Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc.
This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit of it.
Zachary had seen many strange things in his job as a Galaxy Ranger, but the posters that had been put up everywhere along the roads leading to Tortuna City definitely belonged into the category bizarre:
'We are going to fight corruption whatever the cost.'
He mused what evil scheme of the Queen could be behind it. It wasn't as though the colorful depictions of corruptible desk clerks being eaten by hungry lizards were going to deter anyone from following their daily business.
"This one is definitely new," Niko remarked, pointing to a poster that read 'Accepting bribes can be hazardous to your health' and that was accompanied by Crown soldiers playing hockey with a merchant who had tried to avoid customs as illustration for the illiterate. (The merchant was being used as the puck.)
"How are we going to get into the city if they really heed that new policy of honesty?" Doc asked, slightly nervous.
"We're going to pay the fine for landing outside the space port like the law-abiding citizens we are," Goose replied dryly.
"Maybe we could just buy the shares to own the security guard on duty," Niko suggested. "According to the ad that was just sent to my wrist comm, there's a new privatization scheme for the police and the army." She kept on reading. "The shares are guaranteed to never yield a dividend, cannot be sold and anyone entering the city has to buy at least one."
Zachary gritted his teeth. Apparently, the Queen was pursuing a new plan to drive any non-criminal visitors crazy, but he would not fall for it.
"Fine. We'll pay any fines, buy all the pens we need to fill out their forms, and then let's seize Gheezi's evil brother and go home."
Niko looked doubtful. "I have a bad premonition about this. Things are not going to go smoothly."
When do they ever do, Zach thought wryly and checked his blasters and life insurance.
Proceedings at Tortuna City's eastern guard tower went very smoothly – until the guard on duty went into a lengthy explanation how difficult it was for him to stay alert through his double shift. He then continued to detail the different execution methods for smugglers until Goose convinced him to take a totally voluntary contribution to the guards' communal pot for coffee expenses to help them stay awake. Judging from the amount of money he put in, Goose had used his own annual coffee consumption as a basis, but the guard smiled and waved them through.
They even got their faux Zanquil passports stamped without problems after Niko offered to make an entirely voluntary donation for the city's fund to buy better image recognition software so that no upright Zanquil would accidentally be taken for anything else.
Unfortunately, they ran out of coffee money by the tenth street check post. Tortuna being the cash only economy that it was, the guard remained unfazed by Doc's offer to hack some credit cards for which he may have forgotten the password for him. By the time Niko managed to convince the guard that he was actually talking to his superior in disguise, Goose had already taken down half the sentries and was drawing some unwanted attention from the spy droids above.
Grudgingly, Zachary ordered a retreat. He felt no desire to become a public example why not taking enough bribe money to Tortuna was a very bad idea.
After some dashing around corners, diving behind Kiwi nut carts and hiding in dark basements, Doc gave the all clear sign. He had intercepted the Crown troopers' radio and apparently, they had already met their weekly target of capturing non tax-paying criminals and Galaxy Rangers, so they were not pursuing the rangers in earnest.
The rest of the mission went as expected: Gheezy confessed to not actually having an evil brother who knew the location of a secret Crown Fleet but entrusted them with some persecuted Trablins (a species remotely related to the Gherkins but with more pronounced nose ridges) who needed to leave Tortuna, they blew up a tower of the space port to stage a diversion while they left Tortuna City through one of its many backdoors and blasted off into hyperspace while being pursued by pirates.
It was an almost successful day and Zachary was looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the Tri-Di.
Unfortunately, Commander Walsh had news for them.
"Rangers, the statistics for last week are out. You're all behind on your reports and that makes us look very bad compared to the accounting department in our goal to become a financially trackable department. Luckily, there's a new compensation scheme that allows you to do voluntary overtime…"
Luckily, fire arms were banned in the office.