The Fringes of the Universe Prequel Chapter Four

One week, one full week is how long they stood in line. The only reason it worked was because there was two of them. The rules of the line allowed for one person to step away for up to an hour before they forfeit their place. So they traded off. Their intention was to find a place to stay so one could sleep while the other stood in line, but unfortunately, it required currency, which was not something they had. The only reason they didn’t run out of food was because of rations they’d brought.

Finally sitting down in front of someone that should be able to help them Jutel gave an impassioned presentation that she’d spent the week going over and over in her head. Unfortunately, considering she hadn’t taken a shower in a week or had much of a chance at any personal grooming, she had no idea how seriously they’d take her.

“So let me get this straight Jutel of Nian you are here hoping to clear your planets name?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm.”

The woman sitting in the seat across from them had no expression on her face. Jutel had no idea if they’d impressed her or she even knew where Nian was. She held onto hope though when the woman began pulling up information on her computer. The screen was in such a way that Jutel couldn’t see what she was doing but she waited.

When they’d been sitting there for close to thirty minutes with no further word Jutel looked at Mal who appeared as though he was about to pass out. Neither of them had had much sleep in the last week, but Jutel’s training had prepared her for that sort of thing. Mal’s, sadly, had not.

“I’m sorry, I realize that you’re a busy person, but do you have any kind of timeline for how long this is going to take? Or do you know what our next step should be?”

The alien looked at her in disgust as if she’d just done the must vulgar thing possible. All she’d asked was a question, what was wrong with that?

Mal, who had been jerked out of his stupor when Jutel spoke, cleared his throat and said, “What my colleague means to say Madam Secretary Liticik is that we greatly appreciate the time you are spending with us and we understand completely that it is not required of you. If there is anything that we can do to assist you we beg of you to let us know.”

His words dripped with something Jutel had never heard before. It was like each word he said was meant to appease and smooth feathers like she’d done something wrong. It was sickening, who sucked up to someone that obviously? Madam Secretary Liticik ate it up though and she gave Mal a huge smile.

To make matters so much worse they then started flirting with each other. Mal, flirting with a woman, it was ridiculous. The woman in question was at least thirty years older than him and she was so—ugh. Jutel tried not to think about it and let Mal continue with his flirtations, hopefully, it would have results.

Leaning back in the uncomfortable metal chair that she was sitting in Jutel tried not to pass out from boredom. She did her best to conceal her emotions and just let Mal take the lead in this particular task. If he could get Madam Secretary Liticik to help them, awesome, but clearly the woman didn’t like Jutel and she had no idea what kind of protocols needed to be followed.

Mal and Liticik talked for hours until a loud whistle sounded announcing the end of the day and the closing of the office.

Madam Secretary Liticik stood up, smiled warmly at Mal, glared at Jutel, and said, “I will see you two tomorrow so that we can continue this process. We’ve had a productive first meeting. If you take this voucher to a government owned hostile they will give you a free bed and meal for the night.”

Mal dipped his head low and then winked, he actually winked, at Liticik who giggled, before saying, “We look forward to continuing what I hope will be a mutually beneficial process. Until tomorrow Madam Secretary Liticik.”

Jutel didn’t know what to say so didn’t say anything she turned and left the room quickly followed by Mal who offered a parting apology at the rudeness of his colleague. They were silent as they made their way through the confusing halls of the government building. Nian government buildings tended to be very open and calming, overstaffed and pleasant, the UUAC building was exactly the opposite.

Finally, outside, the sun was still high in the sky. The days were short on this planet but the UUAC hours were even shorter. Glaring up at the building Jutel’s hand unconsciously went to her side where her cannon usually hung. It was in her bag slung across her back, it had no problems making it past security scans, but that’s not where it should be.

“Where to?”

Mal seemed chipper as though they hadn’t just spent hours of their life sucking up to someone that may or may not be able to help them.

“I don’t know, maybe we should ask Madam Secretary Liticik.”

Her sarcasm lost on him he said, “No, that’s probably not a good idea. She’s unaware of our financial situation and it’s not something we should advertise, people will want to know why Nian didn’t give us currency and take it as a sign that we’re not here officially.”

Jutel frowned, she’d not thought of that. They hadn’t cleared their visit with the council, but they hadn’t hidden their intentions either. If they’d had a problem with it surely they would have let her know before she left. Surely.

“The ticket she gave me lists a place a few blocks away, we’ll want to be as close as possible since if we’re even a minute late with any of our further appointments we’ll have to start at the beginning.”

Incredulous Jutel said, “Are you serious?”

“Oh yes, the UUAC is really very time conscience. They have many people under their care if they don’t keep a strict adherence to schedules things would fall into chaos. They have schedules for everything, it’s really quite ingenious.”

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