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Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-15 10:53 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 15

And now I've reached the chronological halfway point. I'm skiing downhill from here :)



As soon as the atmosphere was reestablished, Tatiana was hopping out of Qaf. "So I'll see you later, then?" she called back.

"Yeah, just contact us with your pad when you need to be picked up," Kid said. "We'd like to work for 8 or 9 hours, but it's okay if you need to come back sooner."

"Will do," Tatiana said, and slipped out of the cab stand's door.

There was something different on this level, Tatiana could tell, but it took her some time to realize what it was. Superficially it was the same: corridors, some bare and others with paintings and projections on the walls, people walking back and forth, a mix of commercial shops and more anonymous office and housing areas.

But on this level, everything was of higher quality. The walls and floors were smoother and shinier, the view above them outside the station clearer. The art was of better quality, and everyone was wearing much nicer clothes. All of this suggested that Tatiana was in exactly the right place; she squared her shoulders and continued on.

Chay had told her that the best place to request a Consortium job was in a small office, labeled in Hurston Station's net as "Millenial Applications Ltd." Tatiana was able to find the place easily. Like most offices on the station, it was one anonymous door among many, with no indication of what she would find inside.

She pushed open the door into an entirely mundane waiting area. There was a receptionist, and one person sitting in a chair, half-asleep, but otherwise it was deserted.

Tatiana walked up to the receptionist. "Excuse me, but I was looking for... work. With, y'know. I'm a good shot with pistols and stunners, and--"

"Yes, I understand," the receptionist said. Though he was speaking to her, he didn't look at her directly, looking down at his desk instead. His hairline was receding slightly. "Through that door there, and you can be more open."

"Um, okay," Tatiana said. There were two doors. "The one closer to you, or the one further."

"The further one," he said, still not looking up. "And have a nice day."

Inside the further door was a short hallway, with two doors on either side. All four doors were closed.

"Um, excuse me?" Tatiana said. "I'm here for a job, the receptionist told me to come here."

There was no answer, so Tatiana decided to try opening the doors.

The first door came right open in front of her. This room was an office with a desk. Behind the desk was an older woman; but her head was down, and she was snoozing.

"Um, excuse me?" Tatiana said. The woman didn't move. Tatiana repeated herself more loudly, but the woman still didn't wake up. Finally, Tatiana decided to try to shake the woman awake. She moved forward and shook the woman's shoulder gently.

The next thing she knew, Tatiana was flat on her back on the floor, with a laser pistol pointed right between her eyes.

"Who are you?" the woman demanded. "Why are you here?"

Tatiana swallowed, more afraid than she'd ever been in her life. But somehow she was able to stammer something out. "I-I'm Tatiana Edwards, I'm here about a position with the Consortium. I didn't mean to wake you, I promise, except that the receptionist said I should come through here and there was nobody around, and then I saw you sleeping, and--"

The woman put her gun away, and got off of Tatiana. "Oh, a new recruit to the underworld, are you?"

Tatiana sat up and started dusting herself out. "I'm not a total noob. I did some work for the Syndicate back on my home world."

The woman's eyes narrowed. "The Syndicate? I'm afraid we of the Consortium don't care much for the Syndicate."

Tatiana went cold; but she reminded herself, they would have know that anyway. They had more than enough resources to investigate someone like her. "After working for them, I don't much like them either."

The woman smirked. "Fair enough. You want a hand up? Anyway, you said something about a position?"

Tatiana accepted the woman's hand and pulled herself up. "Yeah, I was thinking bodyguard or something, I'm a pretty good shot. I mean, when I have a stunner, which I obviously don't right now. If not that, I could do any kind of regular office work, I guess."

"No, bodyguard would probably be best," the woman said, frowning. "We lost someone recently, so we could use your services. Oh yes, my name is Afua Sarpong, by the way. Nice to meet you."

"I'm Tatiana Edwards," Tatiana said. "So, how do I get this bodyguard job?"

"We have a shooting range on this level, if you want to show your skills, and I'll administer a psychological exam. If both of those go well, and we don't find anything suspicious in your past, then you're in."

"Okay! So can we start now?"

Afua scratched her head. "I suppose so. I'd like to get some coffee first, though." She looked away in embarrassment. "As you can see, I'm not too good with mornings."

"No problem! Could I have some too, or would that throw the test results off."

"You can have some," Afua said. "It won't make a difference to the test results. Oh, but I do like to brew it the old-fashioned way."

"The old-fashioned way?"

"I like to drink it filtered, not pressurized. It takes somewhat longer, but I find the taste to be preferable."

"Oh," Tatiana said. She had never heard of filtered coffee before, but she decided to give it a try.

"Very well, then," Afua said. "Right this way."

One of the other doors in the hallways opened up to a small kitchen and dining area with several strange devices scattered around. Afua busied herself with one of them, while Tatiana sat down at one of the tables.

"So how did you come here to Hurston Station?" she asked as she worked.

"Well, I'm from Garvey originally. I'd wanted to get off-planet for a while, but I didn't really have a way off until my uncle came home and gave me his ship. It was in really bad shape--repairing it was a huge hassle, that's the main reason why we got mixed up with the Syndicate in the first place--but in the end we got off-planet. Hold Steady's memory--Hold Steady is the name of the ship, of course--is still kind of shot, though. This was pretty much the only place we had coordinates for, so this was where we came. We didn't know about all the fees and everything, so now we're in a lot of debt, and that's why I'm here asking for a job. Though since we need to get Hold Steady's memory restored, I'd probably be here whether we were in debt or not."

Afua had finished with her machine while Tatiana was talking; she pulled up a chair and sat with Tatiana. "I see, very interesting. And how did you learn to shoot?"

"Well, it started when--wait. Is this part of the psych exam?" Tatiana asked.

"The beginning of it, perhaps," Afua replied. "Don't worry, we have places for people with all sorts of different temperaments. Please continue."

"Okay," Tatiana said. "Where was I--oh, yeah. My mother was a really good laser dome shooter when she was young; she entered into a competition for a contract with one of the leagues when I was a kid, and she got all the way into the finals, totally unaugmented! So of course she wanted me to learn to shoot too..."

Three hours later, the coffee was brewed and drunk (Tatiana found that she enjoyed the flavor), and they were still talking at the little table in the dining area. No one else had come in since they'd started.

"...so I like how different it is, but I think if I stay here for too long, I'll miss being on a planet. Maybe that's not a good thing to say when you want a job, but I figured I should be honest. And the Consortium has a presence on lots of planets anyway, maybe I wouldn't quit, I'd just go to a different position, y'know?"

"Yes, that makes sense," Afua said. "Thank you, I believe I now have enough information to perform your psychological analysis. Shall we meet again in an hour to go to the shooting range?"

"Sure!" Tatiana said. "You're really easy to talk to, by the way. I mean, I know you're analyzing me and all, but it didn't feel that way."

"I've often been told that I have a calming manner," Afua said. "I believe it helps me greatly in this career."

"Yeah, I can see that. Anyway, back here in an hour? I'll go get lunch then, I guess. Do you recommend anywhere?"

"I'm afraid not. I always bring my lunch, and I never eat in this area," Afua replied. "However, if you hand me your pad, I can give you a voucher for a free meal anywhere on this deck. You don't have to worry about the prices, at least this time."

Tatiana practically radiated gratitude. "Thank you so much, Afua, so much! Of course I didn't want to say anything, but money is so tight for us now, every little bit helps."

"I'm sure that it does," Afua replied.

Tatiana's pad directed her to a steakhouse not far away. It would normally be far out of her price range, but she wanted to get the most value out of her voucher. After a mouthwateringly tender steak (she didn't quite have the nerve to ask whether it was from a cow or vat-grown, as she'd heard most space station food was), she went back to the office and knocked on Afua's door, exactly an hour later.

Afua opened it. "Shall we go, then?" she said.