Nathan’s Farewell, part 1

The second siren concerned him.

The first siren, the blaring puzht puzht puzht of the Tivoli Police force, that was part of the chase. It invigorated him, reminded him that he was fully alive, rebelling against what he would proudly declaim as an unjust world to anyone who would listen.

The second siren never produced the noise of the first. It pulsed on a single tone, rising and falling in volume but never reaching ostentatious levels. It possessed a devastating authority that didn’t need to call attention to itself. It knew it just had to be and attention would be paid.

The second siren belonged to the Chancellor’s personal guard. The two forces were finally working together. Baru’kishnak allowed himself a glimmer of pride at his stature. While technically law enforcers, the Chancellor’s guard only truly served the Chancellor’s whims. They were above the law and knew it, and they never felt any particular apprehension about pointing out the fact when in mixed company.

For their part, the police resented the inferiority of status afforded them by virtue of their taking the noble path and obeying the rules. They cooperated with the Chancellor’s guard when directly ordered to, because the consequences of not doing so could be painfully fatal. To minimize their subservience, they tended to keep any information they had to themselves, on the reasonably sound theory that the guard couldn’t demand anything when they didn’t know what to demand.

So the fact that they were working together meant that Baru was important enough to attract the Chancellor’s personal attention. Baru knew that, of course—the Chancellor had warned him the last time they had spoken that his patience had been exhausted. Most of the Chancellor’s specific words were lost in rage that manifested itself in a high-volume combination of grunting and spitting, but he did conclude with a clear ultimatum to never cross his path again.

A path-crossing now seemed inevitable, but Baru figured he could at least give a nice showing on his way out. He urged his leapcar forward at maximum speed.

Baru’s car was awfully good; its maximum speed could top most police vehicles. But the Chancellor’s guard were elites, who drove sleek black frictionless machines whose sirens were getting closer.

One button press and Baru’s car leapt. Two buttons and a dial spin—each of which blurred into one another—later, and the car was bounding off the Tivoli City Museum, using the side of the building as a highly banked curve, with only minor damage to the façade between the twelfth and thirteenth floors from the impact.

Baru extended his lead in four more turns, only to lose some on the long straightaways that inevitably followed. On the fifth turn, however, he missed the dial, causing the car to careen into a hospital building side-first, where there was no shock absorption. The vehicle spun and flipped, landing on the ground right-side up and relatively undamaged, but stalled and facing the direction Baru definitely did not want to go.

*****

After a pretty bad October for writing, for two reasons that I won’t go into here, this is the first new bit of Exile Issues that I’ve written after the first draft was finished.

This is tentatively the new prologue to the book. The farewell in the title is Nathan’s farewell to his home world, rather than his farewell to earth. (Nathan is the name he affected to fit in on Earth; Baru’kishnak is his name on Tivoli, his home world.)

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