asher63 (asher63) wrote,
asher63
asher63

Planet 138

She looks peaceful, resting against the side of the airlock, as if she got tired and decided to take a nap. She could be asleep, except for the thin film of frost that forms on her body as the air rushes in; and except for the thin line of ice on her eyes, just below where the eyelids have not quite closed. She appears a little older than the girls in Miss Orizhend's class, and she's not wearing a helmet or a pressure suit - in fact, she is wearing a fancy dress, the kind you might wear to a dance.

A few of the girls are sobbing; most are silent, stunned. Miss Orizhend speaks quietly but firmly. "Move back, please. I need everybody to get back." She presses the emergency button on her wrist communicator to call Security.

***

The Security Bureau on Planet 138 is divided into two departments, Internal Security and External Security, but they both share a single small office. External Security is responsible for keeping track of incoming and outgoing space traffic, like the small Fao group that's inbound now; but they usually fill the slow hours watching everything else that's going on in the Sector ... things like the unusual uptick in flights to the Homeworld lately, from such unlikely planets as Earth and Darkhaven.

Internal Security keeps the peace and quiet, which are usually plentiful on Planet 138. Homicides are almost unknown, and accidental deaths are rare. There was that one woman some years ago, odd the way she died - sad too, left behind a wife and a young daughter ... now that she thinks about it (and for some reason Inspector Shihar is thinking about it), she's never been quite comfortable with how that one was resolved.

She's on the point of asking Chief Garris about it, just to make conversation; but in all the years she's been working with the tall, laconic woman, the concept of "just making conversation" never seems to have fit well in the paradigm. So she keeps her eyes focused on the computer screen and pretends to be studying the latest nightly report while discreetly eavesdropping on the gals in External - who, as always, seem to have a much more exciting job. And that's when the call comes in.

***

"I need everybody to line up so I can take attendance. This is very important, we need to be sure everybody is here. And it's very important that nobody goes near - " her voice catches, but only just, and she's hoping the girls don't notice - "near the body." How could everything go so crazy in a single moment? Think, she tells herself - and act. "I'm going to take attendance, please answer when I call your name.

"Bassia?"

"Here."

"Casima?"

"Here."

"Jharid?" She goes down the list of names, suddenly conscious of the girls, not as a chore, not as noisy and quarrelsome nuisances, but as friends - and precious souls whose lives are in her care. Somehow she keeps her voice steady, and turns her back to the class as her eyes begin to melt.

"Urkni?

"Urkni?

"Where's Urkni?"
Tags: queenscourtesan
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