Prisons PastMature

Talain is a helmono casisxto, a bounty hunter on the planet Mero. But he is more than that.
I've edited and revised the version found on and put it here for critique. (If you don't understand the Esperanto, there are translations on the site, usually in the glossary or references. I didn't change any of the dialogue here save to make it into English for ease of reading, which I think takes away from the experience but makes it easier to critique.)
EDIT: Some of the chapter name


"Ferlinik! Get out of the kitchen and HELP US!" shouted Talain. Ferlinik wasn't piloting, he figured, so he'd be damned if he didn't make her help with getting this ship mobile enough to get the fuck out of the Mordoro district of Urbagniva.

"Ferlinik! NOW!" Majk's deep rumble nearly shook the ship and made the ears of the prisoners buzz. Talain and Majk swore in unison.

When Ferlinik finally cam einto the hold, Majk accidentally tazed himself with the mur'ruto. "Mars'o crash on the Fruits! Fuck!" he exclaimed. Ferlinik bashed a snickering prisoner on the ear. She was a gentle woman. The she was on one too many shifts in the hold' now she was rarely gentle, only tolerant of those that didn't consider themselves above the law, her father, and the government. All of them separately, of course; Niki made sure you knew that.

"Shut up, for Veninto's light! Now what do I do?"

Talain directed her to hold a piece of Alcard foil, while he and Majk bolted it to the edges of the hole created by a Tigan that was stronger than they'd thought. The Tigan--one of the heavily built, tall, nearly blind, ridge-backed races of homan with an extra joint at the shoulder that allows them to easily reach backward, shoulder-ridges permitting-- had been unfollowable. Other had tried to escape as well, but the crew had caught them-- all but the one who broken their neck, jumping out onto branches that hadn't been able to support their weight. That meant two less payments the crew of 70 would be getting.

also meant that the twelve or so prisoners remaining had to pay a price. The rest of the trip they all had to wear shackles on their neck and, in the two remaining Tigan's cases, be braced to the wall by the top of their arms. Out of the corner of his eye Talain spotted a Sepmono--except he didn't remember having any on board....

"Shit! WE HAVE A FARIUL!" he shouted.

Ferlinik growled and abandoned her post to taze the shape shifter, but couldn't because Majk was the one connected with the Mur'ruto.

"Majk!" she shouted.

By this time the Fariul had turned into a bird and was trying to get to the stairs leading out. The door was locked but Ferlinik was trying to detain the other escapee Tigan anyway. Talain banged on the panel, thinking it was good enough for now; Majk concentrated and the bird dropped. Talain went to help Ferlinik put the Fariul

Tigan into a cage that would--hopefully--be big enough for the tereji-tall prisoner. Majk lectured the rest of them. Talain wasn't listening, but he caught the jerks and gestures toward the cage, the grimaces on the prisoners, and the tone of Majk's overly slow speech.

We used to be almost nice. We ALL used to be nice. But... being nice did not work. Our kindness was not returned. Kindess does not take you far.

He was about 26 jaroj old when he'd walked on top of La Ponto with no memories, only vague recollections he could barely hold on to, and the things that one didn't forget--like language, and what the Edeja did, and what race you were. They'd told him he'd been reassigned, and when the confused Talain was finally asked his name, he didn't want to answer. He didn't htink why, just that he didn't want to answer. Fredi had chuckled and told him that, if he'd been any Ponto official and not a bounty hunter, Talain probably would have died of aural overload, or 'having his head turned the wrong way 'round.' Fredi was also the one who figured out that Talain had no memories, but his muscles seemed to.

His first--at least, what seemed like his first--voyage had proved that he could still react the way he was supposed to, when he was supposed to, at least when it came to handling prisoners, and as long as he didn't think too much. That was the job he'd been reassigned to, capturing the bad guys and locking them up, again or for the first time--if they ran, it was the job of the Helmono Cxasisto to catch them.

Talain had still tried to be nice, though, even when he saw Jujil, his friend, get a bloody nose from a Dorset she'd been trying to negotiate with, despite the latter being a quarter of Jujil's size. When some guy called Kijuk killed her while she was on guard, though--not only did Talain see that, Talain also saw the end of it. Kijuk didn't get to die. Talain made sure he was sent to the Forever Room while bloodied and broken, where his wounds would never heal and he wouldn't be able to feel anything but a tag in his vein and air on his feet.

Later, when Talain was still becoming the hard person at the time of 79s first nearly-successful, mass escape attempt, Majk had asked Talain what his Auxeto was. Talain said nothing; he knew, or thought he did, but he still felt he wasn't supposed to tell. Therefore, he wouldn't, and didn't. The first few weeks of working as a bounty hunter had taught him to trust his instincts, being only reinforced in the moons to come. Whenever his sense told him to shut it, he shut it. If he thought to himself that he ought to kick out his right leg, he'd kick and then look. That hand't failed him so far; the consequence was wondering where all that came from, and where he came from.

Talain walked back over to the far side of the Mur'ruto, blank faced, to where the Tigan had punched a hole in the side of the ship. He picked the hammer back up and gave it to Majk, who, at 6.3 sepatereji, was both the tallest and the strongest Nodo on the ship--some people mistook him for a stunted Tigan, he was that tall for his race.

Majk hadn't claimed an Auxeto, because as far as anyone knew, he didn't have one. Having no special features that connected you to other races of homans wasn't common, but it wasn't unheard of, either. Maybe three in four hundred homans were classified as "normal." It didn't bother Majk, now or then.

"Least we're on land," he said in what was of average volume, Majk's 'quiet' tone. He had a point. If the Tigan had suddenly decided suddenly to break free while they were over water, the whole ship could have gone down--with them still on it. They were just lucky they'd been tree-skimming to see if they could make it over the thinner forests of Urbagniva--and, therefore, of Juvia as well. being able to go over the juvenile country would increase the jobs they could take fundamentally, not to mention decrease the risk of a clever Unhelpful taking refuge there and slowing them down.

After another 20 jeln and a headache for everyone--especially the thrice-more zapped Majk--they had the rest of the bolts smashed in enough that they felt satisfied they could get to a cheap repair shop in southern Unuigxinta Verdoj, It meant there would be more to repair, but less chance that strays from untrustworthy Urbagniva would try to get on their ship.

"Shit," Talain said suddenly. "We don't have a red ship! Shitshitshit, do we have red paint?"

Majk replied quickly, "Red pai--Mars'o, I don't know! Ask Fredi, not me!" Majk never handled anything in the ship besides his weapons, his boots, and his food.

"Ferlinik, go get Fredi--but be gentle, 'k?"

Niki left to carefully wake up Fredi, the more-than-slightly wilted northern Standardoj flower bobbing behind her ear, in stark contrast to her dress of the day. She was one of the few people that dyed her clothes despite having little need to present to anyone. All her clothes were variations of yellow from pale to piss to punching your eyes, even her bark leather braces had tints in areas from where she had apparently failed at dying them. Talain, by comparison, wore a simple, though stained,  tunic and loose Bren trousers. The pants had slits in the side, and he'd ripped the sleeves from the tunic.

Fredi had been given a chance to rest while the rest of the small crew repaired the ship. Every chance they got they gave him more sleep than was scheduled on the under-manned vessel. He was the pilot, and as such he needed to be more on top of his game than the rest of the crew did.

He also got fairly unpleasant when he didn't get enough sleep, something Talain, Majk and Ferlinik had quickly learned to avoid at all costs. Most of the sangsang they budgeted was given to Fredi, though he probably only registered whether or not it was there, not who used it, to keep him awake.

Niki came back down with a mark on her cheek. He must have hit her for waking him up, on purpose or reflexively they'd never know. She didn't bring any red paint with her.

"In the Rhythm, he said, and I'm not going down."  The Rhythm was so named for the constant yet unpredictable beating and shaking of the room so close to the underworking of the 79. Everyone tried to avoid the Rhythm; it was uncomfortable in the least, and everyone had a vomit story involving the room, excluding Ferlinik, who had several. It was understandable that she would want to avoid another.

Talain and Majk locked gazes. Then they faced away from each other. Niki walked around them. "Checked," she remarked, "three, two, one, now!"

Talain and Majk swilred around and pointed fingers at each other, calling out numbers as they did.



Talian lost; Majk was pointing only four fingers at him, whereas Talain held out eight. "Shit," he said, growling when Majk patted him just a little too hard on the back as he exited the hold. Ferlinik returned to the commons; Talain headed to the opposite side of the ship and back down a ladder. he could feel the instant he was in the even hotter, even muggier room and turned to face it, jumping the last few rungs. Talain mentally swore he'd go naked to afford the cost of constant air cooling.

He held his breath, swaying while he surveyed the room. Paint! He unsteadily half-walked, half-fell toward the bov'rbosxeledo containers. As far as Talain could see, they were all marked the same rusty red that official Helmonoj Cxasistoj items were. H egrabbed two, cradling them in one arm, and an applicator, which, frustrated, he stuck between his teeth. It tasted like piss and death as he used his free hand and both harvostaroj to get back up the ladder.

The harvostaroj weren't much help, but Talain refused to let them lay inactive beside his legs like most other nodoj. The tail-like appendages, useless for almost everything, almost nerveless, and two triafekuntereji around at their thickest, were slightly off center at the hips and leather, like the soles of most people's feet.

Talain reached the top of the ladder and fell forward, releasing everything and touching his harvostaroj to the small of his back before curling them togehter. He spat, groaned, and rolled onto his back.

"Ferlinik paints!" Talain shouted.

Somewhere, Fredi chuckled.

The End

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