And maybe I can help my adopted World, the people who helped me, when I escaped from Earth's control.
He parked half a block away from the Colonial Government's office building and strolled, taking in the mood of the people on the street. Mostly just office workers, heading out for lunch.
He checked the directory, then took the elevator to the top, fourth, floor.
The Governor of Tall Trees Colony had been an appointed position until two months ago, when the Ad Hoc Emergency Committee had recalled the old governor and appointed one of their own members to the position. And then made the position elective.
The double doors of the Governor's Office were open. Three large men standing around. Two people, a middle aged woman and a weedy young man behind a long desk looked worried.
All five of them looked around as Ice walked in.
Three frowning ominously and stirring to move towards him as he kept advancing. The two office workers looked like they wanted to hide under their desk.
The large door in the back wall was ajar.
". . . do as I say, woman!"
Ice sighed. "That doesn't sound good." He stepped around one goon and pushed the door open.
Another large man, this one in a nice suit, looming across the desk at the governor.
Ice shut the door behind him and grounded a shield across it to keep it closed.
"Ice!" She sat up straighter, anger giving away to surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"I just dropped by to . . . well, it looks like you do need a bit of help." Ice surveyed the man. "I don't believe we've met. Ice Kah Withione Sycamore Tall Trees."
Except he does look familiar. Where . . .
"Chief of Police Utne Neartuone London Britain." He looked Ice up and down, a grin spreading. "Harp. Long time, no see."
Oh. Shit. Bruce-the-jerk.
"Chief Utne, pleasure to meet you." Ice turned back to Rumakova. "Anything I can help you with, 'Va?"
"Throw this scum out?" Her teeth showed as she glanced at Utne.
Who sneered. "Nope. Good Boy Harp is going to help me not you."
Drat, I really never wanted to find out how that spell works . . .
"What sort of job is Chief of Police?" Ice looked back at Rumakova. "Elected or appointed?"
Utne-Bruce leaned in, starting to get angry. "I was appointed by the REAL governor, not this native bitch they're bribing to get out of Paris."
Ice looked to Rumakova. "So is he a good Chief, with an issue, or a bad Chief angry to be losing power?"
"He is very bad. A horrifyingly large number of Trees die in custody. Even some of the women, most of whom have been multiply raped before they're released, with no charges filed." She eyed him with disgust. "He actually expects me to make him my second-in-command with authority to act on his own."
"You . . ." Utne's fist clenched, as he turned toward Rumakova, then jerked back to Ice.
Ice scruffed up his brows and hair, and applied an illusion to darken his entire appearance. A quick glance at his hands to check that they were the burnished bronze of a proper Tree. He rubbed his nose to turn it into a prominent beak.
"What are you up to now, you little shit? You always were good at illusions, but you can't fool me. You're no more a Native than I am."
Ice looked at Rumakova. "Utne, here is about to forget that any of this ever happened. We'll rerun this conversation, and when you fire him, I'll throw him out for you. Do you have a replacement in mind?"
"You'd be . . ."
"An outsider. Surely there's an honest cop in town?"
She started grinning. "I'm not at all sure about that, but I do have an honest Native Affairs Liaison, who would be an excellent Chief."
Utne turned and glared. "That pushy asshole . . ."
Ice tossed the spell. Short term to long term memory disrupted, short term buffer erased. He clicked his comm to record and stuck it in his pocket, cam lens up. Stepped back, added an illusion of the door moving, the soft thump as of a heavy door closing, as he tapped the start recording button.
"Good Afternoon, Governor. You called me?" Ice surveyed Utne who had rocked back on his heels, rubbing his forehead. "Oh. Sorry. I don't believe we've met. Mabudazu Sycamore Kungodarodaro."
"Chief of Police Utne Neartuone London Britain." He looked Ice up and down. Squinted a bit.
"Chief Utne, pleasure to meet you." Ice turned back to Rumakova. "What can I help you with, 'Va?"
The corner of her mouth turned up a bit, then she made it frown as she looked at Utne.
"That is the best offer you're going to get. The only way you can . . . keep those people alive . . ." His gaze twitched toward Ice. "And well. Improve their standard of living."
Oh? Have you been threatening people, Chief?
'Va forced a smile. "Of course. Let's all step outside. I need to make a couple of comm calls, and then a public address."
Utne smirked. "Yes. The announcement should be made in public."
Oh you stupid idiot.
Rumakova told her secretary to call the vid station, and both radio stations and tell them there would be a public announcement on the front steps in half an hour.
The woman swallowed and reached for her comm, nervous glance toward the looming men . . . One help us! They're probably cops!
Utne waved his goons down and the woman made her calls, while Rumakova tapped at her own comm.
"Right. I've told the City Council, they'll need to hear this in person." She glanced at the desk. "James? Six cups of coffee, please?"
The boy shot to his feet and out the door.
The Secretary squirmed. "I don't know if they'll come, but they've been told."
"Thank you, Hoyl."
A snort from Utne. "What's a Oner doing working for a Native Bitch?"
Rumakova narrowed her eyes. "Both Holly, here and Emja who is fetching coffee are part Native Oners. As am I."
"Servaone!" Utne stuck a finger close to her face. "A fucking barely-a-Oner who had the audacity to run for President!"
Ice snickered. "And came in second—by two percent. We're all damned proud of her."
Utne rounded on Ice. "And you? All Native, aren't you? Well I know how to deal with lippy Natives."
"So I've heard." Ice kept his accent neutral, with just a hint of the native cadence. "Lots of fatalities in jail, according to rumors."
"And rapes. I'm not sure that sort of Oners should be in charge of the jail."
"And there isn't a thing you can do about it." A nasty smile. "Especially once I arrest you. Hehehe."
This guy is about to get what he deserves. Hopefully with me remaining unrecognized. In public.
The newsies looked bored. One of the trio had a vid cam on a tall tripod. Once he'd focused it on the group at the top of the stairs, he stood back with a resigned expression on his face.
A clump of people followed them out, apparently the city council had offices in the building. People walking past slowed a bit, curious, a handful of uniformed police. A tall handsome Tree, gray dominating his once black hair, stepped up to shake Rumakova's hand, and nod curtly to Utne.
Ice blinked. Ridhe? The Leader of the Hunt? What is he doing in a city? 'Va's Native Affairs Liaison, perhaps?
He eyed the angle of the camera and eased around to have his back to it. Pity illusions don't show up on camera.
"Thank you for coming on such short notice." Rumakova looked over the tiny gathering and looked straight at the vid. "I have an official announcement to make.
"Utne Neartuone London Britain who has served as Chief of Police for three years, is fired. As of right this minute. Mr. Ridhe Sycamore Kurumidza is hereby appointed Chief of Police."
Utne actually stood frozen for a second as the words registered. Then he turned, hand reaching inside his coat.