jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)
Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-17 09:23 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 17

TBH, I didn't expect to stick with it this long. I'm kind of proud of myself :D



"So what are we going to do?"

Tatiana looked down. "I don't know. I'll be working with the Consortium now, so I might get the chance to earn extra money, doing--well, whatever. You should keep your eyes open for opportunities too."

"And what about Hold Steady's memory? Even if we can pay off the debt, we don't even know who we can talk to about that--"

"Look, I don't know, okay?" Tatiana burst out. "I've never been here either! It's not like Garvey. I don't know enough about this place!" Then she looked down again, her shoulders slumped. "I'm doing my best here, okay? I just don't have enough information right now."

"Sorry," Kid said, looking away. "I do trust you. I'm just on edge because of the whole Qaf thing."

Tatiana smiled a little. "Is she really that bad?"

"Worse."

"Well, hopefully the Consortium will tap me for an assassination job or something, and we'll have enough money to leave in a week." When Kid looked at her, shocked at this, Tatiana burst into laughter. "It's a joke, a joke! Lighten up!"

Their days quickly fell into a routine. Tatiana and Kid got up in the morning and made their way to the cab stand. Qaf picked them up, and made the long journey to Deck 114, where they dropped off Tatiana. Qaf and Kid usually hung around here until a fare came in; this normally didn't take too long, as wealthy business people were always coming to or from the Consortium. And from there, they went from deck to deck, taking as many fares as they could.

As for Tatiana, after she finished her training, she was assigned to guard the Consortium's number 3 position. The man spent most of his time in his office or in meetings during the day, so it was easy work. Despite the training program emphasizing the confidentiality of her work, Tatiana often did try to pay attention to what was going on, in hopes that she might someday be able to use the information for something useful. But while the man was in his office, she was stuck guarding the door, and the general meetings were all deadly boring. She didn't have any context for what the Consortium did on Hurston Station, so she often couldn't understand what she learned. She kept listening, though, and slowly began to build a mental picture of the Consortium's activities.

One source of income was the local government. As Chay had said, they guaranteed payment of services due, and took the responsibility of leaning on the buyer. This was a ripe area for corruption: they would claim someone had eaten at a restaurant, or slept at a hotel, and demand payment from the government. Sometimes the person they accused was a mark, but that was dangerous because they might be able to prove their innocence. Other times it would be someone connected to the Consortium; that was risky as well, because the government might pursue them to pay the debt, and because a single person couldn't do it many times.

The Consortium was also involved with the on-station laser dome arena, which wasn't surprising. Although they didn't seem to interfere with the results much, they ran all the gambling rings associated with it; it was illegal in most places to bet on laser dome matches. They were middle-man suppliers of drugs and guns to several different worlds and stations, a dark mirror to Hurston Station's more legitimate trade. And they did other, more hidden things as well, that Tatiana was still struggling to understand.

Tatiana and Kid's off-duty lives were fairly austere. They tried not to spend much money; there were the docking fees, of course, and Shinji's ramen cart when the hydroponics foods became unbearable, but that was all. Tatiana continued to practice her pistol shooting at the Consortium's range, but since she was an employee, she didn't have to pay. They found an inexpensive bathhouse, just one deck up, so once a week they would brave the elevators for a nice hot soak.

The days continued to pass by, and almost before she knew it, Tatiana realized that they had been living on Hurston Station for a little over a month. That day, she sat down with Kid and they went over the budget again.

"You've been getting really good fares, better than I expected at first," she said. "It's more like nine or ten months before we can leave, not counting the month we've already been here. I don't know if we can afford to wait that long, though."

"I don't think we can," Kid said. "Qaf learns fast. In a month or two, I don't think she'll need me anymore."

"That fast?" Tatiana said in dismay. "In that case, we're really going to be screwed." She bent her head over the pad again. "I've been looking at alternate work, and there just isn't anything that pays as well that you could do--and that's not even factoring in that I'd have to start paying for transportation. It would probably be cheaper for me to get a place up there, but then we'd pretty much never see each other."

"What if I get a job with the Consortium too?" Kid said.

"If worst comes to worst, that's what we'll do. I don't like it, though; that'll tie us to them too strongly. We'd probably spend the rest of our lives working for them on this station, and that's exactly what we don't want to do."

"What are we going to do, then?"

Tatiana shook her head. "Wait for an opportunity, I guess," she said. "It's the best we can do."

Her opportunity came the very next day.

There was already something strange going on when she came in in the morning. Usually her client, the man she was guarding, was already at work when she changed shifts with the other set of bodyguards. Today, however, she got a message on her pad: her client wasn't at the office yet, but instead of going to him, she should wait for him at his office.

This was somewhat strange, though easy enough to comply with. Tatiana mentally shrugged, and went to the office door, where she stood with Ravit, the other bodyguard she worked with.

"You know what's up with this?" she asked him. He simply shrugged.

Their client didn't turn up until almost an hour later. He looked calm, and his clothes were neat, but he walked just a little too quickly, and he was perspiring a little. And he was alone; there was no sign of his home bodyguards. Tatiana and Ravit both snapped to attention.

The client favored them with a smile and a nod as he walked up. "Ravit, Tatiana. Good morning."

He had to walk past Tatiana to enter his office, and started fumbling with the office's doorknob.

"Good morning, sir," Ravit said.

"Yes, good morning," Tatiana added.

"Heh, this door. Sometimes I wish we weren't so wedded to tradition here," the client said dryly. As he spoke, his hand snaked out, out of the view of Ravit, and dropped something into Tatiana's pocket. Tatiana blinked, then realized what had just happened. She reschooled her features to placidity.

"Would you like some help, sir?" Ravit was asking.

"No, no, I think I've got it," their client said. Finally the door opened, and he slipped inside. "I'll inform you if I need anything," he said, and closed the door behind him.

Ravit looked over at Tatiana, raising his eyebrows. Tatiana shrugged, and shook her head, hoping she looked confused as well, and not nervous or frightened. She didn't dare check her pocket.

Their client stayed in his office all morning, and even through lunch. In the afternoon, one of the secretaries came around. "Is he still in there?" he said, frowning. "He had a meeting an hour ago, and he didn't respond to the message I sent him about it. Do you mind if I go in to remind him?"

"No problem," Tatiana said. She opened the door. "Sir? The secretary's here to remind you about your meeting. Sir?"

Their client was sitting behind his desk, slumped back in his chair. He looked to be asleep, and he didn't respond to Tatiana's voice.

"Sir?" she said. The secretary stayed in the doorway; Tatiana went behind the desk and shook his shoulder. "Sir?"

She knew as soon as she touched him, when she felt how cold he was, and saw the way he moved.

"Go get an emergency medical kit!" she snapped at the secretary. "And call--well, call somebody. I think he's dead."

Two hours later, and after a parade of medical personnel, law enforcement, and Consortium members, her assessment turned out to be correct. Their client had died, right there behind them in his office.

"I don't know what happened," she told Hurston Station's homicide detective. "He seemed perfectly fine this morning."

"He seemed mostly fine, but he was sweating a little, I remember that. And he came in without his bodyguards," she told Afua. "No, he wasn't carrying anything in particular. I assume he had his pad, though."

She didn't tell either group about the object he had dropped in her pocket, and fortunately no one bothered to search the bodyguards. Whatever this thing was, people were willing to kill to get it. She wanted to examine it before she turned it over to anyone.

"Well, we won't really know until the chemical assay, but it looks like he was poisoned," the homicide detective told them, finally. "Now, whether he took it himself or someone forced it, I don't know, we'll need more evidence. And now I have to go. There's reports of two bodies that were spaced, down on 112." He sighed. "It's been so long since we've had a single murder, and now three in one day? Wonder if they're connected somehow."

At those words, the faces of the Consortium bosses grew stony. The homicide detective cleared his throat. "Anyway, just conjecture, you know. I'll have to wait until I check them out, and all." He gathered up his instruments, and left quickly.

"You should go home," someone said behind Tatiana. She turned; it was Afua. "Don't worry, you'll be paid in full today and tomorrow. You couldn't have prevented this."

"Do you know what's going on?" Tatiana blurted out.

Afua looked grim. "We have a pretty good idea. There are some things we need to do to confirm it, though. Trust me, the person who did this won't profit from it, not as long as we're around."

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