Archive | February 7, 2015

Trope Bingo – Foedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part III

To fill square one-two on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo. Story three of a new series.

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

Previous in Trope Bingo: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part II

Previous in Story: Standards

No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

“Do you seduce every bounty hunter that catches you?” Yira Trembane had his hand halfway up Jahnan’s thigh, and it was creeping ever higher. She was having trouble focusing on the navigation – not a good idea, when using a WhatIf drive. She didn’t want to end up stuck in some alternate-history where he had captured her.

“You make it sound like I get caught a lot.” His hand slid just an inch further up.

Jahnan closed her eyes and thought about trees. “Your dataslip says you did. Seventeen arrests since you turned twenty, and half of those for escape-from-custody. How many times did you escape by seduction?”

“Only three. Four if you count… well, three. But I can’t get away from you, don’t you remember?” He tapped the collar around his throat. “We don’t know what this thing will do to me… kozel-wife.”

The Tod’cxeckz’ri clerk had locked the thing on him, the same time said clerk put an earring on Jahnan’s ear and a bracelet on her wrist, the same time they were, through a paperwork misunderstanding, declared husband and wife by a Tod’cxeckz’ri law. Jahnan had just wanted to claim her bounty on the infamous thief; Yira had just wanted to get back into jail so he could escape again.

“‘Four if you count…?’” she prompted.

“Oh. Well, there was this one time.” He leaned back in his seat, his hands tangled in his braids. “I didn’t escape, exactly. I was planet-hopping, having just disposed of an Mestonian Diamond-”

“A Mestonian Diamond?” That one wasn’t in his dossier, and Jahnan could see why. The Meston Syndicate was unbreakable – or so their reputation would have it.”

“Not that I’d admitting to anything. But I was planet-hopping, as I said…”

    and there I found myself on an omnibus between Soffen Seven and Mark Four. The public transit in that part of the galaxy is really nice, posh, polite, and they don’t ask questions. I’ve used it more than a few times – in the past, of course.

    But this time, I found myself sitting right next to the bounty hunter Ueda Tsutomu. Now Ueda has quite a reputation to begin with – I’m sure you’ve heard of him – and, while I really wouldn’t want to cross him, he’s generally very polite. However, I had at least two bounties on my head at the time, to say nothing of what the Mestona might have done under the radar. So Ueda was pretty much the last person in the universe I wanted to see.

    And for about the first third of the trip, I thought I might be doing okay. Sure, my braids are a bit distinctive, but I’d done the old dress-as-a-pilgrim trick that covers nine-tenths of everything you might notice about me, and I was hunching down in my seat and reading an old flat-screen comic on my reader. And Ueda was reading notes – he wasn’t hunting me, you see. He was after a small-time criminal who’d pissed off even more ‘wrong’ people than I had. And I think I would have gotten away if the Omnibus hadn’t tried to occupy the same space as a tour liner.

    So there were were, all of a sudden, skid-slip-starcrud, crash-landed on a backwater planet that had three exports: an opiate-like thing, its lovely boys and girls, and tourist kitch. And the way the bus landed, well, Ueda Tsutomu landed right on top of me.

    Have you met him? Ueda Tsutomu is a very handsome man, and he’s built out of rock and brick – solid, absolutely solid. And he took a good look at my eyes, and then one braid escaped, the way they do – they don’t have minds of their own, we’re not actually Medusas, that’s just a myth, but sometimes they, ah, snake out – and he was there, looking at my eyes and that nose, and one Medusa braid, and, well, he knew who I was.

    What would you do? I mean, we weren’t going anywhere for a while, but the place we’d landed on didn’t have enough civilization for me to get properly lost in. So I kissed him.

    Don’t let anyone lie to you about Ueda Tsutomu. He may be a hard-ass, but he can kiss like nobody’s business. And as for the rest…

    …we were stuck on that backwater for two weeks while they sorted out the wreckage. Tsutomu and I left our little cabin… maybe twice. Three times, I lie. Because we went to the beach. Although that’s a little bit fuzzy. That opiate-type they sell? It grows in a seagrass on all their northern beaches, and, yes, we’d landed in the north. The southern hemisphere, I’ve been told, actually has industry.

    “The long and the short of is is, Tsutomu never asked my name, and I never told him. We went with the polite fiction that I was, indeed, a Medusan on pilgrimage back home, just… not the one I was. And I left there with far more of a working knowledge of that particular bounty hunter.

Yira ended his story with a leer. Jahnan, who couldn’t help but notice the way Yira’s hand on her thigh twitched and moved every time he mentioned Ueda Tsutomu, could only shake her head.

“I thought you didn’t like being called Medusan. Me – Shimestrians, that is.”

“We don’t.” Yira grinned widely at her. “But when a man like Ueda Tsutomu is talking, believe me, you’ll let him call you anything you want.”

Jahnan watched the way he smiled, and wondered, if the story was true, who, exactly, had seduced whom. “So,” she coughed. “You only seduce most of your captors. I feel so special.”

Next: IV

If you are reading from Trope Bingo, Part IV is not part of the bingo but an integral part of the story.

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