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The following morning Toppy nervously emerged from the tent, expecting endless ribbing from the others, only to find that most of them had gone off in the carriage to fetch Mieps from the hospital. Julian was sitting in a deckchair in his black silk pyjamas, looking out over the river and smoking a cigar. Adam was preparing kedgeree for breakfast over the camp-fire.
"Good morning", said Adam, when Toppy stumbled over to him "I hope you have a headache!"
"Adam", Toppy whispered "I'm a different person. I've lost my virginity!"
"Hm", said Adam, not in the slightest bit surprised "I suppose we should be grateful you and Tamaz didn't manage it in the ornamental pond!"
"Do I look different?" said Toppy, earnestly "Is anyone angry with me?"
"No, and no", said Adam "Although I can't say we'll be jumping with joy if you've managed to make Freaky pregnant, and neither will he I suspect!"
"We were careful", said Toppy, almost adding the fatal 'I think'.
The carriage returned soon after, and everyone spilled out.
"Is it true?" said Tamaz, marching up to Julian "Is it true you've banned us from the hotel?"
"I felt if I didn't ban you the Governor would!" said Julian.
Tamaz gave a petulant roar and hammered on Julian's arm with his fists, before storming into the tent, crying that he was treated like a worm.
"What the hell can we do with that kid?" said Bardin, crossly.
Julian looked at him with annoyance. Bardin's jealousy was becoming increasingly a nuisance, and if he persisted in getting worked up about Tamaz, then he was doomed to a wretched existence. Bardin had confessed to Joby recently (not without some degree of trepidation) that he couldn't cope with his love for Tamaz.
"It's not like the love I feel for Bengo", he had said "That's different, more solid. I thought I could just treat Tamaz like a chorus-girl, but everytime I see that extraordinary face I'm completely undone. I didn't think I was capable of such feelings".
(The immense magnetism of the Gorgon was working on in her offspring, it seemed).
"If you want to captain the under-30s", said Julian "Then you've got to learn some self-possession. These feelings will get easier to cope with. Ask Joby".
"Yeah they do", said Joby, who was helping Hillyard to unharness the horses "You go through a pain-barrier eventually, like I did, and then suddenly you're o.k. Not cured, but you get pragmatic about it I spose".
"Listen to Joby", said Julian to Bardin "He speaks sense. He's the only one of us who can completely control Freaky".
"But that's what I'm saying", said Joby "Once you've been through the pain-barrier it is easy to handle him. Just give him a good walloping if he plays you up, that's what I do".
"I suppose we're going to have to go through all this with Toppy now", Adam sighed, bringing some coffee over to Julian a few minutes later.
"Don't say that!" said Julian "We just have to be grateful that Bengo's too daft to have such fine feelings! Anyway, I've got good news for everyone. I've been saving it for this morning as a special treat".
"After your atrocious behaviour with the Kray Sisters last night I could do with cheering up!" said Adam.
"We both made a huge impression on them", said Julian, mischievously "I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to see us again!"
"Well count me out", said Adam "That Rosemary scares the life out of me. I keep having the unnerving feeling she's really Rose West! Seriously Jules, I don't think we should encourage them. It doesn't seem to matter to them one jot that we're both a pair of roaring old faggots living in a gay commune! They probably think they can reform us or something!"
"I expect they're really after Hillyard's loot", said Julian, candidly "I haven't the faintest idea why they didn't chat him up instead, except I expect he was too busy leering at the stewards to notice them".
"What is this treat then?" said Adam "And I hope it doesn't involve psychopathic old women".
"Only us, old fruit", said Julian "I think it would be a wonderful idea if we all spent the day at the Krindei races. It seems a shame now we're here not to visit the local tourist attractions".
He was gratified that Adam looked delighted by this suggestion.
"It'll be marvellous", Adam enthused "I'll get changed after breakfast. I really can't go in shorts".
"Well I wasn't really planning on going in my pyjamas", said Julian "Everyone'd think I was the ghost of Hugh Heffner!"
The others left the reception in the Governor of Krindei's race-side room and went down to watch the start of the first race of the afternoon. Adam got delayed talking to one of the ex-Ministry men, and when he went to leave found Bengo trailing behind him, looking forlorn.
"Now all this has got to stop", said Adam, in exasperation "All this nonsense between you young people".
"It's Tamaz ..." Bengo began.
"No it's not, it's Bardin actually", said Adam "He's had his first taste of sexual infatuation and he can't handle it. I can't say I have terribly much sympathy. His sort, with their insufferable take it or leave it attitude towards love, have always annoyed me. It's always nice to see their smug superiority getting its come-uppance".
Bengo looked wretched, and Adam realised his huge gaffe. He had been calmly discussing Bardin's love for another person in front of the man who was supposed to be his partner.
"People always dump me in the end", said Bengo, pitifully.
"No they don't", said Adam "Bardin's not dumped you. It's usually you who walks out on him! He's certainly not dumping you now either. He wouldn't know what on earth to do with Freaky if he got him full-time! Anyway that won't happen, Freaky belongs to Joby. You lot have got to come to an agreement on all this, just like we had to ... Oh Bengo, you are adorable".
Adam, like any other sane, healthy, red-bloodied person, would have been incapable of resisting Bengo at that moment. Bengo, whose pulchritudinous charms were always apparent, became even more so when he was grief-stricken and doggy-eyed.
"You're so cute", said Adam "If I was a few decades younger I would adopt you as my pet. I just want to kiss you".
Bengo flung his arms round Adam's neck and obliged him. They kissed for a sizeable length of time in that empty reception room, with the din of the race going on outside.
"Can't I be your pet?" said Bengo, eventually.
"You would be perfect", said Adam "But I'm too old for all that now, and Lo-Lo is the centre of my life. Now we must go down, and you must try and talk some sense into Bardin".
When they got to the area outside, Adam got caught up in a mob of fans and well-wishers, who had all been admirers of his since his Consort days. Bengo had never known him during that time, and he was unfamiliar at seeing Adam being treated by strangers as a person in his own right, and not merely as an appendage to Julian, Lonts or Kieran. It was quite fascinating in its own way. Adam had easily been the most popular President's Consort ever, although he would have agreed that most of the others had been too far back for anyone to remember! Joby had been admired and respected, but Adam had accrued a large and devoted following.
"There you are", said Bardin, catching up with Bengo at last.
"How did the race go?" said Bengo.
"Never mind the race", said Bardin, snappily "You've been kissing haven't you?"
Bengo's first impulse was to blurt out an astonished "How on earth did you know that?" Fortunately he with-held it, and assumed a more dignified stance of "So what if I have?"
"I thought so", said Bardin, triumphantly "You had that look about you. I know it well".
"Adam gave me a comforting kiss upstairs", said Bengo "Because I was fed up with you keep going on about Tamaz, as though he was the be all and end all of civilisation! Adam says it serves you right if you're sexually infatuated, and it knocks you off your stuffed perch!"
Bengo began to stride towards the main bar-area, which the others were also drifting towards.
"I can handle Tamaz", said Bardin, imperiously.
"No you can't!" said Bengo "You've met your match with him. You thought you could treat him like any old chorus-girl, but you didn't bargain on falling for him. Well as Adam said to me just now, you can't have him because he belongs to Joby!"
They passed the winner's enclosure, where Hillyard was congratulating the jockey, owner and the trainer. The horse though was alarmed by Mieps, who was standing nearby.
"Could you move away a bit, mate?" said Hillyard "Only the horse is upset by you. Sorry".
"Stupid beast", Mieps muttered.
The clowns followed him into the bar, which was dense with cigar-smoke. Tamaz was sitting in a chair near Kieran, chewing the end of his fur stole. He was still tired after the events of yesterday, and looked as though he wanted to cry or fall asleep. He was hardly in the right mood to pick an emotional showdown with, and the clowns realised this. Julian also looked out of sorts, even though he'd backed the winner of the first race. He'd decided to take everyone to the races because it had seemed such a fun thing to do, and also because he wanted to give a final "Up yours!" to the FFF before they went back to Toondor Lanpin. But after a short while there, he realised that he wasn't in the mood for all the noise and bustle, and that he didn't really want to see anyone outside the family.
"Julian", said Hillyard, coming into the bar "Do you want me to fetch the picnic-hamper from the carriage now?"
"No", said Julian, shortly "We're leaving".
"Eh?" said Joby "We've only seen one race!"
"We're leaving", Julian repeated "I find I don't feel in the mood for this after all. I suggest we go somewhere quieter for the picnic".
"Make your mind up", said Joby "We get herded about all over the place, whilst you decide what you want to do!"
"You can stay here if you wish", said Julian "I know how lucky you normally are when it comes to gambling".
Unsurprisingly Joby chose to leave with everyone else though. They took the carriage out onto a long deserted road, which ran northwards out of the town, into a bleak, unpopulated part of the world. The terrain here was flat and treeless, being mainly scrubland, with not a building or any other man-made structure to be seen. But after the heat of the town, the air was fresh and vibrant. There was a salty tang drifting up from the salt plains to the east. It was like being by the seaside, except there was no sea.
"Where does this road go to eventually?" said Lonts, once they had parked the carriage in the middle of nowhere.
"As it goes north, the City I suppose", said Joby "That would account for why there's no traffic along here. There wouldn't be any point anymore".
"Perhaps we should go see what's in the City", said Lonts.
"What, now?!" said Joby.
"Don't be silly, Joby", said Lonts, sternly "We haven't got enough supplies with us".
"There wouldn't be anything to see there anyway", said Joby "Nothing but rubble".
"But what if something came out from underground?" said Lonts "You remember all those tunnels Father Gabriel built under the Headquarters? Well what if he kept things down there we know nothing about".
"There wasn't anything down there", said Joby "He just liked to creep about in the dark that's all. If there had been anything, don't you think we migh thave seen it? We lived over it for long enough!"
"I suppose so", said Lonts "It's sad the way places just disappear isn't it?"
"All empires come to an end eventually", said Joby.
"But it wasn't so bad there was it, Joby?" said Lonts "I mean, we had good times in the City too, didn't we?"
"Yeah, I quite liked parts of it", said Joby "But it's all gone now, and it can't be got back".
"What do you want, Toppy?" said Lonts, irritably "We're talking".
"We're trying to get up a game of baseball", said Toppy "But Tamaz won't get out of the carriage. He seems distraught about something".
"You been propositioning him again?!" Joby joked "I'll go and see what's wrong".
Tamaz was lying on the floor of the carriage. His hair was drenched from where he had sweated so profusely in the heat, and his eyes were raw from crying. Joby wasn't unduly alarmed. Because he saw it for exactly what it was, a reaction to his abduction yesterday. In far too many ways, Noah bore a great resemblance to Father Dalmon, physically, and in many of his twisted ideas.
"Joby!" Tamaz wept "I need you. Keep me safe. Please. Please keep me safe! You didn't yesterday, you didn't!"
"I'm sorry", Joby held him close and whispered to him.
Joby did the best thing he could have done in that situation, he cried with him.
"I can't seem to stay out of trouble", Tamaz sobbed "It just happens".
"If people'd just ignore you, life would be a lot simpler", said Joby, putting his hands under Tamaz's armpits and hauling him into a sitting position.
"It all comes back to me at times", said Tamaz "All of it in the past I mean. Al the blood and destruction. All hate and fear. Dalman used to slap me round the face if I didn't answer him quickly enough, and sometimes I just couldn't give an answer because I was so confused. Oh I know I was wrong. I should've stood up to him, but I didn't have a single friend in the entire world. Everyone wanted me dead".
"Well that isn't true now", said Joby, firmly "But you are a little trollop. I wouldn't push Bardin much further if I was you, especially now he's been made deputy Captain".
"That's stupid", said Tamaz "Are you really going to do what he says if anything happens to Julian?"
"Course I ent", said Joby "It's only you little squirts that have to do that!"
"I refuse", said Tamaz, haughtily "I obey only you".
"That'll be the blinking day!" said Joby.
A makeshift game of baseball took place, the pace of which slowed considerably everytime it wsa Kieran's turn to bowl, as he insisted on doing a long-spin bowl, leaving the others to wait impatiently whilst he walked right off the "pitch" and then did a spindly skip back again.
"You wouldn't think the Irish would know anything about cricket would you?" said Julian, lying under a sunshade and watching the game with lethargic interest.
"I thought they were playing baseball?" said Adam, bringing the coffee-pot over "Do you want a top-up, Jules?"
"Pour it out and put it on the ground", said Julian.
"Yes your lordship!" said Adam, facetiously.
Julian rolled over and looked at him properly.
"I've got a confession to make", he said.
"Oh yes?" said Adam.
"I didn't drag us away from the town just on a whim", said Julian "I overheard a conversation in the bar back at the racetrack. Two idiots talking, both supporters of Noah and the FFF. Noah is being released on bail, he has the money and the influence to do so. But that's not all. Apparently he and the FFF are going to get Tamaz arrested for assaulting him. It's the chance they've been waiting for for a long time".
"But Tamaz was simply defending himself", said Adam.
"The facts mean nothing to them", said Julian "Noah has a big grievance against our Freaky. He didn't just refuse to tow the line, he made a public fool of him at the Festival, remember? Freaky's in grave danger".
"What can we do?" said Adam.
"I propose we hire a small air-buggy as soon as we get back to town and send him to Woll's place, it'll be much the safest location for him. It'll be easy to hide him there. We'll send Mieps and Hillyard with him as escorts".
"Tamaz won't go", said Adam.
"He won't have any choice", said Julian.
"Jules, he won't go!" said Adam "He won't leave Joby, and Joby won't leave Patsy, not if he thinks there's going to be more trouble".
"And I say he has no choice", said Julian, insistently "When we get back to town, he will leave if we have to bind him and gag him!"
In his heart of hearts Julian knew it wouldn't be easy to make Tamaz leave, but his anxiety for his safety over-rode everything. In actual fact it turned out to be downright impossible. Back in Krindei, Joby took Tamaz into the tent and tried to persuade him of the sense in going, but this proved to be rather difficult. A long, and at times violent, discussion took place between them. After a while Joby emerged from the tent, looking a broken man. He staggered to a deckchair and collapsed onto it.
"Looks like you're gonna have to tie him up", he said to Julian "'Cos he ent gonna go any other way!"
"I thought if anyone could make him see sense, you could", said Julian.
"I tried!" Joby exclaimed "I tried just about everything I could think of to make him go. I asked him nicely, I bribed him, I ordered him, I said I'd make it up to him, I used kisses and caresses, I shook him by the throat, I even put him over me knee and spanked him, quite hard too, but he wasn't having it!" Joby gave a wry smile "He's summat else and no mistake!"
"I'm not going", said Tamaz, coming over to them. He was rubbing his sore bottom as he spoke "And do you know why I'm not going?"
"Because you don't know what's best for you", said Julian.
Tamaz stood behind Joby and puthis arms round his neck lovingly.
"I'm not going", said Tamaz "Because Joby doesn't really want me to go. I can tell. Isn't that true, Joby?"
Joby gave an unintelligible groan.
"He'd be miserable without me", said Tamaz "Isn't that also right, Joby?"
Joby gave another unintelligible groan.
"Have you been getting lessons in obstinacy from Lonts?" Julian barked at Tamaz.
"We can't fight these jerks if we split up!" said Tamaz.
"He has a point there, Jules", said Adam "If we did send him away, Joby would only sepnd the whole time worrying about him".
"That's right", Joby agreed, despondently.
"If you let me stay", said Tamaz "I'll do everything Joby says, I promise".
Julian stormed over to the camp-fire, where the others were sitting in congenial groups. Adam went with him. Tamaz sat down gingerly on Joby's lap.
"You couldn't have coped with me going could you?" said Tamaz, quietly.
"No", said Joby "We've all gotta stick together. But Julian's furious with you. He's worried about you, and I don't blame him. Don't go doing anything more to upset him if you can possibly help it. You promise me?"
"Yes", said Tamaz "I told you, I'll do anything you say now".
"Just stay with us at all times, that's all I ask", said Joby "I don't wanna even think about what those Foundation idiots would do if they got hold of you now!"
Soon after this conversation Joby went to help Adam prepare the supper. Joby wasn't in the best of tempers, but this was inevitable. If Tamaz had gone, Joby would have missed him unbearably, but now he was staying the worry he felt for him was intolerable.
"I hope it's not going to be too long", said Lonts, who was hovering by the cauldron over the fire "I'm really hungry".
"You're always hungry", said Joby, sourly.
"Well he's got a lot of space to fill up haven't you, Lo-Lo?" said Adam, giving Lonts a squeeze.
"Yeah", said Joby "Mostly in his head!"
"I don't think that's very kind, Joby", said Lonts.
"If you don't get out of the way I'm gonna shove Snowy into the chicken gumbo!" said Joby.
"You wouldn't dare!" Lonts boomed.
"You just try me", Joby snapped.
"That is quite enough from both of you", said Adam "Lo-Lo, go and help Toppy lay the table".
The long, heavy trestle table was an unexpected gift from Governor Kredd. He had been disturbed to hear they were eating their meals sitting on the grass with the plates on their laps, and had sent some of his staff down to the site with the table and an adequate number of chairs. Such an unexpected kindness had been exceptionally heartening to the Indigo-ites, who were rapidly beginning to believe that everyone in Krindei was a closet supporter of the FFF.
"It's going to be a nice evening", said Ransey, in passing "Should be a good sunset".
"Yes", said Adam, tiredly "I shall look forward to that!"
"I'm not sitting next to Joby", said Lonts, picking up his plate and moving further up the table.
"Well that suits me just fine!" said Joby "I won't have to put up with you nicking food off me plate!"
"No one's eating tonight", said Kieran, appearing on the scene.
"Patsy", said Adam "I wondered what on earth had happened to you. Yor walk seems to have lasted a long time".
"We have to get out of here now", said Kieran "Governor Kredd's lending us his own personal air-buggy. Noah's out of the jug. He and his friends have got this town sewn up. They're intending to get Tamaz done for serious assault, and the murder of Gorth".
"But they can't", said Adam "You still have the power to over-turn any convictions".
"No I don't, that's the point", said Kieran "Not anymore. They're arguing that my rights to that were abolished when the City was destroyed, and the power of the Ministry destroyed with it. Look, we can argue the rights and wrongs some other time. But if we don't get out of here soon, Tamaz is going to end up in the Port West prison. I need hardly say what kind of life he would have in there, at the hands of the other inmates!"
"It would be terrible", said Adam "Well it looks as though we'll have to leave the chicken gumbo over the fire!"
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