2017.07.05 "You personally contravene ordnance restrictions."

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"You personally contravene ordnance restrictions."

The Orbodun's gasping laughter is imminent, while I focus on restraining my reflexive snarls. The soft, purple being stares impassively at me through the heavy shield generated in the interview chamber, effectively begging me to snarl at it.

"I'm sorry, I'm - I'm going to need some sort of - some absorbent material - I'm leaking from - from the laughing." The huge fluffy asshole is really finding this too amusing.

"So, let me make sure I get this. We left our ship behind, because even though it's just a long-range shuttle it could possibly hide something dangerous - I get that. We left behind all our weapons on our ship - as instructed - so that we could come here on a public shuttle to petition entry to the planet. Even though here..." I gesture around as unthreateningly as I can. "...is a fortified security station, filled with heavily armed paramilitary personnel, AND has a section where offworlders can freely carry weapons. And now that you've had us do all this... bureaucracy theatre... you're saying that I cannot be allowed to the planet because of my species?"

"No sir or maam or honorific other, that is not quite accurate."

A few beats pass. Yeah, purple softie with the expressionless face isn't going to clarify. "What is more accurate to say, then?" Shit, I think I snarled when I said that.

"According to our information sources, you are probably a hired killer of some considerable ability. Your path being guided through subsequent opportunities to observe you have confirmed this probability with a high degree of certainty."

Well, zark. I shouldn't have scared those kids on the shuttle.

The Orbodun pauses from snickering to glance at me with a you-shouldn't-have-scared-those-kids look.

Wait a minute. "Wait a minute - can he go to the planet?" I gesture at the suddenly-not-laughing Orbodun.

With a nearly-robotic head swivel, the soft purple being regards my huge furry partner. "Yes - assuming that it agrees to some explicit restrictions on its activities. The Dal Fona report that it is still in good standing with the Honour Police, and by extension of our treaty must be treated with the assumption of contract-abiding."

"Hold on, that won't really work."

"Are you saying that you would refuse to agree to the standard non-violence contract?"

"Well, it kind of misses the point. We're embroiled in a deadly game with a combatant so scary that it makes the two of us look like, well, like something not at all scary."

"Plush toys?" Which, as I say it, actually kind of sounds like not a terrible idea - we'd make great plushies.

The Orbodun seems less enthralled with my suggestion, perhaps from inertia. "What's with you and stuffed toys?"

I shrug. "I'm covered in spines. I don't get to have soft things."

"Whatever. My point is that we need to stick together to avoid being too-easily picked off."

The soft purple being interrupts. "Then you will need to stick together off-planet. Thank you for your application. If you suffer some major brain trauma and become less deadly, please feel free to apply again."

Uh oh - that triggers the big fella. "Are you really so un-interested in the possibility that there is some super-scary combatant on your nice little utopian planet? Maybe you need us to help you with that."

The soft purple being sighs. I'm not sure if it is meant to be contemptuous, or if it just weary of our drama. "No, thank you, sir or maam or honorific other. Firstly, the existence of this being is conjecture. Secondly, part of our fundamental process for maintaining peace is accomplished via our own dedicated and systemically quality-control methods - not random assets. And thirdly, if the suggested being does exist on our nice little utopian planet, it has done so without causing any problems that we can determine - and therefore it is our super-scary combatant, and we endeavour to keep its existence peaceful as we do for all our citizens. This interview is over. Good bye."

"HOLD on." My hands are up and splayed. It's usually translated as de-escalating, even though it shows off my talons. "My partner will agree to any and all contractual obligations required to visit the planet."

"I will?"


"Um, why? Remember my brilliantly-explained point about not wanting to die?"

I shake my ugly head. "You're not going to die. It's not here. The Takolee wouldn't come here if it was. And there's an actual hope that it might talk to you if I'm not around."

"I think you're under-estimating... IT."

A detailed form with exhaustive references gets broadcast at us. "This is what you need to agree to - explicitly - in order to be granted access to the planet. I'll give you a moment to review it." The soft purple being's eyes glaze over even more. Probably communicating with beings it considers more interesting than us.

"It's a risk I'm willing for you to take."

"What if we're being played, and the Takolee is leading us straight to it?"

I smile.

"I zarking hate it when you smile." The Orbodun turns to the inattentive soft purple being situated behind the massive security shield. "I'll sign this document if you ask him why he's smiling."

Jostled from its reverie, the soft purple being casually regards us. "Nope. Sign or don't, I don't care either way."

A magnificent scowl blossoms on the Orbodun's muzzle, punctuated with a glower beamed at me in particular. He explicitly and officially agrees to the non-violence behaviour protocol contract for the duration of his visit to the planet.

"Sometimes I just smile when I don't have a good answer, you know."

"If I get turned into indistinguishable purée by IT, I'm going to be very bothered."

"I grok that."