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Fuzzy Nation Part 28

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"Very funny," Isabel said, taking it from him. "I can't believe you actually performed that stunt again. As part of an official event. And roped Papa into doing it with you."

"Well, you know," Holloway said. "It's a good trick. And anyway, Papa is pretty much ruler of the fuzzys and I'm its Minister Plenipotentiary. It's not like we're going to get in trouble for it."

"Jack Holloway," Isabel said. "You always did know how to stay ahead of trouble. But it proves I was right right about you teaching Carl how to set off explosives." Isabel poked Holloway in the chest to make the point. about you teaching Carl how to set off explosives." Isabel poked Holloway in the chest to make the point.

"You finally caught me," Holloway said. "You win."

"It is a sweet victory," Isabel a.s.sured him.



"I'm sure it is," Holloway said. He looked around. "So where is your husband? He missed the fireworks."

"He's still on a conference call with Chad Bourne," Isabel said. "They're going around with that tourism group again about why its proposed jungle tour is a bad idea for anyone who doesn't like to get eaten."

"As long as the fuzzys get their cut of the tour fee, I'm perfectly happy to let tourists get consumed," Holloway said.

"It will cut down a bit on repeat business," Isabel said.

"Hey, I'm the idea guy," Holloway said. "Chad and Mark handle the details."

"Don't think I haven't noticed how you did that, by the way," Isabel said. "There's very little point in Mark and me being married if you keep him so busy that we never see each other."

"It's not just Mark who's busy, Dr. Isabel w.a.n.gai, Minister of Science and Exploration for the Nation of Fuzzy Peoples," Holloway said, employing her full t.i.tle.

"This is very true," Isabel said. "But at least my work is interesting. The work you have Mark doing is pure drudgery."

"Being Attorney General is not pure drudgery," Holloway said.

"It is the way you make him do it," Isabel said.

"Building a nation is not all parties and fireworks," Holloway said.

"Said the man at a party, setting off fireworks," Isabel said. "I have an idea. Why don't you, you, Mr. Minister Plenipotentiary, go get Mr. Minister Plenipotentiary, go get my my husband and drag him up to the party. So he might enjoy the fruits of his nation building. And then give him and me both a week off, so we might finally have our honeymoon. So he and I might enjoy the fruits of our marriage." husband and drag him up to the party. So he might enjoy the fruits of his nation building. And then give him and me both a week off, so we might finally have our honeymoon. So he and I might enjoy the fruits of our marriage."

"An excellent notion," Holloway said. "And for the honeymoon, I've heard that there might be a very nice jungle tour coming along."

"You first, Jack," Isabel said, and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Husband, please."

"On it," Holloway said. He headed off toward the roof exit, stopping only to extract two bottles of beer from a cooler.

Holloway found Sullivan in his office, formerly the office of Janice Meyer.

Holloway knocked on the open door. "Your wife sent me to retrieve you," he said. He walked into the office and handed Sullivan a beer.

Sullivan took it. "Good. I'm ready to be retrieved," he said. "Have I missed any thing important?"

"You missed the fireworks," Holloway said.

"I saw them out the window," he said. "Did you have Carl set them off?"

"Seemed fitting, since we changed the name of Aubreytown to Carlsburg," Holloway said.

"The universe's first planetary capital city named after a dog," Sullivan said. "We are truly a nation of firsts."

"To the Fuzzy Nation," Holloway said, raising his beer bottle.

"To the Fuzzy Nation," Sullivan said. The men clinked their bottles and drank.

"How did the jungle tour discussion go?" Holloway said.

"They settled down once Chad sent them some video of the zararaptors in action," Sullivan said. "Nothing like b.l.o.o.d.y predators to encourage introspection. Of course, a few minutes after we got off the call with them, one of them called up Chad and proposed a hunting tour instead."

"The entrepreneurial spirit is always restless," Holloway said.

"It's not always very smart, either," Sullivan said. "I'm tempted to let the hunting tour run, so long as it's only equipped with knives." Holloway grinned at this. "But I'm not actually concerned about the eco-tourists," Sullivan continued. "It's the mining companies who are bothering me."

"We've been pretty clear about it," Holloway said. "No commercial mineral exploitation of any kind for twenty years at least, and only minimal after that."

"There is always someone who thinks they're going to get around that," Sullivan said. "Particularly when it comes to sunstones. You know we've already caught a couple of freelance prospectors. They come down with the academics and then try to sneak off. One of them actually managed to liberate a skimmer and headed out to that seam you discovered, Jack."

"What did you do to him?" Holloway asked.

"It's not what we we did to him," Sullivan said. "We found an arm next to the skimmer." did to him," Sullivan said. "We found an arm next to the skimmer."

"That solves that," Holloway said.

"It's only going to get worse," Sullivan pointed out.

"I know," Holloway said. "Add it to the pile."

"What do you think, Jack?" Sullivan asked. "Is this worth all the trouble?"

"It beats the alternative," Holloway said. "For us and for the fuzzys."

The two men drank their beers in silence for a moment.

"Jack," Sullivan said. "You remember when I perjured myself at that preliminary hearing of yours. When I said I saw Chad talking to you."

"I remember it," Holloway said. "I remember thinking it probably took a lot out of you to do it."

"It did, and I still don't feel completely right about it," Sullivan said. "It's something that gnaws at me a little every time I think about it. You perjured yourself too, Jack, in the same way, at the same time. But I don't get the feeling it bothers you at all."

"It doesn't," Holloway said. "A while ago I said to you that sometimes it feels good to do the wrong thing. Well, this time it felt good to do the right thing. I just had to lie to get there first. We're lawyers, Mark. Lying is part of the skill set."

"Which reminds me," Sullivan said. "I've been reading your mail again."

"Somebody should," Holloway said. He took another drink of his beer.

"You'll be happy to know that you've been reinstated to the North Carolina Bar," Sullivan said. "In recognition of your work to make sure the fuzzys were recognized as sentient beings."

"It sounds so impressive when it's put that way," Holloway said. "I like it. It makes it sound like that was the plan all along."

"What was was the plan all along, Jack?" Sullivan asked. the plan all along, Jack?" Sullivan asked.

"I think I've made it clear that I never really had a plan, Mark," Holloway said.

"That's what you say," Sullivan said. "But I don't believe it. And I know you you don't. Look, Jack. Today you took part in founding a nation. In claiming an entire world for people who couldn't have done it for themselves. In keeping them safe from the people who would just as soon kill them to get what was in the ground under them. You don't do that without a plan. And you don't do it without knowing why you're doing it. So, just between you and me, Jack. Tell me why you did it." don't. Look, Jack. Today you took part in founding a nation. In claiming an entire world for people who couldn't have done it for themselves. In keeping them safe from the people who would just as soon kill them to get what was in the ground under them. You don't do that without a plan. And you don't do it without knowing why you're doing it. So, just between you and me, Jack. Tell me why you did it."

"At first I was doing it for myself," Holloway said, after a minute. "Because that's what I had always done, and it always seemed to work for me. Then later, I was doing it because I was curious to see what could happen, and how well that would work out for me. And then finally I was doing it because I knew what had had to happen, and I knew that I was the only one who could make it happen." to happen, and I knew that I was the only one who could make it happen."

"Why were you the only one who could make it happen?" Sullivan asked.

"Because Papa Fuzzy was wrong about me," Holloway said. "Papa Fuzzy said that I was a good man. I'm not, Mark. I'm selfish and unethical and I'm happy to lie and deceive to get what I want. You had a problem perjuring yourself. I did it without thinking twice.

"And that's what the fuzzys needed," Holloway said. "Don't get me wrong. They need good people like you and Isabel and Chad Bourne. They need the three of you more right now than they need me. But before you could help them, I had to get them to you. I was the only one who could. Because I'm the man who can hit a client to cause a mistrial. I'm the guy who can lie about his girlfriend in a corporate inquiry. I'm the guy who can make everyone think they they are the ones who really know why he's doing what he's doing, and in letting them think that, string them along until he has them where he wants them. are the ones who really know why he's doing what he's doing, and in letting them think that, string them along until he has them where he wants them.

"I'm not a good man, Mark," Holloway said. "But I was the right right man. And for this, that was enough." man. And for this, that was enough."

Sullivan looked at Holloway for a moment. Then he held out his beer bottle.

"To the right man, then," he said. "To you, Jack."

Holloway smiled, clinked his bottle with Sullivan's, and finished his beer.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to, in no particular order: Bill Schafer, Yanni Kuznia, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Cherie Priest, Eliani Torres, Heather Saunders, Irene Gallo, Peter Lutjen, Kekai Kotaki, Wil Wheaton, Deven Desai, Doselle Young, Justine Larbalestier, Mary Robinette Kowal, Regan Avery, Karen Meisner, Cian Chang, Anne KG Murphy, and John Anderson.

Additional thanks to Penguin, in particular John Schline and Susan Allison, and the estate of H. Beam Piper.

I would like to once again single out for special appreciation my fiction agent, Ethan Ellenberg, who tackled a rather troublesome and potentially unprofitable project with enthusiasm and ingenuity. It's good to have a good agent.

As always, much love and thanks to my wife, Kristine, and our daughter, Athena.

Also by John Scalzi

Old Man's WarThe Ghost BrigadesThe Android's DreamThe Last ColonyZoe's TaleYour Hate Mail Will Be Graded

Edited by John Scalzi

Metatropolis

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