So I say to Ramon, "look, we shouldn't be on earth. We shouldn't be anywhere NEAR earth. If the Student Loan Company gets wind that we're here, we're screwed."
And Ramon says, "Robin, Robin, relax. This is the one place on the entire planet that nobody's going to venture into even if they think to look for us. Admittedly, I don't know how this guy managed to fit his house into the midst of the Tsingy de Bemaraha, but here we are, safe and sound."
We're looking out the big glass windows of Mister Rabemananjara's 4-story mansion, which is built into the side of a limestone pillar in the mist of a particular style of rock formation that Galactic Tourism Monthly consistently rates among its annual "most dangeorus destinations". Admittedly you can find an environment like this on every planet with water. There's a limestone karst formation on Kepler 69-c, for example. But most of the time you can walk between the pillars or, if you're in a place outside the republic, you can just blast your way through and not answer to anyone. Here on earth, the Tsingy de Bemaraha is a unique specimen: impossible to walk in and protected by law.
Anyone who wants to come into Tsingy de Bemahara needs to come in by jetpack. Not by hovercraft. It's too narrow for hovercraft here. You'd scrape the sides and crash and the limestone would skewer the bottom of your ship. I've seen it happen.
"A beautiful place, is it not?" says Mr. Rabemananjara behind us. "Look, there." He points at a branch just outside the window. "A green-crested flycatcher. You won't see them anywhere else on earth. And this is the best view to see them on earth. Oh, if only more people could come for this view. Perhaps I should turn this place into a museum." He chuckles. "But then, there are reasons to keep it private."
I watch him saunter back to his room, then turn to Ramon.
"So how is he in bed, then, do you think?"
"The most boring lay I've ever had."
"Hm. He's a little more creative with me."
"We've got to figure out how to get money out of him so we can scram."
"Well," I say, "If we're playing gold digger, that usually involves marrying him and then getting written into the will and then bumping the guy off. But he doesn't sound like the kind of guy to have a will, does he?"
"No," says Ramon, "and he's probably going to get sick of us in a month. He got my name wrong three times last night in three different ways. All we need to do is find his bank passwords or his gold vault and -- "
At that moment, there's an almighty thudding noise from outside. The limestone wall across the narrow gully explodes, sending great chunks of limstone through the great glass window. Ramon and I dive for cover.
I raise my head. Within the cloud of rock dust I can see a large form, and I hear the sound of clanking. It appeares that someone was interested in digging their way through the Bemaraha. Someone who has enough money to pay off the massive fine for violating this place. Someone who stops at nothing, not even a wall of rock.
"I told you we should have gotten a regular job somewhere," I say to Ramon, as we jump over the couch and ran for the door. "You must have defaulted on your student loans by now."
"I thought my grace period was still active!" says Ramon. He slams the door open and we dash down the stairs to the garage.
The house begins to shudder with the sound of a great machine stepping forward.
"Where did we park the car?" says Ramon, as we run among the rows and rows of automobiles.
"I think this is it," I say, tapping a low hood. "Wait, this one is yellow. Where did he get a 1970s Barracuda?"
"This one," says Ramon. He sticks the key into the lock and fiddles with it as we begin to hear the sound of feet pounding down the stairs.
"For God's Sake," I say from the passenger seat, "just climb in through the window and let's get going."
"How the hell did you get in through the window?" said Ramon, as he climbs into the car. "You weigh a hundred pounds more than I do."
I wink. "Magic."
Ramon gets the car started and we pull out of the space and drive towards the exit. We halt with with a jerk as we see our benefactor standing in the light of the open garage door.
"Now, this is frustrating," says Mister Rabemananjara. "I finally find someone who I'm willing to keep around for more than a month, and it turns out he's defaulted on his debts. Almost as if he was trying to suck up to me to get some money. Now, I understand that well enough, but my prospective bed partner seems to have run afoul of the student loan company. Why in heaven's name should I just let you go?"
I hear the sound of marching feet from a distance.
I lean out the window. "Because you want to come with us."
"I'd prefer to stay in my beautiful home in an isolated location, thank you very much."
"It's already too late for you," I say. "You hosted a couple of debt fugitives. By now they've seized your assets."
The man's face pales. "But -- but I'm the second son of the minister for foreign affairs. My father is the chief representative to Mars. They can't touch me, can they?"
"Aristede Rabemananjara", said an electronic voice from behind us. "You have harbored two debt fugitives. Surrender to justice or be vaporized where you stand."
"Floor it," says Aristede from the back seat as a lance of blue light puts a hole through the convertible top and out the windshiled.
We lurch back as the car lurches forward, and we speed out the escape tunnel towards the light.