[Name] is a professional adventurer/planet saver with extremely acute hearing. The other speaker is their much calmer and more logical, though not necessarily smarter, best friend)
[Name] buried the pillow over their head and groaned.
“I can’t tell if those are gunshots or fireworks,” they whined.
“Do not be silly, [Name]. Fireworks are illegal on this planet.” -- RecklessPrudence
There's a reason why Iman Goodboy spends most of her time in her livesuit. She could control how much of the surrounding volume got to her. She's a Nufurria expatriate, part bat, part wolf, and one hundred percent my friend. Most people who know me know why my nickname of 'Ghost' fits like a glove. Some people are the quiet types. Me? I'm so quiet and bland that I can usually infiltrate places by walking through the front door. Iman can hear me, but I'm... comfortable for her.
Everything else... isn't.
Poor Iman was made to be a soldier, but Nufurria was rediscovered and then sanctioned just after she was born. Excitement-seeking behaviour is literally in her DNA. So when she was given her freedom payoff, she got to derring-do as soon as she could. She's got quite the reputation, now. Almost a decade later. But sometimes? People do not want her saving the day. That's what happened at the colony known as Freedom.
Iman and I had answered a distress call after wormhole-diving. You know. Checking out new wormholes that the UFTP can't or hasn't yet got to. Finding a new Ambassador can be a pretty good payoff. Anyway. We scooped them up and fixed them up and figured out how to communicate. Turns out they were a criminal according to Planet Freedom, for wanting fair pay for fair work.
This planet's politics stinks worse than Greater Deregulation air. They just... shoot their criminals into space in a three-day lifepod from a magrail launcher and call themselves 'humane'. No livesuit. No plants. No hope. So of course we file a flag report for the CRC and Iman gets it in her head to be a hero and forcefully renegotiate the planets political atmosphere.
After five second's exposure to the atmosphere, there, I wanted to forcefully renegotiate their pollution policies. But there was no time for going back to get my own livesuit. The army of Freedom is brainwashed from childhood to follow the laws and they're very good at stopping people like Iman from doing what they want to do.
They shoved us in the same cell and let me read about the local laws, which was kind of them. Let me tell you, their legal system is twice the mess you might expect from a two party system where they spend most of their time disassembling whatever the last person in office managed to pass. I already guessed that we were right to leave Ambassador Francine in orbit on the ship and take a lander to the surface. If she'd managed to return alive, they'd have just shot her.
And these 'winners' had a constitutional preamble about preserving life and seeking happiness. Then they went about making laws that eliminated both of those lofty goals. And on us? They started by removing Iman's lifesuit.
To say she was unhappy about that was a magnificent understatement.
The courts and the elite were trying to figure us out, which meant I could have the time to speed-read all their laws and work out a decent defense. Very much unlike the usual defendant, who entered court with no legal backup and no knowledge of what was legal at the time. And the judges just loved to follow the extant political atmosphere when ruling on which laws they followed.
Iman was clearly not of their world. I'm pretty certain they don't like the colour of my skin, either. I'm too dark for their liking, and therefore automatically a lawbreaker. They're deciding whether or not we count as illegal aliens and whether we're entitled to what they call a fair trial.
Meanwhile, they fed us, and gave us exercise in an isolated yard, and constantly threatened to shoot us for no apparent reason.
And then came one of their holidays. Prisoners were locked in their cells and meals came via automatic server bots. And outside... mayhem. The people of Freedom were whooping it up. And Iman could hear every decibel. She had both our pillows wrapped around her ears, and one of the blankets, and she was literally whining.
"I can't tell if those are gunshots or fireworks," Iman whimpered.
"Guns," I murmured. "Fireworks are illegal on this planet." I reached the end of their legal gordian knot. And now I at least knew how to get out.
The next day, we both pleaded guilty to being illegal aliens who wanted to destroy the Freedom way of life. And requested that they shoot us into space along a very specific vector. A vector that would shoot us straight at our ship.
The Hungry Caterpillar took care of the rest, depositing us into the ships' medbay with barely a hiccough. Iman had to spend her time in noise-cancelling headphones until we could print her a new livesuit. But by then, the CRC and the UFTP had showed up to scare the living crap out of Freedom.
This planet's elite would definitely get a tour of heaven before Galactic Society placed them firmly in sanction and embargo hell. Meanwhile, Society agents would be undermining the living hell out of their legal system by rescuing anyone they shot into space. Covertly, of course. Because the instant they found out about it, they'd just revert to the firing squads.
And I also hear that some will be helping the Freedom underground out with all that revolution stuff.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / sirylok]
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