Arriving at Port Serenity
“I miss my new ship already,” Kel Beemer groused as the shuttle lifted off toward the Ridgeways. Her new ship, the spoils of subduing two slavers, had been detached from her former passenger/light cargo ship, the Stalwart. Before her lay Ridgeway III, restricted class beauty world. And beside her in the shuttle were two handcuffed slavers, their unharmed victims, and the man who got her into the mess. The runner in control of the shuttle sat rigidly, not looking back at his passengers. Maybe, Kel thought, he was having a rough day.
“We’ll get back to your ship,” her new partner, Brother Coyote said, his lanky height folded into the small seat. “What are you going to name your ship?”
“I don’t know yet.”
She ran her hands through her buzzed blonde hair in a characteristic gesture and scowled in her passenger seat. Kel could only imagine how she looked after a dramatic scuffle with the slavers. “Am I going to get a chance to freshen up before I meet the Prime Minister?”
“You mean the Convener of the Moot,” Coyote corrected. And smiled. “Not likely, but knowing my mom, she won’t notice. She’s never been interested in outward appearances.”
Kel grimaced. Brother Coyote looked a little rumpled in his order’s garb, yet serene, his staff across their knees as if it didn’t focus immense energies and create wormholes. His long blond hair had even fallen back into place. She looked like a shipper complete in jumpsuit and the de rigeur buzz cut. With her big brown eyes and diminuitive stature, she looked little older than the two chatting merrily across from her. She did, however, feel every hour of her 32 years, especially when about to meet the head parliamentarian of Ridgeway III, who was also Coyote’s mother. What a mess.
“I should warn you,” he smiled. “She doesn’t want me to leave Ridgeway III again, and will try to exert pressure on me to get me to stay. And on you, of course.”
Of course. This was going to be a trip to remember.
Kel expected a guard station at Ridgeway III’s port, which she discovered was named Port Serenity. Cute name, she thought, as the party whisked through the almost empty customs office with no difficulty.
Kel learned the reason why at the other side of the gate. A woman at the center of a small collection of people, dressed in a muumuu of deep purple shot with gold thread, held her arms out. Brother Coyote stepped away from Kel’s side and rushed toward the figure – doubtless his mother with her entourage.
Coyote’s hug enveloped his mother, who was not much taller than Kel herself, although much better dressed.
“How was your little trip?” the Convener of the Moot said in a warm alto voice as she held him at arm’s length.
“Oh, Mom,” Coyote said, “I need to introduce you to my partner.” He stepped back toward Kel, who checked escape routes only to find none.
“Partner!” Coyote’s mom exclaimed. “I didn’t know you’d slipped your bonds for a partner!” She stepped forward to envelop Kel in a massive hug, and Kel found she couldn’t escape. The Convener of the Moot smelled like exotic flowers, and Kel smelled like – she didn’t want to think about it.
“I’m not that kind of partner –“ Kel squeaked.
“What am I thinking?” Kel’s mother exclaimed, letting Kel loose. “You need a bath and a good rest before dinner. Bojun, take Kel to the Statehouse and settle her in.”
“But Mom, where is she going to stay?” Coyote – Bojun? – pleaded.
“In your room, of course.” And she and her entourage drifted away in a cloud of frangipani, taking the twins and the prisoners with them.