Not-a-Fic-a-Day: Transportation Security

So, there isn’t an actual fic-a-day today, because ever since I read a news article about the TSA’s latest shenanigans, I’ve been too mad to have an idea – or rather, all the characters in my head have had nothing to do but deliver variations on The Reason We Suck, snark, and related items about transportation security all day, and refuse to get down to anything plotly.

Yes, I have an unruly muse.

So, instead, I’m just going to accept losing a day’s writing, and in some compensation – and despite my pledge to avoid message fiction in my real writing – herewith some fictional people expressing some opinions on that whole mess…

“Descend to ten thou so we can chuck the bastards – or whatever’s left of them once the passengers are done – over the side.  What else?”
– Idris Allatrian-ith-Lyranth, airship captain, extranet interview

“Multiply, old chap, multiply.  You can’t seriously propose that we punish hundreds of millions of travellers every day because of, what, a few tens of thousands of fanatics of dubious rationality?  Do you have any idea how many of those we could find and cauterize for the same cost?  Especially once you take into account the the insurrection we’d have on our hands if the Senate even thought about demanding searches of citizen-shareholders going about their lawful business, never mind if the Curia actually lost all grip on law and sense and approved it.”
– Quoril Irithyl-ith-Issarthyl, security consultant, extranet interview

“Due to current geopolitical tensions, passengers on international flights are requested and required as a condition of passage to carry a pistol capable of running our aeronef-compatible frangible-flechette and Fragile Fire Inhibition softpatch (a free download from our ‘weave) for flight security.  If you do not possess a suitable weapon, one can be rented for the duration of the flight at your Golden Skies check-in desk for an Es. 7 surcharge.”
– Golden Skies Express Air ticket, supplemental information

“Oh, they don’t want to get into a terror contest with us.  We have much bigger sticks to beat them with than they can find to use.  And I can promise you this – I’m scarier.”
– a brightly smiling Caliéne Sargas-ith-Sargas, IN Admiral, Worldburner, and Deimarchess by Birth and Profession, extranet interview

“Ahem.  Or, somewhat more diplomatically put, the first duty of any government is to protect its citizen-shareholders.  The Imperial Charter is quite clear on that.  It does not, on the other hand, say anything about everyone else.  And while we don’t like having to shout and threaten like a cliched serial villain, if it takes parking the threat of annihilation over someone to get them to clean their damned act up, well, we can do that.  And will.”
– Esitaria Cyprium-ith-Avalae, Stellar Council (Emeritus), extranet interview

“Yeah.  When I’m on one of those worlds, I take the shuttle to orbit and back down again every time I need to go from place to place on the surface.  I won’t use their own transport, not for — why?  Seriously?  They try and ban all weapons.  No gun, no sword, not so much as a utility knife.  What for shit and waste heat are we supposed to do if someone does try and take the plane, or rob us in the air, or something?  Throw nuts at them?  Beat them to death with the seat cushions? Maybe try harsh language?”

They may not care about their natural responsibilities, but I’m not going to be put in that position, thank you kindly but no thank you.”
–  Corvis Peressin-ith-Perrin, frequent interstellar traveller, extranet interview

“It may be a slightly riskier model, in terms of risk from terrorists and hijackers.  I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but I’ll accept it hypothetically.  But there are three essential points I would make in answer.  First, neither model is particularly risky in an absolute sense, and our population is, by and large, capable of computing simple probabilities.  Second, risk is one of many factors in any trade-off, and we are also aware of the costs in economic terms, in liberty terms, and in terms of dignity – and also, you will find, quite determined as a principle of ethics, morality, and law that where there are costs to be suffered, they will be suffered by the people responsible for them rather than the innocent bystander.  And third?  Third, the Imperial hasn’t been born who intimidates worth a damn.”
– Quoril Irithyl-ith-Issarthyl, security consultant, extranet interview

“Talk to me like that again, zakhrehs, or put so much as one finger anywhere, and you’re going to be looking for a new body.”
– Jynen Cerron-ith-Cerron, shortly before being deported from Villami (Iesa Drifts)

Unprofessional Hijacking

IS Words of the Profit, docked at Nepscia Low Port, Nepscia (Galith Waste).

“You really don’t want to do this, old chap,” I said.  “You have no idea of the trouble you’re about to be in, and you have to know that you can’t actually hurt either of us with that thing.  Why don’t you put it down and start running like a good idiot?”

The scruffy azayf I was addressing blinked yellow eyes inside its methane-mask, and gestured again with its pistol; a pistol, moreover, which clearly hadn’t been designed for an azayf’s three-fingered radial hand.  “I’m not — I have the gun!  Do it!  Get this ship off the ground!”

“Ah, well.  I tried.”  I nodded to my first officer, over by the systems-monitor console.  “Líse, if you would?”  A moment, a moment more, I saw its attention flicker and its gun waver, and that was when the polydog took it out.

(Well, of course I’d called him in.  Even a Nepscia dock-rat should have known better than to leave the captain in his chair – and his mind in the computers – when you try to take a ship.  Just another sign that we were dealing with complete amateurism, here.)

The polydog hit the azayf from three sides at once, one of him knocking its legs out from under it; another leaping for his gun-hand, and I heard the crunch as reinforced jaws sheared through the gun’s thin metal casing and tore through the intricate coils of its mass-driver.  It struggled briefly as it fell to the floor, only to go limp as the polydog’s third body got a firm grip on the pipe to its breathing mask.

I stood, walked over to him, and wrinkled my nose at the scent of apples and a greenish spreading puddle.  “On my bridge carpet?”  Not that I couldn’t understand it, since it was hard to imagine who wouldn’t have some trouble managing their sphincters with three sets of jaws that size only an inch or two from their eyeballs, even if one of them wasn’t hooked around their air supply.

“Let me give you some advice, dock-rat,” I said, scratching behind the ears attached to one set of those jaws.  “You aren’t nearly good enough for this game.  You don’t know enough about ships, you don’t know enough about violence, and you certainly don’t know enough to even think about boarding an eldrae ship.  And this is Nepscia.  I could have my furry associate here rip you into a dozen pieces and toss them out the star-side lock and no-one’d ask why.  But that’s more trouble than either of us care to go to” – a tritone growl from the polydog suggested that he, at least, disputed that – “so we’re just going to throw you back on the dock.  If I catch you near the Words again, though, I will kill you.  Understand?”

It struggled again, making wordless sounds of terror, before the polydog leant on it harder.  “You want to get off-world that badly, huh?  Crossed the wrong estrevikh?  Your passage won’t be on this ship –”

“Skipper?” Líse interrupted. “Look at its neck.  A week’s pay says those are control-collar burns, and he’s a runaway.  If we throw it back on the docks, they’ll kill it before the day’s out.”

“Meat-for-brains here just tried to hijack a starship that it has no idea how to pilot by pointing a gun at the head of the immortal guy still plugged in to the control net.  This is only a very tiny step on the smart side of, say, hyperlocal nuclear brinksmanship with the antideuterium cryocels, and if it’s all the same to you, I’d like it on the outside of our airlock before the sheer density of stupid kills us all.”

She just looked at me.  Damn my soggy sense of teir, anyway.

“Okay, what’s your plan?  With decision-making skills like this, I’m not having it running loose on the ship.”

“We’ve got a few empty livestock containers left in the aft hold,” she pointed out.  “Give it a freelib and a case of mycomeals, and time-seal it in one of those.  We’ll be at Daghada in a few weeks, and it’s a freesoil world, so we can offload the container there no-questions.  It’s out of our hair, and no harm to it.”

“Okay.  Looks like it’s your lucky day, dock-rat,” I added to it.  “You’re fortunate it pleases me to tweak the nose of whoever claimed to own you, or I would leave you on the dock to rot.”  I gestured the polydog to step off, and took a step back myself.  “Go quietly, now.  It doesn’t please me all that much.”