Humble Advice

HUMBLE ADVICE:
Whereby the Demeanour of Martian Tigers is Made Explicitly Known to Yaz.
by Electric Keet

The uniformed blue-furred feline offered a mild smile. “Anything to declare?”

“Yeah,” Eekay responded with a self-serving pose. “One hundred twenty kilos of awesome.”

I was about to chide zim, but the customs agent already had a response. “Unlikely. According to the manifest, you have only fifteen kilograms of luggage.” Amid stifled giggles from the rest of the queued team, he continued with impeccable politeness. “Is there anything else, or shall I ask that you be made comfortable in a holding cell while we search for the remaining one hundred and five?”

The snow-leopard’s enthusiasm drained. “Nothing to declare.”

“Excellent. Welcome to Luna’s Omicron Dome. Enjoy your stay, friend Eekay.” The mooncat looked to me. “Next?”

Eekay stalked toward the baggage claim with zir travel bag. I stepped toward the lectern. “Yaz Lenslight, resident of Io, staying four days on business.” I tapped just below my left ear to activate the comm. “Authenticate.”

The display in the lectern lit up with what was probably my life story in more detail than even I remembered. The customs agent nodded in approval. “Thank you. Anything to declare?”

“No, I….” Just then, I caught a glimpse of a strangely familiar ursine figure leaving another queue. “I think I know that guy.”

“Pardon?”

“Oh! Sorry.” I chuckled. “Nothing to declare.”

The mooncat smiled. “In that case, welcome to Luna’s Omicron Dome. Enjoy your stay, friend Lenslight.”

I nodded my thanks and dashed over to the bear. As I neared, I could see the telltale scar behind his ear. “Elbey?”

He turned and looked me up and down. “’Ey, Yaz. Nice boots.”

I laughed. “Sorry, the answer’s still no. Hey, what’re you doing out here?”

“Herding cats.” He motioned to a group of five crimson tigers waiting impatiently to clear customs. “Didn’t realise your team was on the same flight.”

I shook my head. “Wait, you’re managing The Humblest? I thought—”

“Look, chief, I’d love to chat, but I gotta get some arrangements together here. Drinks later? Here.” He tapped beneath that same ear. “Swap with Yaz Lenslight.”

I did much the same. “Swap with Elbey.” A moment later, I heard a confirmation tone. “All right, I’ll blip after my people are settled in.”

“Great….” He paused, motioning to the flower over my ear. “Then you can tell me what’s up with the pansy.”

I smirked. “Hey, I—” He’d already turned to head in another direction, though.


“I’ll admit, I’m amazed.” I held up my glass to stare at Elbey through the amber. “I figured you’d go right from Allilouxia to, I don’t know, dee-dogging. Something nice and safe compared to hanging out with Martians.” He only shrugged, so I continued. “So how come I saw someone else in the observation tower for the last two races?”

“I got hung up.”

Hung up. That was his way of saying that further inquiry would likely shift my role from “long-time friend” to “accomplice”. I shot him my best dubious expression, but his remained steady.

If Falda knew what he’d meant, she didn’t show it. “How do you handle them, anyhow?” she inquired. “The tigers? I know how rowdy they can be.”

He chuffed, “So I’ve seen,” and then continued speaking directly past the withering look he got in response. “They’re not so bad, really. You just gotta be firm, but reasonable. When you get right down to it, they’re just overgrown kittens.”

I shook my head. “Not to be accusatory or anything, but your kittens keep trying to turn the ribbon into a meat grinder.”

“They’re just enthusiastic.” The bear tapped his mug heavily on the table, then leaned in and dropped his voice. “Look, Martian races are meat grinders. It’s demolition, but instead of dogfighting in skimmers, they play bumper cars on the ribbon. The reason you don’t ever see replay vids from our neck of the woods is because they’re bloody disasters like so much high-speed snuff. And that, I know you ain’t seen, snow-puff.” He nodded that last to the wolf, then washed his words back down with lager.

Falda shook her head incredulously. “Luna has pretty clear rules about that sort of thing.”

Elbey snorted. “Yeah, and the only reason the Lunarian nannies don’t clamp down on it is because it’s only the tigers chewing each other up, and they’re basically impossible to kill. For the love o’ rust, they only take about a third the time in a tank of any sane organism. Mooncats look the other way and Martian audiences get what they consider to be light entertainment. You see my team trying to grind you up? I see my team being amazingly sedate, almost like someone’s been tossing soma in their kibble.” He raised a conspiratorial brow.

I sighed heavily. “I’ve walked into insanity.”

“An’ in the sweetest boots, too.”

Almost on automatic, I smiled. “Thank you! They were suggested to me by—”

I paused when Elbey held up a hand. He was staring off to one side; I followed his gaze to see the striped shoulders of two of his racers, and just past them, a pair of blue ears. The bear began to bellow. “Tanvi, you put that waiter down right now or I swear I’ll tear your leg off, carve your femur into a clarinet, and shove it so far up your tailhole you’ll belch polkas, you hear me?”

One of the tigers waved a clear sign of disrespect back toward Elbey without turning to look. The other did as instructed, and a rather distraught mooncat scurried into the kitchen with what little composure he had left. Elbey snickered. “Like I said earlier… firm, but reasonable.”

Falda said something about putting Eekay into perspective. I was too busy trying to get more alcohol into my system to respond.

  1. Eekay’s avatar

    Just in case anyone out there thinks I’m some sort of butter-belching bloat-beast for massing 120kg, I’ll remind you that I’m 210cm tall, and it’s all top muscle at that. You just don’t get more statuesque than me, it’s true.

    That mooncat was so rude….

    Reply

    1. Nicky’s avatar

      Lunarian customs are nutters, qiti. Yer all awesome in my book!

      Reply

    2. Nicky’s avatar

      Bah, lunarians have no sense of humor. You’re at least 125 Kilos of awesome (100, but then ya add 25 for the tail alone).

      Reply

    3. Krinn DNZ’s avatar

      I am amused at this interaction, although I should warn that disabling comments on any place you post this is probably a mistake.

      “The Humblest,” huh? Martian humor, I guess.

      Reply

      1. Rubin "Bell" Gloeckner’s avatar

        Actually, the took the name from the dome they all live in. The domes are all named stuff like “Humility”, “Patience”, “Mercy”, and so on through all the virtues that the Terrans hoped the tigers would somehow gain through osmosis. This lends some weight to the theory that the Wall was erected by one half of Terra to keep the other half from making any more similarly inane manouevres.

        Reply

      2. Channing’s avatar

        Loving the banter, as usual.

        Reply

        1. Yaz Lenslight’s avatar

          It’s like this all the time. I keep wondering what it’s like for team managers whose racers don’t bicker all the time. Then again, I kind of missed it….

          Reply

        2. Krinn DNZ’s avatar

          WordPress is neat, but seriously, Keet, posting your stuff at multiple places and trying to funnel all of the comments back here is a Bad Idea.

          This part may be idiosyncratic, but WordPress (a) doesn’t remember my login (b) doesn’t give me notifications of replies to my comments (c) sends me to your site’s control panel when I log in instead of directing me back to the page that I clicked the “log in” link from.

          FA and LJ get all three of those right. Guess where I want to read your story?

          Reply

          1. Electric Keet’s avatar

            I’d like to have the discussion about my Bad Idea elsewhere, if that’s all right, but I’ve added a feature which allows logging in and out directly on the page without being moved off of it. Sorry about not having that working before, and I know it needs some cleaning up visually, but I hope this will do the job.

            Reply

          2. Electric Keet’s avatar

            I think I’ve got e-mailed comment notification working properly also. Please let me know if you recieved an e-mail for this.

            Reply