A vaguely familiar, distinctly uncomfortable and generally unpleasant rego-crete room fizzed into view amid a mist of woozy headache-impaired attempts to see.
Ow. Whoever hit me, that hurt. My head is sure pounding.
Why is everyone laughing? There's my spatula on the desk, and Junior. Those are Kyarr. They're all pointing at me. I'm in the brig. OW, my head hurts. I hear a voice I think I recognize.
"Play it again for him." not that voice
They all laughed and the sound of a comm terminal sprang to life.
(crackle, fzzt) ispatch to Alf...evven (crackle, beep) . . . .
(crackle) seven (blip)
(fzzzztt) Citizen (crackle) port nude (static) with spatula . . . (fzzzt, crackle) goldfish . . . (crackle, beep).
(crackle) Alpha Seven to dispatch, repeat transmission. (blip)
(fzt) Alpha Seven, adjust your coms... Again, investigate citizen report of nude man with spatula and goldfish attacking suspected gang members in ruins. (beep)
(crackle) Dispatch? Say again please.(blip)
(crackle, beep) We're not saying it again. Comply and report, over. (beep)
then a few moments of unrecognizable chatter
Delta-three to dispatch, confirm visual on nude assailant ... wiiiith spatula and goldfish (blip blip) ...Subject appears to be assaulting known perp named Ransacker. (Blip blip)
Fish and a spatula? I think I know this guy. Moving to assist (bllip)... Did you say nude? (bllip)
Delta-five, I'm not sure you need to hurry on this one.
(blip blip, fzzzzt)
Confirm status of suspect.
Uhm . . . Affirmative . . . suspect is . . . flailing away . . .
That is a spatula, . . . aaahhhm . . suspect is carrying a goldfish and, aahhhhm . . . naked . . . aaaaas a j-bird . . .
You getting my uplink on video?
(blip, bzzzt crackle)
Copy, Alpha Seven. Let's get that, ah, bird... in a cage.
They're all laughing. Hey, I do know that other guy. Ow, my head hurts. I really know him. I'm not wearing anything. I wonder if that's me they were talking about.
I know that voice. That's Ser Dotsent. He's laughing hard. OW, my head...
"No, not at all, gentlemen," he said, laughing heartily, shaking his head. "It's worth every bond."
"Good, because we need more," said another voice, less pleasantly familiar.
"Of course," Dotsent agreed. "How much?"
"The same," the Kyarr guard said coldly and curtly, "and we're still not done with him. We want to . . . have a chat . . . No, with him, not you."
"All well and good, gentlemen," Dotsent went on "I do need his help in the ruins if we're to fulfill our contract with you."
"Ser, we have rules and protocols," the unpleasant voice said, a bit indignant.
"We don't just let people off so easily. Even if we wanted to, we wouldn't release him for at least another two segments," he added, and I could see he was raising his hand with the tips of his index and middle fingers missing. "We'll send him along then... or perhaps you'd care to join him?"
"Naah," Dotsent replied, sounding less than intimidated but taking a step back toward the door. "Two segs should be fine. I'll get back to my job now and try to keep out of the way of yours. Good day."
Then came a familiar voice, chattering away in an Amazon accent. Toe Moss? Not today, please. Not like this.
"Well, well, well," said the guard at the desk. "If it isn't our old buddy, fresh from sick bay. I think you know fish boy over here."
"That guy?" Toe Moss responded, annoyed. "No, don't."
Toe Moss . . . Just who I didn't want to see right now. Oh well, let's make this fun
"Hey, fish guy, you better get dressed. You got company. Oh, wait, you'd have to have something to put on, wouldn't you? Well, here you go."
Unceremoniously, he shoved Toe Moss into the cell as the security field deactivated for a brief moment. Toe Moss was jolted back by the field as he attempted to get away from me.
"No, look," Toe Moss protested, his accent thickening. "I know a lot of things about people. I can probably help--"
The partition door closed.
I began to remember. We (Tau Syndicate) had been celebrating our hundredth station contract to suppress gang activity and help capture its participants. We had even brought guests from other syndicates and invited others for the event. We were holding competitions for the craziest actions to stop a gangster. The last thing I can remember, I had used a stim, and everything got really foggy after that.
I guessed I'd hear more about it later.
I think I have forever traumatized this station's clone of Toe Moss. By the time I'd finished taunting him, he was sitting against the wall with his face pressed against his knees.
I don't believe they waited the full two segments to let me out. The guard arrived sooner than I had expected, with help, and together with two of his associates, he ejected me into the main causeway.
There sat Junior, with the spatula, handle down, in the bowl with him.
"Trying to grow up just a bit too soon, eh, Junior?" I mused out loud as passers-by made various comments, some approving, some . . . not so much.
Upon arrival at the Ruins, I was greeted by my friends from Tau Syndicate.
"Uhm, Bob, I think you forgot something."
Grabbing my spatula away from my over-eager goldfish, I replied "Yeah, I forgot to finish this guy. I think I was interrupted."
As I confronted the beleaguered Ransacker, who was confused because he clearly outclassed me, I could see his amused expression. Looking down, I realized what I'd forgotten. No matter. Into the fray!
I took him down and wiped out two more gang members before I decided to go get dressed and look presentable. None of the guards seemed interested in pestering me this time. On the way back to the Ruins, after dropping off Junior and the spatula in my ship, I stopped in at the Seishu for some noodles and a quick chat.
"I'd stay away from the Ruins if I were you," the spry old cook said. "I hear there are madmen running around naked attacking people. One had a fish and a spatula. I was afraid it might have been you."
"Well," I smiled . . . "This could be an interesting day after all."