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* Update 28 July 2008 *
These stories may depict mature situations
The Coral Curtain
An Entertainment by Simon Barber
|(From a report by
Nancy Rote: Character sheet
Species: squirrel. Age: 18 on arriving on Spontoon. Pale yellow-white fur, golden head-fur worn in a bounce cut. Eyes: blue. Athletic figure, medium height for a squirrel.
Nancy was a typical girl of a well-to-do family in the Mid-West, who like at least one youngster per small town per generation was a peerless sleuth and made amateur detection her life’s work. Well-known and respected by the local police of Riverview, she had cleared up many cases for them, putting many dangerous criminals behind bars and unmasking many bizarre conspiracies.
Unfortunately, even criminals have friends, and rather more have allies, confederates and business associates who do not take kindly to having their co-workers jailed and their expensive plans ruined. Nor do they play by the rules.
Amateur sleuths are not popular amongst the underworld; the Police at least are just doing their job, with an amateur it’s always personal. The local newspapers report that Nancy was kidnapped for a month but escaped, and after some time recovering in hospital she decided to study overseas at Songmark, where she would learn all the necessary skills to be an International Sleuth. She may have less of a passion for aviation than most students, but as she says “crooks have planes these days” and being able to pursue them is a skill she has decided she will need.
There is an awful lot that the newspapers did NOT say, and in fact Nancy is never going to be quite the same again. She recovered from her physical injuries but feels herself something of a social pariah; this is one of the reasons she left her beloved home town to travel to the far side of the planet far from anyone who knew her in her old life. She has acquired a burning hatred of crime quite different from anything in her original amateur sleuth days, and approaches the subject with a religious fanaticism. Her former faith was eroded by her experiences. On occasion this makes her very uncomfortable company; whereas before she was scrupulous about supporting the Law, she now has an obsession with Justice. (Example hint: with someone who had personally witnessed pirates or slavers at work but had no means of proving it in court, a purely Law supporting character would regretfully have to let them escape. A Justice supporter might get busy with the limpet mines given the chance, provided no innocent bystanders were in the way.)
When not otherwise engaged, she can be found in the Euro parts of Casino Island, enjoying the company of the more refined visitors, especially in commercial and diplomatic circles. She came equipped with a full set of testimonials and letters of introduction, and with tact and good manners has become something of a hit with the Embassy staffs.
Although Nancy has convinced herself she can never be part of “polite society” again, she upholds all its values and remains a polite, socially respectable girl as far as she can. Only when crime is mentioned does she start to lose her composure, slipping into the role of an increasingly deadly huntress. That is one of the things that has changed since her capture. Although she would never willingly discuss it, another thing that happened then is her acquiring certain tastes that she knows are quite incompatible with being a Good Girl ever again…