About halfway to Dome 7 Kenom’s shuttle was flagged down by a Verton workman. He was told that there was work being done on the tunnel and that there would be a few minutes delay. Kenom gave a look of frustration but nodded in the affirmative. While he was waiting he couldn’t help but notice that the Verton’s left arm was inoperative. Finally his curiosity got the best of him and he asked the workman, whose number was 45, “I see your arm is down, why you don’t replace it?”
The Verton looked at him for a moment and realizing he was a HighLEB Zimmnilian told him that he had been waiting for a replacement but that there was none available at the moment. He went on to say that the reason that the tunnels are in such bad shape is that most of the workmen are disabled because of broken or damaged body parts. You must be joking,” said Kenom in amazement, “there are replacement electro parts in abundance over the Central dome..I saw them myself. They are Z501 body parts but they can easily be retrofitted to your K730 units can they not?’ “Sure,” replied the workman, “we use old discarded Zimmnil body parts all the time, that is, when we find can them. We have a few men working over at the recycling center just to scavenge discarded Zimmnil body parts. We are able fix them up and reuse them most of the time, but there are never enough. The Xceptors manage to get most of the used bodies before we do; they pay good money for them.
Kenom just looked at the Verton in amazement. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Finally he said, “Do they know about this over at Central dome?” “I doubt it,” he said, there hasn’t been a Zimmnilion over at the maintenance dome in over twelve war seasons. They just don’t care about us, we are the, “forgotten people”…no one cares about us Vertons here on OB…We just work the tunnels and that’s about it. If we don’t work the Flextons will shut us down by cutting off power to our dome and we need it to recharge and keep our brains alive. The Flextoids are supposed to take care of us but they spend all their wealth on parties and other luxuries. There is nothing we can do; we have no voice here in the dome.”
When the track work was finished and he was allowed to continue Kenom tried to assure the Verton that he would do something to correct the situation. As he slowly pulled out Kenom told #45 that he personally would talk to someone about this matter.
After pondering the situation Kenom decided he would make this tunnel problem his little project. He thought the experience of working with the Vertons, the Flextons and the Zimmnil Patrolmen to solve this problem would be a good way to hone his diplomatic skills. He really didn’t think there was much of a problem; he thought it was more of a lack of communication. With that in mind he laid out a plan.
The first thing he planned to do was to go over to the Verton’s Maintaince Dome and see for himself if things were as bad as # 45 said they were. He could not confront Flexmaster Lector in dome #7 if he didn’t know firsthand what needed to be done.
The entrance tunnel to the Maintanance dome was half way between Mini-dome F and patrol dome 7. As he approached he could see that there was a small guardhouse blocking the entrance. It was manned by a Flectoid Sportsman.
Kenom stopped his module and went over to the guard who was reading a magazine. Excuse me, my name is Patrolman Kenom, he said, I would like access to the maintenance dome please.” The guard looked up from his magazine and said rather gruffly,” Do you have a pass?” “Well no,“ replied Kenom,” do I need a pass?” “You do if you want to go to the Maintenance dome. No one gets passed this point without a pass.” Then, glancing over at the module Kenom was driving, he added, ”…specially you Mini-dome guys.”
Kenom was not amused by the treatment he was getting, but he controlled himself. Apparently these sport guys don’t know the Zimmnil LEB rating system he thought because he didn’t recognize his high LEBers uniform, or perhaps he did but didn’t care. He asked where he could obtain a pass and was told to go to Dome 7. “And who do I see?” he inquired,. “I don’t know…ask around.” was the curt reply as the sportsman went back to reading his magazine. Kenom said nothing. He got back into his module and took off for Patrol dome 7.
Patrol dome 7 was occupied by a Flexmaster Lector but run by a sport Flexlord named Gleen who was a sport fanatic. All the FlexLords and FlexMen were large low LEB athletic types with more than a little arrogance in their walk. Unlike Flexmaster Tsubo’s lavishly decorated dome Flexmaster Gleen’s dome was painted grey so it looked very drab in comparison. The walls were covered with all sorts of sporting awards.
As he entered Kenom could see that they had been partying for some time as they were all more or less in a drunken stupor. They had won almost every prize at the recent sport competition so he assumed they were still celebrating. He walked up to a desk where a big Flexlord was sitting and asked, “I would like to get a pass to the Maintenance dome, whom do I see?” The Lord scarcely acknowledged him and replied, “What for?”
“That’s no concern of yours.” said Kenom losing patience. “No one from the Mini-domes is allowed in the Maintenance-domes,” was his short reply. “Is that a fact” responded Kenom. “Yes it is.” answered the Flexlord as his eyes returned to the magazine he was holding. “May I use your voice transfer?,” asked Kenom. The Flexlord didn’t look up he just pushed the voice transfer in Kenom’s direction. Kenom paused a moment, gathered himself, and picked up the voice transfer.