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By Sarah Hapgood

The morning they all docked in Aspiriola Glynis, in her pyjamas, appeared on the sun-deck of the yacht and waved a sheet of paper at Adam and Joby, who were waving back at her from the Indigo MKII. They had barely ascertained that she was trying to warn them of something, when a contingent of uniformed men emerged from the yacht, and walked along the quay towards the sloop.

"Oh dear", said Adam "Looks as though we're about to be inspected".

"What for?" said Joby.

"To make sure we're not carrying anything we shouldn't I expect", said "I hope your tomato plants pass muster!"

"We didn't have any of this trouble last time we were here", said Joby "We just walked in through the city gates".

"Ah but that was in pre-revolutionary days", said Adam "Shame. I was hoping we'd be greeted by hunky unshaven men in combat fatigues and berets, like Che Guevara, instead we get a lot of officious beaurocrats!"

"Hoping the rebels would take you in for questioning were you?" said Joby, suggestively.

Adam goosed him in reply.

"Good morning Mr Adam", said a plump man, well-decorated with pips, who saluted as he came aboard "I'm the Chief Constable of Aspiriola. It is my duty to search this vessel and question its crew before allowing any of you ashore".

"Oh very well", Adam sighed "What do you want to ask?"

"I understand you have homosexual tendancies", said the CC.

"Tendancies!" Joby guffawed.

"What on earth's that got to do with anything?" said Adam "Unless you've outlawed it since the Revolution!"

"No, but you must appreciate that I have to make sure you're not bringing any infectious diseases into the town", said the CC.

"I can honestly say, Officer, that I cannot for the life of me remember the last time I had sex with someone I barely knew!" said Adam "Everyone in Aspiriola is quite safe as far as I'm concerned. I'm not about to go on a sexual rampage!"

"And you can vouch the same for everyone on this vessel can you?" said the CC, with a touch of snideness in his voice.

"I can assure you we are all in the rudest of good health", said Adam "For the last few months we've seen no one but each other anyway. We are all clean".

"Yeah, it's even been a good few years since Hillyard had a bout of the clap!" said Joby, guilelessly.

"Joby, go down to the galley and do something useful", said Adam "Immediately!"

"Alright!" said Joby, and he moved away.

"I think you'd better come below to Julian, Officer", said Adam "He is the Captain of the boat".

Julian was standing in front of the full-length swing-mirror in the cabin, having his cuff-links affixed by a naked Bengo.

"Who the bloody hell are you?" said Julian, when the CC walked in.

"This is the Chief Constable of Aspiriola, Jules", said Adam.

"Well what's he doing in here?" said Julian.

"Come to inspect us, Jules", said Adam "Wants to know if we're planning to infect the whole town with syphilis".

"Bloody cheek!" said Julian.

"I'm only doing my job, Sir", said the CC.

Julian groaned, and then ordered Bengo to put some clothes on.

"Mr Codlik was most co-operative when we did his boat", said the CC.

"I bet he was, the little creep!" said Julian "He probably used to do all his class-prep on time too!"

"But then you expect an ex-President to have good manners don't you?" said the CC "Sound breeding always shows".

"Sound breeding?" Julian shrieked "He was hatched in a laboratory!"

"Like most of us were you mean?" said Ransey, coming into the room.

"Jules", Adam sighed "Horrible faux pas, old love".

"Hello Ransey", said the CC "Long time no see".

"Oh do you two know each other?" said Adam.

"Many years ago", said Ransey.

"Probably find they were at Stormtrooper Academy together!" said Julian.

"Let's start with this room shall we?" said the CC "Is this your only sleeping accommodation?"

"Yes it is", said Adam.

"ALL of you sleep in here?" said the CC, in astonishment "All..."

"Sixteen of us, that's right", said Adam "We're very democratic".

"Must make things nice and cosy", said the CC, as two of his assistants finished frisking the bedding and then the drawers in Julian's desk, taking lascivious delight in unearthing his reading matter and his punishment kit.

One of the men opened up a red velvet bag that had been lying on top of the desk, and tipped out Lonts's collection of little wooden bears.

"Oh do be careful with those!" said Adam.

"Someone has exotic taste in underwear", said the other man, holding up a pair of Tamaz's lacey drawers.

"Give them here", Adam barked, holding out his hand.

"Yours are they?" the man sniggered.

"If this inspection isn't carried out in a more professional manner I will demand a public apology", said Julian, shortly "I'd advise you to bear in mind that Codlik isn't the only ex-President around here!"

The CC, aware of the embarrassment this would cause, particularly as Kieran was greatly loved in the town, immediately pulled things into gear.

"Now you've finished sniggering over our lifestyle and our belongings", said Julian "I'll show you the hold".

"I wish Julian'd use a bit of his charm more in these situations", said Ransey, after Julian and the inspection party had left the cabin "He gets off on a wrong footing with them".

"He's never liked authority, Ransey", Adam sighed, collecting up the little bears "Particularly when it starts spouting rules and regulations at him. And at our age it's very distressing to have uniformed men burst into one's home and start rifling through one's things, and asking personal questions".

"It's the same for this old man too you know!" said Ransey, pointing at himself.

Later that morning a large contingent set off for the Governor's House, in an effort to persuade him to leave with his family when Brinslee would fly in later that day to collect them. The diplomatic committee was made up of Codlik, Glynis, Dolores, Adam, Julian, Ransey, Hillyard, Kieran and Joby. Finia, Mieps and Lonts were staying behind to mind the sloop. Bardin and the rest of the magnificent seven were free to do as they wished, as long as they avoided getting arrested this time!

In an effort to make up for the debacle of the inspection, and to show that the new order in the town were a very civilised, co-operative bunch who felt no vindictiveness at all towards the deposed Governor, the CC had arranged for 3 roomy, open-top carriages to collect the diplomatic committee from the promenade and transport them to the Governor's residence on the other side of town.

They set off watched by Bardin and the others, who had been leaning against the railings on the prom, eating sausage rolls and drinking coffee purchased from a street vendor. Before the carriages had appeared they had watched with horrified fascination as the Chief Constable's law-keeping men performed their highly-choreographed morning drill down the promenade.

"Look at those scruffy ragamuffins over there!" Adam laughed, sitting in the third carriage with Julian and Hillyard.

"Unsightly lot aren't they!" said Julian, and he waved at Bardin to come over.

Bardin handed his coffee to Bengo, and then finding he had no hands free to take his sausage roll, jammed it into Bengo's mouth, before coming over to them. Because of the usual congestion of traffic in the town the carriages were only moving at a crawl, and Bardin could hang onto the side of the carriage whilst talking to Julian.

"I hope I don't have to impress on you how important it is that you lot stay out of trouble today", said Julian "We can't afford to antagonise the new order here by any of your usual escapades. In particular, keep a close eye on Freaky and Hoowie. If it's not asking the impossible try and stay out of bars!"

"No one'll know we're here", said Bardin, reassuringly.

"Extremely unlikely, but try your best", said Julian "If there is any trouble at all I shall hold you entirely responsible, and then I should have to discipline you".

"Not with the cane I hope!" said Bardin.

"No", Adam chuckled "Jules would rather feel your neat little butt directly with his own hands!"

"Right I've said my piece", said Julian "Clear off now or everyone'll think you're begging from us!"

Bardin jumped down from the carriage, and sauntered back to the others.

"Where's my sausage roll?" he asked.

"Eaten it", said Bengo, bluntly.

"You greedy little ..." said Bardin.

"Well you shouldn't have stuffed it in my mouth then!" said Bengo.

"I've never heard you say that to him before!" said Rumble, dryly.

"So what are we up to now then?" said Farnol.

"We'll go for a walk in the Pleasure Gardens", said Bardin.

"That sounds boring", said Tamaz.

"Tough shit!" said Bengo "We're going for a walk in the Pleasure Gardens, so lump it!"

Tamaz yanked Bardin's cap down over his eyes, and then stormed off in the direction of the Pleasure Gardens. Unfortunately this did turn out to be boring. Since the Revolution anything of interest about the Gardens, such as the copious amounts of beer being served, and the nude wrestling, had been banned. Now it was simply a very formal set of gardens in which people could stroll. The only improvement was that women were allowed there now.

"I wish we were back at the Bay", said Hoowie, mournfully.

"Alright, we're going back to the sloop", Bardin sighed "It'll be a pleasure to leave Freak-Face to Mieps's tender mercies".

"Huh! He wouldn't dare mess me around at the moment", said Tamaz "After all that rubbish with Codlik, I heard Julian was threatening to give him a good flogging with the horse-whip!"

"Is that true?" said Bengo, his eyes wide with terrified astonishment "We're gonna have a flogging?!"

"No, Hillyard put a stop to it", said Tamaz, sourly "Said he's stage a one-man mutiny if Julian tried any such thing. He said he wouldn't treat an animal that way, let alone a human being. I pointed out Mieps wasn't a human being, not technically, so they could do what they liked with him".

"What did Julian say?" said Bengo.

"Told me to shut up", Tamaz mumbled.

"Best reaction to you all round that is!" said Bardin.

"That man should have a lighted stick of dynamite shoved up his backside!" said Julian, storming out of the Governor's gloomy residence, closely followed by Adam "That'd be the only way we're going to shift him!"

"I really don't understand him", said Adam "Everyone is knocking themselves out tryig to ensure him his safety and wellbeing, and all he does is keep wittering on about duty. And there's poor Brinslee arriving this afternoon too. He'll have had a wasted journey".

Hillyard walked behind them with his hands in his pockets, looking fed up. As did Dolores. Codlik and Kieran ("the two certifiable saints", as Julian had recently taken to nicknaming them) came out deep in conversation, whilst Ransey came out last, looking at them distrustfully.

Joby and Glynis hadn't gone in the building at all, but had sat on a bench outside, commiserating with each other over their respective partners and their insane desire to do good.

"We've done everything we can", said Hillyard "If he's such a wanker he won't get out when the going's good, then he can take the consequences".

"But the consequences could be terrible, if the new order get really brassed off with him", said Kieran.

"Yes and it won't be on our conscience, Patsy", said Adam "Because we'll have tried our best by him".

"What are those two doing?" said Julian, glancing over at Glynis and Joby.

"They're just talking that's all", said Adam.

"Joby looks as though he's about to pounce on her", said Julian.

"Well I wouldn't blame him if he did!" said Adam, looking at Codlik defiantly "She's a very attractive woman".

Codlik pursed his lips but said nothing. Kieran could sense immediately that they were just comforting each other, and thought it would be a good idea to reassure Joby that their trip hadn't been wasted.

"Joby!" he called "I've had an idea. Come over and listen to it!"

"I'm not interested!" said Joby.

"COME OVER HERE!" Kieran thundered.

Joby and Glynis gave each other a look of mutual longsuffering understanding, and slowly made their way over to the others.

"Yeah?" said Joby, belligerently.

"The idea is this", said Kieran "If sweet reasoning doesn't work then we make life more difficult for them. First of all, we get the water switched off here. Then we get some removal men over and get them to take out all the furniture, fixtures and fittings which don't legally belong to the family, and I suspect that's most of them. I strongly suspect they won't put up with living like squatters for long".

"You weren't a bailiff in a former existence were you?" said Julian.

"It's the only way", said Kieran "We can't carry them out, and we can't leave them here. They have to be made to see once and for all that they're not wanted here".

Over the next couple of hours Kieran and the others organised a team of removal men to come in and begin dismantling the fixtures and fittings around the Governor and his family.

By mid-afternoon Kieran was bored and depressed by the whole lot of them. He announced that he had done all he could and was going home. Joby was diverted away from one of the flower-beds, where he and Glynis were secretly trying to work out how they could make off with some cuttings.

"I'll come back with you", said Glynis "See what Leon's up to. Do you know where Codlik is?"

"Nope", said Joby "Leave him here. It'll do him good to wonder where you are!"

The 3 of them took one of the carriages back through the busy town. Kieran was cheered vociferously by all the people, who weren't put off by his stony countenance. Looking severe didn't do Kieran's image any harm at all as he got older. In fact it made him look like a stern, but kindly Father Superior. For a change it was Joby who was the jolly, smiling one, particularly as he was playing footsie with Glynis for most of the short journey.

"You can stop that!" Kieran barked.

A basket of live chickens got knocked over by the side of the road just as they went past. One escaped and nearly flew clumsily into the carriage.

"We should've been a bit quicker, Glynis", said Joby "That could've been tonight's supper!"

Kieran, his vegetarian principles outraged, gave him a thunderous look.

"Oh you're really getting on my tits you are!" said Joby.

"Now fellas, let's all be friends shall we?" said Glynis.

Back at the waterfront, she left them and went aboard the yacht.

"Are you going to calm down now?" said Kieran, fiercely "You've been acting like a 13-year-old kid who's just discovered girls for the first time!"

"We were just having a laugh that's all", said Joby "Neither of us plans to take it any further than just being friends. Both our lives are complicated enough already without that! God, can you imagine the hard time Tamaz would give me?! I'd have to buy him another fur coat!"

"I'm sorry", Kieran smiled "It must be spending several hours with the Governor and his brood. Their denseness must have rubbed off on me!"

"C'mon, let's go and have a drink", said Joby.

Adam located them about an hour later in one of the cafe-bars on the waterfront, a classier affair than most in that area, with plenty of trailing potted plants around and a pianist in the corner.

"This is all the thanks I get for my selfless devotion as your surrogate parent all these years!" said Adam, appearing at their table "You abandon me with the Governor's family!"

"I thought you being an old queer you'd enjoy talking to those dotty old aunts we found on the top floor!" said Joby.

"Thank you, but I'm not that kind of loveable, homespun old queer", said Adam.

"Oh you are, you are!" Kieran laughed.

"You try and be all decadent and sophisticated", said Joby, slapping Adam's backside "But you'd do needlework if you weren't frightened of being laughed at".

"Stop that!" said Adam, batting Joby's hand away "And for your information I've never felt the slightest urge to do needlework. I strongly suspect that's Julian's secret desire though!"

"Are you joining us for a drink?" said Kieran "They do iced coffees in here".

"O.K, but just one", said Adam, sitting down "I've barely seen anything of Lo-Lo today".

"He never changes so I don't expect you've missed anything", said Joby.

"I disagree", said Adam "Lo-Lo changes everyday. He is an endless source of delight".

"No he ent!" said Joby.

"When's Brinslee arriving?" said Kieran.

"He's been delayed by a couple of hours", said Adam "His air-buggy had trouble taking off at Port West".

"I'm not surprised, with him sitting on it!" said Joby.

"I hope he knows what he's doing, taking The Family in", said Kieran.

"Didn't Charles Manson nickname his followers The Family?" said Adam "Now I can see why! There always seems to be something horribly ruthless and sinister abut families and their dealings".

"We're not like that", said Kieran.

"No, but the ones we left behind were", said Joby.

"Adam!" Lonts burst into the bar, trailing Tamaz by the hand, and closely followed by Toppy, who looked like their own personal footman.

"Ah Lo-Lo", said Adam "I was just going to have one coffee and then I was coming home".

"He's lying", said Joby "He was actually gonna stay here for the rest of the night and get completely rat-arsed, but you've caught him out!"

"Tamaz is really upset with you, Joby", said Lonts, sternly "You abandoned him with the clowns all day whilst you went off enjoying yourself".

"Enjoying meself?" said Joby "With the Governor and his mob? Some hope! Anyway, I thought you lot were going out".

"There was nothing to do, so we went home", said Tamaz, sulkily.

"Well how was I spose to know that!" said Joby.

"You mean to say you all managed to stay out of trouble?" said Adam "Jules will be stunned to hear that!"

Brinslee arrived at nightfall and went straight to Codlik's yacht for dinner. He was planning to take The Family back to Port West with him in the morning. The Family were to spend the night at a hotel in the middle of town, heavily-guarded.

After dinner Brinslee came round to the sloop, to call on the Indigo-ites. Ransey and Finia watched him approach from the deck.

"I hope he doesn't start slobbering all over you again", said Ransey.

"That was years ago", said Finia, rolling his eyes "Don't start being silly about it. You're supposed to be the one round here with the most commonsense".

"I am the ONLY one round here with commonsense!" said Ransey "I sometimes dread to think what'll happen to the rest of you when I'm gone".

Finia groaned.

Brinslee came aboard and greeted them with his customary expansiveness, enthusing particularly over Finia's jewellery. Finia had taken to making his own jewellery at the Bay, deftly creating colourful necklaces and bracelets out of pebbles, seashells and bits of coral, which Adam had helped him decorate with delicate paintwork.

Ransey wasted no time in despatching Brinslee down below to see Julian, who had been in the cabin ordering Bengo and Bardin to do housework.

"But those aren't my toe-nail clippings!" Bengo wailed, when ordered to tidy up the offending articles on the floor.

"Just do it", said Julian.

"And I don't know why I'm doing this", said Bardin, who was busy with the carpet-sweeper "This is supposed to be Lonts's job".

"Lo-Lo's been busy helping Hillyard with the animals", said Adam, who was straightening out the desk drawers, which were still haphazard after the official visit by the Chief Constable.

"Get on with sorting the bedding out, Bengo", said Julian "I want that bed in an acceptable state before we kip down in it".

"I don't know what he's being so bad-tempered about", Bardin muttered under his breath "We stayed completely out of trouble".

"That's the problem", Adam laughed "He's most disappointed, Bardin. He hasn't got any excuse to feel your neat little butt!"

Bengo, who had been getting steadily entangled in a mass of duvets, tried desperately to fight his way out so that he could see Bardin get "punished". Adam unearthed him, pulling him out by the back of his t-shirt.

Bardin was shaking his backside at Julian, who was just about to reach across and grab him when Brinslee's dulcet tones could be heard in the corridor outside.

"Hello there!" Brinslee boomed, walking into the cabin with his arms outstretched.

He proceeded to enfold Adam and Julian in a huge embrace. When the exclamations of wonder at their reunion after so many years had been got out of the way, Brinslee turned his interest to Bengo and Bardin, whom Julian promptly ordered out of the room.

"Who's the ... er ... young blonde one?" said Brinslee, in the kind of shifty tone that illegal street-peddlars use "Haven't seen him before".

"Good grief, of course not!" said Adam, in astonishment "Brinslee, when on earth was the last time we saw you?"

"First Council of Governors' Meeting, at Woll's house, Christmas ... ooo, many years ago", said Brinslee.

"It must be", said Adam "Bardin's been with us for about 4 or 5 years now, ever since we set off to take Lady Red's jewels back to No-Name. He's an old childhood friend of Bengo's. Both of them grew up on the boards together".

"Another clown is he?" said Brinslee, raising an eyebrow suggestively "Interesting. How many of there are you on here these days?"

"Sixteen", said Julian.

A horrendous roar broke out in the corridor, as Lonts hurtled down it.

"Is that little Lonts?" said Brinslee, whimsically.

"Adam!" Lonts burst into the room "Come quick!"

"Aren't you going to say hello to Brinslee?" said Adam.

"Hello Brinslee", said Lonts, solemnly "Adam, you must come to the galley, now! Joby's really upset. Hillyard's said he's going to make some waffles!"

"There's no cause for alarm", said Adam "He can actually make waffles, provided he doesn't get the pan too hot".

"Go and keep an eye on him, Ada", said Julian "We've already lost one boat in a fire, I don't want to lose this one too!"

"I was ... er ... thinking of staying on in town for a few days", said Brinslee, once he and Julian were alone "I'll still send The Family to Port West tomorrow, but I might follow on later. This seems an interesting place. What about you?"

"We're going home tomorrow afternoon", said Julian, lighting a cigar "We've done what we came here to do, which seems to have been principally to appease Kieran's conscience! We'll set off at about 3, which'll give us 4 or 5 hours sailing-time before we need to anchor for the night".

"What are you nervous about?" said Brinslee "This has been a velvet revolution, no need to get jumpy".

"I disagree", said Julian "Yes, things are very stable at the moment, and the new regime seems very keen to impress on everyone how rational and fairminded it is ..."

"Well there you are then", said Brinslee.

"But there's an undercurrent to everything which makes me nervous", said Julian "I have a feeling that when this new regime really feels safe and confident with itself, we'll see drastic changes here. They've already developed a taste for banning things, which is never a reassuring sign in any government, and an excessive love of ritual and beaurocracy is also an ill-omen. I want us to stay well away from here from now on. Kieran is too potent a symbol, too high profile for any situation that may become volatile in the future".

"Now I want some syrup", said Hillyard "Go and fetch some from the hold".

Joby glared at him viciously with his one good eye, but nonetheless obeyed and went into the food-store where he found Bengo rogering Bardin over a barrel, whilst at the same time masturbating him with his hand.

"Oi!" Joby yelled "You little bastards, you're not supposed to do that in here, it's unhygenic. There's food around!"

Fortunately the clowns were both coming to a climax, and Bengo withdrew from his friend.

"We had nowhere else to go", said Bengo, breathlessly "Brinslee's in the cabin".

"So?" said Joby "You should've tied a knot in it until later!"

"Where's that syrup?" Hillyard roared from the galley.

"Hang on!" Joby grabbed the tin and stormed out.

Bardin was still sprawled forward over the barrel. Bengo pulled up his own shorts and then gently helped his friend stand up. At one time Bardin had had a very casual matter-of-fact attitude towards sex, it was simply something that had to be done occasionally for peace of mind's sake. But since becoming lovers with Bengo, he had tapped the core of the deeply intense side of his nature, and so now when Bardin had sex he threw himself into it so wholeheartedly that he was sometimes barely able to function rationally afterwards. This was one such occasion, and Bengo had to treat him as tenderly as a loving nurse with a particularly fragile patient. Bardin was actually shaking as Bengo kissed him all over his face.

A shaft of light fell into the room, as Adam appeared in the doorwawy. Bengo, convined they were about to be told off, apologised profusely.

"Well this is a pretty kettle of fish", Adam smiled "Jules will be delighted to hear about this, you can be sure of that!"

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