Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The party

The cocktail party was being held in Lounge XII and there were security guards on the door checking people off the guest-list.  Anna sighed when she saw them, but set her face to calmly neutral with a hint of a smile on her lips as she got close enough for them to notice her.  Captain Leverel wouldn’t have asked for the security, nor would he have approved it if it had been run past him.  It would undoubtedly be the work of his social secretary, Michal Anrasmus, who was a greasy little pole-climber in her opinion.  The guards wore standard issue uniform in olive-green with orange splash-patches; camouflage for an environment you never found on board the ship.  To mark their duties for this evening though, they were wearing silver armbands on the right-arm, and their weapons were concealed well enough that Anna couldn’t spot them or bulges where they may might be.
“Dr. Lesjes,” said the guard on the right as she drew close enough that he didn’t need to raise his voice.  “You’re right on time, ma’am.”
The guard on the left, a woman she realised, held out a tablet.  “If you would be so good…?” she said, leaving the sentence dangling.  Anna forced the smile onto her face properly and rested her palm on the tablet.  After a moment it beeped, and the first guard produced a copper bracelet from somewhere and held it out expectantly.  After another moment wondering if she really wanted to do this Anna offered her wrist, and the guard placed the bracelet around it.  It was slightly heavy and cold.
“What’s this for?” she asked.  She’d been to cocktail parties arranged by Anrasmus before where the ticket, as she assumed this bracelet was, was needed to access various areas in the party room.  She’d quickly removed the ticket, which had been a brooch that time, to a pocket so that she couldn’t accidentally walk into any of his little attractions.
“Identification,” said the female guard looking beyond her.  Anna glanced back over her shoulder and saw a couple of senior engineering officers approaching the party.  She was pleased to see that they looked as wary about it as she felt herself.  “If you need to leave the party for any reason the bracelet is the only way to regain entry.”
“Right,” said Anna, nodding.  “That sounds… like Michal.”  Presumably this meant that he could throw people out if they didn’t want to join in whatever he’d planned this time.  “Thank-you.”
“Please go in,” said the first guard, gesturing to the door.  He clearly wanted to start processing the guests now almost behind her.  She moved forwards without answering him, as both guards were now occupied with greeting the new arrivals.  She found she had to push the door to Lounge XII open by hand, which surprised her, and that her bracelet warmed slightly and tingled when she touched the door.  Then she walked through into Michal’s latest notion of a cocktail party.

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