The sun was now so low on the horizon that the golden reflections, coming from the tin roofs of the shallow hodgepodge that they were calling “city”, had an angle so low that it made the small wavelets glittering far from the barge form an inconsistent and space pattern, making each spark of gold looking like unrelated to the others. The vibrations coming from the engines changed under his feet, making him conscious of the change of pace with such an accuracy that his ears would simply never reach. And the background racket wasn’t anything you could just ignore!
The Mount of the island of Nuevo Tìbet was now the main feature of the view forward, and it kept on growing while the barge entered the port. Eight hours. Eight long, boring, sultry endless hours of traveling sticked upon him a filthy stickiness that was already getting mixed with dusts from the port. This was a clear sign that the air dome around the island was thicker than the one stretching over the ocean of the small planet, as the water was free from plants and pressure magnetizers.
He lowered his breathing mask and took advantage of the thicker air for lighting his long pipe, a bowl made of strengthened china and an alloy stem, using tobacco and licory, a crossbreed engineered locally there. He didn’t want to show it, but he was nervous. And he was deeply yearning for see its state with his own eyes.
He spat a red blob towards the water, put on his outworn greatcoat emblazoned with the emblems even if it was hot, just for the sake of making an impression, and disembarked.
"Social Engineer Gyatso, of the Federation! Welcome to Nuevoville! We waited for you for days. I am the Location Head Dr. Carlos La Suerte."
He looked up and down that greasy and dirty man, fat and tanned, not sufficiently covered by a tank top with gray trousers and jacket, worn out. It was rather difficult to say if the color was the original one or something created out of dust and sun.
He smiled briefly, noticing how on that small planet it was clear how all the Federation officials had their own kind of “elegance”, absolutely consistent despite the significant distance between themselves. And he was rapidly adopting that standard. Evidently, such was the charm of the borderlands. He shook some dust off from the coat with a stroke of hand, and took enough care to remember the local etiquette concerning name usage. He was still a Social Engineer, after all.
"Thank you, Dr. Carlos. Sorry for being late, you know the usual red tape going on in Capitale, I guess". And then he offered a polite smile.
The polite answer was “just like in the other capitals, I guess”. “There isn’t much to be worried about, as you will see by yourself.”
"I am sure of it", he said while keeping his Social smile. "How are scheduled the openings?"
"As you instructed us to do, they are kept to the bare minimum. But the next one is in just two hours from now, or if you are tired, there is still the one operated tomorrow morning, for bringing in freshwater and enriched air cylinders. After that, the gates will stay shut down for the next three days."
"Thanks, but I feel to have rest too much. I’ll use the next opening."
"As you better see fit, Engineer. But I hope you won’t refuse a good meal, please follow me, I’ll take you to the best restaurant in town."
As he found out, the “best restaurant” was also the “best and only hotel”. A dirt-cheap hole. He didn’t stand on ceremony and got in.