Nathan’s Farewell, part 2

He tried to get the car running again, but only managed to get the engine running once the blinding lights of the Chancellor’s guard were on him, and then it was far too late.

The guard who actually arrested Baru was a high-level lieutenant who had done the job before. He didn’t bother to speak, and carried out his duty without emotion.

The Chancellor took the situation personally enough for both of them, however. “I ought to have you killed,” he growled, heavily enunciating each word.

“But you won’t,” Baru said, even managing some swagger. He tried to combine defiance and righteousness and superior intelligence, without betraying the fear that he had miscalculated badly. In this he was reasonably successful.

The Chancellor glared for far longer than necessary. “No,” he finally said. “You will live down a world. You may have an aircar from my fleet to get there. You will not return.”

The Chancellor waved his hand carelessly, dismissing Baru from his presence. The lieutenant grabbed Baru by the shoulder and escorted him to a garage the size of several city blocks, containing dozens of gleaming land and air vehicles. Baru couldn’t help a twinge of lust; he had often fantasized about stealing one of the Chancellor’s ships and joyriding.

But as Baru followed the lieutenant, two things became clear. First, while most of the vehicles were outstanding, one could tell that the best and newest were up front; dents and scratches and broken mirrors started appearing as they made their way back. And second, Baru would be receiving the lemon of the lot.

The airship that he received was the size of a decent loft apartment. Even when new it would have maneuvered like an elementary school piano. And this ship was clearly not new; the indistinguishablity of the rust from the red paintjob showed that. Baru allowed himself a moment to consider the flips and spins and other acrobatics that he would not be doing in it.

“It’s perfect,” he announced with a sincerity he didn’t feel. He needn’t have bothered. The lieutenant, after indicating the proper craft, trusted the biolocks to make sure Baru got the right one and left silently.

Baru’kishnak entered what would be his new home. He didn’t notice the stale air, the unwelcoming red décor, or the fact that the outside door opened into a bathroom.

He fingered a tiny data storage disk, which he had been carrying since before his last run-in with the Chancellor. He didn’t make a habit of carrying computer equipment around, but he realized that he could be sent away at any moment, and that the disk held the key to his eventual return.

With a resigned sigh, he climbed a staircase to the flight office. He pressed a few seen and unseen buttons in a precise pattern, and nodded a temporary farewell to his home.

*****

Part 2 of the story that began yesterday. I’m not sure entirely what to think of it. It’s in third person from Nathan/Baru’s perspective, and I’m trying to hint at some details without coming out and saying them. That’s called preserving the dramatic tension. Unless it’s a miserable failure, in which case it’s called a mistake.

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