“Eat more,” said Mrs. Colbshallow. “You’re skin and bones.”
“I’m full up, Mother,” said her son.
Saba Colbshallow was full up, too. He had eaten a full breakfast this morning at the Dechantagne family home, and sat back to enjoy his morning tea. Around the large pine table sat his mother, Mrs. Dechantagne, Mrs. Godwin, little Iolana Calliere and at the head of the table Professor Merced Calliere. Mrs. Dechantagne’s baby was in the next room, being rocked in a cradle by one of the reptilian servants, and Governor Dechantagne-Calliere, who normally sat at the other end of the table from her husband, was not present at breakfast this morning.
“I’m sorry that I missed Mrs. C,” said Saba, though he wasn’t sure if that was entirely true. He had known her all his life, and had been in love with her from the time he was five and she was a striking, sixteen year old beauty, until he was seven and she was a very bossy eighteen-year-old. Then his affections had been switched to Mrs. Dechantagne, who back then had just been Yuah Korlann, and who had grown up to be a bit prettier and much nicer.
“She’s quite busy this morning,” said the professor, setting aside the book that he had been reading. “You’ll be quite busy too, I dare say. Another ship came in last night.”
“So I heard. Mirsannan freighter. Mostly cargo, but I bet there’ll be a couple of poofs out causing trouble.”
“Quite,” said the professor, saluting with his teacup. “Don’t let us keep you from your duty then, officer.”
“Right.” Saba drained his teacup and stood up, pushing in the chair as he left the table. He picked up his constabulary helmet from the small table in front of the window. It had gold braid around its base, a large gold star on the front, and a gold spike on the very top. Of course it was navy blue, just like his uniform.
“Look at my boy,” said his mother. “He looks like a right man, doesn’t he? An officer of the peace.”
“You look just dashing,” said Mrs. Dechantagne, which made Saba blush a bit. He bowed low to her, saluted everyone else, and then headed out the front door, which one of the lizardmen servants held open for him.
Saba was quite proud of his position as one of the first two constables on the police force in Port Dechantagne. In fact, he could well say that he was the first constable, since he had badge number one, and Eamon Shrubb had badge number two. Even though he was only twenty, Saba had worked hard for this position. He had signed on to the Colonial Militia when he was only sixteen, eventually becoming the youngest sergeant at any time before or since. He had served his two years with what he thought was distinction and had volunteered for an extra year. Now he was a copper. Anyone who knew Saba recognized that few deserved a spot in the new police department more than he did. Anyone who knew the royal governor knew that she would not have sponsored him for the position just because she had known him all his life.
“Good morning, constable,” called a woman in a plain brown dress with a brown shawl thrown across her shoulders and a brown bonnet on her head, pushing a wheelbarrow down the gravel road.
“Good morning to you, Mrs. Eamsham. Do you need a hand with that?”
“Heavens no. I was just taking the slop from the neighborhood out to the pigs and dinosaurs.”
“That’s a good five miles pushing that thing. You be sure and take several rest stops along the way.”
Mrs. Eamsham nodded and turned the corner heading for Town Square. Saba continued walking into the southwestern part of the town, where the homes sat on larger lots, but were not necessarily larger themselves. The leaves had long gone from the maples and the other deciduous trees, but the pines and cedars were still glorious green. A chill wind whipped here and there, but did nothing to Saba but turn his cheeks a little redder. His wool uniform was exceedingly warm.
Suddenly he heard gunfire erupting from directly in front of him. One, two shots. Then a pause. Then one, two, three, four, five, six, pause. He looked up above the trees and saw a flash of steel shoot across the sky.
“Oh, bloody hell!” he shouted and ran at top speed in the direction of the gunfire. That he carried no other weapon than a heavy truncheon worried him not a bit. Two men with military issue service rifles, but wearing expensive hunting clothes, stood in the middle of the gravel road.
“Guns down!” yelled Saba, as he skidded to a stop in front of them. “Drop your guns now!”
“See here chap,” said the first man, his accent labeling him as plainly as if he had worn a placard that he was from Old Town Brech. He must have been very new to the colony, because Saba made it a custom to get to know everyone, and neither of these men he recognized.
“We’re doing nothing illegal,” said the second man. “Just shooting some pests.”
“What exactly were you shooting?”
“We heard from some of the neighbors that these velocipedes….”
“Velociraptors,” Saba corrected.
“Yes, them. They’ve been a menace lately, to the point of endangering the local children.”
“Quite,” said the first man. “We went out to put a few down and found a small group digging right into those garbage bins. We shot a few and killed two, I think, but one took off and flew into the trees.”
“If you listen to me very, and I do mean very, carefully,” said Saba. “I just might be able to save your lives. Lay your rifles down on the ground.”
“But I don’t under….”