A Patron upped their pledge; and, well, I like writing this series. So there. Remember: for every new pledge, people get a new installment until I hit $200/month, and then it becomes a weekly feature.
Beyond the hatch, the three first encountered -- a set of curtains. Heavy, but transparent; and cut in strips to allow movement. Moving through them proved easy enough, but they seemed to serve no real purpose.
Adam raised an eyebrow; Andy shrugged. “The strips deaden sounds,” he explained. “The Rangers weren’t joking about them skittering towards the sounds of screams.”
Samson moved ahead, clearing the curtains quickly, his weapons loose in their holsters. “I wonder how many fools died before the rest stopped trying to ambush the Patrol that way.”
“Less than you’d think, Samson,” said Andy. “Luna doesn’t let native-born idjits get old enough to try, and the ones we import usually get smacked upside the head by smarter criminals. Or just knocked over the head and fed to the honeypots. You ever see a squad of Rangers go get their buddies? Great fun to watch, if they ain’t after you.” A wolf, looking on peacefully at a pack of well-trained dogs as they took down a hyena, might have had the same benign expression on its face.
“I do not understand suicide,” mused Samson, “but I suppose that ambushing the Solarian Patrol at least commits it in a novel way. Do you know where we must go, Brother Adam? I assume down?” They had passed onto the obligatory maze of rough-hewn corridors, burned out of the Lunar rock and liberally smeared -- even down here! -- with the goo that kept micro-leaks down to something tolerable for men. The walls were still thick with graffiti, in every color and language (including some not from human hands); signs pointed everywhere, but quite obscurely to Samson’s vision. Then again, he walked with companions with more educated eyes.
Adam peered at the signs, visibly updating his knowledge of the markings. “Yes, on general principles, Brother Samson. As to which way to the ship touts? Best to take the black and yellow arrows to the central stairs, then move down three levels, and mind the scout for the ambush.”
“Starting to wonder when you’d see him, Adam,” said Andy calmly, his fingers relaxed and free of their coat. “He’s from one of the jimmie gangs. No offense, gentlemen.”
“None taken, Andy.” Samson’s voice showed dangerous amusement. “How many, do you think?”
“For three armed men, but only one Loonie?” Andy’s voice shrugged, while his body stayed quite credibly steady, for one so young. “Ten, at least. And a jimmie gang, they’ll pack guns. They got no Loonie mamas to spank them silly out of damfool ideas like that.” Andy’s eyes flickered, looking for side corridors and hatchways in the ‘ceiling.’ “They’ll try to hit us from above, of course.” His tone suggested that the last two words were a face-saving courtesy directed towards the admitted Earthmen.
Adam made a sound sounding much like a suppressed chuckle. “Do not sass your elders,” he said, with all the gravitas of a man who had yet to see his thirtieth birthday. “The venerable Elder Brother Samson” -- who was perhaps a half-decade older than Adam -- “and I know the tricks of a freefall fight. Shall we see if they do?”
“But of course,” said Samson, as the three of them moved towards the presumed ambush spot. “A wise traveler respects and follows the greeting customs of a new place, even if it be a hive of scum and villainy. No offense, Andy.”