SLOW TRAIN TO ARCTURUS – snippet 32:
Transcript of Justice Adriaan Vosloo's reply to Inspector Mohataman Dhal of Sysgov Human Rights Inspectorate on his application for an injunction against the sysnet advertisements of the Women's Matriarchal Movement for men to accompany their outsystem journey.
“No, inspector, what they're planning on doing is neither illegal nor a violation of human rights. It would be, if they stayed insystem. But out beyond Öpik-Oort limit they're also out beyond your and my jurisdiction. And I may tell you that even by the time they get to the Kuiper belt, they're effectively on their own. The Kuiper colonists like to think they're independent and they're only a year's fast travel from the House of Assembly. What are you going to do when this lot are light-minutes beyond that? The men going along on this trip are all adults. We drew the line at children. In a whole system you're bound to have enough men with nudist dominatrix fantasies. They probably won't like it much when the reality gets home to them, but then it'll be their problem and they'll have to sort themselves out."
Lani LaGarda was irritated. And when Lani was irritated wise people stayed out of her way. It didn't seem that Station-Commander Juno Morgane had got that message. "It was plainly some kind of malfunction, Juno," she snapped. "I have better things to do with my time than trot off to look at a closed airlock for several hours."
"I'm not asking you, Lani. I'm telling you. According to the records, we haven't had a peep out of that alarm system for 403 years. The system says that there are two warm bodies in there. It's probably runaway men. Go down there, and haul 'em out. And try not beat them too badly. I haven't forgotten last time."
Lani scowled at the communicator. "He got up my nose and itched."
"And he lived. Which is why you're still at liberty, Lani," said the matriarch's Station Commander, grimly. "Now get your ass down to that airlock, open it up and haul them out of there, put them into the cells until someone claims them. In one piece. Get on with it. I've got enough problems on my hands with the elevators having stuck again."
"Except that this is bank three. They haven't got bank five working yet. At this rate people will have to walk up from skinside to the upper regions."
"That's going to be really popular."
"Tell me about it," said Juno, sourly. "So I've got problems enough without you getting shirty with me. Get moving."
So Lani got. She took her scoot and headed down the ramps to the airlock. She was one of the nearest officers, fair enough. And catching a couple of runaways before they vented themselves into space would be fun. There might even be bounty, enough to make a down-payment on a first for her harem. The thought was an interesting one, enough to spur her on.
She parked the scoot, illegally, but then who was going to come down here anyway, and, even if they did, who was going to give a Captain a ticket?
She stepped up to Airlock and put in the opening sequence to the coding panel. How had they ever found that out? Well, there was a manual override…
The door swung open.
And Lani, the toughest graduate of Officer's academy of 395 AD, nearly screamed and ran.
But there was more steel to her than that.
"Ok. Very funny. Very clever. Now get out of them," she snapped.
The two of them just stared at her, their mouths open with surprise at being caught. "I said get those clothes off," she said, her temper flaring at having been given such a fright. "MOVE. And the mask! Pervert!"
"Painted Jezebel!" said the taller one. He was very tall, taller by half again than any man she'd ever seen. "Have you no shame! Cover your nakedness, woman!"
Despite what Juno had said to her, she took a swing at him. He didn't go down. He just stood there rubbing his cheek. "Have you no respect as well as no decency?" he demanded.
She really had no memory of how the nightstick came into her hand.
Howard saw the woman who had just hit him pull a long black club from the belt she was wearing. The belt that was all she wearing, besides a layer of paint, and sandals. Her face was contorted with fury as she lifted her arm to hit him again. He couldn't actually bring himself to lay a hand on her, but the stick was another matter. He caught it. She was quite strong—for a woman—thought Howard, holding on to it as she struggled to pull it away from him. She swung a kick at him, screeching like a banshee. Fortunately, the suit was well padded and thick, because she didn't aim for his shins. Well, with a woman dressed, or rather undressed, like that what did you expect? Her eyes opened wide and she grabbed her stick with both hands, kicked both her heels into his stomach and wrenched.
It was enough to knock some breath out of Howard. But certainly not enough to make him let go. Before this he'd simply held the stick and held it and her out at full arm length. It was an effort, but no worse than tossing a two-hundredweight bag of pig-nuts into the loft, which he'd done often enough. Now he shook her stick, and her.
"Put me down!" she screamed.
So he did. She landed hard enough—on her well-padded behind—to knock the breath out of her instead. She still clung weakly to the stick. He twitched it away from her.