’t think I’d ever experience again as the mob pushed me against that window.
The Munies started to object, but her counselor was back on the job and by the time Marr and I finished kissing, the three Varoki cops had vanished. In their place, Tweezaa stood with her back to the door, tears staining her face. I gestured to her and she came, arms around us and one of Marr’s arms around her, all three of us wordless as we clung to each other.
“How did you get here?” I asked after we’d regained some composure.
“I borrowed the Simki-Traak board’s executive shuttle,” Marr answered. “It’s still in the hospital landing bay.”
“Good. Who’s driving it?”
I had a plan forming but not everyone would think it was a good idea.
“Mister Huang,” she answered and then she looked at me closer. “Why?”
I moved back a little and looked both of them in the eyes in turn. We didn’t have a lot of time to work this out but they had to be convinced, not bullied.
“Because we need a pilot with a flexible approach to the law,” I said. “Huang will work. Here’s what I think we should do. Tweezaa, you’re The’On‘s legal next-of-kin, which means you’d be responsible for deciding his treatment, except you’re a minor. Marr, as her guardian, that puts you in the driver’s seat, right?”
“Okay, you can get him released to you and a private doctor. Can you get one here within the hour?”
“If we need to, but why?”
“We get The’On released and we all pile into the shuttle to take him back to the Valley House, north of the city. Only when we get to the Valley House, we keep flying. Huang files an airborne flight plan mod and we firewall the throttle for Kootrin, The’On‘s country. The frontier is less than an hour from the valley by air. We comm the uKootrin for permission to cross the border with a medical emergency. The’On‘s enough of a big-shot there they should agree, but even if they get nasty they won’t shoot us down.”
Her eyes got wider as I explained and she shook her head.
“We can’t just abandon our people here.”
“Hanging around isn’t going to do anyone any good; it just turns up the heat. We aren’t abandoning anyone. We’ll pick up our security detail. Best thing we can do for everybody else is get the hell out of here.”
“There are still things we can do here,” she insisted.
“Marr, as long as we’re in Bakaa, we’re going to be painted as ground zero of the trouble. If we’re gone and the trouble continues, they’ll find someone else to blame.”
She chewed on her lower lip, frowning in thought, reluctant to let go. I let her think. Since I came to on the boat, I’d been working it through, but it was a lot for her and Tweezaa to process all at once.
“We need to pick up Gaisaana-la,” Marr said. “She’s somewhere in South Tower Prahaa-Riz.”
I shook my head. “Everything in South Tower below the executive layer’s locked down, nobody in or out, at least right now. Those cops that just left told me. About three hundred Munie heavy tacticals are getting ready to storm South Tower and start clearing it level by level. They’re scared and their blood will be up. Even if we could get down below, if the Munies see either one of us, they’re likely to go nuts. The best thing we can do for Gaisaana-la is stay the hell away.”
“He is right, Boti-Marr,” Tweezaa said. “So many people here hate us, want to hurt us. Even before this I could feel it. At school I am afraid, and . . . I am so tired. So tired of it. Perhaps in Kootrin they will like us.” She stopped and looked down. Marr enfolded her in her arms and held her, then turned to me and nodded wordlessly.
Three quarters of an hour later we had Marr’s hired doc. Our pilot Huang and I were maneuvering The’On‘s roller bed into the passenger cabin of the shuttle, up in the med center’s hanger bay, when a black and red-uniformed Varoki marched purposely toward us across the foamstone hanger floor. For a moment I considered having Huang fire that mother up and make a run for it, but this guy wasn’t a Munie. Black and red were the colors of CSJ, the Co-Gozhak Provost Corp.
There were one hundred and seventy-two sovereign political entities in the Cottohazz, the Stellar Commonwealth. Bakaa and Kootrin were just two of them, but pretty important ones. Still, get across the border and into Kootrin, and Bakaa had no way to get at you other than very complicated legal and/or diplomatic maneuvers, or an act of war. But the Cottohazz itself, the actual Stellar Commonwealth government, was different, and as the police arm of the Cottohazz the Provosts had jurisdiction everywhere, offices everywhere, operatives everywhere. There was no place in the Cottohazz we could run from them.
I touched Marr’s shoulder and nodded at the approaching CSJ provost. She stiffened.
“What do they want?” she asked.
“We’ll see. Don’t panic, okay? Everything stays simple. We give them what they want, then we follow our plan.”
He came to a halt by the passenger door. I climbed down to meet him and I could feel Marr and Tweezaa’s eyes on my back.
“Mister Sasha Naradnyo?” he asked.
“That’s me. And you are?”
“Lance Corporal Kindoon, CSJ. My superior, Captain e-Tomai, requests your presence in two hours for an interview concerning the events this morning at the Prahaa-Riz Arcology.” He extracted a paper-thin flexi-card from his uniform breast pocket and handed it to me. “This has your appointment code and should be presented at our headquarters complex which is in this arcology. The card will also provide free automated public transportation to the complex by passing it over the fare scanner. I am to ask if this is clear and if you have any questions.”
I looked at the card for a couple seconds. All it said was Captain e-Tomai and the time and date of the appointment. Everything else must have been chip-coded. I’d met e-Tomai before, worked with him on some joint security issues. He was okay, for a provost.
“No questions, Corporal,” I said
“Do you require any further assistance?” He asked,
I shook my head and he turned and marched back across the hanger floor.
“We’ll wait for you here,” Marr said.
“Like hell you will. What you will do is stop at Praha-Riz and pick up Iris Tenryu and as many of our goons as can still walk to provide security in Kootrin. The executive layer’s still open, so you can manage. No comm in advance though, okay? Just face-to-face instructions.”
“Why are you like this?” she said, her voice rising in anger. “You almost died! Your arm is in a sling, you’re bruised all over, and you need a Human doctor to look at you. I won’t leave you here.”
I smiled. “Sure you will. Maybe if it was just you, it would be different. But there’s The’On, Tweeza, and our unborn son, all of whom are absolutely dependent upon you one way or another. I’ll follow as soon as I can, but you’ve got to go now. Two hours from now it may be too late.”
“If it’s too late for us, then what about you?” The determination in her face flickered and then dissolved into tears. I held her with my good arm.
“Hey, it’ll be okay,” I said. “Remember, you guys are the real targets. I’m just muscle. Maybe they don’t like me, but I’m nothing to them. Once you’re away, they’re not going to care enough to cross the street to spit on me.”
“You lie so convincingly to everyone else,” she said. “Why can’t you manage it to me?”
Two hours later I showed the flexi-card at the security station in front of the CSJ complex, submitted to the whole-body scan, gave a finger scraping to verify my DNA, and was escorted into the Sakkatto City regional office of Cottohazz-Gozhakampta Sugkat Jitobonaan — CSJ for short, or in English the Stellar Commonwealth Armed Forces Provost Corps. Technically they were the military police force of the Cottohazz. In reality, they were as close to a secret police as the Commonwealth had, and how close they really were was, of course, a secret.
Five minutes earlier I’d gotten the comm from Marr telling me they had just crossed into uKootrin air space and had picked up a drone escort, courtesy of uKootrin Ground Forces. They expected to be gear-down at the uKootrin capital in another forty minutes. Since CSJ knew pretty much everything going on, I imagined this was going to be part of the subject of my interview.
Back at the med/trauma center I’d finally managed to put Marr a little more at ease by reminding her that she’d never thought of the Co-Gozhak Provosts as essentially evil. For that matter I didn’t either. CSJ was just a powerful bureaucracy, a big black and red machine that would probably grind you up if you got enmeshed in its gears, but not out of sadistic delight. It just turned the gears and then whatever happened, happened. Hell, one of my best friends in my previous life had turned out to be an undercover CSJ major. A pretty decent guy, too, all things considered.
A Varoki lance corporal escorted me into the large foyer and stood with me as we waited for another guide to walk me to my appointment. The foyer was about three stories tall, mostly glass and polished metal. A very large replica of the CSJ service badge dominated it, hanging from the ceiling and slowly turning, the silver facetted surfaces catching the sunlight and sparkling. I’d seen it a lot of times in my life, usually the ten centimeter version worn on a provost’s chest. I realized I hadn’t seen one since I became fluent in aGavoosh. I wondered about the three black characters from the Varoki alphabet in the center of the silver sunburst device, characters I’d always ignored as gibberish before.
“J — H — S,” I said to the lance corporal. “What does that stand for?”
“Jiihi, Haramaayi, Sanzaat,” he answered immediately.
Knowledge, Resolve, Obedience.
I took a deep breath. Just a big bureaucracy, I reminded myself. Just a big bureaucracy.
A junior sergeant showed up and walked me through the internal security checkpoint, which served less to screen people than contain them. The local jammers came up and I turned down the feed volume on my commlink. The dull metal alloy of the sliding door looked like armor plate to me, about two centimeters thick, and it just let us into a holding room. The door on the far side opened as soon as the one behind us closed and clunked like a massive bank vault. Someone could force the security screening stations at the outside doors but they’d play merry hell getting into the bowels of the building.
And once you were in, you’d play merry hell getting out unless they wanted you out.
Although I’d dealt with CSJ liaison officers before, I’d never been to this office. Now I wondered why. This setup gave the guys behind the desks a hell of a psychological advantage. Maybe they didn’t want people to get too used to the experience, lest it lose its special luster.