I promised Holly Jahangiri that she’d be in at least one of these May stories. Since this is also Sample Sunday, I decided to do a Holly Jahangiri story today and refer you to the others, “By the Book” and “The Pratty Who Saved Christmuss“. Holly won the right to be a character in a story set on the planet Llannonn, the setting for my cop/sf/farce, FORCE OF HABIT, not once but twice. Fictional Holly has become one of my favorite characters, just as actual Holly has become one of my favorite people.
Also today: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANE PEYTON, AUTHOR OF WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE, A CALLIE LONDON VAMPIRE ADVENTURE!
a Holly Jahangiri story
by Marian Allen
Assistant Librarian Holly Jahangiri had never been off Llannonn before and now here she was waiting to go through Customs in a spaceport on Marner.
Head Librarian Devra Langsam had said, “I’ll be retiring soon, and you’ll take my place. Going to Librarian conventions is part of the job. You might as well (as they say on planet Earth) cut your teeth.”
“That sounds painful. Could I get a tattoo, instead?”
She shook off the memory in order to appreciate the current moment.
Beings from many planets thronged the disembarkation terminal, some with nothing physical in common with her besides their ability to live in the same environment. Some looked not entirely unlike the purple feather boa she always wore, and she hoped no one thought it had once been alive.
Natives of Marner, upright, bipedal, horizontally symmetrical, resembling a Llannonninn except for the Marneri all-body fur, stood behind counters or strolled about with the casual alertness that marked police officers everywhere.
Information kiosks blocked a clear view of the entire terminal, their screens alive with visuals, some of which gave her a headache but would be comforting and informative to a being with a differently wired brain.
A shove knocked her off-balance; she stumbled and nearly fell her purple feather boa. A native of Marner, this one covered in two-tone orange stripes, walked quickly away, without so much as backward glance, much less the heartfelt apology she could expect on Llannonn. She was off-world, indeed!
She heard her flight called and she and her fellow passengers sorted themselves into a line for inspection. Some things were the same everywhere.
When she reached the official, a smallish Marneri with short blue-gray fur, the official said, in the artificial language used for business, travel, and trade, “Anything to declare?”
It was reassuring to know that some things were, indeed, the same here.
“Yes,” she said. She hated to begin by causing trouble, but right was right. “A Marneri shoved me and didn’t say he was sorry.”
The official stared at her as if she had spoken gibberish. Well, of course, she had, but it was proper, gibberish.
Raised voices drew Holly’s and the Customs official’s attention. Two Marneri had another Marneri between them, searching the bags he carried, even combing through his orange fur. The slit-eyed look on his alien face was plainly smug.
“That may be he,” said Holly.
The Customs official called something to the others, and they brought their detainee over. When he saw Holly, he tried to break and run, but his captors tightened their grip.
“May I search you?” On Llannonn, that would have been a genuine question. Here, it was obviously a statement of intention.
Holly lifted her arms in compliance.
The Customs official found what she was looking for: a small sack in Holly’s right-hand tunic pocket.
The prisoner snarled as he was dragged away. Another official came and led Holly to a snug office, where she made a statement.
She was a few minutes late to the Convention’s introductory mixer, but it was worth it to know that courtesy was, after all, a universal value.
~ * ~
MY PROMPT TODAY: Smuggling