Ch. 92. The Bureaucracy

Y’lanna was content just to watch this strange arcane ritual as the Wolf went through its docking procedure. All of the stuff that Rulli and his crew had to do was automated in Y’lanna’s world. Traffic control would send vector information so accurate and with speed markers that all she had to do was to feed that into the autopilot and it was done, but there was something more gratifying about seeing the work that went into something that was taken for granted.

When all that was complete, the coach was there.  She had to admit it looked rather nice and had a sort of prescence about it. Above all the noise of the city outside, and that of the animals themselves Y’lanna and Ruili had a discussion — a circumstance that was unusual, as usually rides like these were both much smoother and much quieter, or at least shielded from external noise.

Y’lanna asked a few questions about Plesz, noted some unusual but beautiful sights, then about the Grand Navigators and the wider geopolitical  situation. There wasn’t much detail for their time was sparse but certainly enough to at least get a rough overview of the situation.

It seemed the Grand Navigators were neutral (in so much as any current conflict between nations), respected and surrounded by ocean. Not terribly bad. She decided to think of the planet as more of a solar system, the ocean as space and the landmasses as planets, moons or other celestial objects. Reefs and such like would be asteroid belts. It seemed to work better in her mind if she put it in an already known context. Of course, it wasn’t perfect, and the planet was far more static than solar systems, but it would do.

Soon — it didn’t seem that long at all — they were at the Customs House, and Y’lanna had to have her first encounter with the bureaucrats of this new world. It seemed so impersonal.  One desk was not all that different from another aside from labels attached. Strange sights and smells accompanied, but it didn’t take long to recognise the familiar bureaucrat facade. That being a molecular thin mask of congeniality that covers over the face of someone who really doesn’t care and all they want to do is to ensure all the appropriate paperwork is done, notarized and verified.

The first question was easy.  She didn’t have a street name and address to give as such, but she knew when a bureaucrat was trying to ask for the place of residence.

“Adonas System, Cerebral Moon, Lower West Quadrant, Co-ordinates 65.7633 –dash- 36.233, 3.7D.” The first was of course the system name (or designation), followed by the name (or designation) of the planetary body. Lower West Quadrant was a way of saying which quarter of the body you occupied, and the the next two were markers of degrees pointing to the location of the building’s base on the planet’s surface, and the last number was a distance for the height above ground for her dwelling place as well as the letter designation separating her place of residence from others at that same height.

The next question, that was going to be slightly harder. Bureaucrats like dealing with simple yes/no or a short list of pre-selected options. So she decided to make it as simple as possible.

“Refugee.”  Not technically true but close enough. “I was fleeing the Cerebral Moon when a military vessel started to chase. The Spatial Vortex Anomaly was my only chance to escape and so I took it and it spat me out into the water.”

There were implications in her words that weren’t true — for example, she implied that the military vessel was of a foreign power — but she didn’t actually lie.  She just didn’t want to go into the details and explain everything and be humiliated again. No, it was better this way.

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