This is the fourteenth section of the eighth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
Not that the rest of the Habitat was much different to this endless expanse of corridors and random rooms feeling to Iz like nothing more than a continent sized hotel where the room service was free and all the windows were in the penthouse where she never got to go. This abduction though was worse for her sense of direction to be dragged around not making the choices, no pad to give her points of reference it was quite simply, confusing; for the first time in her life she was lost. No landmarks just corridors and her captors.
She wasn’t sure what she expected from this sheriff character. She knew that this place was supposedly run by force, certainly no-one so far had been shy about throwing her around or had been asking for her opinion.
Strangely enough here the corridors started to open up. She rounded a corner and it seemed as if two levels had been knocked into one. She had seen this happen before for theatres and sports grounds elsewhere on the Habitat but for personal accommodation this was unprecedented.
“So this is the sheriff’s abode then is it?” asked Iz
“Not sheriff” came a soft voice from the far side of the room. “Queen.”
“Can I ask who I’m talking to?” asked Iz looking around the room “A disembodied voice is always hard to talk to.”
“Good” a small laugh came “Ah, I miss the young confident new recruits. So what brought you here, I hadn’t heard that we had someone new expressing interest.”
Iz was fairly sure it was a female voice, maybe this was a chance, best to restrict information though. “I didn’t find about you online.”
“Oh god you’re not one of those missionaries are you?” came the voice again “I’ve only just got this place straight again after the last one.”
“No I’m just curious.”
“Ah a tourist.” that laugh came again. “someone bored by life looking for some excitement. Pathetic!”
“Something like that, although it’s not you that intrigues me.”
“Who does then if not the most powerful human on this lump.”
“The Habitat itself. Why does it allow you is something I can’t figure out. A visit seemed to be a good start.” Hiding her ignorance in ignorance not of here, but elsewhere seemed to be her best bet.
“So you don’t want to join us or change us?”
“Not yet no. I don’t see why I would.”
“Then we can deal. I am the Queen of here, this underground overground colony. The only true royalty in nearly a thousand years, not given but taken.” replied the Queen “You know the worst thing on the Habitat?”
“Absolute power is kind of dull huh?”
“You’d be surprised”
Iz decided to take a gamble “I kind of assumed in a society where personal power is all, where murder is advancement it’d be a King not a Queen.”
“Perhaps,” somehow she sounded as if she were smiling “but where does it say that alliances are forbidden. I don’t have to overpower anyone if I am the only one who keeps the top dogs from fighting. Or perhaps more accurately keeps the top dogs fighting with each other so she can steal their lunch.”
“So why was I brought here and not to the sheriff.”
“I thought I answered that already. I was bored.”
“I’m a plaything then?”
“In a sense. I need to know where you stand, so where I stand.”
Iz heard behind her a gun clicking and the muzzle pressed to the back of her head “You know you don’t have to do that.”
The Queen laughed “Yes I know, it’s completely pointless cocking the hammer of a gun, but it has such a wonderful dramatic effect don’t you think. Old Quentin did always have a flair for the dramatic.”
“So what now?” asked Iz
“Now we see how you react. Talk your way out of this or fight your way out I don’t mind, but please don’t be dull.”