Jerry looked back and forth in disbelief between the man and woman that stood in his way. He was running late for a meeting on the 5,244th floor of a building that was literally on the other side of the planet. Normally the EFT (standing for Excessively Fast Train) would get him there in a little over half an hour, then the express elevator could get him to the conference room in about 10 minutes, and he would be walking in within 5 minutes of the start of the meeting. This was a discrepancy that might go unnoticed. If this pair of hooligans didn’t let him pass, though, he’d miss the EFT and be an hour late, or more, which would be unacceptable. He had gone to such great lengths to ensure that the investors from earth felt comfortable, even donning the traditional piece of formal-wear that held their businesses together even to this day: the neck-tie. If he showed up an hour late, though, no matter how well he had prepared his presentation, it wasn’t going to look good.
“This is ridiculous,” Jerry stated, trying to step around the two of them, “get out of my way.”
“’fraid I can’t do that,” said the woman, stepping into Jerry’s way, “It’s the rules.” She was about Jerry’s height and he thought that maybe, if push came to shove, he might come out on top of a tussle if it were just the two of them, but the man that followed her like a shadow was about twice too large to be so.
“Yeah,” said the huge man with a grin that betrayed not an ounce of understanding for the world around it, “the rules.”
Though intimidated, Jerry wasn’t about to show any fear, that would only make things worse. “I don’t have time for any games I need to-”
“You hear that, Drummy?” asked the woman, without taking her piercing yellow eyes off of Jerry’s, “Mr. Business here’s too busy for rules.”
“Tisk, tisk,” replied the deep grumbling voice from the mountain of a man, who it appeared was called Drummy. “Never too busy for rules.”
“What rules?!” Jerry asked throwing his hands up, “I haven’t broken any rules!”
“Drummy, you want to take this one?” asked the woman.
“Article 4, section 18.104.22.168-3 paragraph 6, line 9 of the New Terran Settlement Constitution states-” started the huge man without a moment’s hesitation.
“Wait what?” asked Jerry.
The woman snickered, “The New Terran Settlement Constitution is a great big book full of -”
“I know what it is,” Jerry stated flatly, glancing at his watch. In school he had read the settlement constitution — everyone had. “Why are you quoting it to me now?”
“He used to be a lawyer,” said the woman, nodding her head toward Drummy.
“Good for him,” Jerry sighed, trying to step around the woman again and, once again, she moved into his way.
“Go ahead, Drummy, tell him what section 22.214.171.124-3 of Article 4 is about.”
“Settling disputes over claims to personal property,” Drummy said, his voice slow and lumbering, but still confident.
“Of course it is,” Jerry sighed again.
“I don’t know how he does it,” the woman stated with a fond, toothy smile. “When it comes to anything else, you’d swear there’s nothing but cobwebs wafting on a country breezy up there between his ears, but he sure knows that book backwards and forwards.”
“What about it?” asked Jerry, straightening his tie nervously.
“I,” stated the woman, “am claiming that all of your shit belongs to me.”
“What?! What rule allows that?” Jerry asked. If it wasn’t for that predatory, yellow gaze, and the way the woman stepped toward him when he asked, he would have been laughing at the absurdity of all this.
“Article 4 Section 4.5.-” started Drummy again.
“Yeah, yeah, I got that,” Jerry said, stepping back slightly, “what makes you think that it entitles you two goons to my property.”
The woman let out a vicious cackle.
“Paragraph 6 has to do with the interpretation of a verdict voted upon by a jury of legal citizens,” Drummy said, “Line 9 states, ‘In the event of a tie, all property shall be forfeit.’”
Jerry’s hand lifted involuntarily to the neck-wear he had ordered special from earth.
“Exactly, Mr. Business. It’s the rules,” said the woman, taking another small step toward him.
“Yeah,” said Drummy, “the rules.”
Listen to me read it here: