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The arrest and temporary imprisonment of the BBTTs boosted the standing of the Indigo-ites in Aspiriola no end. Up until now no one had known what to make of them. The fact that Kieran had abdicated the Presidency was incomprehensible to them, as their own Governor had declared himself to be in the job for life, and had so convinced them of the properness of this that any other way now looked completely unworkeable. Also the fact that Hillyard was one of the world's richest men, and yet he and his family chose to live like gypsies, was incomprehensible too. The Governor had, over many years, accrued a great deal of wealth too, usually from things that rightfully belonged to the people of the town, but again no one complained, and he and his family lived in considerable style. It was what was expected of rich people, apparently.
Things weren't as rosy as the Governor and his family in their ivory tower liked to believe though. There was a lot of resentment of their wealth, and their remoteness. They rarely ventured into the town, and when they did (and they made it perfectly plain it was only out of a sense of duty) they spoke to their people like aliens from another planet observing quaint Earthling customs.
Over the years the Governor's offspring and various relatives had been involved in minor skirmishes with the law, usually involving drunkenness, but occasionally emcompassing shoplifting (one aunt was a notorious kleptomaniac) or vandalism as well. Money was pressed on the law or the victims. Pompous statements were issued by a spokesman talking of "a regrettable incident" or a "misguided act". And then everyone had to forget about it. No member of the Governor's family ever served even an hour in the Criminals' Compound for their misdemeanours. The Town Guardds had to take an "indulgent view", and like well-meaning fools they did.
The four younger Indigo-ites had been involved in a bar-room brawl. From a moral and sensible viewpoint, they weren't to blame. The daft and archaic rules of the licensed premises were to blame. Nevertheless, some of the more conservative and blinkered members of the public argued, they had still caused a public disturbance.
For which they spent a few hours in the Criminals' Compound, and Adam and Hillyard, however reluctantly, had gone through the proper procedures to free them. There had been no pressing of notes and coins into sweaty hands, no whispered pleas to "keep this quiet". What really swung the popularity stakes in their favour though had been Adam publicly smacking the clowns for their behaviour.
"They obviously don't know about you and Julian's love of corporal punishment!" said Ransey, as he and Adam bought some fruit for breakfast the following morning.
"Don't knock it, old love", said Adam "This is my moment of glory!"
Bardin wasn't a happy bunny though. This wasn't because of his chastisement, he had rather enjoyed that. Up until recently he had looked on Kieran's habit of flagellation as being simply one of the Vanquisher's many eccentricities. But he had lately come to see his view that it was a way of purging the soul. Adam whipping his backside with his hand meant he didn't have to blame himself too much for the debacle of the evening. He didn't have to mentally beat himself up over it, which was a far more degrading and dispiriting process.
He was furious though that Tamaz and Toppy had escaped retribution completely, and this was entirely due to that interfering do-gooder, Lonts. Lonts had decreed that Toppy couldn't be held responsible for anything as he was an imbecile, and none of it could possibly be Tamaz's fault.
"It was all the fault of those men in the bar", said Lonts "I have never heard of such terrible drunken behaviour before, not even in Kiskev!"
(It was far too disturbing to speculate what would have happened to a woman in a roomful of drunken Kiskevians!)
Bardin had taken offence at all this the following morning, and had stormed off in a huff. Julian ordered Bengo, Tamaz and Toppy to go after him, and had cracked the horse-whip to reinforce his command.
"Piss off, you lot", Bardin snarled, as they followed him through the bustling streets "You're giving me the irrits".
"I don't know what you're narked about", said Tamaz.
"You defied me last night, that's what I'm narked about!" Bardin cried, in exasperation "If you hadn't defied me, none of it would have happened!"
Tamaz knuckled his eyes in sorrow.
"And you needn't think I'm falling for that one!" said Bardin "I've seen chorus-girls use more subtle tricks!"
Bengo and Toppy gave Bardin a look which clearly said "You rotten swine!"
"I notice he's quick enough to act girlie when it suits him!" said Bardin "Oh come on, let's go and get a beer".
He led them to a pavement cafe, and ordered 3 iced beers. They had barely sat down when a horse-drawn rickshaw pulled up, containing Adam, Kieran and Joby.
"You'd better come with us, you vile, loathesome little beasts", said Adam "The Governor has decided to notice our existence, thanks to your exploits last night, and has invited us over".
Tamaz and Toppy were invited to sit in the rickshaw with the others, but the clowns had to sit on the parcel-shelf attached to the back, which made for a nerve-wracking and bumpy ride. Tamaz had a much better deal of it. He sat on Joby's lap, and relished the feel of his arms around him. He wanted the ride to go on forever.
With everyone in a thoroughly bad temper, they set off for the Governor's Palace, which was reached tortuously through many dark streets, and was finally found hidden behind a tall set of black iron gates.
It's pointless to dwell too long on the Governor and his family. They were a lazy, corrupt, selfish lot, and terminally boring with it. The Indigo-ites were actually summoned to see them in a "presence chamber", something that Kieran had never expected from a Governor before.
Up until now he had been prepared to be indulgent with the Aspiriola Governor. He admired the way he had kept his wife and children shielded from the Ministry. But that was then, and this is now. Since the world had emerged blinking into the sunlight, the Governor had taken advantage of the collapse of the old world order to effectively make himself Governor For Life, enabling him and his mediocre, moronic tribe to live off the fat of the land.
The Presence Chambe was a small room done out to look like an enormous one. Marble pillars abounded, and the ceiling was painted to represent the night-sky, complete with stars, moons and comets. It was a heavily stylised, but exquisite piece of work, and Adam longed to return to the Indigo MKII and paint the ceiling of their cabin in the same way.
The Governor and the Governor's Wife sat on two throne-like chairs on a raised dais, flanked by their innumerable children. For all this pomp and grandeur, they could at least have been impressive-looking people. But not a bit of it. The Governor was old and shabby, and his wife was a rather cross-looking woman with iron-grey hair cut short in an unflattering style. Their sons were completely gormless and insignificant. Their daughters looked like the pod people from 'Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers', only before they were fully developed. Bloodless and in some cases downright ugly, they wore simple white silk gowns, which would have looked breathtaking on a row of beautiful women, but on them only added to their nothingness. They really were a depressing family.
A steward in full livery crept obsequiously up onto the dais and handed the Governor a slip of paper. He then bowed and crept back down again backwards, nearly tripping himself up on his black silk robe.
"Which one's the Vanquisher?" said the Governor's Wife, peering at them through her lorgnette.
Adam tried desperately to stifle a giggle, and didn't quite succeed. The situation reminded him so much of 'Alice In Wonderland' that he almost expected her to roar "Off with his head!"
"It um ... it um ... says here", said the Governor, fiddling with the slip of paper "That you've come to see me".
"That is correct", said Kieran, with mock-gravitas.
"You sent for us actually", said Joby, who was beginning to have the horrible feeling that he was being entombed alive.
"We had no idea you were coming on an official visit", said the Governor's Wife, fretfully "People normally inform us first you know!"
"It wasn't an official visit, Ma'am", said Julian "We never go anywhere officially these days. We simply turned up in Aspiriola on spec".
"We actually weren't going to come and see you at all", said Adam "If the babies hadn't got into trouble with the law last night, you would never have known we were in town".
"Has that all been sorted out?" the Governor snapped.
"Yes, quite adequately", said Julian "We would have left them in the Compound a lot longer, but we didn't think that was fair on the other internees. They were already suffering enough!"
"Bengo and Bardin would have probably started entertaining them!" Adam laughed.
"Poor sods!" said Joby.
"I suppose now they're here we'd better give them tea", said the Governor's Wife "And they're bound to eat all the last of the chocolate cake too!"
"No, we're not here for tea", said Kieran "Actually we've come for the Haily Grail".
The other Indigo-ites were far more shocked than the Governor and his family, who treated his request as an irksome favour. Working on the principle that the sooner he was given it, the sooner he would be gone, the Governor directed a steward to take Kieran to the strong-room.
This was located in the depths of the house, and was where all the Governor's wealth was stored, much of it steadily pilfered over the years from the town and other areas he had visited. Gorgeous gems hidden out of sight in this dark, windowless room.
Kieran took Joby and Adam with him into the strong-room, both of whom were baffled and annoyed with him for springing this development on them. The Grail sat in pride of place in the centre of the room.
"Is that it?" said Joby, unimpressed "Is that what we've come all this way for? Is that our prize? It looks like something out of an Argos catalogue!"
"The sort of tacky free gift insurance companies used to give away", said Adam.
"It's the Holy Grail!" said Kieran, in exasperation.
"We know what it is!" said Joby "I read a book about it once, which is more than you ever did!"
"Then you'll know how special it is", said Kieran "I wanted to bring you here, to show you that this is what you deserve. People have searched for this for centuries".
"Yeah, including the Nazi's", said Joby "From what I read they believed only those of pure, Aryan blood were allowed to drink from it".
"For them, it illustrated what they saw as the truth of all their beliefs", said Adam "Sometimes Patsy, you sorely overestimate people. Not everyone is as good as you. For every spiritual person like you, there are 3 like my Father! Tyrannical power freaks who want to repress and control everyone else".
"But I can't go around thinking humans are naturally bad", Kieran protested "That's what Pol Pot believed!"
"I'm not suggesting that at all", said Adam "I don't believe people are naturally bad, quite the reverse. True evil is relatively rare, and most of the time badness is just a result of environment or ignorance. Given the best environment for everyone, I believe most people would be naturally good. Sadly, it's the bad 'uns who ruin it for all".
"We were meant to find it though", said Kieran "Don't you see?"
"No", said Joby, stubbornly.
"We came into this world as a 3", said Kieran "Three is a powerful, mystical number. Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. It also represents the human family, Father, Mother, Child".
"You must be the child then", said Joby, witheringly.
"Yes, I expect I am", said Kieran, undaunted.
"So what do we do with it now we've found it?" Joby sighed.
"Destroy it", said Kieran.
"Patsy!" said Adam "Why?"
"Because I believe, and I know this is taking a lot on meself, but I believe it's what is needed", said Kieran "What Joby said about the Nazi's focussing on it is true. Evil like that always believes in its own purity. The FFF believed in their own purity, that's why they wanted to destroy anyone who was different, like us. And they were just the last in a long line of Nazi's, other Fascists like the Klu Klux Klan, the British National Party, all believing that theirs' was the true, right, pure way".
"But destroying the Grail is not going to wipe out bigotry, Pats", said Adam "I expect it will always crop up in one form or another".
"I know, but it'll help us make a lasting stand against it", said Kieran "It's a symbolic gesture. We can ony hope it'll work. We have to see an end ot organised prejudice, to this mad belief in purity of breeding, once and for all. That's the final irony, you see. That it's me who does it. I'm 'blondie blue-eyes', as the note called me. I look like a focking Aryan!"
"No you don't", said Joby "You're too short and scrawny for that. To be a Fascist, you have to be tall and built like a racehorse, like Adam".
"Oh so I look like a Fascist now do I?" said Adam.
"I was just using your looks as an illustration", said Joby.
"The biggest irony of all was that Hitler was dark-haired!" said Adam "He wanted to create a master race of tall blondes, and he was a short brunette!"
"Who sent you that note, Kiel?" said Joby, suddenly.
"I don't know", said Kieran.
"Yes you do, you lying sod!" said Joby.
"Honest, I really don't know", said Kieran "But whoever it was I instantly trusted them. We'll just have to guess about it for a while, won't we?"
Kieran took the Holy Grail to the harbour and, watched by an enormous crowd, hurled it out into the sparkling blue sea. Not everyone got the gist of what he was doing, but a large cheer went up all the same. Some of them saw it as him having an almighty dig at the Governor's obscene wealth. Within a very short space of time, incredible as it may seem, Aspiriola, which for years had merely grumbled about the unfairness of their system, was on the brink of revolution.
This was tiring news for Kieran, who could suddenly foresee himself spending an age in Aspiriola, putting things to rights. He ran back to the teepee, pursued by a mob of adoring fans, who all tried to claw at him as though they wanted to remove scraps of his skin for souvenirs. Some even followed him into the teepee, but these were removed by Tamaz, who ejected them with a great vehemence.
"Yeah, so what if I am a freak?" he said, in answer to one of their insults "I'd rather be that than like you! After all, no one'd pay to look at you would they!"
Kieran had been clinging to the tent-pole in the middle of the teepee. After the townspeople had gone he collapsed onto his bed-roll.
"Are you o.k?" said Tamaz, kneeling down down next to him.
"We freaks have to stick together!" Kieran smiled.
"Well no one else'll stick up for us", said Tamaz.
Joby came into the teepee.
"Where did you get to?" said Tamaz.
"I got separated from you in the crush", said Joby.
He sat down on his sleeping-bag next to Kieran.
"Everything alright, Patsy?" said Adam, the next one to appear.
"I think we could all do with a cuppa", said Joby.
"I was thinking much the same thing", said Adam "Freaky, take the big jug and go and fetch some water from the pump".
"I hate carrying that thing when it's full", said Tamaz "It tears my arms off!"
"Go and fetch it", said Adam, firmly.
Tamaz left the teepee and collected the large enamel jug. The water-pump which serviced Beggars' Alley was located just inside the gateway to the Pleasure Gardens. He filled the jug laboriously, and had just picked it up when he was goosed suddenly from behind.
"What did you do that for?" he squawked at Julian, his attacker "I've spilt half of it. Now I've got to fill it again!"
"You sound like Adam", said Julian "Come and sit here with me on this bench. I want to talk to you".
"You mean you're going to have a go at me about last night", said Tamaz, sulkily "None of it was my fault".
"Yes it was, actually", said Julian "You shouldn't have defied Bardin".
"Why have we all got to obey him?" said Tamaz "He's only been with us for 5 minutes".
"He's been with us for 3 years", said Julian "And he's very responsible, he has good judgement, and he looks out for you".
"Now you just sound boring!" said Tamaz.
"Oh well", Julian sighed "I'll just have to punish you then. Mieps is right, it's the only language you understand".
"Not here!" Tamaz cried, going hot and cold at the thought of it "Please! Oh you men with big cocks are always so cruel!"
"What about hermaphrodites with little iddy-biddy ones?" said Julian, as Tamaz climbed onto his lap and nuzzled against his chest.
"When are we going home?" said Tamaz, plaintively.
"Very soon", said Julian, kissing his hair.
"I'm worried about the little blonde guy", said Tamaz "It's not easy for him when the jerks all start surrounding him like they did earlier".
"Well look at it this way", said Julian "At least after this he'll be easy to control in future. He'll happily settle for a quiet life at the Bay".
"I think that's what he's always wanted", said Tamaz.
Bengo came through the gates, and seemed to raise the temperature in the Gardens even higher. He was barefoot, and wore only a pair of baggy dungarees and a straw hat. His bum cleavage was causing great excitement.
"Adam wants to know where the water's got to", he said, lazily scratching his nipple.
"We're going to have to use it to put out the fire you've just started!" said Julian.
Bengo looked blankly at him.
"You really can't see the commotion you cause sometimes can you?" said Julian.
"Only when I'm on stage", said Bengo "That's the only time Bardin approves of me getting noticed!"
"I knew I was right to appoint Bardin in charge of you lot", said Julian "I do so approve of submission!"
Tamaz spat with exasperation.
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