BOOK ONE - DIE!
Jus’ call me Al. Al… Al,
from down the hall, Gemini Hotel. Jus'
Al. Retired man... lemmesee...
twenty-eight soylers from civiservice…maybe
thirty now, dunno. More'n
three solar years to a
, that's my room now. Could tell you things. I know things! History! Centuries gone, the jammin' galaxy colonized… a little ratbite here, a little there…and it's the same pluds running the circus. Regents will say it aisn't so, point to this or that freak in a Ministry, but nobody thrusts 'em. When they learned how to ride snakes, back when, suddenly when we went from too many people to not enough, and not an intelligent alien hand anywhere to help out…no life, truth be told, bigger than bugs… and some of 'em right-nasty bugs, too! Eight and a half centuries since Dispersion and nobody out here to play with. So the splicers in white coats as they wear in the old pictures started putting parts of animals in some people so we'd grow up faster, work harder. Got a bit of hound in me, like to think I maybe can sniff things out better than pluds. Information... that's power, yannow?
Turpin wasn't very bright, but he was a good kid. Shame 'bout what happened to him - but you learn to keep rawt' to yourself, if you want to get by. Lived down the hall, over there, by the dumpchute. Broonze…that was just strange, what happen to him. Strange! You could live to be a hunnert and twenty on Doobydie, a hunnert fifty, even, and some things you never could explain. I don't even try anymore, see, just keep my eyes open, mouth shut and my dukes up. Can take care of myself, I can, pretty much… when I keep to the neighborhood. Baawl's a rough place, but we got justice here. Pluds don't unnerstand that, but we do.
Look at the rawth fell over Turp and Broonzy when they got to Die! Happens at Spaceport all the time; rest of the Spaceports all over the galaxy too, I guess. Gumments holding each other's cargo hostage, messing up lives (which is the prime directive of gumments, every where and every form). Bunch of sick jims, them Regency, an' all them corprocacies too, always testing each other, changing the rules. Full o'rawth! Always been that way, always will. To shank the workin' man, all what it is. Most of the transport companies not owned by local Regents, their friends or relatives pay off the pluds; taxis also, that's why the Spaceport's so far out of Tao City that the Mag don't go there... anyway, did I tell you? I'm Al. Just Al... from down the hall... just nobody. Nobodies here, what the Andromeda was all about. An' once in a while, excitement... when Johnny Law shows up an' takes somebody away. I mind my business, that's all. You mind yours and you'll do alright. Or not. They come for you, you're jammed... deservedly or not. Pluds got their justice, we got ours. Wouldn't live any other place than the heart o'the Baawl, though, not even if you gave me a one-way ticket to Terra. Not ol' Al, I wouldn't. Know my place. Galaxy colder than a heather's smile to them as never come to some sort of an unnerstanding of their place.