[Person 1]: It's important to face the consequences of your actions!
[Person 2]: (Leaps out of a window) -- OohLookShiny
Hwell had to admit, this did look bad. He took stock, as was his habit when he got into these snags.
Hands and feet bound, check. And not in anything fancy, either. Just regular, good old-fashioned iron cuffs and chains that hobbled his ability to run. And his captors had been so inconsiderate about the design, too. There was no easy way for him to twist around and use any kind of convenient wire to pick the lock and make good his escape.
Armed guards, check. And not the obligatory stupid guard kind, either. These people were on their toes. You got some really advanced policing strategies when women were the main gender in the police force. Especially older women who were immune to his generic flirting.
On his way to almost certain doom, check. One of the main parts of this job had been not to get caught. And since Ax'and'l was not around to help him on this enterprise, the small gang of strangers who had hired him had left him behind as a patsy.
Options. Huh. He needed two people to do the Patty Cake Escape. He needed a lev belt to do the 23 Skidoo. Oup. There came an elevated bridge over the water. Good thing humans were neutrally buoyant.And if he could kick hard enough or latch on to some nice flotsam...
Pity these people stopped allowing flotsam in their waters for centuries. Ladies. They really thought ahead.
There was the judge in her robes, standing stoically on the bridge and watching the sailboats. She was going to listen to him, judge him accordingly, and pronounce sentence live on the planetary comms. And he had maybe twenty DU's to come up with a plan.
And then his personal comms chimed.
One advantage of biotech implants is that they can't be taken off of you. Nobody else knew you had one until you started muttering to yourself. Hwell faked an itchy ear so he could (awkwardly, of course) put it on hands free.
"WHERE THE FLAKK ARE YOU?" said the voice of Ax'and'l.
Okay, so he had to be in-system to hear him at all. "Third planet from the sun," he murmured. "So very much like home... the company leaves a little to be desired. Say. Have you ladies heard of the Blarney Custard?"
"You. Are. Not." protested Ax'and'l.
Simultaneously, the senior guard said, "Silence. Face your judgement like an adult."
"I'm runnin' out of choices you understand. It's a lovely city, it is. Beatiful location, tropical paradise. I really don't want t' die here, you know? I'd much rather let bygones be bygones. Water under the bridge, flies out the window, kind of thing..." He slowed down his pace as he rambled. This was not the first time he was talking for his life. Of course he peppered his diatribe with hints to help Ax'and'l home in on his signal. Hwell could only pray it was enough.
The judge, an octogenarian, was not impressed. She finally silenced him with a leathery hand over his mouth. "Alien... you have been found guilty of trespass and theft of a sacred relic. Have you anything to say in your defense?"
"We-ell... the thing about my defense is, it doesn't sound good. You see... that relic of yours was somethin' you were never s'posed t' have. The fact that y'all learned GalStand proves that it's polluted your society. It was my job to get it away from you before you managed to hurt yourselves. Or before you managed to get the wrong ideas about it."
"That relic, as you say, of ours was given to us by the Goddess of the Night Sky, that we may learn more of her mysteries."
"Bit late on the second part, I get it. And -er- some mysteries are dangerous. You know this, right?"
The judgemental octogenarian remained inscrutable.
"Look. We have a thing in all our technologies. It's called the God Protocol. Technology monitors how people are using it, you see. The instant there's too much ritual and too much chanting, it sends out a signal for anyone who can hear it. So it can be... well... rescued. So you can be rescued."
Ax'and'l was swearing in his ear. The non-swearing portions of his dialogue boiled down to variations on "don't jump".
"Now I'll admit some mistakes were made. The fellows I got to help me out with this little bit of charity neglected to tell me about all of your security measures, and figured to increase their reward by removin' my ability to collect mine. If things had been done right, you'd never know we were there."
Which was exactly the wrong thing to say. "You did not come from the Goddess," said the judge. "You are a mortal being, though none like we have ever seen. For your heinous crime against our people, you will die. The universe brought you, and the universe will end you. You will be caged in the common square, to remain there until you rot."
"Have I mentioned that my decay process is highly toxic?" he tried.
"You will face the consequences of your actions, alien."
"Not today, thankyou." And, before the guards could stop him, he leaped off of the bridge, right out of the decorative window formed by the ornate struts that held the roof.
Cripes, it was a long way down.
"Uh. Ax'and'l? Any time now?"
A stream of invective. A rising roar that was not the wind in his ears. And there, like a blessing of the universe, was the Enterprising Endeavour. Powers bless him forever, Ax'and'l already had the Hungry Caterpillar's flexible arms homing in on his life signs.
Sure, he'd get his ear metaphorically chewed off, and there'd be some legal proceedings. But -hey- any day you get to walk away from is a good one.
Ax'and'l's first words of greeting, after he ripped open the live-packing, were, "I am putting you on a proximity collar!"
Hwell just grinned and said, "I love you too."
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