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Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-12 09:34 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 12

Yuletide letter to come soon...

Fatima turned and started to go. But instead of walking away normally, she pushed off from the floor in a half-walking, half-leaping motion. She looked over her shoulder to see that Tatiana and Kid hadn't moved; instead, they were standing there with dumbfounded looks on their faces.

"Oh, you two are really from the middle of nowhere, aren't you? Remember how I told you before that you'd be lighter in the inner levels? The gravity here is about the same as on Baldwin, or on Earth's moon. Come on, now, and make sure you don't break an ankle walking."

Tatiana gingerly jumped up a little. She drifted much higher than she expected, and fell so slowly that she started flapping her arms in panic. Kid snickered.

"Don't laugh at me! I'd like to see you try it!"

"Sure." Kid pushed off, soared through the air... and then fell half on top of Fatima.

"Oof!" she said.

"Oh, sorry," Kid said.

Tatiana was laughing hard, bent over with the exertion of it. "I've... I've never seen... anything... so..." She couldn't even finish the sentence, as she went off into another gale of laughter. When Kid responded with a few very choice words, she laughed even harder.

"Okay, c'mon now, kids," Fatima said. "I still have to hail a cab."

It was a surprisingly long way to their destination on this deck. As Fatima had said, it seemed to be unpopular; there were people hurrying from place to place, but relatively few. Above them, the ceiling was transparent, allowing a view into the hollow interior of the station. It was mostly empty, but Tatiana fell more than a few times while watching a spacecraft suddenly zoom past.

By the time they reached the cab stand, both Tatiana and Kid had more or less gotten the hang of low-gravity walking. "Just be careful not to go too fast and you should be fine," Fatima told them, giving her approval.

The corridor they'd been walking along ended in a wall with two open doors embedded in it. Through there was an empty waiting area, with a vacuum-sealed door on the opposite wall. Next to the wall was a woman, with her back turned toward them.

Fatima walked right up to the woman. "Excuse me, we'd like a cab for three up to deck 50."

The woman turned, and Tatiana and Kid both recoiled in shock: instead of a face, the woman had a shiny steel panel, completely without features. A moment later, the panel was gone, and instead they saw the face of a young woman, her expression rueful.

"Sorry!" Tatiana said. "You must be an android, right? I'm really sorry, we're just not really used to them on Garvey."

"No, no, it's entirely my fault," the android said. "I sometimes forget that not everyone on this station is from android-heavy areas." She stuck out a silvery metal hand. "You can call me Chay. And you are?"

"I'm Tatiana, and this is Kidlat, but you can call him Kid. We're from the planet Garvey. This is the first time we've been away from home."

Chay nodded. "Garvey, yes." Then she gasped. "Oh, are you the Kidlat who recently won the Races? I did enjoy your performance, although to be honest I was rooting for Amethyst."

"Uh, thanks?" Kid said.

"Anyway, you said Deck 50? Right this way, please."

Though Chay did not seem to do anything, the door next to her opened. She stepped through it, and Fatima, Tatiana, and Kid followed.

Inside, there was a small spacecraft; not nearly as big as Hold Steady, but large enough to hold several people. Its entire top half was a clear dome; through it, they could see seats inside. The waiting room door closed behind them, and Chay gestured to the cab. "Get in, get in!"

"Make sure you strap yourself down," Fatima lectured as Tatiana and Kid trailed behind her into the cab. "Going from grav to no-grav can be dangerous if you bang yourself against something."

"Is everyone strapped in?" Chay's voice came through. "Then let's go!"

The clear ceiling above them was starting to retract. The cab slowly lifted up and out, into the station's hollow interior.

"Um, how long have you had this cab?" Tatiana asked.

Chay laughed. "Honey, you really are from the backwater. I *am* this cab. Now, none of you get motion sickness, right?"

"No," Fatima said, though neither Tatiana nor Kid had replied.

"Okay, well get ready for a ride!"

Chay had rotated so that instead of facing the opposite side of the deck, the top of the cab was facing the top of the station. Now, before they could even take two breaths, she rocketed upward.

"Whoa!" Tatiana yelped. Even Fatima flinched.

Kid, however, didn't move a muscle. He simply gazed steadily upward, almost as if he were the one piloting the cab.

Tatiana started to look up too. While they were going up quickly, the station was so massive that it would still take some time to reach Deck 50. And Chay was hardly the only cab in the air. The others were going similarly quickly, up or down to their destinations, but, as was inevitable, they quickly found themselves coming right up toward another cab going down.

"Watch out!" Tatiana cried. But Chay was already ready; she stopped dead, juked to the side, and then kept going up again. It was so fast that Tatiana could hardly follow it, though looking around at the other cabs she could see them perform similar maneuvers.

"Sheesh, how often must you have accidents here?"

"The last cab collision was three years ago," Chay said. She didn't even sound out of breath--though of course an android never would. "Cabs almost always gain sentience, just because of the decision trees involved, so there aren't many humans in the business."

"I could do this," Kid murmured.

Chay laughed. "Yes, I'm sure you could, after dealing with those skiffs. Maybe if you stay long enough we'll be business rivals, eh?"

"How much longer?" Fatima spoke up.

"Approximately five point four to five point six minutes, depending on traffic conditions," Chay replied. "I don't think there are too many cabs out, though, so the lower estimate is more likely to be correct."

"This is low traffic?" Tatiana blurted out. "What is it like during high traffic?"

"Much, much worse," Fatima said, her facepaint going grey at the thought. "But it's the fastest way to go between decks. I'll show you some of the others, once we get up to 50."

They arrived at Deck 50 5.4 minutes later, with a landing that was precisely the opposite of their previous take-off. As soon as the ceiling seal was established, air was pumped back into the cab stand, and Fatima, Tatiana, and Kid were able to disembark.

At this cab stand, unlike the one on Deck 21, there were several other cabs waiting. As Fatima had said, this was a popular deck. Fatima was already walking toward the door; Tatiana and Kid raced to catch up with her.

"Shouldn't we wait for Chay?" Tatiana asked.

"Why?" Fatima said. "Our ride is over. She'll come out again when she wants to take another customer."

The waiting area inside had several waiting travelers; past them, and through the open doors, there were many, many people walking around.

"Welcome to Deck 50," Fatima said with a grin, and ushered them into the corridor.

Unlike Deck 21, which had mostly been rows of anonymous grey doors, Deck 50 was full of shops, restaurants, clubs, and all sorts of other interesting places, stretching all the way around the curve of the station.

"Well, we're definitely not on Garvey any more," Kid said.

Tatiana unconsciously licked her lips. "There's so many things to do, and so many places to see."

Fatima winked at them. "That's why I'm here to show you two around. Now, come on, come on! There isn't much interesting on this level unless you want to shop, but all of level 3 is a gigantic park; planet-dwellers always find it fascinating!"

They saw the park. They saw three shows. They window-shopped. They ate. And finally, in exhaustion, Fatima led them to a place to sleep.

"I'm glad you two enjoyed yourselves!" she said as she left them, her facepaint shining brightly yellow. "I'll be around again in the morning."

"Thanks," Tatiana said to her. "She's so nice to us."

"I never thought it would be like this, on other worlds," Kid said. "I mean, I knew it would be different, but here it's just..." he flopped back on his bed, words deserting him. "Different."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Tatiana said. "I guess tomorrow we'll have to find a way to earn a little money, but it was so nice to have a day to just relax and not worry about anything. When was the last time we had one of those?"

"A mini-vacation," Kid said. "It's good."

The hostel where they were staying had a full bathtub, which was like heaven after days of shipboard barely-showers. Tatiana and Kid took turns filling it up and soaking in it.

"I wonder why Jerome decided to come back to Garvey," Tatiana said through the bathroom door as Kid soaked. "After coming to even one place like this, I would never want to live there again. I mean, visit and stuff, sure, but there's so much more here."

"Simplicity or something, I guess," Kid said. "Maybe it gets overwhelming after a while."

"Yeah, maybe," Tatiana said. She was already drifting off to sleep. "Maybe I'll never understand it..."

It seemed like just a moment ago she'd been talking to Kid, but the clock in her pad (which Fatima had helpfully synced to the local network) said that it was ten hours later, the time Hurston Station designated as 'morning'.

Kid was in the other bed, fast asleep. "Hey, Kid," she said, and shook him when he didn't wake up right away.

"No, I wanna dream some more," Kid mumbled, and tried to burrow more deeply into his sheets.

"Come on, get up," Tatiana said. "We have to meet Fatima again, remember?"

When they got down to the lobby, Fatima was waiting for them already, her facepaint still yellow and her expression as bright and open as ever.

"Did you two have a good sleep?" she asked.

"Yeah, it was great," Tatiana said.

"Excellent. You'll be happy to know that your bill comes out to 831,245 credits. Payable immediately." She held out her hand for a pad.

"Wait," Tatiana said, her heart sinking. "What bill?"