“And where location do you desire after?” the green being said, in something that might not have been rather mediocre Scentian. Her lips were thin and hard and clacked together when she closed them. Her rather tatty blouse and creased grey skirt gave the impression of someone who’d been on the Hub for quite some time.
“Doctoring,” Ennet said, with a curt nod. Janny presumed this meant medical, where his memories would be taken away with… he didn’t even know what with.
The green being looked him up and down, but he didn’t say anything. She must have taken that as assent, because the next thing she said was something about the third door on the right. Ennet and Grescin nodded at her, said “gratitude”, and started to lead Janny between the rows of beings and desks.
Janny stumbled. He’d forgotten to move one of his legs and fallen behind Grescin, who’d linked arms with him to lead him along. But suddenly, unbidden, the word want came into his mind. He knew what he wanted. He glanced at Grescin, who was frowning with nervous eyes at him, glancing at the ground then back up. Then he looked at Ennet, who was also frowning, but with considerably narrowed eyebrows - thick bushy eyebrows of a kind Janny had rarely seen on a Daerian of any nationality. He ran left.
Running through a crowd is usually very easy for a Daerian, even one as inexperienced with running at all as Janny. The Daerian form is so malleable that they can slip through the tiniest gaps between elbows and ribs, even slipping between legs if it comes to it. But when a Daerian is being chased by two other Daerians, then it looks more like an underwater chase of giant red eels, startling every poor trout who happens to be passing by. Unfortunately for Janny, the eels chasing him were much more experienced in the field of physical exercise.
He could hear them behind him by the shouts from the crowd. People who’d just managed to get back to their business suddenly having their clipboards knocked right out their hands, paws and claws again.
It was there, the third door on the left was right there, when he heard two distinct shouts - the only voices he’d heard for hours - right behind him. He cried out louder than he ever had before - something, something about the whole ridiculous day he’d had insisted that it shouldn’t end like this, shouldn’t be erased. He whirled around, tears springing to his eyes and chis cheeks flushing purple, as a third voice cried out. He couldn’t see Ennet and Grescin properly, not past the minty green of the being who’d done their confirmation check. She was standing right in front of Janny, between him and his pursuers.
She had her back to him and her arms spread out wide.
“Now listen here! Maybe you didn’t understand me before so I’ll try Endoleon, much better than my Scentian!” the green being snapped. Janny breathed a sigh of relief to hear a familiar language. “I asked you if this being consented to the memory treatment and gave them a chance to object. Oh, don’t tell me, they don’t speak Scentian at all!”
“Might as well not…” Ennet muttered.
“Hush!” The being raised a stiff index finger. “Confirmation revoked! Please proceed to the nearest holding room. Ironically this can also be found down a corridor through the door third on your right!”
The being’s voice reached a piercing pitch at the end of her proclamation, and her whole arm went stiff, pointing all the way towards the other side of the hall.
Ennet sighed the most bored sigh Janny had heard yet. Grescin bit into her lip and looked down at her side. Janny heard a tap-tapping sound but the green being’s body was in the way. Still, he was sure he knew what it would be.
“Oh for pity’s sake,” the green being muttered. She produced a tiny black square from her skirt pocket and clicked an even tinier black button in the centre of it. A bright circle of blue emanated outwards, causing a beam of light to flash up towards the ceiling directly above where Ennet’s gun probably was.
“Well,” Grescin said, clapping her hands together, “That is a pretty nice radius disabler. What do you say, En, holding rooms?”
Ennet said nothing, but hung his head and turned away. Grescin waited behind as he walked off.
“Do you resist?” the green being asked, leaning forward to tower over Grescin.
Grescin peeped her head out to catch Janny’s gaze. “No. Just… fair play, Janny.”
“Fair… fair play,” Janny said, his voice thin and shaky.
Grescin nodded and followed Ennet swiftly through the crowd, which had now come to a standstill to watch the day’s drama. The green being turned back to Janny.
“My name is Odela. Please tell me you speak Endoleon,” she said, the stiffness of her posture dissolving as the crowd started to go back to its business.
Janny spoke a little louder to make sure he was heard over the renewed buzz of conversation. “I’m Fladian. But yes, I am fluent in Endoleon.”
Odela gasped, then smiled. She said in Fladerian, “My brother-in-law is Fladian! I don’t suppose you know Upumsel Grieng?”
Janny focused on getting his breathing back to normal as Oleda led him through the third door on the left. He’d got what he wanted; he could relax. Well, what he’d wanted was to lie back on the window of the Scentians’ craft and see what he could see outside, but he’d settle for the third door on the left.