Trigger Snowflake and the Legal Clothes

By Ingvar: Having finally tied the nuptial knot with his beloved Coraline, Trigger Snowflake slowly walked through the front doors of the chapel, out onto Main Street, Coraline’s dainty hand cradled in his elbow. The general admiration and happiness from Fort Corallium’s inhabitants beamed at them in waves. Trigger and Coraline both waved, when all of a sudden, Trigger froze.

Coming up the street, begging-pan in hand, was Rick Ven Fleerbo. This was unconscionable, he had certainly been put in his place, but compounding that by illegally pan-handling on Main Street was definitely a few steps too far.

“Dearest Coraline, I know it is uncouth to leave the bride alone this soon after the wedding, but I see misdeeds in our community and I feel compelled to act.”

“Trigger, dear, I would not love you if it was not for your steadfast and slavish attention to rooting out wrong-doers and miscreants By all means tell this… this… this PAN-HANDLER what for.”

Trigger gently straightened his arm, adjusted his formal clothing, cleared his throat and walked towards Ven Fleerbo.

“Rick Ven Fleerbo, you have been found pan-handling on Main Street. This is not allowed. Please cease immediately, before I am forced to use stronger measures!”

Ven Fleerbo froze, his eyes darting to the dressed-up lawman. His prominent Adam’s Apple jostled up and down, as if he just swallowed some saliva. He rapidly grabbed the few coins and the single note from the pan, shoved his ill-gotten gains into his pocket, then nodded and ran away.

Trigger walked back to his wife, bowed his head in apology and extended a bent arm.


Mrs Snowflake placed her hand yet again into the crook of his elbow, as they walked back to the Sheriff’s Office.


Trigger woke up, for the first time beside his beloved Coraline. She was still fast asleep as he sidled out from under the covers, put on some clothes and headed for the kitchen. Then he remembered that his BrewMatic 3000 had not yet been repaired and in the plentifulness of yesterday’s schedule, he’d completely forgotten to stock up on breakfast cereal.

With a quiet sigh, he reached for the communicator. It was normally reserved for official business only, but this once it was a luxury he would allow himself.

Subject: Breakfast/brunch order

I know this is irregular, but this once I thought I would allow me the luxury of ordering food in, although using the communicator is quite expensive. Never mind, I shall just have to cover this cost out of my own pocket. Where was I? Oh, yes, brunch. I would like to order three grilled synthecheese, four of your delicious danishes, one black fresh-ground Colombian coffee for me, and you are probably better placed to choose the exact coffee that Mrs Snowflake would like, seeing as how you have been working next to her these last few weeks. It would be good if you can send a runner with the brunch.

When they had finished the delicious delivery brunch, Trigger finally got properly dressed and headed out for a somewhat later than normal customary morning stroll up and down Main Street.

On the second round, he heard something unusual, as well as unexpected.

“… for my taking Fort Corallium and that Snowflake to justice? Anything would be helpful, seeing has how it is not cheap, and the Sheriff has deprived me of my income, by destroying my chances to sell my work as Fort Corallium’s most prominent local poet.”

He lengthened his steps, this was clearly something for the firm arms of the law. He turned a corner and saw, not entirely unexpected, Rick Ven Fleerbo, holding a kettle, begging for money from people passing by.

“Ven Fleerbo?! What did I say about pan-handling?”

“Well, Sheriff,” smirked Ven Fleerbo, “I think the exact thing you said was that pan-handling on Main Street was out of the question. I did some quick checking, and it turns out you’re correct. Thus, I am kettle-handling, and I am doing so no less than five feet from Main Street.”

“I… I… You are correct, Ven Fleerbo. But you watch yourself, I am keeping an eye on you.”

Ven Fleerbo waved at the Sheriff. Unfortunately, this jostled the rather heavy cast-iron kettle in his off hand and he ended up taking two steps forward to recover his balance.

“Aha!” said Trigger. “You are now only three feet from Main Street and engaged in illegal begging. I shall again be lenient, just stop this obnoxious behaviour and be on your way.”

Rick Ven Fleerbo uttered a long string of crude and vile Venusian curses, then skulked off.


It was a month after the wedding, and Trigger still enjoyed every moment of being a married man. He and Mrs Coraline were currently enjoying a most excellent Sunday roast, in the upstairs dining room, a room that had been unused during Trigger’s time as a bachelor. But now it was used for their joint Sunday lunch, as well as for the occasional hosting of dinners, as the entertainment expected from recently-married couples.

Trigger was just about to put his fork to a bowl of delicious Neptune Mess, a dessert of sponge cake, ice cream, fruit jellies, jam, and several custards, swirled in a manner as to evoke the surface of the gas giant, when there was a loud knocking on the front door.

“Bear with me, beloved Coraline, as I check what is up?”

“You do that, dearest Trigger, the Neptune Mess will hold.”

Trigger went downstairs and opened the door. Outside was a courier, with a large box.

“Sheriff Trigger Snowflake? Of Fort Corallium?”, said the courier.

“Speaking,” said Trigger, “what is this?”

“Package for you. Sign on delivery, sir.”

Trigger accepted the package, quickly signed the counterslip and let the courier be on his way. As he placed the box on his desk, he heard Coraline’s voice from upstairs.

“What was it, Trigger?”

“A package of some sort. I have not opened it yet, I believe it can wait until after dinner.”

Having finally finished the Neptune Mess, as well as some cookies and coffee after dessert, Trigger headed back downstairs. It was a sturdy box, plywood and space tape. He drew his Stardust knife from the sheath on his right thigh, and slit the tape. He lifted the lid off the box and gasped loudly.

“What is it, dearest Trigger? You sound surprised?”

“Beloved Coraline, this is completely unexpected. I have received a law suit. I have not yet checked the inner pocket for the circumstances, but I have a sinking feeling I know exactly what this is about.”

Trigger unpacked the clothes, and felt in the left pocket of the vest, where by custom the reason for the law suit was stashed, so as to make it possible to construct a coherent defence. Looking at the paper slip, it seemed he could linger as much as three hours before he needed to start for Luna, where the Planetary Alliance System Court had its offices and court rooms.

Sheriff Snowflake went upstairs, heart heavy in his chest.

“Beloved Coraline, the knock at the door was a court courier, delivering a law suit, bought by that odious bore Ven Fleerbo. Unfortunately, I need to set off for Luna in a few hours, and I must ensure I am properly packed.”

“Dearest Trigger, it is true that I will miss you while you are gone, but you are true and just, and so will prevail.”

“I wish I had your faith, but I have been these things go unexpected ways before. Sure, it’s uncommon, but that does not mean one shall completely discount the possibility. Ah, well, the suit has been brought, and I shall simply have to Sheriff up and do the needful.”


“This is Luna Traffic Control. Inbound sheriff shuttle SGW-2249, please vector on landing beacon Zed Zed Alpha. Once landed, please proceed to bay 58.”

“This is SGW-2249, vector on Zed Zed Alpha, then bay 58, understood.”

Trigger relaxed, the shuttle was sufficiently clever to follow a landing beacon and doing collision avoidance. This was possibly the most relaxing bit of the whole journey, since the autopilot definitely wasn’t smart enough for computing transfer orbits. Thankfully, the common misconception that the asteroid belt was neck to jowl with rocks was false, but that did not mean that needing to traverse it was stress-free. But, for the next 20 minutes, Trigger could simply relax, before needing to find the bay where his shuttle would refuel and wait for him, should the legal case go well.

Half an hour later, Trigger finished getting dressed in the law suit, the only clothes he would wear until he was fully a free man again. With a snort and a shake of his head, he stepped put of the shuttle. As he locked the shuttle up, a young woman walked towards him.

“Sheriff Snowflake? I am Herm Kiselo Rockblaster, clerk to the honourable Judge Belfries. Thank you for sending a signal with your estimated arrival, this has allowed the System Court to schedule the first, preliminary, hearing in fifteen minutes. If you would follow me?”

Trigger blushed, how could he have missed the signs? Not a woman at all, but a hermaphrodite. His only excuse was out in the frontier, where he lived, herms were primarily seen in popular entertainment, and as such were a bit more obvious.

“Certainly, Herm Rockblaster. Lead away.”

A few minutes later, they entered an opulent court room, panelled in what looked like genuine wood, definitely an imported luxury on Luna. Seated on the left, Trigger could see Rick Ven Fleerbo, sitting next to what looked like another Venusian. If he’d had more of a chance to prepare, Trigger would have brought an advocate, too, but hiring one was no trivial matter, and he had hoped he’d be able to see to that before even the preliminary hearing. Thankfully, Luna being the centre of legal wrangling that it was, it would not be hard finding an advocate that he could trust and work with.

Ven Fleerbo turned his head, as Trigger was walking down the aisle, to take his place on the front right, where the defendant’s assigned seating was.

“Snowflake! At least you’re not enough of a lily-belly to coward out. Would’ve been quicker, but this is more fun.”

Ven Fleerbo’s advocate tapped him on the shoulder, making a hushing gesture.

Trigger simply tilted his hat, then sat down.

The court room basked in an uncomfortable silence, until the door behind the judge’s podium opened and Judge Belfries stepped out.

“Let it be known that Honourable Judge Belfries is in the court. The court will now start preliminary hearings for Ven Fleerbo v Snowflake, in a matter of racial discrimination.”

Trigger took a deep breath, glanced to the left and saw Ven Fleerbo sneer in an unpleasant manner.

“This law suit has been bought by Rick Ven Fleerbo, a Venusian and a professional Sulphur Poet, against Trigger Bolt Snowflake, a martian, and a professional sheriff.

“If counsel for Ven Fleerbo would like to start?”

Ven Fleerbo started to stand, but his advocate quickly put a hand on his shoulder and whispered something in his ear.

“I am Slem Ven Pocketry, a Venusian and advocate for Rick Ven Fleerbo. We are here, because the defendant, Snowflake, has maligned my client, conspired to deprive him of income, caused hm to be ejected from poetry slams, and in other ways harmed my client, my client’s pride, and worst of all, deprived my client of income that was rightfully his. We intend to prove that this is because Snowflake hates Venusians, hates Sulphur Poetry and specifically has done all of these things because he wishes to deprive my client of all these things specifically because Rick Ven Fleerbo is Venusian.”

“Thank you. Advocate for… Ah, would the defendant please speak? And before you start, are you intending to stand pro se, or are you intending to find an advocate, should this go to full proceedings?”

“I am Trigger Bolt Snowflake, a Martian and a Sheriff. My intention was to find an advocate before the preliminary hearing, but with only fifteen minutes from setting down, I deemed it more appropriate to appear in person and on time. I will search for a suitable advocate, once this preliminary hearing is over.

“It is true that I was one of three people who caused Ven Fleerbo to be disinvited from the Coffee Emporium Poetry Slam, about two months ago. The person who made the actual decision was the manager of the Coffee Emporium, then Miss Coraline Hoyter, now Mrs Trigger Snowflake. But the chief reason Mr Ven Fleerbo was disinvited was because despite multiple pointed letters, verbal warnings, gentle reminders, pointed remarks and the like, Mr Ven Fleerbo failed to understand that what is polite in Sulphur circles is not acceptable behaviour on the moons of Jupiter. Simply stated, Mr Ven Fleerbo’s behaviour is incommensurate with furnished spaces, and that and that alone is the reason he was disinvited.”

“I have heard both sides in this preliminary hearing. I find that neither side has convinced me beyond reasonable doubt that their side will prevail. In accordance with the Planetary Alliance System Court’s rules and procedures, I declare that this law suit will proceed to full session. The court will reconvene tomorrow, at 09:07, for the start of the proceedings. I, Honourable Judge Belfries, hereby declare this court adjourned.”


Trigger left the third prospective advocate, glumly starting to think that he might, after all, have to represent himself. He stopped at a street corner, contemplating the pros and cons of such a strategy, when a familiar face walked past.

“Lilyberg? I thought you were still in Fort Corallium?!”

The man stopped, turned his head and started at Trigger.

“Pardon me? Do we know each other?”

“Ah, I am terribly sorry. You look very much like a man I know, Joseph Lilyberg.”

“Joseph Lilyberg, jeweller in Fort Corllium?”

“That’s the man. Again, terribly sorry.”

“Ah, no, it is no problem. Joseph is my brother. I am Emmanuel Lilyberg. May I trouble you for your name?”

“Trigger Snowflake, at your service.”

“Ah, Sheriff Snowflake? Joe has spoken well of you. What brings you to Luna in general, and Practice Street in particular?”

“I have had a law suit bought for me, and the preliminary hearing is already over, and I would very much like to find an advocate I can work with before the main session starts tomorrow.”

“Hm. If you have a few minutes, you can follow me to my office and I can do some due diligence. If this is the Flerrbo v Snowflake case, I believe I have an opening in my calendar, if primary session starts in the next day or three.”

“Tomorrow, 09:07, Mr Lilyberg.”

“Ah, excellent. If you would follow me?”


The following morning, Trigger followed Emmanuel (‘Manny’) Lilyberg into the court room. They were the first to arrive. They’d only been seated for a few seconds, when the doors slammed open. Rick Ven Fleerbo entered the court room, with swaggering steps, his law suit adorned with a yellow cape.

Ven Fleerbo and advocate sat down in the Plaintiff’s Section, smugly waiting for the proceedings to start. Trigger fidgeted a bit. He was surprisingly nervous, seeing as how he’d faced down multiple armed assailants, more than once. But, then, a duel on High Street at noon was a battleground he understood, whereas a court was well outside his comfort room.

The door behind the judge’s podium opened, and Judge Belfries stepped out.

“Let it be known that Honourable Judge Belfries is in the court. This court is now in session for Ven Fleerbo v Snowflake in a matter of racial discrimination. Is the plaintiff present?”

“Aye!”, said Ven Fleerbo, as he quickly popped to standing, then sat down again.

“Plaintiff is present. Is the defendant present?”

“Aye!”, said Trigger, simply raising his right arm over his head, fist clenched.

“Defendant is present. I see both plaintiff and defendant have advocates present. Excellent. Yesterday, we conducted a preliminary hearing, which did not firmly establish one way or another where the truth in this matter lies. The purpose of this session is firstly to establish the truth. Secondly, based on the truth found, determine where guilt lies. And, thirdly, dispense justice, retribution and corrective measures as the court sees fit.”

The judge paused, to allow for any questions from the floor. A few seconds later, no questions raised, the judge continued.

“The court calls Rick Ven Fleerbo, Venusian and Sulphur Poet. Please take the witness stand, and place your hands on the truth sensors on the railing. Tell us what your perception of the events are. Remember that you will be under oath. Lying to the court is perjury and punished by fines in minor cases, all the way up to imprisonment and work camps for severe cases. Your pulse, skin conductivity and the like will be measured and analysed after the session.”

Ven Fleerbo walked to the witness stand, placed his hands on the metal pads on the stand’s railing, took a deep breath and started.

“Judge Belfries, the court, the audience. I am thankful that the court has decided there is merit in this suit. Mere words cannot express the depth of my gratitude.”

Ven Fleerbo turned to the judge and demonstrated an infallible aim, projectile-vomiting straight onto the centre of the judge’s chest.

“It all started when my publicist tried to censor…”

Judge Belfries stood up and roared.

“The Court finds Ven Fleerbo in contempt! Without taking the witness stand, as it is not usable at the moment, defendant Snowflake, is what we just witnessed symptomatic of why Ven Fleerbo was disinvited from the poetry slam?”

Trigger stood up. “Yes, your Honour. It has been my experience that the plaintiff is incommensurable with furnished rooms, especially when he feels a need to express gratitude.”

Judge Belfries ripped his robes off. Thankfully, he wore a full set of clothing beneath.

“This court now dismisses Ven Fleerbo v Snowflake. With prejudice! Furthermore, the court finds Ven Fleerbo in contempt, and issues a fine of 500 Solars, to be paid no later than the end of the week. Even furthermore, the court charges Ven Fleerbo with an induction to not demonstrate gratitude in public, anywhere within the Planetary Alliance, except within Venostationary orbit. This session is now concluded.”


Trigger shook Manny Lilyberg’s hand, then entered his shuttle. It would be a long trip back, but at least he would be able to change back into his own clothes. And at the end of the journey, his beloved Coraline would be waiting. And hopefully this would be the last anyone heard of the odious Rick Ven Fleerbo.

Trigger Snowflake – Prominent Local Poet

By Ingvar: Trigger Snowflake woke up, and as he normally did, he walked downstairs, to the kitchen in the Sheriff’s Office. He loaded his trusty BrewMatic 3000, and pressed the start button. Most mornings, this was an uneventful routine, but this morning, the BrewMatic 3000 made a few distressing coughing noises, then simply ejected tepid water and all the coffee grounds in a distressing spray.

Trigger sighed, went over to the refrigerator, grabbed some milk and went to prepare his customary morning bowl of Nut Neptune Nuggets. Unfortunately, it seemed as if he had not been paying attention the previous day, as he only had enough Neptune Nuggets for half a bowl.

After a less than completely satisfying breakfast, Trigger was busy doing weapons maintenance on his trusty revolvers, when the door was flung open.

“Sheriff, sheriff, I am being blacklisted, oppressed and simply denied my rights as a free man!”

Trigger looked up from his half-dismantled guns, seeing Rick Ven Fleebro, a Venusian who’d arrived a few years ago.

“If you take a seat, and describe the happenings to me, while I finish up maintenance?”

“I will do this, Sheriff Snowflake. I have been most unfairly maligned, lied about, and now blacklisted from the Poetry Slam!”

Trigger’s forehead lifted a small amount, the Poetry Slam would be taking place at the Coffee Emporium, under the kind and welcoming oversight of his fiancee, Miss Coraline Hoyter. Surely nothing underhanded could be happening?

“As you know, I am a prominent local poet, and six months ago, I published a defining work of Venusian Sulphur Poetry. It all went well, to start with, but after a short while, my publicist and publisher sent me a letter, asking me to please stop showing people what I ate for dinner the previous night, which is considered polite on Venus and especially among Sulphur artists. Of course, I did not pay her rude interjection any heed, as I am polite, well-spoken and generally considered to be a model Venusian. Then, probably forced to do so by the namely-pappy weakling brigade, she worded it a bit stronger. She sent a letter that said that I would have to only show my dinner on my own time, not during publicity speeches for my book, during interviews about how I am a prominent local poet and the like. Which, as you can tell, not only offensive but also a direct attempt at curtailing my free speech.”

Trigger nodded, it was a fiddly piece of disassembly in progress, the firing mechanism had to be daintily disconnected from the plebotium power core.

“And, then, this morning, out of absolutely nowhere, I received a card from Miss Hoyter, at the Coffee Emporium, saying that due to my Venusian background, I have been stricken from the Poetry Slam line-up. You must do something, Sheriff Snowflake. Arrest all of these people!”

Trigger finished cleaning the parts of hs weapons and looked up at Ven Fleerbo.

“First, I need to reassemble my proton shooters. After that I will make inquiries and arrests as appropriate.”


Susan Doed was heads-down in her paperwork, when a firm knock sounded from her door. She re-assembled the papers into a neat stack and went to unlock the front door.

“Ah, Sheriff Snowflake, what a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you?”

“Perhaps pleasant is overstating things, Miss Doed. I am here on a matter of law.”

“Oh. Well. Let me not keep you standing in the door. Come in, can I get you a cup of coffee?”

“Some coffee would not sit amiss. I will be taking notes, since this is after all a work visit.”

“Sure. Do you take sugar or milk?”

“One sugar, brown if you have. No milk. Now, Miss Doed, I understand you are the publicist for a Mr Ven Fleerbo?”

“Am, was, that is a little bit unclear. We have not formally dissolved the contract, but Mr Ven Fleerbo has made it blatantly obvious that he no longer demands my services.”


“Well, only two weeks ago, he stormed out of this very office, screaming ‘You will be sorry for this, you slimy porcupine-loving equality-fighting shnipty!’ Yes, he even used the S word!”

“Anything more you can tell me about your association with Mr Ven Fleerbo?”

“It’s probably better if I just go through this from the start. About a year ago, Rick Ven Fleerbo came to my office, with the manuscript for a Venusian Sulphur Poetry collection in hand and asked if that was something I would be interested in publishing. I said, as I normally do to walk-ins, ‘Leave it on that shelf, with a note giving your contact details, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.’ About two, maybe three, days later, I had time to look at it and it was good. I mean, it was good Sulphur. A somewhat specialised kind of poetry, as you know.

“I decided it was worth getting it typeset and printed. We agreed that I would also help Mr Ven Fleerbo with promotional work and arrange a few readings. And that’s when the problems started. You see, it’s a tradition among Sulphur artists to, as a sign of thanks and respect, regurgitate their last meal during a recitation, or upon receiving strong compliments. And it is then expected that the person, or persons, being thrown up on, should at least taste the effluvia.

“I didn’t initially know this, so I was, as they say, somewhat surprised having a grown man throw up all over the front of my dress. I informed Mr Ven Fleerbo that engaging in this habit would probably limit his ability to sell his volume of poems. At first, he seemed to take this in an even stride, but when I reminded hum, a few weeks later, after he’d thrown up all over the stage as the applause broke out during a recitation, he started getting angry, and screamed something about being oppressed.”


“Well, this has been going back and forth, for a while. I have now stopped trying to book him for readings, because quite a few venues simply decline having Ven Fleerbo on stage, citing local health inspectors, clean-up costs and rapidly declining attendance numbers on any event where Ven Fleerbo is listed on the billboard.”

“Thank you, Miss Doed, I may return for some more questions, later.”


Trigger arrived at the Coffee Emporium as the lunch crowd petered out. He boldly went in, waving at his fiancee, striding up towards the counter.

“Good afternoon, dear Coraline, I am unfortunately here on business. Can we talk in the back room?”

“Certainly, Trigger. Let me just hand the counter over to Barbara, she can certainly use the experience.”

They went through to the back room. Miss Coraline Hoyter sat down behind the manager’s desk, sighing with slight relief as her weight transferred from her dainty feet onto the chair.

“So, beloved Trigger, business you say?”

“Unfortunately so. I was approached this morning by a Rick Ven Fleerbo, a prominent local poet. I take it the name is familiar?”

“Ah, yes, Mr Ven Fleerbo. I am assuming this is in conjunction with next week’s Poetry Slam?”

“How perceptive of you. Yes. Could you please recount your view of what’s happened, while I take some notes?”

“There’s nothing much to tell. Having had reports from poetry slams throughout the entirety of the mining colony, from Fort Hamhock, Duralumin Gulch, and even Beryllium City, I learned that Mr Ven Fleerbo has a tendency to engage in… certain behaviour that is not really appreciated by the audience. I wrote him a letter, saying that his attendance as a poet at the Slam was conditional on a promise to not vomit all over my Emporium. My expectation was that he would respond with a promise not to, or at least a non-committal ‘I will do my best’. His actual response was profanity-laden and contained a promise to sup on the most foul dishes on the previous evening, so he could truly show the Fort Corallium public in how high of an esteem he holds them.”


“Yes, it is the tradition among Venusian Sulphur artists. You consume things, in order to absorb and filter the more exceptional of their foods, then you simply void your digestive system and let people partake of slightly less vile foods.”

“So, your response at this point was?”

“Well, I wrote back and simply said that as I’d previously told him, his attendance was conditional on the opposite that he had promised. So with some regret, I cancelled him from the line-up and that, as far as I am concerned, is that. Now, dear Trigger, why are you asking about this, is there some sort of problem, here?”

“Yes, I wish I could tell you more, but the integrity of law enforcement, etc, etc.”

“Oh, my beloved darling, it must be such a troublesome balancing act for you.”

“It is not the most pleasant situation, Miss Hoyter. Not the most pleasant.”


The following day, Trigger woke up and went to the kitchen again. As he was about to open the cabinet, he suddenly remembered that yesterday had seen neither the repair of his DripMatic 3000, nor a purchase of more Neptute Nut Nuggets. With a blue word, he slammed the cabinet door shut, all ready to go down to the Coffee Emporium to break his fast there, when the front door slammed open.

“Sheriff Snowflake! It is I, prominent local poet Rick Ven Fleerbo. You must immediately arrest the vile women at the Coffee Emporium! They have now moved into complete slandering of me!”

“Mr Ven Fleerbo, I would appreciate it if you depart my office, for at least one hour. I have not yet had a chance to break fast and I am not in the best of moods.”

“Ah, that is at least easy to repair!”

With those words, Ven Fleerbo inserted a quick finger into his mouth, tickling the top of his throat. And in a magnificent display of respect deposited all of yesterday’s evening meal, all over Sheriff Snowflake, the floor, the kitchen cabinets, and counters.

“Mr Ven Fleerbo! Have you no concept of how to behave in a non-Venusian setting? Depart immediately, or I will have you arrested for obstruction of justice!”

Half an hour later, after a change of clothes and the second shower of the morning, Trigger arrived at the Coffee Emporium. He entered, fund his accustomed chair empty, sat down and leaned his head heavily into his hands, elbows firmly planted on the surface of the table.

“Beloved Trigger! Such a face, this early in the day! The usual?”

“Yes, Coraline, the usual.”

He proceeded to eat his pastry, finished his coffee and was seriously considering having a second cup when the door was flung open and Ven Fleerbo entered.

“Collusion! You are conspiring with these vile women. I should have known it!”

“Mr Ven Fleerbo!”, Trigger shouted, “You are factually incorrect. Having considered all the evidence, I can find no conspiracy to put you down for your Venusian background, only for the complete and utter inability to be kept in furnished rooms. It is very possible to be a Venusian Sulphur poet without engaging in such graphic shows of gratitude as you are prone to. In fact, Morpo Ven Eensam, prominent planetary poet, has succeeded in doing the very same for near on ten years. You, Mr Ven Fleerbo, are just an uncouth bore. Now, leave my fiancee’s Coffee Emporium, before I have you arrested for bringing false accusations.”

With that, Rick Ven Fleerbo turned around and left the coffee Emporium.

“Oh, dearest Trigger, such a manly outburst,” gushed Miss Hoyter, “let me tell you what I have been working towards.”

Trigger let his gaze move from the now-empty doorway to the breathtakingly beautiful face of his fiancee.

“Plans, Coraline?”

“Yes, plans. As you know, it will be impossible for me to continue to run the Coffee Emporium, once I am a wife and married woman, as I will have to focus completely on the household. But, fear not! I have trained a replacement, to take over the Coffee Emporium.”

“Marvellous! Have I met her?”

“Yes, you saw her yesterday, she is Miss Barbara Dimatis and has shown a suitable strength of will and honesty. And to that effect, I have spoken to the Preacher and he can join us in matrimony this evening, if that suits?”

Trigger Snowflake and the No-Platformers

By Ingvar: Trigger Snowflake opened his clear, blue eyes. It smelled like a fine morning, heralding a great day. If nothing else, he would be taking lunch with his betrothed, Miss Coraline Hoyter.

He quickly got dressed and walked to the sheriff office kitchen, grabbed a bowl and poured a healthy serving of Neptune Nut Nuggets and added just a splash of milk, in order to get his breakfast cereal to the perfect balance between crispy nuttiness and slight moistness from the slowly penetrating milk. As he left the bowl to soak, he set his DripMatic 3000 to making his post-cereal coffee.

Quarter of an hour later, having fortified himself with a truly excellent breakfast, it was time to strap his gun belt around his trim waist, then pin the sheriff badge to his vest, then take a quick stroll through Fort Corallium, to ensure that the local businessmen were all happy and the local miners well-behaved. He put his hat on, opened the front door of the sheriff office and headed out, nodding cheerfully to his fellow citizens as he strolled down Main Street.

Trigger pondered the propriety of paying Miss Hoyter an early visit. Fully distracted by the complex problem of figuring this matter of etiquette, he did not notice Mr Lilyberg hurrying the other way, and in one of those moments that happen, they walked into each other, with such force that Sheriff Snowflake was half spun around, and Mr Lilyberg was knocked off balance and fell down.

“Sorry, Mr Lilyberg. Mind completely elsewhere. Everything alright?”

“Just lost my breath, Sheriff, nothing sprained or broken.”

Trigger reached down with his right arm, to help Mr Lilyberg up from the ground.

“Good to hear. Again, terribly sorry.”

“No one hurt, Sheriff, no one hurt. Just on my way to Agape, they called and my new shoes have arrived. Nothing I would recommend for you, having such a stately height, but being a bit on the short side…”

Trigger tipped his hat and continued his morning stroll, taking care to not let his mind stray to the fascinating conundrum that had bothered him.


Having walked entirely to the other side of Fort Corallium, Trigger checked his pocket watch. A brisk, but not over-fast stroll, even taking the Lilyberg incident into account. It would not do to be too fast in these peace-keeping strolls.

Trigger paused and looked around, nothing out of the ordinary. It truly seemed like it would be a perfect day. Now, it had been raining and windy the last few days. Trigger knew that the atmospheric systems did not keep any specific weather setting for longer than three days, in order to ensure that the townsfolk got variety, but never got really bored with the weather.

He started back down Main Street, wondering if he should stop for a cup of coffee on the way, or give the DripMatic 3000 a chance to make a second cup of the morning. He’d not gotten much further than listing the options in his mind, when he heard a loud commotion from the alley on his left.

Undoing the strap retaining his right revolver in the holster, Sheriff Snowflake purposefully strode towards the opening of the alley, certain in his conviction that a crime was in progress and he may have to discharge his firearm. As he stepped off Main Street, he saw, disconcertingly, Miss Hoyter on the ground, in stockinged feet.

“Miss Hoyter! What happened? Can I be of assistance? Where are your shoes?”

“Dear Trigger, please help me up and walk me back to the Emporium. I was viciously knocked down from behind, then a swarthy main, looked like an Earther, stole my new shoes!”

“Stealing shoes? I am continually baffled by how low criminals are willing to stoop. Here, Miss Hoyter take my hand, and I will help you to the Emporium. Will you be able to walk, or should I carry you back?”

“Walking back would not be a problem, darling Trigger. And it would be unseemly, this close to our wedding, for you carry me when I am perfectly capable of walking.”


“No, Trigger, I shall walk, even if it may ruin my silk stockings.”

Sheriff Snowflake held his arm out to at least ensure that Miss Hoyter would have support as and when she needed it. They headed down Main Street to the Emporium.

Once at the Emporium, Trigger pulled his notebook out, as well as a pen, and placed them on the table.

“Well, Miss Hoyter, I should probably take a formal statement, since a crime has been committed.”

“Certainly. Would you like a coffee while we talk?”

“That would be splendid.”

Once two cups were on the table, and they had taken their first sip, he picked up his pen and notebook.

“Miss Hoyter can you describe the sequence of events?”

“Certainly. I was walking from home towards the Emporium, when I heard what sounded like a puppy down Natural Alley. Not wanting to leave any long animal in distress, I headed down, keeping an eye out for the pup. I’d walked fifteen, maybe twenty, yards when someone hit me in the back of the head. I fell to the ground, dazed, and as I was trying to get my bearings, I felt what seemed to be a knife cutting the straps off my new shoes. Then the shoes were taken off my feet. Whoever it was started running away and I shouted out. Then, a few moments later, a host dashing and handsome sheriff arrived.”

“New shoes? Any precious stones, noble metals or similar on them?”

“No, they’re a new model from Mars, picked them up yesterday evening at Agape. They’re honestly jus a new thing I thought I would try. They have, in addition to my customary high heel, that you are familiar with, an extra-thick sole under the ball of the foot. In total, they give me almost a full extra inch. But I don’t think they’re special enough to warrant stealing, they were fairly plain, smooth red leather, with a copper buckle on the ankle strap.”

“Hm. Well, I have written for statement down. Let’s enjoy the rest of the coffee, before I head back to the office.”

They finished the coffee, engaged in the normal smalltalk of a coupe engaged to be married, plans for wallpaper patterns and the like.


Trigger had just finished filing Miss Hoyter’s statement when the front door was flung open. He looked up at an enraged Mr Lilyberg rushing through the door.

“Sheriff! Sheriff! I am the victim of a heinous crime!”

“If you take a seat, Mr Lilyberg, I will take your statement.”

“I was returning from Agape with my new shoes boxed up. When all of a sudden, two armed men stopped me and threatened to run me through with their knives, unless I gave them the shoe box. These were special-order from Mars, Sheriff, quite expensive, and now I need to wait for two weeks, before a new pair can be here. This is an outrage, Sheriff! There must be something you can do!”

“Well, Mr Lilyberg, in confidence I can reveal that you are not the first person today who have lost a pair of shoes. Could you please describe the shoes for me?”

“Now, Sheriff, I am not a vain man, but you may have noticed that I am on the short side. Normally, this does not bother me, but as we are coming up on an election for the town council again, I thought it prudent to, ahem, increase my stature slightly. So I ordered a pair of dress shoes from this new company on Mars. They make a most satisfying design, giving me almost an inch of extra height. Enough to look solid and imposing, not so much that it looks unnatural. My thinking here is that it would make it easier in the store.”

“Curious. From Agape, you said? All the way down south on Main Street?”

“Yes, Sheriff, that’s the store.”

“Well, I have written up your testimony and I will do my best to apprehend the vile criminals. Alas, Mr Lilyberg, I shall have to work. You have a safe day, now.”

“Thank you Sheriff!”

With that, Mr Lilyberg stood up and left the Sheriff’s Office, leaving Trigger to compare the testimonies of the two victims.


Zacharias Bengtsen was fearing for his life. Two armed, masked men had burst into his store, forced him into the store room, then tied him up. Now they were busy ransacking their way through his merchandise, taking some of the stock, but mostly just throwing things on the floor.

If only he had listened to the urging of his brother and installed an alarm system with a hand-held activator. If he had, it would be triggered by now, and hopefully Sheriff Snowflake would be on his way.

Meanwhile, walking south on Main Street, Trigger nodded at his fellow citizens, on his way to Agape Shoes. He was a block away when he noticed something out of place. The front door was not only closed, but had a “CLOSED” sign displayed. This was not at all normal, it being not even mid-day yet, and definitely not Sunday. He loosened both his revolvers, ensuring that he would have a fast draw, if needed.

Trigger considered his options. He could simply kick open the front doors, but that was likely to incur property damage and necessitate leaving a guard on the door overnight, something that the Office budget certainly could stretch to, but definitely an unnecessary expenditure. He thought for a few moments, then remembered that there was a back entrance, straight into the store room. It was normally locked, but the override key would take care of that.

Trigger walked around the building, found the back door and readied himself to open it, when he could hear a faint noise from inside. He took a deep breath, leaned forward and listened. It certainly sounded like multiple people completely wrecking the place. He leaned back and let the held breath out with a sigh, unlocked the door and drew his right revolver. With his left hand, he ripped the door open and scanned the room. There, two masked men. Trigger shot the one on the right, but before he could shoot the second one, the masked man threw himself out of the store room. With a jarring crash of broken glass, the man must have destroyed one of the shop windows.

Trigger saw Mr Bengtsen tied up on the floor. With the hooligan well on his way, it would be better to free the poor man, rather than set chase.

“Mt Bengtsen, if you just relax, I will cut the ropes that hold you.”

He swiftly cut the ropes, and once Mr Bengtsen’s arms were free, the shop-keeper pulled the gag off his mouth.

“Thank you, Sheriff Snowflake. There were two of them, and they were stealing some of my shoes! I have never, in my fourteen years of shop-keeping, seen anything like it. They simply discarded most of the stock, looking at it, some of the more valuable items are here, discarded on the floor!”

“Very good, Mr Bengtsen. If you could make an inventory and forward a note with what has been stolen?”

“Oh, quicker than that. I was watching them, and they were just taking the new elevated shoes from Mars. There’s only the one pair left in stock. Quite annoying, I only had eighteen pairs, and of those only three were not pre-orders. Look, there’s only the one pair left!”

“Hm, this paints a troubling picture, two pairs of shoes like this have already been stolen today, and now they’ve attacked the source of the shoes. Would you mind if I take this pair back to the office, to examine them in more detail?”

“If that is what’s needed to catch the last remaining thief? Certainly!”

“That is it, then. On my way, I will stop by the undertaker and send Dr Cottage down here for the body. Do you need any help cleaning this up?”

“Don’t worry, Sheriff, once the corpse is gone, it’ll be right as rain.”


The bell over the door jangled as Trigger entered the undertaker’s shop.

“Dr Cottage? Customer for you, down at Agape, in the store room. A robber and a thief, caught in the act. You will find that he’s had a clean shot, right to the heart.”

“Very good, Sheriff Snowflake, very good. Are we expecting any other sudden customers in the near future?”

“Well, there were two of them, so it’s not entirely impossible. I would prefer to catch him and have him sent back to Earth, but if they insist on getting killed, I am happy to oblige.”

This sordid business completed, Trigger left the undertaker’s and headed back up Main Street towards his office, when suddenly a masked man wielding a cut-off shotgun jumped out from an alley.

“The shoes! In your hand! Give them to me!”

Trigger lifted his right hand, holding the shoes out in front of him at about shoulder height.

“These? Are you sure?”

“The shoes, or I shoot!”

Trigger quickly considered his options, then threw the pair of shoes towards the evil-doer. As the man tracked the ballistic trajectory of the footwear, Trigger quickly drew his left revolver, shot from the hip and drilled a neat hole in the man’s forehead. He turned around, saw Dr Cottage just leaving his shop.

“Ah, Doctor, seems we have a second customer more quickly than expected.”

“Indeed, Sheriff, I suspected as much when I heard the distinctive bark of your sidearm.”

All criminals duly dispatched, Trigger returned to his office. Once seated, he looked at the shoes, then noticed that there was a slight rattling from the left shoe, as he moved them around. He drew his knife, pried the sole off and saw that hidden inside the thick bottom of the shoe, a memcrystal was hidden. Clearly, the whole shoe-stealing was because of secrets smuggled off Mars in the shipment.

Later in the evening, Trigger went in search of the lair of the evil-doers. As they were not the most intelligent of criminals, as evidenced by then plying their wrong-doing trade in Fort Corallium, it was not very hard.

The following morning, Sheriff Snowflake met up with Miss Hoyter.

“Dear Coraline, I found the lair of the robbers, but I am compelled to inform you that they did, in the most heinous way possible, de-platform you.”

Trigger Snowflake, Lawman

By Ingvar: The Sun was high in the sky, a small brilliant speck visible through the crystalline dome of Fort Corallium. Trigger walked down Main Street, gracefully lifting his wide-brimmed hat to the people greeting him. He’d been the local law for three years now, and Fort Corallium had seen a steep drop in crime under his service.

Up ahead was the Coffee Emporium, one of the more luxurious establishments in the dome. He quickly checked that his badge was displayed on his broad chest, and that he had indeed holstered his laser revolver. It did not do to offend Miss Hoyter, the owner of the Emporium. Stopping briefly just outside the door, he brushed some specks of dust off his right sleeve, then entered.

“Sheriff Snowflake! What a pleasant surprise. What would you like?” said Miss Hoyter.

“It being payday and all, Miss Hoyter, I think I will indulge in a cup of your finest Colombian coffee,” answered Trigger, “It’s been several weeks since the last. But, the bounty for Frayed John came in, and it’s coming to the end of the month, and I feel like luxury.”

“Very good, Sheriff. Would you like something to eat with your coffee, as well?”

“I think I would actually like to start with a glass of fruit juice and a grilled synthecheese sandwich, with the coffee to follow, maybe with a vanilla Danish, if they are fresh.”

“Ever so, Sheriff. We always make Danishes in the morning. They may no longer be warm from the oven, but they should still be delightfully crisp.”

Trigger walked to one of the booths and sat down, making sure he had room to draw his weapon and a good sight line to the door. It was unlikely he would need that, with everyone knowing that causing a ruckus at the Emporium would result in Miss Hoyter issuing a lifetime ban from the establishment and she was the only place in town that imported coffee all the way from Earth. The beans from the hydroponics factory were vastly inferior in taste and you might as well simply steep roasted dandelion roots, for all Trigger cared.

As he savoured the last bite of his grilled synthecheese, Miss Hoyter came over with a cup on a silver platter.

“Here, Sheriff, freshly ground Colombian filter coffee, no milk, one brown sugar on the side, as you like it. We had a single strawberry Danish left, so I thought that it would make a suitable gift for Fort Corallium’s handsomest lawman.”

Trigger smiled at the compliment. He’d been good for Fort Corallium and the settlement agreed with him. Mostly quiet, these days. The ice miners had quickly grasped that Trigger was no push-over and would not condone any fisticuffs out on the streets. The only place in town that fighting still occurred in public was at Slim’s Alco-Hole, an establishment serving intoxicating liquor, for consumption on the premises. But, as its clientele was mostly the rougher elements of the community, and the fights very seldom spilled out from the main room onto the street, it was really only necessary to ensure that the medics were alerted. Once every few weeks, one miner or another would go too far and Trigger would need to step in and enforce the peace.

Looking at his plates, Trigger decided that as delicious as the vanilla Danish was, he would alas have to leave the last bite uneaten, it simply would be too much. He grabbed his cup and savoured the last mouthful of deliciously bitter coffee, as it slid down his throat.

“Miss Hoyter, I thank you. The coffee was delicious, as always. Please give my compliments to your pastry chef, by the way the vanilla and strawberry were most excellent.”

“Thank you, Sheriff. I do in fact bake the Danishes myself.” Replied Miss Hoyter, blushing slightly. “I am delighted that you enjoyed your little break. Can I tempt you to stay a while longer? I have some Viennese pastries I have been experiencing with. The air mixture is not quite right, so I have had to –”

“Alas, Miss Hoyter, I have had as much leisure as I can allow myself. Maybe tomorrow?”

Miss Hoyter nodded in agreement, “See you tomorrow, then, Sheriff.”

Trigger folded the napkin and placed it beside his cup, before standing up. As he made his way back out onto Main Street, he quietly mused to himself that Miss Hoyter would make an excellent spouse for a lucky man, one of these days.

Trigger had reached the shuttle port end of Main Street and turned around, when his radio made a sudden noise. He unhooked the unit from his belt and pressed the transmit button. “Sheriff Snowflake, what’s up, over?”

“Sorry Boss, the silent alarm from Lilyberg’s Jewelry just went off. Thought you should know. They’ve been pretty good at not doing falsies and, well, maybe it’s nothing and maybe there’s a problem, over.”

“No worries, Deputy Canner, I will proceed apace, I am a mere two blocks from Lilyberg’s. Sheriff Snowflake, out.”

He picked up the pace, it would not do to slack when the possible safety of the dome’s jewelry street was in possible jeopardy. Why, if he ever decided that the slow and gentle flirtation with Miss Hoyter should give way to a more serious pursuit, Lilyberg’s is where he would purchase the diamond ring.

He looked through the wide-open entrance of Lilyberg’s Jewelry and saw that nefarious deeds were indeed in progress. A swarthy, heavy-set man, probably a newcomer, since Trigger did not recognise him, was threatening Joseph Lilyberg, the proprietor of the shop, with a long knife.

Trigger unholstered his laser revolver and spoke in his stentorian lawman voice, “Please surrender your weapon, you are under arrest for armed robbery and illegal threats.”

The swarthy man turned his head and saw Trigger. A slight flinch, bringing the point of the knife a fraction closer to Joseph Lilyberg’s trembling throat. “Ah, the Sheriff. One step closer and I will ram my knife through the spineless neck of the goldsmith. All I want is every necklace and bracelet under the counter then I will be out of here, nobody gets hurt. How about that, Sheriff?”

Trigger quickly calculated angles and risk. It would be safe, but not for a lesser shot than him. “As I said, surrender your weapon, you’re under arrest.’

Before the swarthy man could more than tense his arm, in preparation for plunging the wicked blade through Mr Lilyberg’s shaking throat, Trigger fired his revolver, hitting the large knife right on the ricasso, snapping the blade and the laser beam reflecting up into the face of the villain, temporarily blinding him. A few quick steps later, Trigger whipped out a pair of hand-cuffs and locked the swarthy man’s hands behind his back. Holding firmly on to the cuff chain, Trigger walked the man out, while he grabbed for his radio. “Deputy Canner, please open holding cell Two, I am bringing in a perp, fool tried to rob Lilyberg’s.”

The following morning, Trigger Snowflake woke from a night of restful sleep. Standing by the basin in front of his shaving mirror, he cast a quick, admiring glance at his reflection. He was a good-looking man, firm of muscle, but not so thick with it that he would be slowed down. Add to this, a chiseled chin, sharp cheekbones and slightly dark-blond curly hair, cropped close to his head. He finished his morning shave, then put the straight razor away. He much preferred the old-fashioned way, rather than simply slathering his face in depilatory cream. Using a straight razor took skill, discipline, and no small amount of confidence.

Once dressed, he walked across the street to the Sheriff’s office. The swarthy perp from yesterday was turning and tossing in Cell Two, obviously not having had a restful night, contemplating his wickedness. Trigger sat down in his chair, poured a glass of chilled fruit juice, then leaned back and placed his feet on the edge of the desk. Later in the day, the Circuit Judge would be arriving at the shuttleport, hopefully taking the perp away to one of the penal asteroids, there to spend the rest of his life refining minerals.

Trigger took another sip of juice, when the front door was flung open and a kid came running in.

“Sheriff! Sheriff! They’ve taken Miss Hoyter hostage! Sheriff! Please come at once!”

It was Ben, one of the few kids in town, most miners preferring to not bring their family and rather take short-term contracts. But Ben’s father, Ezekiel, was a widower and had rightly decided that a life without a good paternal figure would lead the young boy astray, into crime or possibly even sodomy. So, Ezekiel had brought Ben with him, even if taking family meant agreeing to a minimum two-year contract, as opposed to the normal six months.

“Ah, young Ben, what is this about a hostage situation?”

“It’s at the Emporium, Sheriff! Armed men came in, held Miss Hoyter at gun-point and now they’ve tied her up! Come, quick, Sheriff, you must save her, please?”

Trigger nodded, “Certainly, it is my duty as the local representative of The Law. It would just encourage scum like that to not do my very best.”

Expecting serious trouble, Trigger strapped his double-holster gun belt on. Two laser revolvers would make short work of these miscreants. He left the Sheriff’s Office and headed up Main Street towards the Coffee Emporium, to more and more increasing cheers as he got closer. Obviously people were aware of what was happening and looking forward to him sorting the whole thing out.

Not long before the doors to the Coffee Emporium, he stopped and double-checked that he had loaded both revolvers with fresh laser cartridges and had the holsters loosely strapped to his legs. Satisfied that everything was in order, he placed himself next to the door, back to the wall and shouted.

“This is Sheriff Trigger Snowflake. You are all under arrest. Drop your weapons on the ground and exit this establishment peacefully.”

A gruff voice was heard from the inside. “You are holding one of my men in your cells. I have three hostages, including the owner of the café. If you can guarantee us safe passage to the shuttle port, a fully fueled shuttle and the release of my man, I will let them live. If my demands have not been met in fifteen minutes, I will start to kill the hostages, one every fifteen minutes, until such a time as my demands have been met.”

Trigger risked a quick glance through the door. It would expose his head, but only for the fraction of a second required to get that crucial view of the room. He pulled his head back to safety, just as a laser blast went through where his forehead had just been. They were quick, maybe even a match for Trigger’s enhanced reflexes. Thanks to his photographic memory, he could analyse the scene. There were five scumbags, three armed with laser revolvers, one with a laser carbine and one with a knife very similar to the one yesterday’s scum had wielded. At a guess, the man with the carbine was the leader, he certainly was the largest and in the centre of the group. Sitting on the floor, expertly bound up, was Miss Hoyter, as well as Mr. and Mrs. George Elphinstone, Margaret by name. They were somewhat the line of fire, especially since the miscreants could not be trusted to hold their fire until their weapons were fully raised. Trigger had certainly heard of hostages being shot in exactly that way, over in Beryllium Valley, only a few months ago. That would not happen on his shift.

“I have a counter-proposal. Come out on Main Street, and we’ll have an honest duel, one by one. There are five of you, so you will get five chances to kill me. If you do get me, I can guarantee that the kind people of this town will let you depart in my own personal shuttle.”

It was not, strictly speaking, a lie. Standard procedure was to tempt hostage-takers into leaving the hostages safely behind, before engaging, if at all possible. They were unlikely to want to drag the bound people along, lazy criminals would never exert themselves needlessly.

“Tell me, Sheriff, what guarantees do we actually have that what you say is true?”

Trigger quickly checked his pockets. He did, thankfully, have the activation card for the sheriff shuttle in his back pocket.

“I will throw the activation card to my shuttle through the door. You can check it yourself. It’s a Chrysler Motors Potomac-class shuttle.”

He threw the card, being careful to not get it to land too close to the leader, since that might be a bit suspicious. He could hear quiet steps, then it was silent for almost a minute.

“OK, we’re coming out. Standard duelling code, revolvers only, draw only after a dropped handkerchief lands. One of us at a time, we decide on the order. Is that acceptable?”

“Fine by me. I will cross to the other side of the street and find someone to act as our officiator.”

Trigger nodded to Joseph Lilyberg, who had just stepped out of his store. “Mr Lilyberg, Joseph, a quick word, if I may?”

“Eh, yes, certainly Sheriff, what can I do for you?”

“Could you please take my handkerchief, here, and officiate in a series of duels? If I should happen to pass on, please allow any still-living criminal free passage to the shuttle port.”

Of course Trigger had no intention to play by the rules, that would only apply for an honourable duel and his challengers were all villainous scum, but the current stratagem would certainly work to lure them our onto the street.

Not long after, the five criminals exited the Coffee Emporium, discussing quietly among themselves who would be the first to face him. Trigger slowly walked to the centre of Main Street, continuously facing them.

“Who, then, will be the first of you facing me? I have secured an officiator, standing against the wall between us. I believe we are at the regulation 19 yards, but if you gentlemen prefer, we can have that established for sure.”

The leader shrugged, “This looks fine to me. Charlie will face you first, then Thor, Tony, Esbiorn and finally myself, should that be necessary. I don’t believe that to be the case, we are all skilled shots and quick to draw.”

Facing each other down the length of Main Street, Charlie and Trigger squared off, right hands gently hooked near he grips of their laser revolvers. After a few tense seconds, Mr Lilyberg dropped the handkerchief, both men paying very close attention to the falling piece of fabric. Just before it was about to touch the ground, Trigger drew not only his right-side revolver but also the one on his left and fired five rapid shots, each shot hitting solidly in the forehead of the five criminals.

“Sorry, my fellow Fort Corallium citizens. I had to give these scum an illusion of fairness, to avoid collateral damage. If someone could call the undertaker to bring the bodies to the shuttle port, I shall release the hostages.”

Later that evening, there was a knock on the door at the Sheriff’s Office. Trigger walked to the door and pulled it open.

“Ah, Miss Hoyter, how can I help you?”

“Well, dear Sheriff, it would be amiss of me not thanking you thoroughly for your remarkable assistance this morning.  I have brought a pot of coffee, a few Danishes and some Viennese pastries. After that, I hope we shall both of us find ourselves in a better frame of mind.”

“By all means, Miss Hoyter, you are welcome into my office at any time and it would be a delight to share a cup with such a remarkable lady.”

Trigger’s thoughts went to the diamond ring in the top drawer, this would be the best possible moment to propose marriage and the custom was that once a proposal was accepted, no chaperone would be needed.

“Miss Hoyter, Coraline, I have tried to find the best moment to ask you this.” He kneeled in front of her, “Would you marry me?”